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The Scarlet & Black

Sex (higher) Ed: Grinnell College wellness community holds third annual Sex Week

Lizzy Hinman ’20 and Sophia Schott ’21 rehearse a number from STI: The Musical!, an original musical by Schott about STI testing. Photo by Isabel Torrence.

By Margaret Silbaugh

Sex Week, Grinnell’s annual event series focusing on sexual and relationship health education, kicks off this coming Sunday morning with “Bae Goals” (Bagels and “Palentines”) at 10:30 a.m. in JRC 209.

Leah Johnson ’19, post-baccalaureate fellow for sexual respect and harm reduction and the leader of planning for Sex Week, explained that the event originated as a way of promoting spring-semester STI testing at Grinnell. This year’s testing will take place on March 5 on the second floor of the JRC, where SHAW will be offering free gonorrhea and chlamydia testing with food incentives for people who participate.

In addition to the STI testing, there will be various sex- and relationship-themed events, including a BDSM workshop, a sexthemed pub quiz and a workshop on safe and healthy online dating and much more. “The idea is to get people involved in doing both program planning on campus and in thinking critically about sex,” Johnson said. “My office focuses on student programming, so we have a lot of student organizations who are planning programs this week.”

One of the student-run programs is a workshop run by the Asian and Asian-American Association (AAA) and the Student Organization for Latinxs (SOL). This event, which will take place next Tuesday at 7 p.m., focuses on the fetishization of Asian-American and Latina women.

Amanda Na ’22, an organizer of the event, said, “We want to create a space for POC to be able to share their experiences of either being fetishized, exoticized or sexualized. We’re not necessarily trying to figure out a solution, but we are trying to find an outlet where people can work against these types of micro-aggressive racisms.”

Another event to look forward to is the production STI: The Musical!, written by Sophia Schott ’21 and directed by Conner Stanfield ’21. Schott came up with the idea for the musical while studying off-campus at the National Theater Institute in Connecticut.

Schott recalled being asked to “think of a group of people you don’t think have ever been represented on stage before and write a song about them.” She said, “I was thinking of groups of people that I have been a part of that have never been on stage and I thought: people waiting to get STI tested at a Planned Parenthood!”

The musical lasts about half an hour and strives to talk about STI testing in a way that is humorous and engaging. “Our big message and theme is to destigmatize STIs and to urge people to get tested. We also want to express our support for Planned Parenthood,” said Stanfield.

In addition to these two brand-new events, Sex Week will include some repeats of successful programs from last year. On Sunday, Body Positive Club will host a meeting (with especially good food) to talk about how sex and body positivity work together. Club leader and discussion facilitator Lily Dawson ’21 gave a preview of the questions to be discussed on Sunday: “What can you do during sex to make you feel better about your body? How does having sex impact your relationship with your body? How do you take sex and form it into a more holistic practice of self-love and body positivity?” These questions and more will be addressed in the meeting.

Although Body Positive Club already has a strong group of members, the club leaders hope that this event will bring in more from all corners of the community. “What I’m hoping, and what we got a lot last year, was a lot of people from different parts of campus coming into our meeting and finding the club,” said Dawson. As this week comes to a close, keep an eye out for a candy-heart themed posters listing all the events for Sex Week.

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