On May 3rd and 4th a student and professional panel called Let’s Talk About Sex will be held in upper Gwinn. No men will be allowed.
From my understanding, this exclusion is in order to create a safer, more comfortable environment for women to share with each other, perhaps for the first time, about topics taught by many Christians (and others) as shameful and taboo. This alleviates fear of being judged and stereotyped—two things men, and especially Christian men, excel at.
It’s intent is to strive for “open communication among the women of this campus about sexuality and wholeness. To allow, through open discussion and sharing, a basis for self-understanding, intentional relationships, and self-love.”
This is all fine and good.
But sex in the typical “Christian” definition is between men and women. And is it not more logical and beneficial for men and women to be having these talks together?
Continuing the hush-hush nature negatively impacts sexual relationships when people finally get involved in them. Sex should be holy, not taboo.
I fully support the mission of this event, but I disagree with its execution. My frustration is not with the event, or the organizers, but with this whole system of shame and silence and exclusion that plagues religion and society. And it happens to be pronounced on our campus.
SPU should offer, in addition to women only and men only events, a comparable event for both genders to talk and share with each other. After all, men and women have to have sex with each other at some point or another.
While I have been aware of the often publicized Let’s Talk About Sex since my freshman year, I have never been aware of an equally promoted and equipped panel for men and women to talk about issues of sexuality (maybe I’m uninformed…it wouldn’t be the first time).
Such segregation reinforces negative stereotypes of men as judgmental, sex obsessed, unable to understand, and ready to take advantage of women for their kicks, and that it is neither safe nor acceptable for women to converse with or confront men.
Yes, some men are misogynist apes, but not all.
Women and men should (at some point, before marriage) feel comfortable talking with each other about sex, their sexual needs, and their sensitivities. Let’s Talk About Sex will hopefully empower women to be able to do so (again, I’ll never know, I have a penis and am hence unwelcome at said event).
Men need to hear how women are damaged by men, how men can better behave towards women, to be taught that women matter, how to place the needs of women before their own.
Men need to learn to listen and allow women to feel comfortable—a huge component of intimacy. But how from behind closed doors?
The very fact that any women only feel safe or comfortable talking in an all women environment highlights the failures of our phallocentric, patriarchal society, and dare I say, religion.
I wish I could take part in the event to fully understand it. I can only vicariously offer my support from my excluded vantage point, which I see as furthering the divide between men and women and their understanding of each other as sexual beings who deserve to be heard and respected.
If men and women cannot learn to comfortably converse about sexuality—the joy and pain, the heartbreak, the love, the abuse, the shame, and the beauty of real intimacy, physical and emotional—then how can men and women achieve that intimacy when the right time comes? I suppose Lets Talk About Sex is a step, but we have a long way to go.
This is Michael Dudley, and I’ve been Highly Opinionated.