Brown Teaches Students How to Have Kinky Sex

by Stephen Beale on March 16, 2010

At any other college, a university-sponsored series of event known as ‘Sex Week 2010’ might suggest forums on condom use and relationship counseling—but not at Brown, where most of the events and how-to workshops are enough to make even the characters of ‘Animal House’ and ‘Monty Python’ blush. They include ‘Strap-On 101,’ sex toy raffles, a luncheon on feminist pornography, an interactive workshop on how to fulfill your sexual fantasies, topped off by a performance from ‘The Wet Spot.’ This might be cause for no more than a few chuckles and some well-justified tongue-wagging, were it not for the fact that several University offices are listed as co-sponsors. One would think administrators would have better things to do than encourage college students to have more sex—or at least think twice before using hard-earned tuition dollars and alumni donations for such extracurricular activities. It certainly gives a whole new meaning to the motto, ‘Boldly Brown.’

Below is our press release with more information.

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

March 16, 2010

Contact: Stephen Beale
sbeale@idiversity.org
401-243-3713

Brown U. Teaches Students How to Have Kinky Sex During ‘Sex Week 2010’

PROVIDENCE, RI – The Foundation for Intellectual Diversity today questioned why Brown University is devoting a week to teaching students how to explore their sexuality—including lectures and workshops on sex toys, feminist pornography, and how to fulfill sexual fantasies.

The week kicked off Sunday with a showing of ‘Kinky,’ a documentary that “takes a look at issues affecting the sexuality of Black Americans and touches on religion, racism and relationships as it delves into the fascinating world of bondage, fetish and BDSM,” according to an official description. Other events include ‘Strap-On 101,’ raffles of sex toys, a workshop on sexual fantasies where ‘audience participation is highly encouraged,’ and a performance by the cabaret duo ‘The Wet Spot.’

Several University offices are listed as co-sponsors of Sex Week 2010, including: the Office of Residential Life, Disability Support Services, the Office of Institutional Diversity, and the Office of Campus Life & Student Services.

“What consenting students do in the privacy of their dorm rooms or at a frat party is their business, but for Brown to sponsor a week-long series of public events—with the full backing of the administration, no less—is another thing,” said Stephen Beale, president of the Foundation for Intellectual Diversity, an alumni group.

“We can understand that there might be some rationale for having a campus-wide discussion about such topics as safe sex and sexual assault, but we can’t imagine what administrators were thinking when they endorsed events like ‘Strap-On 101’ and an interactive workshop on sexual fantasies,” Beale said. “We wonder what parents think about Brown using their hard-earned tuition dollars to teach their children to have kinky sex.”

“This has been going on for years,” said Travis Rowley, a member of the foundation’s board of directors. “The radical sex culture at Brown is less of a cause of the university’s radicalism than it is a result of Brown’s extreme moral and cultural relativism.”

Sex Week began in 2009 and is organized by the Sexual Health Education and Empowerment Council (known as SHEEC), which is comprised of student members.

{ 4 trackbacks }

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March 19, 2010 at 1:40 pm
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March 28, 2010 at 10:00 am

{ 20 comments… read them below or add one }

Aida Manduley March 17, 2010 at 12:46 am

Hey there! I’m the current Sex Week coordinator, so I can definitely speak to this topic. :)

“forums on condom use and relationship counseling—but not at Brown” – In fact, we do have those events. Bringing (Safe) Sexy Back [happening Friday night] is all about safer sex, and our Monday night workshop focused on communication and negotiation in relationships, especially when people get involved in any sort of “non-traditional” relationship because there are way less people talking about how to make it work in those settings (still, the techniques and lessons are applicable to all sorts of relationships, romantic or otherwise).

The issue of feminist and sex-positive pornography is one hotly debated in the fields of queer/feminist/women/gender&sexuality studies and theory, and thus highly relevant, especially in light of the rise of sex-positivism and the backlash of certain communities.

Our documentary (“Kinky”) and student panel centered around issues of power dynamics and their intersection with race/ethnicity, and we used the film as a springboard to start conversation, since in BDSM the power dynamics are EXPLICIT, whereas in daily life, we operate under many assumptions and systems of oppression but don’t talk about them or actively negotiate them. This was not a forum to teach students how to have kinky sex, but instead explore hierarchies, power dynamics, and their intersections with identity.

Re: sex toys and how to use them, SHEEC wants Brown students to be informed consumers, as well as sexually-aware individuals, so of course we’ll have events about these things. Because sex toys aren’t regulated in the way that other products are, standards and materials can vary widely, and we wish to inform the Brown population about what items are body-safe and instruct them in the proper care of themselves AND their toys. Which leads me to the topic of the raffles! We are holding these because, not only are prizes fun, but when we talk about body-safe sex toys, some of those are expensive and we wanted to make items available to those who perhaps didn’t have the means to purchase them.

The workshop on sexual fantasies is humorous and educational, hoping to take away the shame from healthy, sex-positive practices and bringing in scientific/medical facts to exposing myths that people believe due to lack of knowledge. Furthermore, it is run by a certified sexual educator. It’s interactive because we expect the audience to bring in questions and comments, not because we plan to have, say, an orgy.

Our other events cover a wide range of topics, such as ability/disability, sexual assault (2 events about this, actually), sexuality and the media, and immigration/trans politics, all by experts in their respective fields (be it as activists, medical professionals, certified educators, etc.), so I’m surprised you didn’t give any of these much attention. I mean, I’m NOT surprised, since they wouldn’t cause a ruckus/headlines, but still.

It is SHEEC’s mission to bring in presentations and lectures that focus on EDUCATION, first and foremost, and the promotion of sexual health, pleasure, and wellness. While we do cover kink and feel it’s an important part of this year’s content, I think this article is a misrepresentation of what Brown’s Sex Week IS and strives to do.

RE: university backing? They are backing our right as an organization to host events and, incidentally, promote a diversity of thought on campus. As far as I’m concerned, as far as events adhere to certain university policies and guidelines, they are all given the same consideration, so just like our event got funded, an event by another group could find funding as well. If this is in any way a commentary on how Brown should NOT have funded this week, I find it ridiculous. Furthermore, we gave all contributors the option to tell us what they wanted the money used for, and we respected those wishes (e.g. Late Night Fund money is only for funding our March 20th evening event), so money isn’t being funneled away in secret ways or anything. So, hypothetically (because I do not find this the appropriate forum to go into a detailed and itemized list of our SHEEC budget), something like Strap-On 101 was fully funded by student groups and not the university.

Also, not all of the offices listed supported us through a monetary contribution, I think it is important to note, since that seems to be your focus. And just because the university is funding something some people might not agree with doesn’t mean they shouldn’t fund it. Again, diversity of thought, no?

Finally, it is BECAUSE there are parties and fraternities and dorm-room debaucheries and things going on “behind closed doors” that we need to bring this dialogue to the fore and educate our campus about what they’re doing and how to engage with their respective sexualities in positive, healthy ways. As long as we determine that sexuality is a topic that must be kept hidden, or that certain topics are “too taboo to talk about,” we will breed legions of misinformed youth that will then turn into misinformed adults if they don’t get an education at SOME point, and then it all turns into a vicious cycle of shame, fear, and ignorance.

Also, the cabaret act is The Wet Spots, not The Wet Spot. ;)

———

For those who are curious, here is our calendar:

SUNDAY MARCH 14
Kink/Ethnicity: Documentary and Student Panel
5:00pm @ List 110 (64 College St.)
Description: What do you think about power dynamics and sex? Is the bedroom a place to be politically correct? Come watch “Kinky,” a CineKink Audience Choice Award (2009) for Best Documentary Feature that takes a look at issues affecting the sexuality of Black Americans and touches on religion, racism and relationships as it delves into the fascinating world of bondage, fetish and BDSM. It combines humorous on-the-street interviews in Harlem, as well as discussions with celebrated African American kinky lifestylers–including Jill Carter (International Ms. Leather 1996), and Mistress Mir, a legendary Pro Domme and performance artist–for a sexy, informative and humorous look at black sexuality, fetish and kink. After the documentary, we will have a panel where we shall discuss the intersection of ethnicity/race and sexuality, especially in contexts where power-dynamics and fetishism are integral to people’s sexual expression. Everyone is welcome! We expect a lively discussion, so don’t miss it.
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MONDAY MARCH 15
Strap-On 101 w/ Shanna Katz
12:00pm @ Sarah Doyle Women’s Center lounge (26 Benevolent St.)

Description: Come learn all about the joys and pleasures of strapping it on. Who said harnesses were just for girl-on-girl action? In this workshop, we’ll discuss double-penetration, “pegging,” using harnesses for cuckolding, “femmecock,” and so much more! Ever wonder what the difference is between a g-string and a dual strap? We’ll cover that too! You’ll learn how to properly work a strap-on, contemplate a plethora of positions, and learn about the pros/cons of different types of toys. This class is open to singles, couples and moresomes of all sexes and genders. Never used a harness before? That’s fine – we’ll start with the basics. Plus, everyone will get to try on harnesses with toys to get a feel for the different styles, as well as figure out what works best for them.

SexAbility w/ Shanna Katz
5:30pm @ Salomon 202
Description: People of all ability levels are sexual beings. Sex is hard enough to navigate and negotiate when one fits in with society’s notions of what a sexual being is, but once you add in the concept of ability, it can become quite challenge. This workshop is discussion-based, and covers issues such as coming out to your partner(s), how to discuss ability levels, new things to try, correct terminology, negotiating sex play (including kink/BDSM play), and much more. Participants are encouraged to share suggestions, trade ideas, etc. Great for people of all ability levels (and their partners) who want to recognize themselves as sexual beings. This workshop hopes to challenge people’s viewpoints, foster discussion and conversation, and open doors towards a shift in the social constructions surrounding sexuality and disability.

Make it Work Outside the Box: Relationship-Mapping & Communication w/ Shanna Katz
8:30pm @ List 120 (64 College St.)
Description: Communication is key, but how DO we communicate? More importantly, how does communication change (or not) once we break the boundaries of what are considered “traditional relationships”? In this workshop we’ll talk about the different styles of communication, the languages of love, types of non-verbal communication, why communcation is so important, and how to adapt all of this for kinky AND vanilla relationships. We’ll gain an understanding about the basic types of relationships that people have in their lives, how we can map them, patterns to look for, and what we can get out of these maps. Finally, we’ll talk about polyamory/non-monogamy – its various facets, how to get into it, and most importantly, how we can make it work when there are more than two people involved. Bring paper, pen, and an open mind. We will be raffling off two Tantus toys at this event, so make sure you arrive early and get a seat!
—————————————–
TUESDAY MARCH 16

Feminist Pornography (Out For Lunch) w/ Shanna Katz
12:00pm @ LGBTQ Resource Center (3rd floor Hillel, at 80 Angell St.)
MOVED TO SALOMON 203 SO WE CAN FIT EVERYONE!

Description: Are you one of those who has wondered exactly what it is that makes porn “feminist” or “sex positive?” Join us as we talk about definitions of pornography and obscenity, and how sexual pleasure can be recording in a feminist and sex positive way. We’ll discuss current companies who identify as sex positive, and what separates them (or not!) from current, mainstream pornographic productions. By the end of this talk, everyone will still have formed different opinons, but will be more educated as to what this sex positive porn movement is.

I’ll Only Tell a Friend: The Best Ways to Help Someone Who’s Been Hurt by Sexual Assault
7:00pm @ Sarah Doyle Women’s Center lounge (26 Benevolent St.)

Description: A friend is the most likely person that someone will turn to if they have been sexually assaulted. Come learn what helps, what doesn’t, and what a big difference you can make in your friends’ life. Led by Trish Glover, Brown’s Sexual Assault Response and Prevention Program Coordinator.

Sex & Chocolate In The Dark
8:00pm @ Crystal Room (Alumnae Hall)
Description: Celebrate Sex Week with an open discussion about all things sex in a safe, comfortable environment. Bring blankets, pillows, friends, and questions for a night of cozy conversation in a dark, anonymous space. Featuring BDH Post Sexpert Allie Wollner, Zach Marcus, and facilitators from Health Ed and Planned Parenthood. Come prepared to just listen, ask questions, or share your own advice and stories. Oh yeah, and be prepared to eat tons of nature’s greatest aphrodisiac: chocolate.
—————————————–
WEDNESDAY MARCH 17

Raunchy Bake Sale & Activities
Main Green, 12:00-4:00pm

Description: This isn’t your old high-school bake sale. Stop by our table on the Main Green and get delicious goodies in shapes too hot to handle. We’ll also be selling shirts ($12) and tickets for our risqué raffle on March 20th. At $1 for 2 tickets, you can enter to win books, toy chests, grand-prize kits, and top-quality sex toys (from brands such as Tantus, Nexus, and Fun Factory). This is something you don’t want to miss! For more info, check our website.
Transgender Inclusion, or Demilitarizing the Borderlands of the Binary Gender System
7:00pm @ Rhode Island Hall Room 108

Description/Bio: Emi Koyama is a multi-issue social justice slut synthesizing feminist, Asian, survivor, dyke, queer, sex worker, intersex, genderqueer, and crip politics, as these factors, while not a complete descriptor of who she is, all impacted her life. Emi is currently the director of Intersex Initiative. Emi lives in Portland, Oregon and is putting the emi back in feminism since 1975.
—————————————–
THURSDAY MARCH 18
Sex & the MTV Culture
8:30 PM @ List 120 (64 College St.)
Description: Oral sex is no big deal, right? Is anyone NOT having sex? How am I supposed to feel after a hook up? Sexualized images in the media are everywhere and the message often is, “the less you care about sex, the more powerful you are.” Come talk about what sex means in college, the emotional aspects of sexuality and what healthy sexuality could really look like.
—————————————–
FRIDAY MARCH 19

Rebirthing our Joy – Healthy & Happy Sex Lives for All w/ Sarah Sloane and Marlene Chait
4:00pm @ Salomon 003

Description: Often, those of us who are survivors of sexual trauma of all types feel challenged in our expression of our sexuality. Between the aftereffects of the trauma, the feelings of uncertainty, and the fears of doing something that will hurt us, we can get locked into patterns of behavior that stifle our sexual selves, rather than enhance them. Everyone is welcome to this class – trauma survivors, their friends, lovers, and supporters – to talk about techniques to enhance our sense of self, our communication with lovers and partners, our ability to stay centered and grounded, and to evaluate the potential land mines and create action plans for handling issues as they come up in a conscious, loving, and esteem-building way.

Bringing (Safe) Sexy Back w/ Sarah Sloane
7:30pm @ Metcalf Auditorium (188 Thayer St.)
Description: How do you use a condom without it spoiling the mood? How the heck do you use a dental dam? What was she using that saran wrap for? Does alcohol kill STD viruses off of play equipment? Really, how easy is it to transmit HPV? Want answers? Want a safe place to ask those questions you thought might be too ’stupid’? Come on over for a fun tour of safer sex supplies and differently creative ways of using them – including how to easily put a condom on without using your hands! You will also get the most current information on how various diseases are transmitted and how easy they are to kill, so that you can make thoughtful choices on how and where you play. Bring your open mind, your questions, and your creativity out to have fun with us! Plus, as if the topics weren’t tempting enough, we will be raffling off some sex toys at this event, so don’t miss it!
—————————————–
SATURDAY, MARCH 20th

F*cking Fantasies: How to incorporate all those wild thoughts into your play w/ Megan Andelloux
5:00pm @ Salomon 001

Description: What gets you off? What gets other people off? And how the heck do you do it?! If you are curious about the answers to these questions and you want to learn how to maneuver some of your fantasies into your sex life, this is the workshop for you. F*cking Fantasies will cover some of the more common “naughty” thoughts people have (like how to talk dirty, rough sex, and anal play) and expose scary sexual behavior myths that you’ve heard about (like how “good feminists don’t use porn” or that you’ll become desensitized the more sexually “experimental” you are) while giving you the cold hard facts. Individual audience participation is highly encouraged, though not mandatory, so get ready to share a part of your mind and body that pushes peoples’ comfort zone a little. After all, you’re at college to get a challenging education!

A Night of Sex, Toys, & Cabaret feat. The Wet Spots
9:00pm @ Salomon 101

Description: Join us for our grand Sex Week finale! We’ve built up the anticipation for a week, and now that we’ve had our fun, it’s time for a delicious climax. Metaphorically, of course. In addition to a performance by The Wet Spots, we’ll announce the winners of our Brown Erotica Competition and raffle off a ridiculous amount of products from our awesome sponsors. (We guarantee there have never been this many sex-toys in Salomon 101 before.) If you haven’t gotten any raffle tickets yet, you can still get them at this event, so bring cash, come early, and get ready for a red-hot evening.

Performers: Picture a husband and wife team from the golden age of comedy. Now picture them singing sweetly about threesomes and taking it in the ass. Internationally acclaimed cabaret duo The Wet Spots (Cass King and John Woods) write the most elegant songs about sex that you will ever hear. The pair presents an image that is vaudevillian, oversexed, and weirdly Canadian: Think sex club by way of Monty Python. Using a lively blend of original songs, audience interaction, spankings and singalongs, The Wet Spots draw their fans into a world where the libido is celebrated and satirized. Their songs have been licensed for TV shows like The L Word and live credits include The Center for Sex and Culture (San Francisco), The Museum of Sex (NYC), and many Pride events including the first ever queer comedy showcase in Africa (Cape Town Comedy Festival).
————————–
CURRENT LIST OF CO-SPONSORS:
Queer Alliance, Office of Residential Life, Health Education, Students for Choice, Feminist Majority Leadership Alliance, Women’s History Month, Pride Month/LGBTQ Resource Center, GNSS DUG, Coalition Against Relationship Abuse, M-Sex, Femsex, Women Students at Brown, Sexual Assault Task Force, Disability Support Services, Office of Institutional Diversity, Office of Campus Life & Student Services, Undergraduate Finance Board

With help from The Late Night Fund to bring in The Wet Spots!

Mollena Williams March 18, 2010 at 3:19 pm

One might also think that a site with the subheading “Ideas Without Labels” would think twice before posting an article that is critical of sexual education that is inclusive of sexual practices and predilections that you might deem “inappropriate.”

So much for a site promoting “diversity.” I gather your idea of diversity is subject to your whims and ideas and is not objectively truly inclusive.

Sincerely,

Mollena Williams

Sam Hathaway March 18, 2010 at 4:52 pm

Please approve Aida Manduley’s comment on this post.

Chihiro Hashimoto March 18, 2010 at 6:16 pm

Do you want to know why on earth Disability Support Services is listed as a supporter? Probably because there ARE many serious issues being discussed. Sure, mention Strap-on 101, but why not also list the SexAbility w/ Shanna Katz lecture, which focused on communicating sex for people with disabilities?

Just because the sex is not vanilla, heteronormative sex (between Caucasian people who do not have disabilities) does not mean that safe sex should not be practiced in that area. Why shouldn’t we talk about what sex means for someone who might be disabled? Just because we are uncomfortable with the idea? Likewise, why not have a discussion about strap-ons? If a woman wants to explore sex with her partner using a strap-on, shouldn’t she be able to do this safely, with open communications between all partners involved? Brown aims to teach people to be open-minded and comfortable about discussing just that – and you can apply that to any relationship. Yep, even vanilla, heteronormative sex.

Because this article failed to mention several different workshops and lectures, I’d like to list them all here now, without a bias on which are more entertaining/educational/headliner-worthy (with abridged descriptions where the title alone do not describe the event sufficiently):
-Kink/Ethnicity: Documentary and Student Panel
-Strap-On 101
-SexAbility
(People of all ability levels are sexual beings…This workshop hopes to challenge people’s viewpoints, foster discussion and conversation, and open doors towards a shift in the social constructions surrounding sexuality and disability.)
-Make it Work Outside the Box: Relationship-Mapping & Communication
-Feminist Pornography
(Are you one of those who has wondered exactly what it is that makes porn “feminist” or “sex positive?”)
-I’ll Only Tell a Friend: The Best Ways to Help Someone Who’s Been Hurt by Sexual Assault
-Sex & Chocolate In The Dark (Celebrate Sex Week with an open discussion about all things sex in a safe, comfortable environment.)
-Raunchy Bake Sale & Activities
-Transgender Inclusion, or Demilitarizing the Borderlands of the Binary Gender System
-Sex & the MTV Culture
-Rebirthing our Joy – Healthy & Happy Sex Lives for All
(Often, those of us who are survivors of sexual trauma of all types feel challenged in our expression of our sexuality…Everyone is welcome to this class – trauma survivors, their friends, lovers, and supporters – to talk about techniques to enhance our sense of self, our communication with lovers and partners, our ability to stay centered and grounded, and to evaluate the potential land mines and create action plans for handling issues as they come up in a conscious, loving, and esteem-building way.)
-Bringing (Safe) Sexy Back
-F*cking Fantasies: How to incorporate all those wild thoughts into your play
(F*cking Fantasies will cover some of the more common “naughty” thoughts people have…and expose scary sexual behavior myths that you’ve heard about…while giving you the cold hard facts.)
-A Night of Sex, Toys, & Cabaret feat. The Wet Spots

Alright, so let’s say you are absolutely APPALLED by the thought of a documentary focusing on race and kink, Strap-on 101, and a cabaret act by The Wet Spots. Still…don’t you think there are still many important events throughout Sex Week 2010? If you want students to continue experiencing fear, uncertainty, and/or discomfort while exploring sex, then fine – let’s not be frank in our discussion of safe sex. Let us be silent, even if students are working hard to disseminate important information. Or we could just get over the fact that not all sex is vanilla, and get on with our sexual education!

Stephen Beale March 19, 2010 at 1:29 am

Of course, we were happy to approve her post: We believe in free speech and dialogue.

Stephen Beale March 19, 2010 at 1:30 am

Thanks for your comments and for providing the full schedule with complete descriptions. Will we address some of these points in an upcoming post.

Megan March 19, 2010 at 1:35 am

I am unfamiliar with your organization, but please listen to the NAME of this foundation: The Foundation for Intellectual Diversity. Should that be, “Foundation for Intellectual Diversity As Long As Diversity Doesn’t Make Us Too Uncomfortable?”

I should be kind-spirited about this–your concern is legitimate in some ways–but I truly think that this article is very straightforward hypocrisy, and you should be challenged on that. Very few things represent diversity better than human sexuality, and nearly all aspects of sexuality benefit from a good dose of intellectualism. In fact, I believe that one of the greatest benefits of Sex Week is that the talks given bring a high level of intellectualism to frank discussion of sexuality. If your organization truly stands for intellectual diversity, you should be behind Sex Week 100%.

Of course, as I said, your concerns are valid…but please consider my point. Not to mention the fact that these talks are an INCREDIBLE service to the Brown community. We live in a society with a lot of irrational fear about sex and sexuality, so I believe that the rational, frank discussion that Sex Week fosters is absolutely necessary for a higher-functioning society. People come out of these talks with a higher level of responsibility and maturity, and that is nothing to be concerned about.

maymay March 19, 2010 at 4:09 am

Oh come on, Stephen, did you actually bother to read about SHEEC’s Sex Week 2010 before writing your scronful press release?

At any other college, a university-sponsored series of event known as ‘Sex Week 2010’ might suggest forums on condom use and relationship counseling—but not at Brown

Really? Not at Brown? Then why is there an event called “Bringing (Safe) Sexy Back” as part of Sex Week, which is precisely about safer sex practices?

One would think administrators would have better things to do than encourage college students to have more sex

Oh, please. Your remarks so perfectly exemplify how ridiculously off-point you are. As if that’s what’s going on here. As if.

You name a university where administrators deny sex is happening among the student body and I’ll show you a lying faculty. The only difference I see between Brown administrators’ actions and the faculty of many other universities is that Brown’s faculty are taking steps to ensure that their students become more educated about sexuality in general as well as safer sex techniques in particular.

Such education won’t merely help these students stay safe while in school, it also empowers them to live happier, healthier, more successful lives after they graduate. Moreover, I think the fact that the Brown University faculty has supported SHEEC, which is comprised of students, in its efforts to empower and educate other students is telling of the respect for the capability of young people too often lacking in other educational institutions. Young people need to be supported, not restricted, when they show initiative in educating themselves. Or are you so disdainful of Brown’s own students that you believe otherwise?

If you are, in fact, interested in hearing about why Sex Week 2010 is a fantastic use of resources to promote precisely the kind of intellectual diversity your organization claims to be “for,” consider listening to Aida speak about the event herself on the most recent Kink On Tap episode, affectionately titled “SHEEC Sex” (a reference to the several news stories about certain chic sex products on the market that were discussed in the episode).

Also, in regards to what Aida said in her comment, above:

we need to bring this dialogue to the fore and educate our campus about what they’re doing and how to engage with their respective sexualities in positive, healthy ways. As long as we determine that sexuality is a topic that must be kept hidden, or that certain topics are “too taboo to talk about,” we will breed legions of misinformed youth that will then turn into misinformed adults

Thank you for saying that, Aida! You are exactly correct, as I think Stephen has just shown us all with his ridiculous, factually incorrect press release.

Ai Lake March 19, 2010 at 6:59 am

You ask, “why Brown University is devoting a week to teaching students how to explore their sexuality?”

My response, “Because it is what one would expect an educational institution to provide for their students.”

What better forum is there for intelligent students to learn about their sexuality and how to explore it? Sex Week provides a fun, safe environment, with no judgement, with their peers. What Brown University has taken to sponsor is a jewel, education and experiences that will be with the participants for the rest of their lives that will teach them to be safe and pursue their happiness and the happiness of the people around them. Open your eyes and see what a *gift* Sex Week is providing to the students if Brown.

Sarah Sloane March 19, 2010 at 7:15 am

As one of the selected speakers at Brown’s Sex Week, I cannot tell you how utterly thrilled I am to have the opportunity to talk about safer sex practices. I have on many occasions taught this class to the over-30 set and am saddened that there are so many of them that never got adequate safer sex education – the number of people in their 30’s and over that have become positive for HIV, Herpes because they aren’t aware of whathigh risk activities that they might be practicing, or how to take precautions against STI transmissions, is astounding. Giving college-age students an opportunity to learn the information and skills necessary for them to make healthier choices is one of the most important things that any sex educator can do; and giving them the opportunity to ask about and understand issues of sex, power, control, fantasy, and alternative sexuality in an environment devoted to their education is a priceless gift. I’m glad that Brown (and other Universities) have sex week activities; my hope is that their generation will be far better educated, safer, and happier than my own – isn’t that what we’re all supposed to leave behind as our legacy?

Shanna Katz March 19, 2010 at 11:59 am

I would like to really applaud the Brown students who spoke up. Clearly, the students are interested in validating all aspects of sexuality, and the campus is supporting them in their quest for information. Also, thank you to Mollena for pointing out, as many noted on Facebook and Twitter, that this purports to be a group focused on “ideas without labels” but is yet so quick to label something as inappropriate.

I taught four classes/workshops at Brown University earlier this week; Strap On 101, SexAbility (on the intersections of sexuality and disability), Making It Work Outside the Box (on communication, relationships, and non-traditional expressions on sexuality), and Feminist & Sex Positive pornography. None of these classes was in any way lewd; they all involved lecture, discussion, questions, handouts (with research and resources) and more. So apparently what makes them “inappropriate” is that they talk about a sexuality that is not what lines up with YOUR ideas of appropriate. That is labeling things.

Sex education for years has focused on condoms and trying to prevent sexual assault, and Sex Week at Brown includes talks on helping friends who are survivors, rediscovering your sexuality after being assaulted, and making safer sex sexy. However, Brown did what many schools have moved towards; it tried to meet the students where they were at, and validate the diversity of the students and the spectrum of sexuality. Each talk I had was well attended by students interested in discussing the topic, from what feminism meant in relationship to sexuality to how we can incorporate accessibility for disability into all of our communities, including queer and sex positive communities.

THAT is education. Learning about the large explosion of identities, of how to have safer sex with sex toys (did you know sex toys aren’t FDA regulated, so many contain phthalates, which can cause alleries, negative reactions, and even cancer in some users? That was something we talked about in Strap On 101 — health and safer sex, just like you asked for), how to communicate with partners (and yourself), and more are all important things that college students WANT to be learning, clearly as demonstrated by the number of attendees and level of interaction at the classes.

That said, Brown is also not the only school trying to expand the definition of sexuality. Yale recently had its own sex week, which included a brilliant porn panel of Sasha Grey, Madison Young, Buck Angel, and many more sex-positive porn stars. Tristan Taormino recently spoke on gender at CU-Boulder in Colorado. Megan Andelloux (who will be doing the fantasies class on Saturday) speaks at colleges up and down the East coast on a variety of sexuality centric topics, including Trinity and Brandeis just this week. So really, Brown is keeping up with other competitive schools that are listening to the students, as compared to teaching them “inappropriate” subjects that you feel should be confined to the dorm room.

Q March 19, 2010 at 4:22 pm

In my opinion, part of the problem with our society’s views (i.e. the stigma and shame) on sex, is that even in a collegiate setting, frank, open and honest conversations regarding sex and sexuality are STILL not happening! Brown University’s amazingly diverse line up of education and entertainment for Sex Week 2010 is definitely a step in the right direction I say.

The numbers on forcible sex crimes on U.S. campuses have been on a steady rise going back to at least 2002. In an era of apologies by public figures for past and present “indiscretions”, Brown should be lauded for their efforts to remove the stigma surrounding talking about sex with one’s partner.

Communication may very well be the most difficult of arts, but it is essential in every aspect of our lives and that includes sex. With or without encouragement, students across our country (even at Brown!) are having sex. Much of that sex remains uninformed and unprotected and that is just dangerous. If you find the event(s) not to your liking then don’t go. Don’t attempt to deny those students who do want an education (about sex) their opportunity to learn by insinuating that the topics that will be addressed during Sex Week 2010 don’t belong on campus. They are paying for their education and want to get the most out of it. After all, isn’t that what college is supposed to be about, education?

And yes, Brown’s administrators do have better things to do than encourage college students to have more sex. For instance, equipping them with the knowledge to have safer, more informed sex which creates a less hostile campus climate and a better learning environment overall.

Oh wait, that IS what they are doing by supporting Sex Week. As an aside, educating someone on a topic doesn’t mean you are encouraging them. Your knee-jerk response to Brown’s Sex Week 2010 is a pretty good example of why there needs to be more events like it.

Joshua March 19, 2010 at 5:00 pm

Two parties…er…orgies dedicated to sexual exploration, a queer alliance that gets more funding than almost any other student group, an entire week dedicated to sexual “education”, a class dedicated to exploring “female sexuality”, another one exploring “male sexuality”… I can see what you mean. It’s pretty clear that Brown has a dearth of sex-focused activities.

Obviously this is so very important. Obviously your life has value because you’re teaching women how to take it in the ass tastefully. Congratulations to all of you ladies. You’re a credit to the fairer sex.

maymay March 19, 2010 at 5:40 pm

@Joshua:

Obviously your life has value because you’re teaching women how to take it in the ass tastefully. Congratulations to all of you ladies. You’re a credit to the fairer sex.

This kind of sentiment is “obviously” something that gives your life “value.” People like you who insinuate that someone’s personal sexual tastes, when different from your own, makes them of less value than you are is precisely the kind of bigoted elitism I hope we can eradicate from the face of our planet very soon.

Get your shameful message the hell away from our children, especially our daughters. Seriously.

Joshua March 19, 2010 at 6:32 pm

@maymay, maybe you should learn to read. I never insinuated that anyone’s life is less valuable because of their sexual tastes. I said that the act of teaching people about sex as a primary lot in life is not valuable. Your puerile illiterateness is precisely the kind of idiocy I’d like eradicated from our University halls.

Also, you say you want to eradicate elitists? You’re a little late for that sort of unoriginal thought, Pol Pot already tried it.

Oh, and with regard to our daughters, I’m really excited to someday send my daughter to an University where she will be taught to masturbate and use a dildo. Yay higher education!

Chihiro Hashimoto March 19, 2010 at 11:59 pm

@Joshua

All those events and organisations exist because students make them happen. If you’re bitter about not having an organisation in your own area of interest, just get a group of friends and write up a proposal!

Emma March 21, 2010 at 12:30 am

@Joshua

I’d like you to take your own advice and read Maymay’s comment a second time. Although it’s true that Pol Pot was quick on the uptake with his plans to “eradicate elitists” what May said in his comment was that your comment demonstrated the type of “elitism I hope we can eradicate from the face of our planet.” ELITISM, as a way of thinking and being, is very different from the people who embody it, ELITISTS. May is talking about creating a more accepting world – he doesn’t deserve to be compared to a mass murderer because of it.

And I, personally, would be pleased to have anyone help my future daughter learn to explore her body in a healthy way, be it at University or not.

But that’s clearly a difference of opinion.

maymay March 21, 2010 at 12:42 am

@maymay, maybe you should learn to read […] you say you want to eradicate elitists?

Far be it from me to suggest it, Joshua, but maybe you should learn to read. :) What I want to eradicate is “bigoted elitism,” as I said. You did, uh, read what I said, right?

Joshua March 21, 2010 at 1:04 am

@maymay and @emma actually what was said was amidst the incomprehensible runon sentence

People like you who insinuate that someone’s personal sexual tastes, when different from your own, makes them of less value than you are is[sic] precisely the kind of bigoted elitism I hope we can eradicate from the face of our planet very soon.

That’s a pretty damn big dangling participle.

All I’m saying is, you could learn a thing or two from us elitists.

Oh, and @emma, you say

and I, personally, would be pleased to have anyone help my future daughter learn to explore her body in a healthy way, be it at University or not.

I hope your future daughter’s father isn’t a pedophile.

maymay March 23, 2010 at 5:47 pm

@joshua: Your objection to my statement is my grammar mistake? Wow. I have nothing more to say to you.

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