In the venerable chambers of Sheffield-Sterling-Strathcona Hall on Sunday night, at the “Foreplay Show,” performer Stevie Jay caressed a bar stool. At the Slifka Center Monday, Dr. Ruth Westheimer fielded a question.
“How do you make a woman squirt?”
And tomorrow, Yale will find out “everything [we’ve] always wanted to know about sex (and sex toys!)”
Maybe this is just the education we really need. After all, most of Yale sadly felt some sense of camaraderie with Paulie Bleeker this winter break when Juno blurted out that she was “like, in love” with him — he seemed cool, she said, without even trying. Bleeker looked awkward. “Um,” he mumbled. “I try really hard, actually.”
But whether or not we could use the instruction, Sex Week is about much more than, well, sex — despite the common perception that it is not.
In Monday’s Hartford Courant, for example, Dr. Gail Dines, the co-founder of the feminist, anti-pornography group Stop Porn Culture, had harsh words for Sex Week’s organizers.
“There is no attempt by the organizers of Sex Week to even pay lip service to a feminist critique [of porn],” she wrote. “One more sign of just how acceptable and mainstream porn has become at Yale and in our culture.”
By “showcasing Vivid,” she argued, “Yale is accepting, even promoting, the media-generated sugarcoated image of the porn industry as glamorous, fun and cool.”
It’s easy to see where she is coming from: Yalies this week can look forward to a visit by the Vivid Girls, a night of ‘skull and boning’ at Toad’s, an impassioned defense of the sex industry by Ron Jeremy himself, even an X-rated film viewing with pornography director Paul Thomas.
But Dines is wrong. Sex Week exists for a different reason than she suggests — namely, to provoke debate. It just hasn’t been advertised as such.
We asked Sex Week’s director why.
“I’m the first to admit it: If we called it Sexual Awareness Week and didn’t invite porn stars, not nearly as many people would be coming to the events,” Citarrella said. “Sometimes that does mean having a gap between what we advertise and what the week is really all about.”
It makes sense — the cross-promotion, the glitz, the porn does turn people out; the three events held so far saw packed houses.
But with all the talk of vibrators and vaginas, of lingerie and love, it is easy to forget that there are multiple sides to this discussion on sex. And not just at Friday’s “Great Porn Debate,” but in the case of all events — and the premise of the week itself.
Citarrella insists nearly every event is controversial in its own way — “We’re not going to take sides,” he said — but to compound the advertising problem, there are few conservative speakers coming, and even fewer critics of Sex Week’s very approach to sex. We don’t blame him; surely organizing around two-dozen colorful events at Yale on the same week is a great challenge.
But that puts the onus on us, the audience, to object, overturn the obvious, offend — and be offended.
Whether or not you’re in the camp that believes Yale suffers from rampant misogyny or homophobia, dangerously extreme liberalism or a culture averse to exclusivity and relationships, the time is now for you to speak — stage a protest, ask the tough questions. If you don’t, Sex Week may not serve its real purpose — beneath, that is, the sex toys and seduction.
Don’t worry. This is one time you won’t be rejected.