Introducing the Colby Sex Club!

Approximate readability: 6.34 (7696 characters, 1773 words, 121 sentences, 4.34 characters per word, 14.65 words per sentence)

This is something that I should have blogged about long ago!

The story starts on March 9, 2011. There was a campus forum on that day, on the topic of “Gender, Power, and Community” – lots of people were there, and we had a really good conversation about a lot of important issues, like sexual assault, silencing, and various forms of discrimination. I said, semi-jokingly, something like “We should have a 'Colby Sex Club' where people talk about the act of sex and what we want out of it! This seems like another silence that needs to be broken.” I dropped the idea at the time, because I was busy with schoolwork, and because as a person who's never actually had sex with another person, I didn't feel like the most qualified to start it.

Then, this semester – October 19, to be precise – I went to an event that made me think of it again. Heather Pratt, an dedicated feminist leader who graduated from Colby last year, gave a talk about zir thesis, which was about sexual assault at Colby. Ze talked about a lot of specific cases, and they all seemed to have one thing in common – nobody knew what the fuck they were doing. People didn't know what consent was, didn't know what their options were, didn't know how to have enjoyable sex, and so forth. Both the victims and the perpetrators were trying to do what they thought was expected of them, not even thinking about what they actually wanted for themselves.

So then I got irritated by how terrible that is, and decided that I was going to start the Sex Club after all!

And then I did it.1 Last Friday, December 2, we had our first meeting – not too many people were there, because it's near the end of the semester and people have tons of work to do, but we had a good conversation with the people there, and there's been a huge amount of energy on campus about the club. The conversation covered a bunch of different subjects, including how to ask for what you want and how to tell someone you're interested in them without being too awkward. (That's a problem at Colby and elsewhere – our culture is so filled with images of nonconsent that some people feel awkward if someone actually just asks “Is it okay with you if we [kiss / make out / have sex / whatever]?”. Once you start asking, though, it's much nicer for everybody!)

We have a mission statement:

The Colby Sex Club is a safe space for candid discussions about sex. We are inclusive of all genders, sexes, preferences, and so forth. We push the idea of enthusiastic consent, and encourage people to have healthier, better, more communicative sex. We stand against sexual assault, and will support survivors however we can.

And flyers:

A flyer; see below for a transcript

Transcript: (show)(hide)
This flyer is mostly text; the text will be written unmarked, with visual descriptions in curly brackets {}.

Do you feel AWKWARD when you MASTURBATE? { This line is flanked by cartoonish pictures of two people, one long-haird and one short-haired. They are looking panickily at each other, and have their hands over their crotches. }

Good news! You're not alone!

End the taboo - have a conversation that needs having!

The Colby Sex Club will have its first public meeting on
FRIDAY, DEC 2 -- 6:00 PM
MARY LOW BASEMENT LOUNGE!

The Colby Sex Club is a safe space for candid discussions about sex. We are inclusive of all genders, sexes, preferences, and so forth. We push the idea of enthusiastic consent, and encourage people to have healthier, better, more communicative sex. We stand against sexual assault, and will support survivors however we can.

For more information, or to get involved, contact Eli Dupree at endupree@colby.edu

FRIDAY, DEC 2 -- 6:00 PM
MARY LOW BASEMENT LOUNGE!

A flyer; see below for a transcript

Transcript: (show)(hide)
This flyer is mostly text; the text will be written unmarked, with visual descriptions in curly brackets {}.

Do you sometimes like to have SEX? { This line is illustrated by a cartoon of two people lying together. }

(but have trouble bring up the subject when you're SOBER?) { This line is illustrated by a cartoon of someone looking shocked at a “no alcohol” symbol. }

End the taboo - have a conversation that needs having!

The Colby Sex Club will have its first public meeting on
FRIDAY, DEC 2 -- 6:00 PM
MARY LOW BASEMENT LOUNGE!

The Colby Sex Club is a safe space for candid discussions about sex. We are inclusive of all genders, sexes, preferences, and so forth. We push the idea of enthusiastic consent, and encourage people to have healthier, better, more communicative sex. We stand against sexual assault, and will support survivors however we can.

For more information, or to get involved, contact Eli Dupree at endupree@colby.edu

FRIDAY, DEC 2 -- 6:00 PM -- MARY LOW BASEMENT LOUNGE!

Then, last Sunday, December 4, we got approved by SGA, Colby's student government body! We're now an official club (So I'm now officially the President of the Colby Sex Club!), and we can get funding to do events and stuff! So I contacted the local copy shop and had them print out 50 copies of the “affirmative consent” graphic that I posted a while back and am selling in my Zazzle store. Except, I made a special version for the club. It looks like this:

A poster; see below for a transcript

Transcript: (show)(hide)
This poster is in comic format, with pictures of me narrating most of the text in speech bubbles.

TEXT (as a title): The Colby Sex Club presents a friendly introduction to... Affirmative Consent!

ELI: Hello, folks! Let's talk about affirmative consent, and the myth of a “grey area” between consensual sex and rape! Consent is actually fairly straightforward, but people don't always explain it perfectly. Here, I'll explain it with an image!

Panel: Two cheerful people.
PERSON 1: Want to have sex?
PERSON 2: Yeah! Let's do it!
This panel is labeled “CONSENT”.

Panel: A cheerful person and an idle person.
PERSON 1: Want to have sex?
PERSON 2: Yeah, whatever.
This panel is labeled “NOT CONSENT”.

ELI: This isn't very hard to understand. If you ask someone fifty times, and ze says no fifty times, and then you ask a fifty-first time and ze says yes, that is not consent. Compliance is not consent. Compliance means that someone has decided that the trouble you'll cause for zem if ze doesn't comply is greater than the trouble of being sexed up when ze doesn't want it. Which is exactly the opposite of the positive, mutually beneficial relationship you want with a sex partner. Is there a grey area here? Yes - it looks like this:

Wide panel: At the left end is a cloud of grey smoke. At the right end is clear blue sky. The left end is labeled “GREY AREA”; the right end is labeled “CLEAR AREA”.
PERSON IN THE GREY AREA: Oh, no! With all this smoke around, I have no idea if ze actually wants to have sex with me!
PERSON IN THE CLEAR AREA: Thank goodness! My partner and I are communicating well and we both know exactly what the other wants!

ELI: The grey area is the bad area. The grey area is the one you want to avoid at all costs. The clear area is the awesome area of super sexy fun. If you do sex to someone while you're in the grey area, you might not ever know whether you've committed rape. That would be an incredibly stressful situation to put yourself into. You'd probably have a lot of cognitive dissonance because you don't want to think of yourself that way. And that would be very bad for you as well as for your potential victim. But the point here is not “If you're in the grey area, don't have sex”; although that is important... the point is, “If you're in the grey area... get to the clear area.”

Panel: Two people talking.
PERSON 1: I'm having a little trouble figuring out what you're okay with - sometimes I don't know if you're protesting or just playing around... So, um... Are you interested in making out for a while, and then having sex?
PERSON 2: Oh, that would be wonderful! Sorry, I've just had a bad day and so I'm a bit snippy. I could really use some good sex right now!
NARRATION: They then proceeded to have the awesomest sex ever.

ELI: Clear, honest communication is the only weapon we have against accidentally hurting each other over and over for no good reason. And it's also the sexiest thing since vibrating dildos. Use it.

At the bottom of the poster there are two information boxes:
BOX 1: This poster brought to you by the Colby Sex Club! Free copies are available in Pugh {A location at Colby.} (At least, as of December 2011. Feel free to post them wherever you deem necessary!) The Colby Sex Club is a safe space for candid discussions about sex. We are inclusive of all genders, sexes, preferences, and so forth. We push the idea of enthusiastic consent, and encourage people to have healthier, better, more communicative sex. We stand against sexual assault, and will support survivors however we can. For more information, or to get involved, contact Eli Dupree at endupree@colby.edu
BOX 2: Poster design by Eli Dupree. Funding by SGA. Thanks to everyone who encouraged me to bring this message to the campus - your support helps to keep me going. And even more than that, your voices help to push our culture to be the best that it can be.

(If you like this graphic, and you want to post copies of it at your own school/workplace/institution, please contact me; I'll give you versions that are good for printing and advice on how to do it, and I'll even edit it for you to be specific to your location if you want.)

Anyway, the semester is almost over now, so this is our last action for now, but when I return to Colby in January, we'll be super active again! I'm looking forward to doing lots of awesome things in the name of healthy sexuality.

– Eli

Footnotes:
  1. Well, first, I spent a long time trying to plan to do it collectively with a couple of other people. They're wonderful people, but they had a lot of other stuff going on, and it didn't work out. So, eventually, I just set a time for the first meeting and stuck to it, even though I didn't have any co-leaders. back