Sex Week at Harvard

William Jacobson over at Legal Insurrection drew my attention yesterday to “Sex Week at Harvard.” I tweeted about it then (@rogerkimball), but the true awfulness of the phenomenon cannot be captured in 140 characters.


According to its web site, the event was organized by “Sexual Health Education & Advocacy throughout Harvard College (SHEATH), a recognized student-run organization at Harvard.” The organization is “dedicated to empowering the Harvard community to explore their experiences with love and sex by providing comprehensive programming addressing a wide range of issues relating to sex, relationships, dating, sexual health, and sexuality.” All the important subjects a well-rounded college student would wish to master.

Are you feeling a little shiver of cognitive dissonance, a slight frisson of surrealistic displacement?  There’s a lot more where that came from. Here’s the description of sex week:

Sex Week at Harvard intends to promote a week of programming that is interdisciplinary, thought-provoking, scholastic, innovative, and applicable to student experiences in order to promote a holistic understanding of sex and sexuality. Our goal is to connect diverse individuals and communities both within and beyond Harvard through common human experiences with love, sex, sexuality, and relationships.

“Interdisciplinary,” eh? “Scholaistic”? “Innovative”? “Diverse individuals”? I also liked this little advisory: “All of the events will be designed to be welcoming to anyone, regardless of their personal identities, practices, and preferences.”


They’re just joshing, of course. The program is designed to be welcoming only to a couple narrow slivers of the population. Curiously, they are slivers that overlap only slightly.  “Sex Week at Harvard” is “designed to be welcoming”  to the feminist-inspired PC sexual police who are always advising you to “take back the night” and natter on endlessly about protecting women even as they advocate “empowering” them sexually. “Sex Week” is also “designed to be welcoming” to certain species of sexual adventurer, not your traditional Don Juan, of course — he was a patriarchal sexist pig — but other, more florid blossoms on the tree of sexual obsession

Are you in Cambridge, Massachusetts, today? You’re in luck!  Here are some of the “innovative,” “thought provoking,” “scholastic” entertainments you can sample:

 Hooking Up on Campus
8PM, Science Center D

Hooking up is happening at Harvard–at least, so it appears from I Saw You Harvard.But what is the hook up culture all about, and what is it really like? Popular sociologist Dr. Lisa Wade shares her scholarly work on hook up culture on college campuses across this nation. College students are having sex, it’s true–but the details might surprise you! Lisa will use survey data and first-person stories to reveal the real hook up culture, arguing that we should be worried about the sexual culture on college campuses, but not for the reasons you might think.


Nota bene: this exploration of “the real hook up culture” is sponsored by the “Office of Sexual Assault Prevention and Response.”

There’s much more on offer today, but don’t tire yourself out. Before us lies a whole week of innovative, scholasitic, thought-provoking exercises. Tomorrow, for example, you may (then again, you may not) wish to drop in on “Dirty Talk.” It’s at  8:00pm, also in the Science Center, and you’ll be reassured that it’s sponsored by the “Wellness Center.”

 Ever found yourself tongue-tied when trying to talk to a partner? A golden rule in sex: quality communication leads to quality participation. Step up your word game with Ben Privot of The Consensual Project. From flirting to sex, and from hook ups to relationships, uncover the language of how to communicate, discover, and savor the common desires you can find with your paramour. Plus, if you’ve ever wanted to get wordy while you get dirty, extra attention will be directed on talking dirty.

The real pièce de la résistance of tomorrow’s program, however, is undoubtedly “What What (In the Butt): Anal Pleasure 101” which you can experience tomorrow at 4PM, Ticknor Lounge.

 Come learn everything about anal sex from the expert, Tristan Taormino, author of two books and director of six sex ed films on the subject! Tristan will dispel myths about anal sex and give you insight into why people do it and how to do it well. She’ll cover a wide variety of topics, including: anal anatomy and the potential for pleasure for men and women; how to talk about it with a partner; basic preparation and hygiene; lubes, anal toys, and safer sex; anal penetration for beginners, and much more! Learn the facts about this exciting yet often misunderstood form of pleasure, find out the common mistakes people make, and get all your questions answered!


Many other important innovative, scholastic, thought-provoking, and interdisciplinary subjects will be bruited later in the week, including “Asexuality and Queering Intimacy,” “Can Porn Be Ethical?,” and, not to be missed, the “8th Annual Female Orgasm Seminar.”

Some years ago, Rochelle Gurstein wrote an important book called The Repeal of Reticence, which seeks “to understand how the idea of exposure, which once had been equated with shamelessness, impudence, and impropriety, came to be celebrated as the premier agency of enlightenment and emancipation.” It is a sobering tale that Ms. Gurstein tells, a tale of decadence and civilizational collapse (I wrote about the book here). You may think that it is especially disheartening that such exercises in sexual and moral grotesquerie should take place at a premier educational institution like Harvard. And, indeed, there is plenty to be disheartened about that spectacle. Even more discouraging, however, is the thought that what’s happening at Harvard this week is, with but the smallest variations, happening throughout the year on campuses larges and small throughout the country.  When it comes to traditional “scholastic” college endeavors, there is plenty to be depressed about. But one thing parents can be sure of: if they spend upwards of $250,000 to send their children to the best schools, they may emerge knowing little of history or science or what makes the Untied States a great country, but they will be masters of sexual arcana and perversity. Yes, I know, this is all old news now. But something can be familiar and still repellent, just as something can be (oddity of language) shameless and shameful.  We’ve heard a lot about the “higher education bubble” recently.  “Sex Week” at Harvard is another mephitic eructation in that mournful process.



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