by John Cochran
When confronted with the phrase, “I Love Female Orgasm” at eye level, in large red and white letters at 8:00 a.m. while walking into Gailor, most people would be able to rub the sleep out of their eyes enough to give it a second look. But by the third week of class the phrase had engulfed the entirety of campus, plastered against every doorway and finding itself settled neatly across the occasional black cotton shirt, creating its own sensual, albeit, premature mid-September autumn. So naturally, everything was in order atop the plateau. Such straightforward advertising was met with slight controversy. While amusing to some, others found the phrase a bit too overt and embarrassing to be posted around campus. Regardless, the signs, phrases, internet printouts, posters, and t-shirts, all attracted plenty of attention before 7:00 p.m. Monday September 23 rolled around.
A surprisingly large audience had gathered in Guerry Hall to learn everything from sexual health advice to tricks of the trade in searching for that previously deemed hoax, or mythical event called a female orgasm. Nonetheless, a highly anticipated Monday evening was met with unexpectedly lighthearted humor in a wonderfully entertaining presentation given by Marshall Miller and Maggie Keenan-Boldgier.
Miller and Keenan-Boldgier both work as sex educators for an organization titled Sex Discussed Here, which was designed to provide positive sexual education programming for college-aged audiences. The Bairnwick Women’s Center was looking to explore a different and more enjoyable type of event centered on sexual health and education. Co-Director, Kelsey Koontz (C’14) explained, “We were looking for positive programming options that hadn’t been done before and that would be able to start a conversation among a large and diverse audience.” Through the assets provided by Sex Discussed Here, they were able to do just that. There are a number of different programs run through the Sex Discussed Here organization, but the most popular program (for obvious reasons) goes by the title “The Female Orgasm.”
Miller and Keenan-Boldgier began their careers teaching sexual education a little over ten years ago. As they both shared a bit of their own experience regarding sex education, they highlighted similarities regarding how and what they learned as young teenagers and what they were doing from the perspective of young sex educators in their early twenties. They realized that they were not at all taught or presented with anything that could comprise a sexual experience. For instance Miller stated, “At one point, I realized people weren’t being taught anything at all. Imagine if driver’s ed. was like sex ed. You would go to one class where they would tell you ‘Driving is dangerous. You could get killed, so don’t do it. But if you’re going to do it, wear a seatbelt. Here are some proper instructions on how to put on a seatbelt.”
Essentially, they both joined Sex Discussed Here to provide young adults with a real sexual education that talks about all aspects of what sex is, and that it actually occurs between real people, opposed to leaving that important part out or disconnecting people from the subject entirely. The goal of keeping the topic light hearted yet still informative was also achieved, and many audience members had according sentiments, including Meredith Byars (C’16) who said, “It seemed that they were making something that’s usually difficult or uncomfortable to talk about more fun and accessible, as opposed to being too serious and having a lot of negative connotations.”
Miller and Keenan-Boldgier spoke about everything from sexual health and how to be safe, to what can improve a sexual experience and create a more mutually beneficial and consensual experience. But as the talk itself developed, it became apparent that it was less focused on helping college-aged audiences learn about how sex works but more so emphasizing important ways to remain safe and to keep these experiences enjoyable. More than anything the entire event stressed openness, comfort, mutual respect, and communication surrounding both sexual discussions as well as experiences, which can make them both more productive and enjoyable for those involved.
Monday evening was full of just that, very open questions met with very open answers, not straying away from topics difficult to talk about. In fact, Miller and Keenan-Boldgier embraced the silliness of the subject head on and went with it, many times telling the audience that there’s no good way to teach people about sex without it being funny.
This was full of good humor and overt sex jokes that never tire, regardless of one’s age. After a very successful and informative event, we look forward to more positive programming and entertaining events hosted by the Women’s Center.