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Sex positivity encouraged by conversation, ‘Safe and Sexy’ event

Throughout middle school and high school, many students are faced with learning about abstinence-only sex education, Mady Nutter, a senior studying journalism, said. Nutter believes the stigma surrounding sex is caused by the lack of education and the refusal to openly talk about it. 

“I think the biggest step that you can take towards promoting sex-positivity in your own life is to normalize conversations around sex,” Nutter said.

Like Nutter, Phi Long, a senior studying communication sciences and disorders, agrees sex is likely not talked about due to it being shamed in the public eye.

“Shame has a really big role in why there's a stigma around sex,” Long said. “Sex didn't used to be a shameful bad thing, and it's not. Prior to a western civilization kind of taking over, it wasn't really a shameful thing because religion wasn't as involved as it is now. I think that has a big role to play with it, certainly for my own journey.”

Long said religious trauma or lack of education can cause this shame some people feel. It’s not bad to be horny, want to masturbate or have sex, Long said.

Nutter and Long are a part of Promoting Ohio University Wellness, Education and Responsibility/Greeks Advocating for Mature Management of Alcohol, or POWER/GAMMA, which is an organization on campus that programs toward and educates students. 

Leslie Aguilera, a senior studying political science, is a part of POWER/GAMMA. Aguilera said in order to become an educator within the group, she had to take a class in which one is educated on topics regarding sex while learning how to properly educate others. 

There are many ways one can educate themselves on sex and learn how to help others learn at the same time. POWER/GAMMA intends to help show students these ways. 

POWER/GAMMA and Better Bystanders are planning an outer space-themed event, “Space and Sexy,” a play on their previous programming “Safe and Sexy,” right in time for Valentine’s Day. 

The event will take place Friday, Feb. 11, unless rescheduled due to COVID-19, in Baker University Center Ballroom. “Space and Sexy” will promote a sex-positive atmosphere through talking about sex, body image, consent, self-love and more through different organized booths.

Long and Nutter said they personally will be doing a transgender sexual health booth.

The event will cover stimulation and masturbation or how one can get to know themselves and their body. There will also be a BDSM, or bondage, discipline, sadism and masochism, tent which will talk about how to safely execute using restraints, control and pain in the bedroom. Sex toys will be available to look at and learn about as well.

Different organizations are hoped to be at the event, such as Planned Parenthood, Survivor Advocacy Program and Minority Association of Pre-Health Students, or MAPS.

“It's honestly such a great event,” Aguilera said. “It doesn't all relate to just sex in general — like this year, I'm working on mental health and self-love. There'll be a booth where you can do an affirmation or craft, just promoting loving yourself.”

POWER/GAMMA can be found on Instagram, @powergamma_ou, and Twitter, @OHIOpowergamma, and can be followed to stay updated with the event.

Aside from the event, on a daily basis, the Health Promotion Office, Baker Center room 339, works to educate students through its website, in its office and over email. 

People are able to email the office with questions if they do not feel comfortable asking in person at healthpromotion@ohio.edu.

Wednesdays are notably called “Hump Day” due to being the middle of the week, but the Health Promotion Office turns to handing out latex, latex-free, internal and external condoms every other Wednesday.

The office hosts remote programs as well, led by Peer Educators from POWER/GAMMA and Better Bystanders. Anyone can request a program through Health Promotion’s website. Programs included cover BDSM, latexology and STI, HIV and HPV, safe sex, sex toys and orgasms and self-pleasure. 

Learning about sex can be new for many, but Nutter, Long and Aguilera all agree every individual is entitled to their own sex journey.

“It gets way easier, I think, once it's time,” Long said. “You can't just wake up one day and (be) like, ‘OK, I'm sex-positive, and I don't feel any shame, and I can just go out and do whatever I want.’ That's just not how it works, so I think that's important to know.”

An underlying theme is learning about what consent is and what that means in a sexual journey. 

“If you're letting assumptions fester around sex, sexuality and relationships, then you're not talking about it. You’re not getting consent. You're not encouraging a free flow of a conversation around sexuality,” Nutter said.

Nutter said a tangible first-step to beginning the journey of learning about sex when it comes to oneself is to question assumptions that one has internalized about sex.

“It's OK that uncomfortable conversations make you laugh, and you're not silly and immature, but I would say that can only last for so long, and you do need to be able to stomach conversations surrounding consent, boundaries or something,” Long said. “Because if you take everything as a joke, then boundaries get crossed really fast.”

Sex can be misconstrued and viewed as “dirty,” but Long said it’s important to know it’s not wrong to have sexual thoughts.

Nutter, Long and Aguilera encourage people to have difficult conversations and attend the upcoming event.

“That's just our goal, honestly, is to let people know how to (have) safer sex but also just be more comfortable just to talk about it because, sometimes, even talking about it is hard, even if you're already having sex,” Long said.

@kkayyben

kb084519@ohio.edu

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