Sex does not exist within a vacuum in our culture. Sex often reinforces power structures, shames out-groups and regulates lives. But it is also a medium through which humans come to understand themselves, challenge power structures, celebrate their individuality, affirm personal agency and connect with others. Sex has implications that reverberate beyond the realms of the bedroom. We as a campus must discuss and contextualize the cultural politics underlying, influencing and forging sex and sexuality. To this end, the Sex & Sexuality Week team seeks to widen the dialogue to touch on gender identity, faith, race and structural biases in our society, among other topics that are tangibly in conversation with sex and sexuality in our lives.
Sex & Sexuality Week seeks to create spaces for conversations predicated on a few basic premises. It respects that people make different choices around sex and sexuality, and sees this diversity as a strength. Sex & Sexuality Week respects the many different kinds of bonds — friendships, hookups, friendships with benefits, polyamorous relationships and long-term relationships — that students form with each other. Sex & Sexuality Week is an unapologetically feminist endeavor.
We are proud that student groups drive Sex & Sexuality Week’s programming. Campus organizations — publications, social groups, performance groups and advocacy groups — consider sex, sexuality and their intersections on a regular basis. Their ongoing dialogues make Sex & Sexuality Week possible, and we are grateful that these organizations have contributed their time and insights to our program. We students know ourselves best, and our team is proud to feature events that students have creatively and thoughtfully constructed, such as a sex ed workshop for queer womyn; a community art project exploring Asian American desire and desirability; a discussion on how faith, sex and sexuality interact; and “zines” about consent, pleasure and reproductive health.
Nor will our conversations be limited to Yale. Emani Love, an outreach worker at Detroit’s Ruth Ellis Center, will give a talk about the sexual politics of transgender women navigating survival sex work, racism and the war on drugs in Detroit. A screening of the documentary “Treasure” in which she appears will accompany her talk. Christine Barksdale, the owner of Sustainable Passion, a sex-positive and women-centric sex toy shop, will explore issues in and around sex, sustainability and pleasure. Given that much of the sex toy industry is left to self-regulation, Barksdale’s company is important for moving towards products that are safe for the body and the environment.
We hope that different students will find different events to enjoy throughout Sex & Sexuality Week. Most of our events will be dialogues; the people who attend will determine the course of the conversation.
Of course, a one-week program cannot be comprehensive. Even a yearlong series could not capture the many ways that students approach sex and sexuality. We see Sex & Sexuality Week as a starting point for many ongoing conversations about what we — as individuals and as a community — want. We hope that Sex & Sexuality Week can be a useful step as our campus reflects on our values of mutual respect, health and safety and open dialogue.
Katherine Fang is a junior in Trumbull College. She is the director of this year’s Sex & Sexuality Week. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org .