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The Scarlet & Black

The Scarlet & Black

Letter to the Editor: Sober sex campaign offers chance to eat, meet, greet

Dearest Grinnellians,

By this time, I hope you’ve seen posters advertising the “Strawberries & Bubbly” event occurring on Sunday. Although it may seem as just another event with some fruit, I’d like to explain why an event like this is important to me and why I hope you’ll continue to support events like this in the future. I do not mean this as a lengthy advertisement. I simply believe there are nuances that deserve explanation. Perhaps unsurprisingly, this event and the Sober Sex Campaign were born out of the conversation surrounding sexual consent and aims to tackle the issues around sexual assault from a non-policy or direct angle. Keeping that framework in mind, the event will make more sense.

Only now as a senior can I confidently say that I know how to talk about sex. While I sometimes still can’t help blushing in general, I understand the importance of consent, how to get it and how to give it. However, this has only resulted from long hours of research on consent and on the policy best suited to our campus and ideals. I’ve had the opportunity to speak with administrators and learn from them. I also blush a lot less than when I first came to Grinnell because I’ve had supportive friends who were willing to have these uncomfortable conversations with me. But if I didn’t have these few friends who are willing to talk details with me, how would I have learned that what I want from a sexual partner is not strange? How would I have learned what options are out there if I didn’t have my friend’s experiences to compare to? 

Most of the time when I ask someone, “What do you like?” I’ll either receive an “I don’t know” or a “This is nice.” Those answers make sense given that we don’t have spaces for us to talk about sex as if we were talking about a sandwich. For those who are not looking for a relationship but do want some sexual action, the only spaces on campus that seem like the appropriate places are Harris, Gardner or parties. I hope many of us would agree that those spaces are not ideal as they often involve alcohol and result in non-sober sexual relations (which are terrible given how awesome sober sex is with all that sober stamina and ability to try complex positions). Yet, no one is taught how to ask for some action (anything from making out to full on sex) outside of those spaces. Too often these conversations are euphemized, which result in questions on what consent is given to. One might be asked to watch a movie or to hang out as the polite way to ask for a hook-up, but if that’s not clear, consent to watch a movie can seem to be consent to the hook up. But this is also terrible. Consent to watch a movie is not consent to engage in sexual relations.

I don’t think that anything I am saying is new. But neither am I just throwing out a problem without a solution. Here is my solution: come to the event this Sunday. We (the Sober Sex Campaign) have worked hard to make sure Sunday will be a safe space in which anyone who has ever wanted any sexual relations on nights other than Friday and Saturday can learn and practice how to talk about sex. Together, as the awkward Grinnellians that we are, we will be able to talk about our sexual preferences. Sunday will be a time in which you can discover with others whether cuddling is a must but staying the whole night is a deal breaker or that you like nibbling but don’t like being nibbled. We’ll accomplish this by starting off with some knowledge sharing from Angela Voos to us. Following, we will go onto conversations in a speed-dating format. You’ll have about 30 seconds with another Grinnellian in which to share information about yourself and another 30 seconds to hear about them. At the end of each conversation, in a non-public or revelatory manner, you’ll be able to disclose whether or not you were into your partner. If you both indicate interest, we’ll let you know. Regardless, you’ll have the chance to move from person to person, making sex sound like sandwiches and learning what others like on theirs. 

I hope to see you on Sunday! There will be strawberries and sparkling apple cider.

Love always,

Cynthia Amezcua

+ the Sober Sex Campaign

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