In the Balfour Hood café, students are standing behind a table handing out free condoms and pamphlets on sexual health. “It’s sex week!” they say as you walk by.
What exactly is sex week? It’s not what you may think.
Twice a year, Wheaton’s Sexual Health Advocates Group (SHAG), dedicates a week to educating students on healthy sexual and non-sexual relationships. Through guest speakers, performances, and open discussions, SHAG offers students a safe place to ask questions and learn about not only sex, but what it means to be in a healthy relationship. SHAG believes that knowledge is power, as stated on their page on the Wheaton website. Having educated students is an important part of having a sexually safe campus. As SHAG member Katherine Mooney ’17 states, “Sex week makes it more possible to spread education on a bigger scale.”
The week began with “Wheaton Words” on March 23, a collection of student-written pieces that draw attention to issues such as sexuality, identity, and relationships within the Wheaton community.
On Tuesday, March 24, students gathered to learn about safe sex on a college campus with witty sexologist Megan Andelloux. Andelloux captivated the audience with comical videos and demonstrations, teaching students how to be safe and comfortable when it comes to sex.
Her lecture, titled “Supersex: College Campus Style,” allowed students to openly ask questions, with the reward of fun prizes. One student answered the first question and was rewarded with a whip with a heart-shaped imprint. It was clear from that moment on that this was not going to be another awkward, uncomfortable sex education talk. With statements such as, “Your butt wants all the things, it’s like a three year old near candy” and “Porn stars are sexual Olympians”, Andelloux added comic relief to a usually uncomfortable subject.
Andelloux studied at the Brown School of Medicine and didn’t go onto graduate school, but had to study for nine years to become a clinical sexologist. Having a passion for the science behind sex led Andelloux to pursue a degree in sexology.
When discussing the science behind female orgasms, Andelloux discussed the perks of involving oneself in an experiment.
“When you’re 80, you can say I [sic] came for science!” This quote caused the audience to break out in laughter, but despite her comedic approach, Andelloux emphasized the serious aspects of sex.
Encouraging students to communicate with not only their partners but also themselves about what they want was one of the main topics of Andelloux’s lecture. Communication is an essential part of any relationship, as well as emotional and physical safety. She shared the story of one woman who was advised to make a list of everything she wanted to try, a sex bucket list. In order to complete the list, she had to share the list with someone whom she felt comfortable experimenting with. This situation would be intimidating for anyone, but it demonstrated how important communication is in any relationship.
At the end of the lecture, reactions from students ranged from, “Oh my god what did I just witness” to “That was the most informative sex ed talk ever”. Stephanie Reeves ’16 said, “I’m really glad I came to the lecture, Megan made it really fun and I actually enjoyed learning about sex”.
Visiting professor Hunter Hargraves, who teaches Queer Theory, gave an informative talk on AIDS/HIV activism on Thursday, March 27. Hargraves previously worked in San Francisco at the STOPAIDS Foundation. The discussion focused on questions such as, “What does it mean to have AIDS?” and “What does it mean to stop AIDS?”
Hargraves focused on media representation of AIDS/HIV and used examples such as Ryan White, a young boy from Indiana who died in April of 1990 from AIDS. Using such popular examples helped the audience understand the important of AIDS/HIV activism. The lecture engaged students, who communicated about AIDS transmission and the effectiveness of the activism work done by foundations such as Hargraves’.
Next time you see members of SHAG handing out free condoms in Balfour, don’t be afraid to ask them questions or take a few, as they are working to create a Wheaton community open and educated about sex.