Let’s talk about sex, baby.
That’s the only way important sex-related topics are going to be covered, said Max Carlile, organizer of East Tennessee State University’s Sex Week, set for Feb. 10-12, though she joked that it should actually be called “Sex Half-Week,” because of its brevity.
There are many questions that people are too embarrassed to ask, and the goal of the program is to provide discussions so students can feel comfortable enough to get information. Because of the prominence of sexual assault and sexually transmitted disease among college-age people, Sex Week discussions couldn’t come at a better time, organizers say.
A Texas State University study in 2013 showed that college-age students are misinformed about the risks of the most common sexually transmitted disease human papillomavirus, or HPV, and are also the most vulnerable to contracting it.
While Carlile says there will be experts to discuss a range of topics, what she strives for most is the open conversation that is not always available.
“We had our sex education classes taken away from us in my high school,” said Carlile, who went to school in Knox County. She said permission forms had not been signed by students’ parents, which led to changes in the curriculum.
The lack of available information, she said, had students walking around school without sound knowledge about sex. To fight against this on ETSU’s campus, Carlile said there will be plenty of literature and more available on campus for students interested in a range of topics.
…The University of Tennessee, Knoxville, had its Sex Week last year, and Carlile says she didn’t organize the event just because of UT’s event — around 50 colleges across the country are making it an important event on campus and she felt inspired to carry one out at ETSU. The Tennessee House of Representatives passed a resolution condemning UT’s Sex Week in March, calling its activities — including an aphrodisiac cooking class, drag show, and condom scavenger hunt — an “outrageous misuse of student fees and grant monies.”
This pushback did not stop Sex Week from occurring. Carlile, who has connections with the Sexual Empowerment and Awareness at TN group that put on UT’s Sex Week, expected some of this to carry over to ETSU’s announcement that they would be putting on a similar event.
“Watch out, you’re going to get criticism,” Carlile said she was warned, but says it’s been nothing but smooth organizing so far.
Not taking this on by herself, Carlile said some of the many campus groups that have expressed interested in participating in the event include the Women’s Studies department; Outreach & Awareness: Sexuality Information for Students; FMLA, a feminist student alliance on campus; H.E.R.O.E.S., an equality group on campus; and Buctainment, among others.
The inclusion of many campus groups will lead to better “swag,” Carlile said, which should include brochures, male and female condoms, dental dams and lubrication.