To the Editor:
In his critique of Sex Week at Yale (“Sex Week at Yale lacks balancing viewpoints,” 2/16) bemoaning the lack of abstinence discussion and the focus on individual sexuality, Taylor Larson ignores one glaring fact about the student-led initiative. Sex Week is supposed to be about sex.
First, to point out the obvious, abstinence does not really have a place in Sex Week. Sex Week, being about sex, focused on various forms of sexual expression. If Larson wanted discussion of abstinence as an alternative, he could have gone to one of the Sexual Health Awareness Week events just prior to Sex Week; that week, organized by UHS, focused on many alternatives to intercourse, including abstinence.
However, two abstinent alternatives to sex were discussed thoroughly in Sex Week. Masturbation and sex toys were addressed extensively in several events during the week. Individual sexual expression is one of the most viable forms of abstinence; it still allows a person to be sexual, but there is no risk of impregnating anyone, there is no risk of contracting a sexually transmitted infection, and there is no risk of the “emotionally scarring experiences” Larson surmises could result from engaging in sex before one is ready. In fact, masturbation provides an outlet for sexual energies that has no risk of affecting another person in a negative way. Far from being a hindrance to future sexual relationships, masturbation seems to prepare a person for what it is to be sexual before he is in an intimate situation with someone else.
Sex toys are yet another way to facilitate abstinence without repressing one’s sexuality. Just because they have the word “toy” in their name does not at all mean that sex toys belittle sexual experience. A couple can use sex toys without worry of pregnancy or, if used properly, sexually transmitted infection. Larson’s criticism of individual sexuality seems more rooted in cultural stigma than in any sort of logical method.
In my opinion, sexuality should not be repressed, be it individually or in a relationship. I appreciate the concern for saving sexual intercourse for marriage, but this certainly should not rule out sexual alternatives to intercourse before marriage. Sex Week did exactly what it was supposed to: it brought sexual issues that are not often spoken about, like masturbation and sex toys, into a public forum.
Nick Seaver ’07
February 18, 2004