Women’s Center and Vandy Sex Ed collaborate to host fifth annual Sex Ed and Healthy Relationships Week

Photo by Vanderbilt Hustler.

Photo by Vanderbilt Hustler.

Anna Yarinsky

“Flowers and Foreplay: Carnations, Condoms, and Chicken and Waffles.” “5 (Dirty, Little) Secrets: The Mind-Blowing Science of Sexual Response.” “Sensual Expression: Activating the Senses to Achieve Non-Sexual Pleasure.”

These were just a few of the programs offered during this week’s fifth annual Sex Ed and Healthy Relationships Week. The Women’s Center and Vandy Sex Ed collaborated to host this series of workshops and lectures about sexual expression, healthy relationships, and sexual gender parity.

The programs span just five days, but the process of planning the week begins months earlier. Women’s Center’s Program Coordinator Molly Moreau meets regularly with undergraduate student sex educators to brainstorm events. Next, students submit proposals for the week’s program. The final programs are selected through a voting process that takes feasibility and cost into consideration.

Sex Ed and Healthy Relationships Week forms an important part of the Women’s Center’s work, Moreau said.

“We get to reach more students this way,” Moreau said. “We can focus more on niche topics, and it’s just really important to give voice to topics that are considered taboo and to cover things that most sex education programs don’t really cover.”

The week’s events are especially important for college students who did not have sex ed in high school, Moreau said, adding that hookup culture on campus can discourage open discussions about sexual concerns or boundaries.

“Most students think they know [about sex ed], but we find in our programming that they don’t,” Moreau said. “We just think it’s really important to get people talking so they can have these difficult conversations and realize that it’s okay not to know everything, but you have places you can go to ask.”

Brooke Davis, one of the Women’s Center’s student sex educators, submitted the proposal for the Tuesday event titled “Sensual Expression: Activating the Senses to achieve Non-sexual Pleasure.”

The workshop aimed to encourage a holistic view of sexuality by stressing the importance of staying in touch with often-overlooked feelings and senses, Davis said.

Another highlight of the week was the annual Cunningham Lecture on Tuesday night. As this year’s speaker, Emily Nagoski, is a sex educator, the Women’s Center decided to combine her lecture with Sex Ed and Healthy Relationships Week.

“[Nagoski] was a really good mix of funny and informational and she used really relatable examples,” said first-year Katie Helman, who attended the lecture. “She made everyone feel super confident in their own bodies because she’d say things like how when you’re born right out of the womb everyone looks at your naked body and says how perfect you are. She told us that our bodies haven’t changed and we’re still perfect.”

Many of the week’s events offer Greek Member Experience (GME) credit as additional incentive for students to attend.

“We definitely find that events that offer GME are more widely attended,” Moreau said. “Some of these are pretty sensitive topics and you don’t want people to be there just because they have to be there, but if I can get someone in a room who didn’t initially want to be there to learn one thing or to see one thing differently, then I’ve done my job.”