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Harvard’s Sex Week, an annual series of events featuring student panels and workshops on sexual health and intimacy, began on Monday.
During the coming week, student organization Sexual Health Education and Advocacy Throughout Harvard College, or SHEATH, is hosting a wide array of discussions ranging from BGLTQ intimacy to sex toys. This year’s programming includes 19 events from Monday to Sunday, such as “A+ Students, F Boys: A Student Panel on Dating and Hookups in College” and “What, What, In the Butt?: Anal Sex 101.”
Andie E. Turner '20-’22, co-president of SHEATH, said Sex Week’s goal is to generate “natural, organic, ongoing conversation” with College students about sex and sexuality.
“We include events that are as inclusive, diverse, encouraging of open dialogue as possible for students who both have come to Harvard with little to no sex education in their hometowns, which is my case, or students that had grown up in families or communities that have much more of an open discourse with regards to sexuality, sex intimacy, but just want to further their knowledge,” Turner said.
Sex Week, which began in 2012, was canceled last year due to Covid-19. Despite initial fears of low attendance, SHEATH co-president Karina A. Pimenta ’22 said the turnout for the first few events of the week was “overwhelming.”
“This is the biggest attendance we've ever had for Sex Week ever, since its creation,” Pimenta said. “We were a little stressed with how we're going to replan things to accommodate for that amount of people, but we're really happy with the turnout.”
Pimenta and Turner reported audience numbers reaching 360 students who packed into Sever Hall’s auditorium for the three events hosted on Monday.
“I think it's a really awesome opportunity for the campus, for students, to learn a lot more about sex and to change a culture of taboo, and basically just make it so that people have more knowledge and can have safer, funner sex,” audience member Shojeh C. Liu ’23 said.
Jamie Joy — a queer Jewish sex educator and guest speaker for the discussion “Kinks & Fetishes & and Taboos, Oh My!” — said they were “very pleased” that students filled the auditorium.
“To have students creating this program for other students is a really big deal, and especially on a campus that has a long history of not necessarily being sex positive or a queer positive space,” Joy said. “They're trailblazing.”
Pimenta said she feels that the panel discussion on kinks, fetishes, and taboos on Monday empowered students to have more open conversations about sexuality. She praised Joy for their efforts to engage the audience with the themes of the week.
“They opened the floor up for discussion, like, ‘Hey, talk to the person next to you, ask them what they're comfortable with, what they like, what they don't like,’” Pimenta said. “Having an opportunity to talk within here obviously doesn't reflect on the day-to-day outside of Sex Week, but hopefully, it's one of the first steps for people to have that opening.”
Meadow R. Hall ’24, an attendee, described the discussion as “very welcoming.”
“Being in a room — a lecture hall, specifically — to just learn more about it and see how all of our peers interact within that community was really nice,” Hall said. “It was also very comforting, especially coming from a Bible Belt town where sex is very taboo, to just be in a community where you having the relationship with your body and your partner's body is totally fine.”
—Staff writer Vivi E. Lu can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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