UPDATED: April 2, 2012, at 4:21 a.m.
At Saturday night’s eighth annual Female Orgasm Seminar, guests ate cupcakes with vagina- and penis-shaped chocolates on top while learning about female sexuality from sexologist Logan Levkoff.
Students lined up an hour in advance to get a seat in the packed Science Center lecture hall for the event, sponsored by the Radcliffe Union of Students. As guests filed into the room, board members of Sexual Health Education & Advocacy throughout Harvard College wandered around the lecture hall wearing a vulva costume.
At Saturday’s event, which capped off Harvard’s first-ever Sex Week, Levkoff spoke about the issues that adults face because they are not educated about their sexuality or are chastised as children for being curious.
“If we have problems with adult sexuality, our young ones don’t stand a chance,” Levkoff said. “We are living in a world of sexual insanity.”
She added that women in particular do not learn about their vaginas.
“It’s like the Snuffleupagus of anatomy,” she said, referring to the vagina. “From a young age girls are taught that these parts don’t even exist.”
She compared this relative ignorance and embarrassment to the culture that encourages boys to grow up talking about their penises with pride. According to Levkoff, girls are taught from early on that someone else controls their sexual pleasure, so it is important for women to learn that they can benefit from self-exploration.
“Orgasms are about our entire body,” she said. “Sexual arousal is as much mental as it is physical.”
During her presentation, Levkoff used statistics to dispel a number of common myths about female orgasms. For example, she explained that 70 percent of women do not have orgasms from vaginal intercourse alone.
She also listed of some of the benefits of orgasms, such as releasing stress and relieving menstrual cramps.
“An orgasm is a release of sexual tensions. Pleasure is a part of our sexual health,” she said.
The event concluded with an anonymous question and answer session.
One audience member asked, “I am a guy, so how do I know when girls I hook up with have an orgasm?”
Levkoff replied that the most sure-fire way to know is to ask the woman.
Audience members said they appreciated the event’s emphasis on open communication about sexuality.
“We are quiet in a way that is problematic. Dr. Levkoff did a great job in opening the conversation,” said Leonie A. Oostrom ’15.
At the end of the lecture, RUS members raffled off sex toys and presented the women’s rugby team with a vagina cake for having the most team members in attendance. They also led the enormous audience in singing “Happy Birthday” to Levkoff, who received overwhelming applause and laughter throughout the event.
“Sex Week in general is awesome,” said Roberto A. Perez ’15, “There isn’t this tension, it’s like ‘Just talk about it, guys.’ It’s nice to see a dialogue.”