Just in case my comment doesn’t get approved, and also because I just want to publicize it for further discussion, here’s my response to this
article, whose main beef with Sex Week seems to be the university support and financial backing.
On a related note, I’m proud of SHEEC for being the first entry under their Gender Issues tag and for having its OWN tag, “Sex Week.” Heck, I’m proud that now the FID website has the phrase “kinky sex” in it! 🙂
Hey there! I’m the current Sex Week coordinator, so I can definitely speak to this topic.
“forums on condom use and relationship counseling—but not at Brown” – In fact, we do have those events. Bringing (Safe) Sexy Back [happening Friday night] is all about safer sex, and our Monday night workshop focused on communication and negotiation in relationships, especially when people get involved in any sort of “non-traditional” relationship because there are way less people talking about how to make it work in those settings (still, the techniques and lessons are applicable to all sorts of relationships, romantic or otherwise).
The issue of feminist and sex-positive pornography is one hotly debated in the fields of queer/feminist/women/gender/sexuality studies and theory, and thus highly relevant, especially in light of the rise of sex-positivism and the backlash of certain communities.
Our documentary (“Kinky”) and student panel centered around issues of power dynamics and their intersection with race/ethnicity, and we used the film as a springboard to start conversation, since in BDSM the power dynamics are EXPLICIT, whereas in daily life, we operate under many assumptions and systems of oppression but don’t talk about them or actively negotiate them. This was not a forum to teach students how to have kinky sex, but instead explore hierarchies, power dynamics, and their intersections with identity.
Re: sex toys and how to use them, SHEEC wants Brown students to be informed consumers, as well as sexually-aware individuals, so of course we’ll have events about these things. Because sex toys aren’t regulated in the way that other products are, standards and materials can vary widely, and we wish to inform the Brown population about what items are body-safe and instruct them in the proper care of themselves AND their toys. Which leads me to the topic of the raffles! We are holding these because, not only are prizes fun, but when we talk about body-safe sex toys, some of those are expensive and we wanted to make items available to those who perhaps didn’t have the means to purchase them.
The workshop on sexual fantasies is humorous and educational, hoping to take away the shame from healthy, sex-positive practices and bringing in scientific/medical facts to exposing myths that people believe due to lack of knowledge. Furthermore, it is run by a certified sexual educator. It’s interactive because we expect the audience to bring in questions and comments, not because we plan to have, say, an orgy.
Our other events cover a wide range of topics, such as ability/disability, sexual assault (2 events about this, actually), sexuality and the media, and immigration/trans politics, all by experts in their respective fields (be it as activists, medical professionals, certified educators, etc.), so I’m surprised you didn’t give any of these much attention. I mean, I’m NOT surprised, since they wouldn’t cause a ruckus/headlines, but still.
It is SHEEC’s mission to bring in presentations and lectures that focus on EDUCATION, first and foremost, and the promotion of sexual health, pleasure, and wellness. While we do cover kink and feel it’s an important part of this year’s content, I think this article is a misrepresentation of what Brown’s Sex Week IS and strives to do.
RE: university backing? They are backing our right as an organization to host events and, incidentally, promote a diversity of thought on campus. As far as I’m concerned, as far as events adhere to certain university policies and guidelines, they are all given the same consideration, so just like our event got funded, an event by another group could find funding as well. If this is in any way a commentary on how Brown should NOT have funded this week, I find it ridiculous. Furthermore, we gave all contributors the option to tell us what they wanted the money used for, and we respected those wishes (e.g. Late Night Fund money is only for funding our March 20th evening event), so money isn’t being funneled away in secret ways or anything. So, hypothetically (because I do not find this the appropriate forum to go into a detailed and itemized list of our SHEEC budget), something like Strap-On 101 was fully funded by student groups and not the university.
Also, not all of the offices listed supported us through a monetary contribution, I think it is important to note, since that seems to be your focus. And just because the university is funding something some people might not agree with doesn’t mean they shouldn’t fund it. Again, diversity of thought, no?
Finally, it is BECAUSE there are parties and fraternities and dorm-room debaucheries and things going on “behind closed doors” that we need to bring this dialogue to the fore and educate our campus about what they’re doing and how to engage with their respective sexualities in positive, healthy ways. As long as we determine that sexuality is a topic that must be kept hidden, or that certain topics are “too taboo to talk about,” we will breed legions of misinformed youth that will then turn into misinformed adults if they don’t get an education at SOME point, and then it all turns into a vicious cycle of shame, fear, and ignorance.
Also, the cabaret act is The Wet Spots, not The Wet Spot.