NU Sex Week seeks to open the conversation on campus

Cathaleen Qiao Chen

This year, Sex Week will give away 56 pounds of free lube – by the bottle.

From April 9 to April 14, the Northwestern College Feminists will host the sixth annual Sex Week, a festival featuring discussion panels, lectures, workshops and screenings to promote dialogue on sex and sexuality across campus.

Amanda Mather, the week’s co-director, said the selection of events does not have any sort of religious or political bias, because it is sponsored by other campus organizations as well, including the LGBT Resource Center, Sexual Health and Assault Peer Educators (SHAPE), Slam Society, Her Campus, the Women’s Center and Men Against Rape and Sexual Assault.

“We invite anyone and everyone to join us, regardless of how they feel about sex,” the Communication senior said. “Sexuality should be an open topic, and our goal is to reach everyone.”

University Christian Ministry will participate in the open conversation about sex by facilitating a lunchtime discussion on sexuality and spirituality called “Hooking Up with God: Pressure and Sexual Decision Making with Rev. Julie Windsor Mitchell” on Friday, April 13.

“The church has been historically scared to bring up sexuality, but I feel it’s important to allow students to talk openly and honestly about sexuality,” Mitchell said. “There is a strong link between students’ spiritual lives and sexual decisions, and hopefully this discussion will encourage them to make decisions with greater forethought and intentionality.”

Sex Week will also focus on the media’s portrayal of gender.

For Monday, the all-male peer group Men Against Rape and Sexual Assault invited Web personality David Futrelle to address the issue of misogyny as portrayed through online communities. The lecture, “How to Hate Women and Have Bad Sex: Trolling the Men’s Right Movement,” will examine the rhetoric of sexism on Web forums such as Reddit.

Monday will also feature the LGBT Resource Center’s workshop on bisexuality, which will include a panel of experts and students. Titled “Getting Bi: Bisexuality Workshop with Laura Stuart and Doris Dirks,” the group will discuss life on campus from a bisexual perspective.

“There are a lot of common misconceptions about bisexuality, and the panel, which features a diverse group of people, will hopefully get people better acquainted with the reality of being bi,” said Jacqueline Nunez, a workshop panelist and Medill freshman.

On Tuesday, SHAPE will host its annual Sexpo, a sexual health and resource fair that invites an array of student groups and Chicago-area organizations to answer questions about sex and provide free condoms, along with other prizes.

According to SHAPE director Mallory Mattimore-Malan, SHAPE has had a history of involvement in Sex Week even though College Feminists, not SHAPE, plans the event.

“We have the same goal for our campus: to promote open conversation on sex and sexuality,” the SESP junior said.

Other notable Sex Week events include swing dance lessons with BLAST, a sexual orientation lecture with Prof. Michael Bailey, a hip-hop and gender panel called “Wait Till You See My D!ck,” a documentary festival presented by SHAPE and a lecture with BITCH magazine editor Andi Zeisler.

“We’ve been planning Sex Week since Fall Quarter, and this year we have more large events,” Mather said. “There’s going to be something of interest to everyone, even those who might be uncomfortable or shy about sex.”

Supplementing the discussion of gender, sex and sexuality, Sex Week also guarantees an assortment of free items, including vibrators, various types of lube and an ample supply of condoms, which were purchased by the thousands.

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