Last Friday’s article on the sex@yale initiative (“Dean’s Office Web site to host essays about sex”) received a slew of comments, and we are grateful for both the positive and negative feedback. As members of sex@yale’s steering committee, however, we wish to make a few clarifications.
First off, we want to differentiate ourselves from Sex Week at Yale. While we respect and support the mission of that project, we don’t think sex@yale belongs in the same “too much sex” category. Many people have expressed concerns about pornography, arguing that fumbling sexual exploits have no place on the Dean’s Office site. We agree. Sex@yale plans to center on strategies for approaching the sexual culture, not play-by-plays of our Saturday night hookups.
We also agree that conversation about sex abounds on campus. This is where we’d like to intervene. To borrow a commenter’s words, “The point of the initiative under discussion is that much of this talk [about sex] comes to a crashing halt when it comes to actual, live college students figuring out what they want or do not want … and how to successfully accomplish it. In that silence can lurk a lot of loneliness, confusion and, on occasion, the conditions for much worse things like sexual assault.” We’re trying to move beyond the meaningless chatter about sex to a more productive conversation that promotes broader acceptance and improved personal health and safety when it comes to sex and relationships.
Finally, like many students, we feel much of our education at Yale happens beyond the classroom. Rather than detracting from the academic environment, then, we’re hoping to create a community in which every member feels that his or her health, safety and desires are respected. Sexuality and relationships are integral to one’s social life here at Yale — whether or not you are sexually “active.” And while Yale is an unbelievable place, traces of sexism and prejudice still persist. If we work to foster a culture of respect here on our campus, perhaps we will be able to promote that same culture in the world beyond its gates.
Here’s where you come in. In order to ensure that our whole community and the diversity of our experiences are represented, we need to hear from you. Whether your sex life is your first or last priority, whether or not you usually think gender issues are “your thing,” we need your help to make this initiative dynamic and inclusive.
Laura Gottesdiener and Genna Purcell
The writers are the co-chairs of the editorial board for sex@yale and seniors in Calhoun and Jonathan Edwards Colleges, respectively.