Sex. A word that, when spoken in public, probably both draws your attention and makes you cringe. At college sex is everywhere. It’s in the giggle-filled conversations girls have among close friends, it’s joked about in the boys bathroom, it’s insinuated at the Old Stone Jug and, finally, it is being openly and honestly talked about.
Last week, from February 25 through 29, the Sexual Health Awareness Group (SHAG) sponsored a campus-wide celebration of “Sex Week.” The event included five days of lectures and events that brought awareness on the issue of sexual health on college campuses.
During the week there were daily Coop Tables that provided free condoms and information pamphlets on safe sex. Events included sex jeopardy, date rape and violence prevention, condom Olympics, sexually transmitted infection awareness, erotic foods and a self-defense workshop put on by a Campus Safety staff member. On Wednesday, in cooperation with SHAG, the Center for Outreach and Volunteer Education (COVE) sponsored a talk by Jay Friedman, a professional sex educator. The week culminated with two student-run performances of the Vagina Monologues on Thursday and Friday nights.
Friedman’s lecture, entitled the J spot, was one of Sex Week’s high points. Friedman began his lecture with an uncomfortably vivid and seemingly sexual narrative, complete with gestures and sound effects, which, unexpectedly, turned out to be merely a description of a nursing baby. Friedman continued with a humorous, yet simultaneously informative, lecture. He focused on the three things that he believes one should possess before having sex – affirmation, acceptance and assurance – the three reasons many males feel pressured into sexual activity – locker room talk, homophobia and the myth of “blue balls” – the ways in which homophobia and sexism are intricately related and the differing sexual experiences of men and women.
One of the most interesting topics Friedman addressed was the viewpoint of the current administration on issues of sexual health and education. He discussed how, since the Reagan administration, “Hundreds of millions of dollars [have been] spent on abstinence-only programs for sex education, which are clearly against the separation of church and state.”
Friedman then showed a graphic sex-ed movie from Sweden, and compared the positive and informative way in which sex is presented in most European countries to the ineffective scare tactics used in America – a comparison which was striking in light of the statistics showing how much higher rates of STI transmission, teen pregnancy and sexual abuse are in America.
Sex Week concluded with the presentation of the Vagina Monologues at the Palace Theater. The Vagina Monologues has been performed across the country and consists of a series of monologues involving the vagina, be it in reference to birth, sex, menstruation, love and so forth. Students, professors, staff and community members performed the show. SHAG member and four-year participant in the Vagina Monologues senior Darcy Gordon said that that all of the performers were, “women looking for a change in today’s culture.”
Before her show, Gordon discussed the reasons behind her involvement in SHAG and the humorous, yet simultaneously serious, nature of sex week.
“Sexual health is something everyone should be interested in and caring about,” Gordon said. “I think it’s important because there are so many different aspects of sexual health that affect college-age students.”
Through its awareness activities, SHAG definitely brought the importance of sex education to light. By presenting staggering statistics on the number of students who will leave college with an STI, as well as the frightening disclosure that there have already been two reported rapes on campus this year, SHAG helped the Colgate community realize just how necessary more extensive sexual education is for the health and safety of our community.