March 3, 2014

Cornell Sex Week Hopes To Facilitate ‘Positive Dialogue’

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Cornell will hold its first-ever “Sex Week” from March 7 to 19 to facilitate “healthy and positive dialogue” about sex throughout the University, according to Samuel Naimi ’16, a member of Haven, Cornell’s LGBTQ Student Union.

“We wish for sex to be a topic that no longer seems taboo or foreign to students to discuss, but rather something they can openly talk about and about which they may seek more information,” Naimi said.

Anthony Santa Maria ’14, the coordinator of the event, said he was inspired to organize Sex Week after being dissatisfied by the annual “I <3 Female Orgasm” event during his sophomore year.

“This dissatisfaction has been growing after attending numerous ‘sexual education’ events that mainly either focus on prevention of sexually transmitted infections and sexual assault or uncritically valorize sexual activity in the name of sexual ‘liberation,’” Santa Maria said.

He added that “comprehensive” sexual education is not something that can be accomplished in one event.

“[Sex Week] necessitates the input of various voices and platforms in order to effectively and critically examine the components of sexual health, sexual activity, sexuality, pleasure and eroticism,” he said.

The week will kick off with performances of “The Vagina Monologues” Friday and Saturday. According to the Cornell Women’s Resource Center’s website, the production is a “collection of stories based on interviews with women throughout the world about their passionate, amusing, devastating, emotional and empowering relationships with their vaginas.”

Mara Jacobs ’17, one of the performers in the show, said the production “brings up many topics that seem taboo.”

“It’s important because it’s making everyone more comfortable about vaginas,” Jacobs said. “I think that it’ll be good for us to slowly make ‘vagina’ a more comfortable word to say openly.”

Some of the other events planned include Filthy/Gorgeous, a dance that facilitates an environment of sex positivity and respect for all identities, a workshop about sustainable sex toys and a performance run by the LGBT Resource Center about violence and assault that that members of the community face, according to Naimi.

Naimi added that the week will also include programming for members of Cornell’s asexual community.

“I will be running a film screening of the documentary (A)sexual,” he said. “There will be panelists from Cornell’s own ace community to answer students’ questions they may have about asexuality and the community’s growth in both mainstream society and on Cornell’s own campus.”

Santa Maria said  many of the events are student-run and will increase campus awareness about sexuality and sexual health.

“My ideal goal for the week is to generate increased dialogue and interrogation of the different meanings and forms of expression that sexuality takes,” he said. “My biggest hope is that Sex Week becomes an annual Cornell event that engages student leadership and participation across the diverse communities on this campus.”

All of Sex Week’s events are open to the public, according to Naimi.

“[The planning committee] is glad that we are finally getting the opportunity to create a space for better sex education and sex positivity on Cornell’s own campus,” he said. “We invite all students to attend these events in the hopes that they may learn about others and about themselves in the process.”