You may have noticed receiving more emails this week about sex, sexuality and gender than usual, even by Wellesley’s standards. This past week was Sexuality Education Week, or SEW, as you may have seen it advertised. The Sexual Health Educators (SHEs) and Sexual Assault Awareness for Everyone (SAAFE) planned and ran five programs this past week all about sex, from consent to funny sex stories.
The SHEs are a group of students who work alongside Health Services to provide education and outreach to the greater Wellesley community about, among other things, safer sex, consent, family planning, STD/STI treatment and prevention and sexuality. You may notice that they are the organization on campus that provides free safer sex supplies — which you can find outside of any SHE’s room or in the laundry room. For a list of SHEs and where they live, check the bulletin board outside any campus dining hall.
Every year the SHEs put on numerous events including SHEpardy in the dorms, sex carnival, queer panel and of course, Sexuality Education Week.
“This year’s SEW featured five programs: a consent workshop, a panel-led discussion on the intersection between our spiritual and sexual lives, an erotic fiction writing workshop, Men’s Panel and Ask-A-SHE, an open lunch table to chat with us. We had a good turnout to every event, ranging from 24 attendees to 278, reaching a total of 400-500 people over the course of the entire week,” said co-president Chiara Seoh.
She continued that this year especially the SHEs are encouraging participation in the SHurvey, an annual survey on the sexual lives, perspectives and preferences of the campus community. The survey for this year is closed, but students are welcome to use the QR code next to the safer sex stock in the laundry room to give feedback and make requests for what types of protection they need.
“As SHEs, we hold many values in our work, including sex-positivity, that is, supporting everyone’s holistic and sexual well-being, however they define that in accordance with their own personal beliefs and values,” said Seoh. “Whether that means being open and having many different partners, practicing total abstinence, waiting until marriage, self-pleasuring, or just learning and being able to talk about sex with medically accurate and healthful information, we want to de-stigmatize and debunk harmful myths about sex, open discussions and otherwise be able to support our community with whatever they need to make their sexual lives something that contributes to and enhances their overall wellness.”
“There’s a lot of misinformation and stigma around sex and sexuality, and the SHEs work really hard to be a non-judgemental and welcoming resource for students,” added SHE Anne Coyne ’19. We know everyone comes to Wellesley with different education levels and understandings of sex and sexuality, and our goal is to educate and affirm.”
While this year added new events like the erotic fiction writing workshop, some events are held annually. The men’s panel, where several men are asked questions about their experiences with sex, sexuality and gender, is especially beloved. Included on the panel were about a dozen men identifying all over the sexuality spectrum. This year’s only included cis men, but often trans men, including Wellesley students, have been on the panel.
“I went to men’s panel because I heard about it from upperclassmen who said it was always amazing,” said Izzy Smith ’22. “It was really fun to hear so many answers from the panel. There is a huge variety to what people like and think. It was really nice to be reminded of views of sex and sexuality from people outside of Wellesley. I loved it and wish it was much longer.”
Although Sexuality Education Week has wrapped up for this year, SHEs and campus health services are always available to answer your questions and concerns as well as offer safer sex supplies. If you have a question for a SHE, email firstname.lastname@example.org or you can reach out to them on their Facebook page.