By Megan Sims
Students came out to Sex Weekend Events.
This past weekend, Harvard students gathered to talk about everything from sexual communication to non-monogamy. Harvard’s annual Sex Weekend, run by the organization Sexual Health Education and Advocacy Throughout Harvard College (SHEATH), is the shorter April counterpart to November’s Sex Week.
The weekend kicked off Friday afternoon with an event led by OSAPR called “Lube Makes it Better: Learning Healthy Sexual Communication.” Over Sweet and Nasty Bakery’s vulva cupcakes, around forty students gathered to discuss consent and communication. Meera Seshadri, Assistant Director of the Office of Sexual Assault Prevention and Response, kicked off the event with a clip on sex education from Last Week Tonight with John Oliver. In the segment, Oliver comments on the state of sex education in the US, lamenting the lack of adequate curricula on everything from consent to sexuality.
The event then shifted tone. Attendees filled out OSAPR’s ‘Yes/No/Maybe” questionnaire, which asks whether you’re comfortable with everything from hand holding and eye contact to anal play and bondage to pregnancy. The activity challenges each person to think critically about their own boundaries and limits when it comes to any sort of sexual and romantic activity. In small groups participants discussed thoughts and issues that came up for them during the activity.
Saturday’s event was structured entirely differently. Much more low-key, it was branded as “Taste Testing and STI Testing.” In a room in Boylston, SHEATH organizers had laid out various foods that are purported to be aphrodisiacs including guacamole, watermelon, pomegranate seeds, and bananas. On another table, felt cut outs of STI microbes and craft supplies were provided, giving anyone the opportunity to make their own STIs (jokes abounded). Participants were also encouraged to log into their accounts on UHS’s patient portal and sign up to get routine STI tests. As at every event, SHEATH provided free condoms, lube, and other sex related items.
The third and final event was a panel discussion entitle “The M-Word: Ethical Non-Monogamy.” Panelists drew from personal experience (and one from thesis research on the origins of monogamy in the West) to discuss issues of monogamy, open relationships, cheating, and more. Audience members asked questions about the rewards and challenges of non-monogamy.
Panelist Santiago Sanchez ’16, explained that the concept of monogamy was a relatively recent, Christian invention, and that sex with others outside of a marriage was not in fact considered extramarital sex in ancient Rome. Another panelist discussed how she doesn’t see herself effectively using a monogamous model for a relationship. Another panelist shared personal experiences of the increased communication facilitated by non-monogamy.
The event closed with a sex toy raffle, as nearly every SHEATH event does. Winners always express a great deal of enthusiasm at their prizes, many of which are high-end sex toys from well-known companies. With condoms, lube, and prizes doled out, Sex Weekend came to an end.
Photos courtesy of Katherine Wang ‘19
Megan Sims ’18 (firstname.lastname@example.org) thinks more school events should have sex toy raffles.