The Claremont McKenna College Advocates for Survivors of Sexual Assault and Violence hosted its second annual Sex Week from Oct. 29 to Nov. 1.
This year’s event was marked with a speaker series, discussions, workshops, and a carnival. According to Advocates president and Sex Week founder Grace “Zippy” Wilson CM ’19 and Advocate Lauren Trihy CM ’21, the events differed from the ones they had last year and were tailored to what had worked then.
“Most of the speakers were the same [as last year], but there were slightly different talks,” Wilson said. “We try to have a variety of things.”
There have been efforts in the past on 5C campuses to raise awareness about sexual violence, but Sex Week is the first event to also focus on sex in terms of pleasure and empathy, not just consent.
Last year, Advocates held the first-ever Sex Week on Green Beach, bringing in over 800 people. Trihy assumed it would be easier to get funding again. However, Advocates struggled to get any funding from ASCMC Senate.
“Last year we received $5,000 from ASCMC, and this year we only received about half of that, and it was hard getting that half,” she said. “It kind of seemed like CMC wasn’t being as supportive of this event as they could have been.”
Overall, Trihy asserted that these events were important because of topics discussed that aren’t usually talked about, such as BDSM, sex positivity, and miscellaneous questions about sex.
“[Students’] best source of information might be the internet or their group of friends,” she said. “So bringing experts on these topics is crucial to having important conversations.”
“Last year we received $5,000 from ASCMC, and this year we only received about half of that, and it was hard getting that half”
Another advocate, Andria Tattersfield CM ’21, said that Sex Week gets people to talk about sex and learn about sexual health in ways that promote consent throughout the conversation.
“Why I care a lot about Sex Week is that a lot of programming is about preventing sexual assault and it is incredibly important, but in consent culture, there is both the side of stopping toxic culture and filling it with something new that is sex-positive and trauma-informed and consent-informed,” they said.
According to Wilson, who spoke to TSL last year, Advocates created Sex Week to educate and promote safe sex and consent through a sex-positive, intersectional lens.
“We wanted to make education surrounding sex the focus for a brief period of time,” Wilson told TSL in 2017. “Hookup culture at CMC is not conducive to consent and pleasure. We need to work on decreasing stigma around desiring sex and increase respect for partners by promoting conversation.”
The cornerstone of Sex Week, the Sex Carnival, included tables about sexual assault of LGBTQIA+ and people of color, represented by the Gender and Sexuality Alliance at CMC and Mi Gente respectively.
“We just wanted to raise awareness about certain issues that people of color face growing up in households where you’re essentially forced to learn on your own,” Sienna Hernandez CM ’21 said.
Lauren Calogero CM ’19 echoed Hernandez, adding that assault in the LGBTQIA+ community is especially unrecognized because woman-on-woman and man-and-man violence is erased.
“I think it’s important to engage specific communities and keep in mind those intersectional identities that make survivor stories different,” she said. “So I think being able to include LGBTQ communities is very important because of that erasure — we don’t want to generalize survivor experiences.”
This article was last updated Nov. 4 at 2:15 p.m.