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Colleges host 'sex week'

Is 'Dirty Talk' on your syllabus this semester?

By Kristin Wong Mar 18, 2013 6:04PM

Spring is in the air, and for quite a few colleges, so is "Sex Week."

Sex Week is a full week of classes and events dedicated to sex and relationship topics; Yale, Harvard and a handful of other universities have made it an annual tradition. Yesterday, for example, Brown University wrapped up their weeklong sex-ed agenda with a "Lace and Leather Burlesque Workshop."

Photo: College sex week / Brown University (© Kenneth C. Zirkel/Getty Images)
Eric Rubenstein and Jacqueline Farber, two Yale College graduates, organized the first ever Sex Week in 2002. Yale describes the week as "an interdisciplinary sex education program designed to pique students’ interest through creative, interactive, and exciting programming." 

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Harvard hosted its first Sex Week just last year. Organizers noticed there were a variety of campus events available on sex, love and gender, and they wanted to find a way to connect them.

Harvard's Samantha Meier is co-president of Sex Week, and, according to her, the University's faculty and administration have been supportive:

“Even our office of career services has signed on for an event,” Meier said.

According to LiveScience, many colleges use titillating titles like, "Sex and Chocolate in the Dark" and "Dirty Talk" simply to get students in the door. The goal is then to open a dialogue about sex and relationship topics in a comfortable setting. And while the classes take place on campus, the environment is much more intimate than you'd probably expect from a university:

"Celebrate Sex Week with an open discussion about all things sex in a safe, comfortable environment," reads Brown's Sex Week event list. "Bring blankets, pillows, friends, and questions for a night of cozy conversation in a dark, anonymyzing space."

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Perhaps not surprisingly, Sex Week hasn't been immune to controversy, especially at Yale, where porn stars have occasionally been asked to speak.  Pat Robertson's "The 700 Club," a talk show that airs on the Christian Broadcasting Network, recently denounced the college tradition. Guest Nathan Harden, author of "Sex and God at Yale," said:

“There’s really a war being waged on the mind by the faculty and administration…Why would anybody send a little girl to Yale to think that she might get subjected to sadomasochism?”

Porn star "Maggie Mayhem" was invited to Yale last year to contribute to a discussion on ethics and pornography. She sought to help answer the question, "Is it ethical to film sex?"

And while a course like "Dirty Talk" might sound explicit, it's supposedly less about bedroom behavior and more about cultivating closeness with one's partner. As one student told the University of Southern California's "Neon Tommy" publication:

"It was just like, being consensual and comfortable in expressing yourself with your partner."

What do you think? Is "Sex Week" too over the top for college?

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Photo: College sex week / Brown University (© Kenneth C. Zirkel/Getty Images)

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