Let’s Talk About Sex (Week)

Sex Week at Emory, sponsored by the Office of Health Promotion, is a week dedicated to sex-positivity and advocates #morethancondoms. The events were originally scheduled for the week of Feb. 8-14, but some of the events have been rescheduled due to snow days, with two of the events slated for the week after spring break and two the following week as a part of a sex-positivity series. The events that already occurred were Wonderful Wednesday, which focused on sex-positive merchandise as well as a photo project that asked statements such as “A real woman/men is…” “love is louder…” and “good sex is…”​ All student groups were asked to participate at Wonderful Wednesday, with their own projects.

Furthermore, Youtube star Lacey Green spoke at the event “Relationsh!t” which took place on Feb. 8 in the Winship Ballroom. The event focused on giving advice to students on how to build healthy and safe relationships during and after college. Additionally, activist and educator Robyn Ochs led beyond binaries workshop on Feb. 10 in Emory Black Student Union (EBSU) where she explored the dimensions and landscape of sexual orientation.

The Office of Health Promotion and Student Health Advocacy Group (SHAG) partnered with many student organizations, such as Sexual Assault Peer Advocates (SAPA), Feminists in Action (FIA), EmoryPride, Alliance for Sexual Assault Prevention (ASAP), EmoryKink, the DeKalb County Board of Health, Residents Hall Association (RHA), Few and Evans Residence Hall, Office of Multicultural Programs and Services (OMPS), Nursing Students for Reproductive Justice, Emory Reproductive Health Association and the Respect Program. Sex Week aims to break down misconceptions surrounding sex, promote an environment that fosters dialogue surrounding sexuality and explain to students that sex is not just about contraception but rather self-autonomy and being in control of your own body.

We at the Wheel feel that Sex Week is a great step forward toward removing the stigma around sexuality, gender and sex. The messages of Sex Week – education-based awareness and open dialogue around sex – are forward-thinking and important, especially on a college campus. We respect and applaud these groups for sending a message of sex-positivity. This week serves to undermine a taboo – the notion that sex is something we as students shouldn’t talk about – and even though some events have been postponed, the message is still inherent in the events that did occur.

However, some aspects of Sex Week may need tweaking. We understand that the Wonderful Wednesday event of “A Real Woman/Man is…” had good intentions insofar as it attempted to challenge societal definitions of what a man/woman should represent. However, we found a problem with the rhetoric surrounding what a “real” man/woman should be. It centers around essentialist and heteronormative discourse, presupposing that a man/woman can be fake (which we take issue with) and that there are specific characteristics attached to being a real man/woman. Still, we recognize that this is complex territory and we understand that no event is going to satisfy everyone completely.

Regardless of our criticisms, Sex Week’s Wonderful Wednesday was still a success. It promoted safe sex and broke down stigmas with the distribution of condoms and lubricant, genitalia-shaped cookies and cakes and white boards with questions such as “love is louder…” and “good sex is…”

Given recent reports of rape and sexual assault on Emory’s campus, now is a good time to educate the Emory community about assault through these events. Two students came forward this month to report sexual assaults — one reporting a rape in Emory Village, and the other an assault at Sigma Nu’s fraternity house — and the number of reports of sexual assaults on campus at Emory is rising, which could indicate that more students are using Emory’s resources. Sex Week is a good opportunity to continue educating our student body about sexual assault and awareness.

Overall, Sex Week at Emory opens up necessary dialogue surrounding sex. We are glad that so many student groups and campus divisions have taken such amazing initiative to relay a positive message about our bodies and our sexualities. We applaud all of those involved with Sex Week and look forward to the events to come.

The above staff editorial represents the majority opinion of the Wheel. 

If you or someone you know has been affected by sexual violence, you have support at Emory. Please contact Lauren (LB) Bernstein, Assistant Director for the Respect Program at 404.727.1514 or respect@emory.edu for confidential support. You can also learn more about the Respect Program at respect.emory.edu.