I usually spend my Monday nights watching half-naked men beat the hell out of each other on WWE Monday Night Raw. This week I opted to attend the Sex Workers’ Art Show in the MultiCultural Center. Sitting there in the densely packed, dimly lit theater made me realize something. When it comes to sexuality, which I would like to differentiate from sexual activity, we should all count ourselves lucky for attending UCSB.
Last Monday certainly wasn’t my first experience around sex workers and I doubt it will be my last. As for the rest of the audience, they responded enthusiastically to each performer. Being surrounded by other people interested in learning more about sexuality in a mature manner made me feel all warm and fuzzy inside. Was this what it feels like to be sexually empowered? Enlightened? Whatever it was, it certainly felt good.
Each successive performer brought back notable memories I’ve had at this university in regards to sexuality. Starting as early as freshman orientation in Campbell Hall, the audience was treated to a demonstration of proper condom use. I saw the display for what it was – a lesson in sexual responsibility rather than a signal for promiscuity, as the person next to me thought. From that moment I knew this campus had something special going for it.
Last year, Playboy published an issue containing several UCSB students. Days afterward there was a screening of “Porn Nation” in Corwin Pavilion, a multimedia presentation discussing the negative aspects of pornography. Finally, during the same quarter, a student could enroll in a Film and Media Studies Pornography Genre class. Professor Constance Penley, one of the most notable researchers of pornography, lectures the class every year. That juxtaposition of events and perspectives doesn’t just happen anywhere.
The Daily Nexus serves as another example. Many people take for granted the existence of the Wednesday Hump. Complaints this year range from objection over the use of the word “butt-slut” to over 300 criticisms concerning Jenny Paradise’s authority to write about cunnilingus on fark.com. These people need to realize Jenny had the rare opportunity to join other collegiate sex columnists around the nation for a roundtable discussion with Dr. Drew. She’s been kind enough to write every week, not to uphold a strict approach to sex, but rather to promote more dialogue about sexuality.
There isn’t a single definitive way to experience sexuality in UCSB. That’s how it should be. Taking Sociology 152 is a good start for many students. The course includes a wide range of topics while spending enough time to help address various sexual myths and questions many students have. Students can also choose to talk with UCSB’s own Sex and Relationship Interns for more specific and personal issues. From there people can branch out to other classes in Women’s Studies or Queer Studies. There are also organizations like Students Stopping Rape and Take Back the Night that are committed to making UCSB safer from sexual crimes.
That being said, it’s also unfortunate that not enough people make use of the resources and events they come across. A relatively tame sex life or even one of abstinence shouldn’t excuse a person from learning about sex and sexuality. There is no acceptable justification for ignorance. UCSB already has a notorious reputation in regards to sexual activity. While a more knowledgeable grasp of sexuality might not eradicate sexual crime, it’s certainly a step in the right direction.