Sunday, February 19, 2006

Porn Week at Yale


For most of last week, I couldn't really put my finger on why I hated Sex Week - it claims to be an exploration of all kinds of sexuality and all aspects of sex, which seems like a good conversation-starter for the issues of gender and sexuality which concern feminists.

But then a) I got an email containing the words "hottest Porn Star" and b) it wasn't spam, but an advertisement for an event that hundreds of Yalies attended. It all clicked: I hate Sex Week because it's basically a bunch of Yalies pretending to be porn stars and pimps.

Here's the thing:
sex is not the same as objectification, and it does not have to involve unequal power dynamics. In fact, seeing it this way invites oppressive stereotypes and harmful relationships; Helen in the YDN does an awesome job of pointing out the gender dimensions in SWAY's magazine. There's something wrong when enormous amounts of funding and resources are available for this stuff at one of the best universities in the world. I still can't believe intelligent Yalies ate up the (self-?) promotion of women in "fashion-forward" lingerie, a talk for men about how to "mack" "girls" by asserting your power over them, and a panel on pornography with the "very high-profile" (I wouldn't know) porn star Jesse James - all without seemingly thinking about the implications for their own sexual awareness.

Just check out these quotes from Mr. Macker Nasheed, which seem representative:
"Never ask for a number; instruct them to give you their number" - that's the power stuff - and "the definition of a gentleman is a man who hasn't had sex with you yet" - there's the unhealthy view of sex. 'Nuf said.

Yes, we can play with gender stereotypes and experiment with our sexuality in many ways. But most of us don't even have the healthy sexual relationships necessary to do so. Let's talk about that, shall we?*


*oh, sorry, there's no funding available.

7 comments:

Anonymous said...

Hear hear. Healthy sexual relationships at Yale are really rather rare indeed.

Anonymous said...

aren't you getting funded for this blog?

Nick said...

God, I wish I'd realized what Tariq Nasheed's seminar was about. I would have gone. Dressed as T.J. Mackey.

maggie said...

Helen's article is very articulate and persuasive. It says all the things I've been thinking about Sex Week but didn't know how to express. Well done - to both Helen and to Della and Sabrina for the recent post.

Laura said...

Does anyone else get these Toads emails? Can we talk about this???

Hey Y students,

Don't miss this Saturday at the Toad!! BONUS: first 50 Ladies that blow into the ear of the large, burley doorman get a FREE beverage. YALE WOMEN ONLY. The Dance Music will be non-stop!! The DJs will be spinning and twisting and hopping!! All of our normal specials and prices!!! SPECIAL: Put your tongue into the ear of one of the DJs and get a FREE beverage or concert tickets!!! Doors open at 9:30pm. 21+ only (please bring a second piece of ID if possible) The laser lights will astound you!!! The most exciting dance parties anywhere are at the Toad!!!!

Anonymous said...

Sex weekis an interdisciplinary sex education program designed to pique students’
interest through creative, interactive, and exciting programming. In February 2008,
renowned professionals from a wide variety of industries, from models and
television stars to college boysand relationship specialists,
will convene at Yale University to challenge students’ conceptions of sex and
sexuality and question the way sex is presented in our society.

Sex Week explores love, sex, intimacy and relationships by focusing on
how sexuality is manifested in America, helping gay german boys to reconcile
these issues in their own lives. We strive to get beyond the awkwardness,
the discomfort, and the taboo of conventional sex education programs by
treating sexual behavior as the reality it is, not as it has been portrayed.

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