There has been a lot of talk about sex this week. Sex Week and True Love Week are both in full swing. We have come a long way since Undergraduates for a Better Yale College tried to have Sex Week banned.
We can be thankful that Sex Week has brought a wide-ranging schedule of events to campus. We can also be thankful that the organizers of True Love Week have had the chance to add their take on the place of sex in society to the discussion.
But we are one student body, and the talk of sex and sexual climate that has gripped us so intensely for the last year affects all Yalies — not segmented groups of us. If we are to have a genuinely inclusive week devoted to discussion of all things sexual, it should not be divided along partisan, religious or any other lines. Sex Week and True Love Week should go hand in hand.
Sex Week has already made a good faith effort to include as many perspectives as possible. Its schedule this year boasts a range of speakers who could appeal to students from every corner of Yale. The week includes events at the Slifka Center and Saint Thomas More as well as legal panels and a sex toy workshop. The porn industry sponsors are gone, but organizers have not been afraid to hold on to some of the more salacious events — a decision that contributes to the comprehensive nature of the event. Students are right to push the envelope.
That approach is exactly what Yale needs — and exactly the stage than can include True Love Week’s more conservative stance.
Although UBYC positioned True Love Week specifically in opposition to Sex Week, the group should be happy to have won a more moderate, inclusive Sex Week. Now, True Love Week should integrate into the improved Sex Week program, not play its own game on the sidelines.
As Ann Olivarius ’77 said in Sex Week’s keynote address Saturday, exploration — whether academic, emotional, sexual or otherwise — is empowering. We are all at Yale to explore. Sex Week and True Love Week should encourage Yalies to do just that, together. They should invite us, together, to listen to and challenge divergent opinions. Sex Week’s organizers have demonstrated their willingness. It’s time for True Love Week’s organizers to do the same.
The line is tired, but it’s true: Discussion is the antidote to so many of Yale’s recent sexual controversies. But that discussion must not sequester dissenting groups and further divide us. UBYC’s initial efforts to ban Sex Week were short-sighted, as this year’s Sex Week has proved with its broad offerings. UBYC no longer aims to abolish Sex Week. That’s a start.
Yalies on all sides have learned to voice objections. True Love Week calls itself a protest against the commodification of sex. One of its events drew a kiss-in protest against a speaker’s homophobia. Those protests have their merits, and both accomplished something. But we need more than objection. We need genuine engagement despite — if not because of — our differing opinions.