College “Sex Week” Promoting Exploitive Sex Tips at a Campus Near You
In March, Ohio University geared up for its most recent “Sex Week,” a four-day event where sex-related activities were hosted at a different campus location each day. Students sought to “destigmatize the conversation around sex” and “widen the conversation” to include types of sex outside of what is considered to be “conventional,” but in the attempt to be more open-minded and inclusive, they may have done more harm than good.
Sex Week events are purported to focus on “encouraging safe sex,” but in reality often promote risky sexual practices. OU’s Sex Week events this year included events like “50 Shades of What?” following the trend of other universities to expand past sex education and promote more extreme and unhealthy sexual practices like BDSM and polyamory through “fun activities and educational events.” Many of OU’s Sex Week topics and activities trivialize sex, contradict safe sex messages, and propagate misconceptions that dangerous sexual practices are healthy, harmless, and liberating.
Ohio University is not the only university to host a Sex Week on its campus, nor is it the most extreme. Sex Week is a longstanding tradition at many universities such as Yale, Harvard, Columbia, University of Chicago, and Brown, many of which boast of events such as “Anal 101” and “Bondage 101” BDSM tutorials.
College sexual assault is already a huge issue, and perpetuating false ideas about what constitutes healthy sexuality only worsens the problem. In a national survey, 23% of female college students—nearly one in four—experienced some form of nonconsensual sexual contact while in college, and the majority of sexual assault cases—whether committed on colleges campuses or elsewhere—go unreported.
Multiple reports of rape at Ohio University and Yale, among others, highlight the prevalence and seriousness campus sexual assault. Hosting Sex Week events that normalize risky sexual behaviors is fueling this problem, not helping it.
NCOSE has created a campaign to bring awareness to this issue and help students to combat exploitative Sex Week events on their own campuses. To learn more, visit our Sex Week campaign page.