Q&A: Caroline Hetzel, co-director of Sex Week

Laken Howard, Columnist

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Sex Week is a magical time: You can find events about Beyonce, the friend zone and micropenises — or maybe even get free condoms or lube. Check out The Current’s chat with co-director Caroline Hetzel to see what it’s like behind the scenes of the sexiest week of the year.

The Current: What is the goal of Sex Week?

Caroline Hetzel: To educate people about sex (and) create a more knowledgable campus that is aware of the issues and that can also be allies to various groups of people with different sexualities. And just for people to have fun and be comfortable in their bodies!

The Current: How did you get involved with Sex Week?

CH: I’m from Tennessee, so I come from a pretty conservative background where we’re taught that sex is not something you talk about in public. It can be a little bit shameful, but I didn’t always agree with that. I heard that Northwestern had Sex Week, and I thought it was so cool … to be part of something that raises awareness about issues surrounding sex. I think that college students are part of a population that is largely sexually active, and being ignorant about sex can be really dangerous. Also, it’s just fun to explore your own sexuality. I’m sex positive, so I think it can be a healthy thing to discuss.

The Current: The Northwestern “First Kiss” video gained a lot of attention. How did that idea come about?

CH: I had watched the original video and thought it was super cute, but then I found out that it was for a clothing ad. … All the people in it were actors or models, which is fun to watch because they’re attractive. But we wanted to see real people … people that look like the students around us, so I came up with the idea of using Northwestern students. It was to promote Sex Week, and it helps with our mission to have people feel comfortable in their bodies and with their sexuality. Seeing other students kissing people and putting themselves out there was really cool. I actually kissed two people for the video!

The Current: Which Sex Week event are you most excited about?

CH: The headliner is … about Beyonce and feminism. I think that’s the event that, as a whole, Sex Week is most excited about, but I think yesterday was my personal favorite day because we talked about asexuality and BDSM. One of our speakers talked about how practices of BDSM can be a way for asexual people to express themselves in that BDSM doesn’t necessarily have to be sexual. That was really interesting, and I feel like it hasn’t been covered in the past.

The Current: Who does Sex Week try to reach?

CH: We start with a blank slate, deciding which audiences at Northwestern we want to reach. … We try to be very inclusive. We always attract a big gender studies crowd … we always have girls, so we try to figure out ways to bring straight guys into the picture. That’s usually the group that doesn’t attend our events. We hosted an event with MARS on Monday about escaping the friend zone, so I think we successfully got some straight guys there.

The Current: How would you say working on Sex Week has changed you?

CH: It’s completely changed me. I thought I was open and knew about equality … with queer spaces and different spaces of sexuality, but the people I’ve met working on Sex Week have completely changed my perspective on things. I think I’m more open to exploring myself and my own sexuality by attending the events and just talking to people who are interested in creating events for Sex Week.

The Current: What’s the most rewarding part of working on Sex Week?

CH: I get to talk about sex all week! That’s one of my favorite topics.

The Current: What’s the most challenging part?

CH: My parents think it’s weird. I’m very open with it. … I post everything that I’m doing (on Facebook). I feel like I shouldn’t be closed off and that I should be able to talk about it with my parents. They’re like, “We may not agree with what you’re doing. But do what you love, and we’ll accept you for it.”

The Current: What can we expect for the rest of Sex Week?

CH: Friday we have an event sponsored with Streetbeat that’s about queer dance music. And then Saturday we have an event about “sexprov” so I think we have some people who have worked with Second City coming to do improv about sex topics.

Email: lakenhoward2015@u.northwestern.edu
Twitter: @lakenisahorcrux