Once upon a time the height of sexual titillation was the “strip tease.” That was when we were sexually repressed, believed the normal order in which life proceeded was courtship, marriage and then children and generally confined our sexual activities to the bedroom with the person who was our life partner. As one person put it – “The strip tease is intended to tantalize but not to reveal all. It leaves that to the imagination of the viewer.” Things have changed – and arguably not for the better.
When I was in college, the focus was on trying to get an education. While this was in the rebellious ‘60’s, getting laid was probably something that some of my fellow students hoped for (and in some cases were able to achieve), but it was not something in which the school participated through “educational” curricula on the subject. Well, officially the University of Chicago is a school founded by a Baptist – John D. Rockefeller. Perhaps that’s the explanation.
The recent “Rolling Stones” now discredited story about the female rape victim, Jackie at the University of Virginia, brought this to mind. Rape is a dreadful crime. As we know, it’s not about engaging in sex so much as it is about overwhelming the unwilling person, forcing him or her into doing something in which they do not want to be involved. It is, in essence, an act of bullying – which like all bullying can carry with it both physical and psychological damage. And that is something which all of us should find offensive and reprehensible.
We might have fewer rapes on our college campuses or elsewhere throughout the country if people simply applied the rule of common sense to the way in which we conducted ourselves. Some of the things we could do or advise our children to do is to avoid places where excessive partying is expected to be the order of the evening; avoid excessive amounts of alcohol; don’t accept beverages from people whom you don’t know; have a companion with you who is looking out for you and for whom you are looking out; don’t smoke dope or take any pills while you’re out at the party. While that will not eliminate the possibility of rape, following those simple rules might reduce the likelihood that it would occur.
But part of the problem I suspect, at least in some cases, is there can be a fine line between rape and consensual sex. Naturally, if the “victim” willingly over drank and engaged in sex, buyer’s remorse might set in the following morning and perhaps the recollection of the events of the previous night might be blurred. And part of the problem might be that while our colleges and universities are busily involved in investigating incidences of alleged rape on their campuses, many of them are promoting an agenda in which the lines between propriety and libertine behavior are aggressively blurred. Allow me to offer a few examples.
To my recollection, during my time in college, I don’t recall anyone “streaking” the campus. That might be because the weather in Chicago is cold and is well-described as having two seasons – winter and August. But in some of our finer universities, not only is streaking commonplace – it’s evolved to the point of being an athletic event. Among the schools that have nude athletes competing are Rice University; Williams College; the University of North Carolina (Chapel Hill); Dartmouth College, to name only a few.
Without making a value judgment about public nudity, I think it is safe to say that if you are wearing no clothing or other accoutrements, it becomes more difficult to carry your Pagan Symbolism in Native American Basket Weaving syllabus to class along with your cell phone, your change and your lunch. But nudity is merely the tip of the sexberg which circles our colleges’ ivy walls. There’s “Sex Week.” I’ve posted the calendar for Harvard University’s recently concluded 2014 Fall program below:
Sunday, November 2
Brown Girlz Do it Well: a Queer Diaspora Remix
2:00 pm, Ticknor Lounge
Join Harvard South Asian Association and SHEATH for a creative workshop by Dark Matter and a discussion on explore our own narratives of family, queerness, and diaspora. The intention is to situate our personal narratives within broader systems of racism, casteism, classism, islamophobia, and imperialism.
DARKMATTER is a trans south asian art and activist collaboration comprised of Janani and Aloo. Using poetry & polemic, tweet & tirade DM is committed to an art practice of gender self(ie)determination, racial justice, and movement building. DM has been invited to perform and facilitate workshops across the world. you can follow their antics at www.darkmatterrage.com or @darkmatterrage.
Monday, November 3
SEXY AND I KNOW IT: Sex Ed 101
5:00 pm, Sever 202
What’s an internal condom? How about a dental dam? If you’re looking for a sex-ed primer, this is the place to be. Sex educator Shira Cahn-Lipman will interactively teach us about the do’s and dont’s of safer sex practices in an inclusive way. All genders and sexualities are encouraged to join us for a primer or a refresher on how to safely enjoy sex!
Losing Your (Concept of) Virginity
6:00 – 7:30 pm, Harvard College Women’s Center (Canaday B basement)
This event aims to explore the myths, stigmas, and popular ideas surrounding virginity. Through documentary clips, activities, and group discussions, we will consider the historical context of virginity and its different social, political, personal, and religious meanings. All are welcome to attend and share their thoughts, though no sharing of personal experience is required, and no identities are assumed. Does virginity matter? How does a person lose their virginity? What does virginity really mean? And what does it mean to you?
Tuesday, November 4
What What in the Butt: Anal Sex 101
5:00 pm, Sever 113
Come learn everything about anal sex from the experts of Good Vibrations, a sex-positive store located right in Brookline! They will dispel myths about anal sex and give you insight into why people do it and how to do it well. They will cover a wide variety of topics, including: anal anatomy and the potential for pleasure for all genders; how to talk about it with a partner; basic preparation and hygiene; lubes, anal toys, and safer sex; anal penetration for beginners, and much more! Learn the facts about this exciting yet often misunderstood form of pleasure, find out the common mistakes people make, and get all your questions answered!
#SellingSexy – How our social culture is shaping the future of entertainment
8:00 pm, Sever 113
Cosponsored by the Radcliffe Union of Students
Wednesday, November 5
#HearOurStories: A Digital Story Screening
7:00 pm, Fong Auditorium
An exciting event on sexual rights, social justice and young parenthood. In partnership with the UMass Amherst Hear Our Stories project, the Massachusetts Alliance on Teen Pregnancy and the Harvard College International Women’s Rights Collective are proud to host a youth-led screening of digital stories created by young mothers as part of Harvard Sex Week. This event will illuminate the multi-layered identities of young parents and intersection of issues faced by young people including violence, discrimination, and homelessness. Following the screening will be a panel with some of the young women who created the digital stories.
Cosponsored by the Harvard College International Women’s Rights Collective
Thursday, November 6
Sexual Health Career Panel
4:00 pm, Ticknor Lounge
The annual Sexual Health Career fair will highlight opportunities available to students for careers in sexual health, reproductive justice, BGLTQ advocacy, and other related fields. Come speak to representatives from a wide range of organizations, including the Aids Action Committee, the Boston Area Rape Crisis Center, Planned Parenthood, and Global Protection Corps, and hear about summer internships and post-grad job opportunities. The event will feature a panel discussion on career paths in sexual health, followed by a meet & greet career fair. Hosted by SHARC (Sexual Health and Relationship Counselors) in partnership with Sex Week at Harvard.
Cosponsored by Sexual Health And Relationship Counselors (SHARC)
Jungle Fever: On Exotification
6:00 pm, Ticknor Lounge
Have you ever said or heard the following?
I love [insert racial or ethnic group here] because they always [insert stereotype about said racial or ethnic group]!
If so, then you have either experienced or participated in exotification. Exotification means objectifying someone’s racial or ethnic identity, treating that identity–and that identity alone–as what defines them or makes them desirable. To learn more about exotification and its problematic nature, come to the exotification panel on November 6th from 6-8 pm in TIcknor Lounge.
Friday, November 7
Fifty Shades of False: Kink, Fantasy, and Fetish
4:30 pm, Sever 106
Fifty Shades of False: Kink, Fantasy, and Fetish will explore supposedly “taboo” topics in sexuality, namely the kinky. Munch, Harvard’s Kink and Alternative Sexuality group will run a presentation on kink through the lens of the ever popular Fifty Shades of Grey. This presentation will attempt to expose and attempt to correct inaccuracies in the book’s portrayal of kink.
Cosponsored by Harvard College Munch
Open Mic Night
8 pm, Dudley Co-Op
Join SHEATH and Speak Out Loud, Harvard’s only spoken word poetry group, at 8pm on Friday, November 7th for an open mic! Poetry, food, and friendly faces will populate this casual Sex Week event while providing an open and relaxed space to consider the other topics addressed throughout the week. Following the open mic will be the annual Sex Week party (more food!).
Cosponsored by Harvard College Speak Out Loud
Saturday, November 8
Love @ First Swipe: Online Hookup Culture
4:30 pm, Sever 113
Grindr? Tindr? whats the technique? whats the upside/downside?
Given our younger generation’s liberation from society’s repressive view of healthy sexuality as evidenced in part by the contents of Harvard’s Sex Week program, it does give me pause to wonder why rape is such a problem for these kids. After all, isn’t the rapist merely expressing her or himself in a way which is meaningful to that person? Shouldn’t a permissive and inclusive society accept that person’s right to be that person? Why all the noise about rape on campus – or elsewhere? Bill Cosby, stand up and take a bow.
California has certainly got the vision since they are in the process of passing a law which would define a sexual relationship between a teacher and a student of at least fourteen years of age as being “consensual.” Way to go California Teacher’s Union. You certainly have the best interests of your young students at heart – preparing them well for a continuing education in our institutions of higher learning.
Now I realize some of my readers might consider our current views toward human sexual expression as being – may I use the word – perverted. That just goes to show how old-fashioned you are – and you need to enroll in a class immediately which will help you evolve from your antediluvian views. But even you, I think, will have to admit that there has been at least one positive development that has come out of our current sexual enlightenment.
We are all familiar with what was once considered a rather coarse expression, “GO F*CK YOURSELF.” Now there’s a college course that explains how to do that.