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Onward State Goes To A Sex Workshop

“Things will be awkward and you won’t die from it… You can be awkward and still have sex,” said Jacklyn Friedman.

This mantra is one to live by when it comes to college and sex. Living in at a massive university where there are new people and new experiences all around, there are bound to be times where you feel uncomfortable. In fact, it happened to me just yesterday as I attended “What You Really Really Want: Figuring Out What You Want From Sex and How To Get It,” a workshop led by author and activist Jacklyn Friedman.

Walking up to the Pasquerilla Spiritual Center, I assumed it would be a room full of lonely women looking to broaden their self-help bookshelves. But I was pleasantly surprised to see mainly males fill the room, and even some of them wearing Greek letters across their shirts.

After pacing outside the Garden Room and catching eyes with a few people wondering if I was lost, I took a deep breath and tried to slip in unnoticed. I feared there would be a stigma placed over my head, either I was sad and lonely — just like the people I assumed would be there — or a slut, or fill in the blank with a label girls receive for showing interest in a sex workshop.

Calling it a “sex workshop” kind of hinted at a few possibilities for the activities that would take place in said workshop, especially one in the university’s Spiritual Center. Maybe trust falls, declarations, confessions, maybe a group of people watching porn together, maybe people trying to find sexual satisfaction through a religion of some sort, or another saucy activity regarding sexual awakenings. Though Jacklyn Friedman presented some very interesting perspectives on sex that didn’t fall into any of those categories.

She started the hour by presenting a bottle of Sierra Mist soda as “lady sex.” This metaphor lead to explaining the very heterosexual commodity sex model that people are often raised it. “Lady sex” is a good that men want for the cheapest they can get it, and women should only give up their commodity for the highest price, marriage.

While religious beliefs and personal choices were respected in the workshop, Friedman wanted to point out something important, the dynamics of this commodity model change when the people involved in it start thinking about it differently. She asked the audience to think about it like playing music, or in her words “jamming.” Do the same principles apply? Does it make you a music slut for jamming with multiple people? Is there competition to jam with someone who hasn’t played music before?

This made the room think.

If sex is treated like a collaborative and creative experience the way music is, Friedman explained, the stigmas, stipulations and stereotypes don’t really apply anymore.

Friedman also talked more in-depth about how consent worked, and its place in the sex conversation. She mentioned how the simple “yes” or “no” type of consent doesn’t cover all the things that may require the go ahead. A “yes” may change to a “no” when the encounter has reached a certain point, and black and white consent isn’t explicit enough to determine the entire experience.

This combats most of the ‘green light means a complete go’ mentality. She even talked about how people have created apps that can record both parties giving consent. But when does that consent become an all-inclusive contract?

Friedman had each of us write down what we wanted from our sex lives. Glancing around, there were many fearful looks shared between friends, along with a few giggles. You could see the confusion, but soon the chatter started and pencils moved across papers.

It was the first time someone had asked me to state exactly what I wanted, and from the responses around the room, I think it was a shared experience among the crowd.

The workshop approached some controversial matters in a comfortable manner, and still managed to deliver a very honest conversation — a conversation that should be held more often than once in the Garden Room of the Pasquerilla Spiritual Center on Hump day.

Friedman ended the session by saying “‘it just happened sex’ is shitty sex… and everyone in this room deserves more than just shitty sex.”

It couldn’t have been said any better. Sex followed by a shrug and an “it just happened” response is not the best we can do.

Despite the possibly awkward communication before, during, and after sex, it is worth the risk to escape the “it just happened” and a shrug.

About the Author

Emily Davis

Emily Davis is a writer for Onward State, who is currently a junior majoring in English. She is an avid Spotify enthusiast, occasionally wears colors other than black, and will devour an entire box of Gushers with pleasure. You can easily stalk this rad person on Twitter and Instagram @emily_davis56 or contact her through email at [email protected]

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