Let’s talk about sex — safe sex, sex positivity, consent, sexism, sexual violence, rape culture and why all of that is so hard to talk about. We need to become more comfortable discussing sex in an open, healthy way and we need emphasize the need to obtain explicit and enthusiastic consent.
This past Monday, video blogger and sex educator Laci Green came to Kenyon and spoke about sex and consent to a predominantly female audience. While the enthusiastic response to her talk was encouraging, it could have been more widely attended, especially by men. The fact is that issues of sex, gender and consent affect everyone, and no person should think themselves exempt from being educated and aware of them.
Take Back the Night (TBTN), which starts this Sunday and runs until Oct. 4, gives the Kenyon community an opportunity to do exactly that. The international TBTN organization dedicates itself to combating all forms of sexual violence, and TBTN’s presence at Kenyon is vital.
The events to be hosted here next week will include a keynote address by Karen Scott ’98, founder and medical director of the Young Women’s Health Initiative, and a Light Up the Night Carnival on Ransom Lawn. It’s important to remember that sexual assault — an issue that affects people of all genders — will continue to affect Kenyon students after the week’s end. Unfortunately, there are some on campus who complain that the policy prohibiting students from registering parties on the closing weekend of TBTN gets in the way of their plans, and that the tabling in Peirce and emails about it are annoying. These complaints, however, usually come from those who never actually experience any of the events. Unless you feel that doing so could be triggering, you should seriously consider attending a TBTN program.
Participating in the week won’t make anyone assume you are a rapist, or a victim of sexual assault, or even necessarily a feminist. Going to TBTN does not mean that you hate men. The events are for card-carrying Crozier members, hipsters, athletes and fraternity members alike. Caring about and speaking out against sexism should not force participants to feel too loud, unfeminine, unmanly or unsexy.
Please don’t be the one to make someone else feel that way by deriding the conversation or otherwise shutting it down.