This week marked the first Bates Sex Week, a time to help students uncover the mysteries of the orgasm, sexually transmitted diseases and awkward conversations. However, despite the giggles, students took full advantage of the opportunity to reflect on what sex means to them.
Organized by the Bates Public Health Initiative, Bates Sex Week boasted a strong lineup of educational and enlightening events. After a setback on Monday, with the last minute cancellation—due to the speaker’s car trouble—of the talk Orgasms, Masturbation and Positive Sexuality, Bates Sex Week hosted events such as a World Aids Day movie screening, a Wind Down Wednesday Sexual Trivia night, a Q & A session with the Bates Health Center, a talk on Queer Safe Sex and tonight, Friday, a Sex Week Acapella Concert at 7:30 pm in the Benjamin E. Mays Center.
Junior Maddy Ekey and Senior Mikka Macdonald orchestrated the week, after coming up with the idea hoping to “explore sex, sexual health and sex positivity with the hope of fostering an inclusionary dialogue across the Bates campus,” said Ekey.
This past summer Ekey worked at a Title X, focused on comprehensive family planning and corresponding family health services, in Bozeman, Montana. She created lesson plans for high school and middle school sex education, but began to notice some of the gaps in the Bates sex experience.
“Having these straightforward conversations about sex made me realize how little we talk about some of the really important parts of sex at Bates,” Ekey said. Other colleges have annual Sex Weeks on campus, helping to create a more open conversation and healthy rebuttals—Yale allegedly started the trend in 2002.
Bates Public Health Initiative found a surprising amount of support early on from both the Bates Administration and from other student organizations like the Unitarian Universalist Church who co-hosted the Condom Fun Night at the Ronj on Thursday.
While there are many different resources for Bates students regarding sex, the entire picture of sex education is incomplete. “I think the things that are lacking particularly do include sex education and STI prevalence awareness,” Ekey said, “but more than that we see a lack of communication between people.”
The Public Health Initiative focused on communication about sex by posting questions on large white notepads outside of Commons. Questions like, ‘How to do you ask for the sex you want?’ and ‘What is a turn on for you?’ helped students think about some of the interactions they have and how they communicate with their sexual partners. Using the notepad allowed for some anonymity for students, making a more comfortable atmosphere to express how they felt. The Student observed Batesies reading the responses of others, not only laughing, but also talking to each other about some of the legitimate points raised.
Ekey sees a brighter future for sex education and policy at Bates. “The Office of Residence Life is rewriting the health education policies for the school,” Ekey said. “In the future I am excited to see a lot more programming around all of this.”
The Bates Public Health Initiative will be tabling in Commons for the remainder of the week, handing out sex positive stickers, featuring ‘wrap it before you tap it’ and bananas, and condoms.