Jesse Leener ’23 is working towards the approval of the Sexual Wellness Club, a new student organization aiming to destigmatize casual sex by faciliating conversation and providing access to better education on campus.
The Sexual Wellness Club is an attempt to fill a vacuum on campus left by the absence of resources such as Beer and Sex advisors. The Beer and Sex program had trained upperclass students to meet with first-year students and discuss topics including substance use and hook up culture on Kenyon’s campus. The program was a student organization long before it transitioned to be a departmental organization in 2018. The group has not been active this year.
“Even before the disbanding of Beer & Sex Advisors, Kenyon has not provided sufficient access to the education that is necessary in order for us to have healthy young sex lives, and we deserve better,” Leener wrote in a Sept. 22 all-student email advertising an interest meeting for the organization.
Leener’s goals for the club are to invite sex educators to campus who have dedicated their professional lives to researching hookup culture and teaching young people how to engage in healthy sexual relationships, whether it be on a committed or a casual basis. She also hopes to start conversations between students about how to improve the interpersonal aspects of casual sex.
To achieve these goals, Leener plans to build relationships with student groups on campus, including Greek organizations, athletic teams and affinity groups.
“These clubs represent the student body and everybody has an opinion on the culture of this campus, and we need to talk about it,” Leener said. “This shouldn’t be a conversation that’s only had in the locker rooms or with your friends in the car, whispering.”
One of the largest problems that motivated Leener to start this club was what she sees as Kenyon’s toxic hookup culture. According to Leener, students too often find themselves in uncomfortable situations after they’ve engaged in casual sex, often because of misunderstandings.
“In the context of a heterosexual relationship, the men don’t seem to understand that women want casual sex. The guys here think that if you are interested in them, that means you want a relationship,” Leener said. She has been disappointed that the respect between her and her partner typically fades away after a hookup — as they avert their eyes if they see her around campus — which she attributes to a sense of shame. “There’s a lot of shame put on female sexuality in terms of our ability to express it in different ways,” Leener said.
Leener believes that this sense of shame is the norm because of how small the community is. “People seem to be afraid of the association of hooking up with someone,” she said.
Leener ultimately hopes to create a safe, positive and uplifting environment where students will feel comfortable discussing Kenyon’s hookup culture, as well as brainstorming potential solutions to create better experiences and relationships. “We all want to have good sex,” Leener said.