Sex Week’s goal of diversity fulfilled

Reading Virginia Calkins and Callie Lowenstein’s article “Sex Week at Yale promotes hypocritical image” (2/13), it is clear to me that they have not yet had the pleasure of attending any of our events. While they make a valid point that our advertising is sexy and catchy, it certainly has not deterred a large and extremely diverse group of students from showing up to our events. I would venture to say that the diversity I witnessed at these events is greater than at any other event I’ve seen on campus. It may surprise Calkins and Lowenstein to know that Logan Levkoff’s presentation on the “Female Orgasm” was attended by as many curious and respectful young men as young women.

Had they attended the event, Lowenstein and Calkins would also know that Levkoff’s presentation was first and foremost about dispelling many of the myths surrounding female sexuality that often lead to unhappiness in relationships. Levkoff made the point that normal sex education for women covers little more than how to clean the presumably “dirty” genital area. Without the knowledge of our own sexuality and sexual organs, young women are much more likely to enter submissive and often unfulfilling sexual relationships, which can manifest themselves in other areas of our lives. Did you know that sexual dissatisfaction is a “major contributing factor in divorce” according to the The Kinsey Institute New Report on Sex? Similarly, Pure Romance’s CEO Patty Brisben’s presentation stressed the importance of women taking responsibility for their own sexual satisfaction rather than waiting for a partner to deliver. While the catchy titles of our presentations may not lead on, we are actually dealing with very serious issues, that affect all human being — celibate, sexually active or otherwise.

With regards to our advertising, Calkins and Lowensteins’ article is proof that it is working. Our goal is to get people talking. We are not as interested in whether our audience agrees with out speakers, but more so in getting students to go back to privacy of their rooms (or wherever else they chose) and talk candidly about these issues of sexuality. Evidenced by the diverse audience that has attended our events thus far, it is clear that the slim silhouettes that grace our advertising have not deterred women and men of all shapes, sizes, races, ages, social circles and sexual involvement to attend.

Their statement that our advertising, “promote[s] discomfort in the wider, more diverse range of sexual individuals that make up our community,” simply did not prove true given the diversity of our audience thus far. One only needed to sit through a Q&A session to learn that the audience consisted of everyone from a self proclaimed “ladies’ man” to a young married women facing difficulties in her relationship due to her extremely sexually conservative upbringing. For those who are genuinely interested, they will see our advertising for what it is: advertising.

We chose a style of advertisement that we believed would bring in the greatest numbers, end of story. Our advertising does not attempt convey a message (other than times and locations); we leave the message to the presenters.

We encourage our critics to attend our events and see for themselves that Sex Week does, as best as it can in eight days, to explore the many faces of love, sex, intimacy and relationships.

Victoria Wild is a senior in Timothy Dwight College. She is the director of public relations for Sex Week at Yale.


  • je

    "Our goal is to get people talking."

    And my goal today is to breathe at least a few times.

    Of course you're going to get people talking - your goal as organizers of "sex week" should be to give people access to knowledge.

    If you're setting the bar as low as "stirring up controversy", then no shit - you're going to succeed.

  • alum '07

    I'm glad you seem enthusiastic about "dispelling…myths" about female sexuality. So do you think it's not a myth, then, that abnormally skinny women are more sexually desirable or better at sex than all the rest of us? Is that just how things really are?

    I am a sex-positive person. I think it's empowering and useful and potentially a lot of fun to have a forum for information and discussion about how women and people of all genders experience pleasure and negotiate sexual relationships. (Let me note that I'd be potentially interested in any event that offered free sex toys for the taking!) But when I see advertising that makes sex look like it's for a certain type of people who aren't like me (physically or culturally), I'm not inclined to attend the event that's being advertised. The advertising is suggesting that I am less deserving of or able to experience sexual pleasure than some other group of people. Why would I want to go to an event whose organizers, if they don't just believe that this is true, aren't critical enough to realize that they are presenting themselves and their organization as if they believe it?

    But it sounds like you don't actually want to promote inclusive sex positivity and recognize the diversity of sexual experience--those aren't values you care at all if you further with sex week (you don't seem to care if you further any ideas about anything!) So the fact that you're doing the opposite with your advertisements probably won't bother you.

  • jack

    Yale Sex Week came across as Yale Straight Male Porn Week. The involvement of the pornographic industry supports this notion. I was so disappointed.

  • alan

    Why couldn't there have been a naked male on the cover of the Yale Sex Week magazine? It seems that the current Yale Sex Week organizers are pandering to the straight male fantasy. Straight men form less than half of the population yet they get seemingly total control over what gets prominence in the Sex Week promotions.