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Public university’s ‘Sex Week’ offers 26 events in seven-day span

A documentary screening will portray crisis pregnancy centers’ attempts “to scare and intimidate women.” A scholar will talk on the Christian Right’s war on strip clubs. The “Satanic Mechanics” student-run Rocky Horror Picture Show cast promises “partial nudity.” “Exploring kink” and distributing condoms are also on tap.

It’s all part of the University of Maryland’s annual “Sex Week” observance, which kicked off Saturday, April 4, and runs through Friday.

Sex Week organizers state their goal is to “promote an informed community to support our fellow Terps, to provide forums for education, exploration, and empowerment, and to cultivate a campus where we take pride in safety, responsibility, and respect.”

The action-packed calendar includes no less than 26 Sex Week events in the span of seven days at the public university, activities funded through student activities fees, various university departments, and student fundraisers.

The week’s events began Saturday with a student production of the Rocky Horror Picture Show, “a night filled with…partial nudity and cross dressing aliens,” according to its online description.

At today’s kickoff festivities, condoms and lubricants will be given away to students, and Rainbow Terrapin Network Training is expected to cover “the fundamentals of allyship and advocacy for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer inclusion on campus.” Topics to be discussed include “social justice, vocabulary and inclusive language,” the calendar of events states. The day ends with a benefit concert for sexual violence awareness. nakedtruth

On Tuesday, faculty members are set to give “Sex in the Stacks” presentations.

One talk is called “The Naked Truth” with Dr. Judith Lynne Hanna, who will discuss her book Naked Truth: Strip Clubs, Democracy, and a Christian Right. Hanna is an affiliate research professor at the University of Maryland.

The book description states that “strip clubs have come under attack by a politically aggressive segment of the Christian Right [which] has stoked public outrage and incited local and state governments to impose onerous restrictions on the clubs with the intent of dismantling the exotic dance industry.”

According to Hanna’s work, this attack on strip clubs and exotic dance is evidence of “the activist Christian Right’s ‘grand design’ to supplant constitutional democracy in America with a Bible-based theocracy.” Her book says the “naked truth” is that “our civil liberties—free speech, women’s rights, and free enterprise—are at stake.”

And Samuel Allen, a PhD candidate at the university, will present “Deconstructing Gender in Families and Relationships.”

Later that day, the University of Maryland is slated to host two events regarding consent, one of which is called “Making Consent Sexy,” centered on “how to make active and enthusiastic consent the foundation of your sex life.” The second, “Yes And Then Some: Consent 2.0,” focuses on “negotiating conflicting desires [and] exploring kink.”

Wednesday’s schedule of events includes “Sex Games,” a discussion about sexually transmitted infections and the differences between condom brands. Among bingo UMDsexweekprizes will be “condoms, safer sex kits, [and] abstinence kits.” There will also be free STI testing on campus for several hours.

“Trivia in the Wild, Terrapin’s Turf” will be sponsored by UMD’s student-run Bedsider chapter. Bedsider is an online birth control support network operated by The National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy.

In September 2012, Bedsider hosted an event at UMD, sponsored in part by the College Park Kinklings, which discussed “the ins-and-outs of kinky relationships, from being proud of your personal kinks” and featured activities such as “sex and kink trivia, sex Pictionary, condom balloon animals, and…a condom relay.” Last October, a Bedsider intern at UMD authored an article for the group’s website about the easiest ways to obtain various types of emergency contraception.

Back to this year’s Sex Week, on Thursday UMD will screen 12th and Delaware, a film that, according to the online schedule, “provides an unbiased look at the experiences of clients at both an anti-abortion crisis pregnancy center (CPC) and a women’s health clinic that provides abortion.”

12th and Delaware was called “remarkable” by National Abortion Rights Action League in Massachusetts. According to NARAL, the documentary teaches pro-abortion activists about crisis pregnancy centers’ attempts “to scare and intimidate women out of considering all of their options when faced with an unintended pregnancy.”

The final day of events features “Being Safe While Being Broke: BDSM on a Budget,” sponsored by the College Park Kinklings, which describes itself  as a young kinksters group consisting mostly of students. The workshop is expected to include “do-it-yourself kink…‘pervertables,’ build-it-yourself toys, evaluating do-it-yourself websites, and keeping everybody safe,” the calendar states.

Also that day, “Sex and Pizza” will present “a way to make decisions about sexual activity based on equity, mutuality, shared pleasure, and satisfying outcomes.”

During the week, there will be two presentations of The Vagina Monologues, a play written by Eve Ensler. UMD states that the play seeks to “advocate for the eradication of violence against women and girls [and] empower women of all ethnicities and nationalities.” The play has come under fire for its explicit content and has been critiqued extensively both by those on the left and on the right.

Carolina Lulli, a junior at the University of Maryland, told The College Fix in an email that she does not support how the observance is slanted.

“What saddens me about Sex Week is that there is such an emphasis on the physical consequences of casual sex among young adults,” she said.

Sex Week’s staff advisor, Jenna Beckwith Messman, did not respond to The Fix’s request for comment on Friday.

Lulli noted that the most effective solutions to the “consequences” of sex are abstinence and self-control.

“You don’t want to get an STD? Don’t have sex. You don’t want to get pregnant? Don’t have sex,” she said. “I’m sure the representatives that speak at sex week briefly mention abstinence, but if these representatives spent half as much time talking about the physical, emotional, and mental benefits of abstinence, sex week could truly be effective.

“Sex Week is a popular week on this campus, and while it does tell people the truth about STD dangers and does good to foster conversation about rape and violence, I feel as though [it] glorifies the purely physical aspect of sex, perpetuating the twisted and distorted view of sex today,” Lulli continued.

At least one event will delve into the harmful side of graphic sex. Catholic Terps is set to host a “Porn Myths Exposed” panel, which is expected to detail the harms caused by pornography.

College Fix reporter Alexandra DeSanctis is a student at the University of Notre Dame.

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About the Author
Alexandra DeSanctis Marr attended the University of Notre Dame and served as executive editor of the Irish Rover student newspaper.