The latest attack on sex comes from Margaret Brooks, in her Chronicle of Higher Education article entitled, Sex Week Should Arouse Caution Most of All. Even the Washington Post picked up on the unnecessary hysteria.
But this time sexuality educators aren't being chastised for their work with kindergarten students, we are being called out for our work on college campuses.
So let me be perfectly transparent. I am (and will continue to be) a Sex Week speaker. I have been a participant in Sex Week at Yale (both 2008 and 2010), Sex Week at Northeastern, as well as many other universities and colleges. I have lectured on a range of subjects, including The Sexual Double Standard and its Impact on Relationships, The Mysteries of the Female Orgasm, The Portrayal of Masturbation: Past and Present, and The Challenges and Opportunities of The Hook-Up Culture, just to name a few.
Brooks' suggestion that Sex Week's sole purpose is to sell sex toys and pornography is irresponsible and incorrect. But I suppose it shouldn't come as a surprise. We live in a culture where sexuality is demonized. If you are curious about sex (or god forbid do "it") you are labeled a "slut". If you are a woman who is found to be carrying condoms in Washington, D.C. you may be arrested for prostitution. Is it any wonder that college students are begging to have an intellectual forum to discuss all the intricacies and nuances about sexuality in our culture? Where else except on a college campus can multiple groups with multiple needs be given a voice and a venue to discuss pressing issues?
We are all sexual beings; sex is neither a dirty nor bad word. Sexuality is a key component in literature, history, politics, religion, and pop culture. Perhaps some people don't think that it is an important subject to talk about in a critical or intellectual forum. That's your prerogative. However, if we had some intelligent forums to talk about the range of issues found in sexuality, we wouldn't have such an overwhelming need to seek out this information in unhealthy ways. (That's where Sex Week comes in -- whether Brooks like it or not, it is an intelligent forum.)
But I am not in the aforementioned camp. I believe that sexuality is as important a subject as anything else, even more so.
My work on college campuses is meaningful, beneficial, and in the end, increases the overall well being and health of those who attend my lectures. And those audience members are the only ones I am accountable to. And on a health note: to suggest -- as Brooks does -- that there is a problem with giving out free condoms is unconscionable. Have we ever looked at the U.S. rates of STIs and HIV? Teen pregnancy? If students (especially those who are over the age of 18 and fully capable of making independent decisions about sex) want condoms, give them out!!!
As I book my year of college lectures (including Sex Weeks at a variety of campuses), I am disheartened by the juvenile hysteria brought about by Brooks, but confident that I (and others like me) will continue to do our work...and do it well.