People recoil from topics of sex and pleasure as if they were disgusting creatures of the night. It’s awkward, it’s dirty and more importantly, not to be discussed in broad daylight.
On Wednesday, Oct. 20, the Women’s Center, African American Affairs and the Violence Awareness and Response Program hosted the “Sex in the Dark” event. For two hours, students were allowed to ask anonymous questions to a line of panelists. Director of African American Affairs Kenneth Reid, Student Health Physician MaryPat Anderson and Safe Relations Founder Sabrina Mercedes were a few of the panelists who responded to the students’ questions.
Graduate student Erin Kotten wanted to help host the event after past success from similar events that the Women’s Center covered on consent and relationships.
“Sex is usually a taboo subject and a lot of college kids notice that this is the time to start asking questions and try to figure them out,” said Kotten. “We wanted students to have a space to ask those questions and have them answered by people who have knowledge and experience.”
A wide variety of topics were discussed. The main focus of the event were questions related to sexual engagement such as consent, communication throughout sex, fetishes, kinks, BDSM, what to do if you can’t experience an orgasm and what orgasms feel like, and overcoming the fear of sex and masturbation.
One of the most popular questions that was discussed in length is the fear around sex and pornography addiction. Minnesota State University, Mankato Clinical Psychology professor Eric Sprankle said that it’s not uncommon to feel that way.
“One person may think it’s enough while someone else may think that it’s too much for them,” said Sprankle. “It all depends on the frequency and if it’s impacting your life in a negative manner.”
Other focuses of the night were based on sexual health, such as regular menstrual cycles and how to prevent STD transmission.
Lengthy discussions about accepting your sexual identity, asexuality, and how to change the narratives based on society’s heteronormative standards were also talked about.
Women’s studies graduate student MeMe Cronin works part-time as a sex educator for Planned Parenthood. She felt it was important to speak at the event to break down the overall stigmas of sexuality and sexual health.
“College is a great time to [ask questions]. It’s the first time that students are away from home and the stereotypes that they grew up with as a child,” said Cronin. “It’s great to break that stigma to change perspectives, introduce [students] to new things and to get them connected to services to make sure they’re all set.”
At the end of the event, students were encouraged to grab bags that contained various forms of protection. Each bag included two internal condoms, a flavored condom, lube, and a dental dam.
By the end of the night, students were told to explore their bodies, remain curious and to continue learning about ways to have safe and healthy sex. An anonymous student claims to have felt more comfortable having attended the event.
“Most of the taboo [subjects] that I thought were weird, I found out others felt the same way and had the same questions,” they said. “A lot of people experience the same thing and people shouldn’t be afraid to ask more questions and talk about sex.”
While the subject of sex and pleasure may be difficult to approach, the more it’s discussed, the more others can break down stigmas and stereotypes to ensure that everyone can lead a healthy sex life, free of restraints.