Get SEX Positive

By Shasta Webb

Posters appear all over campus, table tents have caught the attention of Café Mac patrons, and mention of it has permeated the icy corridors leading to class, but the question still remains: what is SEX+Positive week and what does it mean to Mac students?According to Bobbi Gass ’10, one of the event’s contributors, SEX+Positive week is about “celebrating the diversity of sexual expressions, desires, fantasies, and orientations.” Gass and the other masterminds of SEX+Positive Week hope to promote positive discussion about race and sexuality as well create positive sentiment towards queer, fat, and kink sex.

Gass explained that the US harbors generally negative attitudes towards sex, which creates “silly taboos” and highly uncomfortable situations for those who wish to express themselves sexually. Gass and fellow SEX+Positive contributor, Noah Exum ’12, hope to reverse the effects of that potentially harmful attitude toward sex.

The idea for SEX+Positive week for Macalester was initially launched by Exum, but the theory behind it has roots in radical feminism from the 1980s. Other campuses across the nation have held similar events, and Exum thought Mac kids could benefit from increased sex positivity. He gathered support from several students who shared his views about sex, and the committee proceeded to choose the most important issues to address. They include queer sex, sex toy use, stereotypes and race in sexuality, body image, kink sex, and support for sexual assault survivors. After only one semester of hard work, Gass, Exum, and the rest of the committee organized the first ever Mac SEX+Positive Week, a series of days full of informative and fun events, all catered toward creating positive environments in which students can choose to express themselves sexually.

With support from Smitten Kitten, a sex shop in Minneapolis, and Alina Wong from the Department of Multicultural Life, the SEX+Positive team created several workshops and panel discussions. According to Gass, the first night of the week, a screening of Kinsey in the JBD Lecture Hall, was a success. The audience participated in “really insightful discussion” about science and nature’s roles in sexuality as well as gender fluidity and race.

Gass’s personal connection to the SEX+Positive Week stems from his frustration with the negativity that surrounds sex in this culture. A proponent of positive body-image and comprehensive sexual education, Gass explained his support for sexual exploration and experimentation.

Describing himself as “playful” and “silly,” Gass explained that he likes to continually question the norm and push boundaries. He helped begin a gay and bisexual men’s health group called [email protected], and Gass feels sure he will participate in sexual health outreach in the future, as well as activism surrounding sexuality. Inspired by Mary Oliver and Gayle Rubin, who wrote influential pieces about sexual exploration in the 1980s, Gass maintains a curiosity about the world. Sharing his advice, Gass encourages students with radical ideas to speak up because, chances are, other students feel the same way. “If you work hard enough, you can accomplish [your idea].” He added, “Basically, don’t get complacent.”

Make sure to check out the SEX+Positive events going on Friday through Sunday, February 12-14, and email [email protected] with any questions about sex positivity.