My, my, my; how times have changed. This point was driven home with all the finesse of a sledgehammer this past weekend. I spent most of my time in the student union of one of our largest state campuses for a leadership conference for college students.
Our group, students promoting community impact through service involvement to others, was having their annual conference. The facility was huge with three stories of meeting spaces and comfy areas to sit or socialize, all overlooking a central area where you could look down for some fantastic people watching opportunities.
There were ballroom dancing competitions going on, a club for playing board games, a couple of fraternal organizations had events, and even a group of students who were raising puppies to become canine companions were meeting.
On the wall next to where we were stationed, there was an electronic schedule board scrolling through the days’ events and schedule. I was idly watching this schedule when a meeting notice popped up between two of our education sessions. “Kink 101.” My first thought was: “what the….?” I noted the room and made my way to that area just in case someone was messing with the monitor. Sure enough, a display table was set up right in the middle of the cluster of rooms, right next to our opening session, proudly declaring “Welcome to Sex Week: 2020”. Good grief.
There was a group of earnest looking young women handing out information on resources and selling brilliant red t-shirts and tote bags emblazoned with “Sex Week: 2020” or “I Survived Sex Week 2020.”
Another table had items that are sold mostly in the back rooms of certain types of adult stores. We had three of our high school students standing off to the side trying to not be obvious with their gawking, so I just ushered them into our meeting space — the whole time trying to think what our youth protection guidelines would require us to do with this circumstance.
I went back out to find out what else to expect from this group. I was relieved to learn they had cancelled a production of the “Vagina Monologues,” which would have taken place in the next room to our Saturday night banquet, with only an air wall to separate the spaces. I was not so happy to learn there would be displays of available merchandise for the “Sex Toys 101” workshop, which would take place on Saturday afternoon. In addition, resources for “various methods of contraceptives,” including models and materials that people could examine and touch would be on display.
Our group tends to lean toward the conservative side. Especially the side that is required to oversee the safety and well being of our students who are minors. I was not looking forward to the fall out from this. After several minutes of conversation, I convinced the group to move the more sexually explicit materials toward the back of their display area, where they would not be immediately available to underage individuals.
As I started to return to my workspace, the young man who was organizing our event came around the corner, he saw the display and paled. He walked over and anxiously explaining he had no idea we would be in such close proximity to such a controversial event. As he nervously chattered, he picked up an item that was on their table. He was tossing it from hand to hand, and when I pointedly looked at it, he realized what he was doing.
Confusion was written across his face when he asked, “what is this?” When the young woman from Sex Week explained he was holding a menstrual cup, the look of complete horror would have probably been the same if she had told him he was holding a live grenade. I took it as a sign to just walk away, even as guffaws threatened to overcome me.
The rest of the weekend passed quickly and with minimal issues. The adults joked amongst us about how we didn’t need classes in college to figure out what was kinky or how to use certain toys even as we googled terms used in their literature and workshop descriptions on Urban Dictionary. We all agreed that this sort of event would not have been scheduled on campus when we were students. Times have certainly changed and student life sure isn’t what it used to be.
Written and submitted by Sarah Roush for The Circleville Herald. The views of this column may not necessarily reflect that of the newspaper.