When we don’t teach kids about their bodies…
You know this better than anyone: The US is the midst of a crisis in sexual culture on college campuses. You are likely already involved in evolving conversations and policies about the sex culture at your institution. Faced with growing numbers of sexual assault reports and an increase in consent-based policy and legality, there is a burgeoning culture of fear around sex on campus. Our students feel this fear. They need our help now more than ever.
Many institutions offer workshops and outreach about consent, which is critical, but the sex conversation is so much more than that. At some schools, groups and clubs are sponsoring more explicit workshops about sexual mechanics and techniques… But the conversation is so much bigger than even that. What students need is a place to learn what sex actually is and what is possible in that exchange- not just about consent language, pregnancy, and STI education, but about the intimate interchange between humans that involves bodies, emotions, communication and discernment. They need spaces for vulnerable questions, conversation, healing, and empowered learning in a context that feels safe, inclusive, real and honest.
What I have seen in my work on campuses across the country are 3 negative patterns arising in the conversations about consent on campus…
1. Students are beginning to turn a deaf ear to administrative messaging and outreach about sexual conduct on campus. In my interface with hundreds of students on campuses, they’ve expressed that the messaging and outreach about consent feel loaded with legality and not concerned with the human experience. The see these workshops as a way for their institution to merely protect itself legally, rather than confront the greater patterns that are at play. Students can feel that the push is policy-based, and at the end of the day, have expressed things like “get your handbook out of my bedroom.” Amelia Marren-Baden of the Consent Project at Middlebury College, in her meetings with males on her campus, has reported that some “boys don’t think consensual sex is ‘good’ sex”- because it feels like a phoney demand for canned language that is entering their sexual spheres. This is a response that we can’t afford on our campuses.
2. The consent push, in which the masculine feels largely implicated, is causing an even more polarized gender divide around sexuality education. Many males and male-identified individuals are immediately resistant to this education because they believe that this is a “female” issue and that sexual empowerment is not a conversation that concerns them. Men and male-identifying individuals are just as in need of holistic sex education as anyone else, and they are suffering without it.
3. In an attempt to provide more explicit sex education there has been a swing to the opposite end of the spectrum that is promoting “edgy and kinky” sex, focusing on more explicit mechanics, techniques, and sex toys. All of this can be valuable in a holistic context that includes the nuances of moment-to-moment consent and the reality of emotions and vulnerability in sex. When taught outside of a more holistic context, they become another “demand” or expectation in the bedroom (much like porn), even in consensual sex. What results is disconnected experiences in which students feel like there is something they “should” be doing and trying, rather than discerning what they actually want and need in the moment. The result of this is an epidemic of students wondering “What is wrong with me??”
The most effective and responsible step that institutions can take is to bring in a trusted third party to have these conversations with students, someone that to them does not represent legality or handbooks. Students need to feel that their sex education is interested in them as young adults who are navigating their sexuality in a college culture where sex is expected, often at the expense of true integrity and connection.
Our college students are exploring and thinking about sex, whether we like it or not. Sex is on their minds all of the time. This single subject greatly impacts their ability to not only be students, but to feel like functional, healthy humans that have value. Students are asking for these workshops because they understand that their physical and emotional health, safety, and wellbeing depend on this this new kind of education. Administrators are starting to ask for these workshops in order to protect both their individual students as well as the integrity, safety, and overall culture of their institutions.
Bottom line, sex education on this level teaches discernment and empowerment to all genders and orientations.
Through empowering, engaging, safe workshops and lectures, I bring unique and revolutionary spaces to college campuses. This work has the power to shift the sexual culture on your campus as a whole.
Join the movement and become a campus that is taking a different approach.
Your institution likely has a consent policy. That’s a very important thing. But it’s not enough.
I have worked with hundreds of students from Colorado College to Harvard University, places that have sexual consent policies and programs, and the students are still silently suffering and bewildered when it comes to sex. They still do not have safe spaces or qualified teachers that they can actually talk to and learn about sex. Students do not have a place where they can ask their real questions about the subject, the ones they have never voiced out loud and certainly not in a conversation focused solely on consent.
This is more than a pregnancy or STIs talk. It’s more than a consent-policy talk. Consent is a vital part of sex. But what about everything that happens before and after the moment of consent? My workshops and lectures answer these unspoken questions–what happens between the sheets, in their bodies, in the bar before the bedroom. What pleasure is, what sex can look and feel like, and how to use their voice to advocate for themselves- for their pleasure, for their value, and for their comfort and safety.
When young adults have sex with no real education about their bodies and desires, they are dropped into a vast wilderness without a map. They do the best they can in their fumbling explorations, but they are influenced by Internet porn, “hook-up” culture, highly sexualized ads and movies, and an overall looming silence about the subject. They are all too often left with unanswered questions, a sense of violation even if the sex was consensual, and shame. In this wilderness far too many of our students are getting incredibly lost and colleges themselves are at risk for the sexual culture on their campuses. As I see it, this is a problem that we can address.
In my work with college students across the country, I lay the groundwork for a new paradigm of sex that is both healing and empowering.
What I have seen and learned about in my work on campuses is that among the growing number of assault reports, there are also a growing number of what I call “grey area” cases that are incredibly confusing for students, parents and administration. “Was it consensual? “Was it not?” “I said yes but I feel violated. Why? What do I do about this?” “I thought I wanted it but it felt so invasive and terrible.” These instances are almost always a product of a lack of education about what is possible within sex–that sex is more than just avoiding assault. And it should be. These workshops are one of the most direct and influential risk-management and student-supportive resources that you can offer your students and your institution. This work can shift a campus’ sexual culture from one that is permeated with fear, confusion, and loneliness to one that is life-affirming and filled with integrity, discernment, reliability, trust, agency and respect.
The response from students to the workshops has been overwhelmingly clear: “We need this work. There is nowhere for us to talk like this. Why have I never been taught this information?”
What I’ll Offer
My workshops cover the heart to head to genitals to the emotional dynamics of sexual relationships. I shed light on what students both need and want to know in a way that is accessible and translatable to them.
This includes the connection between trust and pleasure, anatomy of pleasure for all bodies, the infinite range of orgasm, how to handle the “morning after,” why sexual relationships get messy, how to better trust themselves and feel more at home and safe in their bodies, and how to make discerning choices that reflect their true human needs and desires.
Safely, carefully, and respectfully, I offer students tools to claim (and reclaim) their sexual sovereignty, agency and heal from past sexual trauma or unsettling sexual experiences.
I am a public speaker, international and cross-cultural experiential educator, wilderness guide and a sacred sexuality teacher. I have worked with some of the most reputable therapeutic and international education companies in the US. (Read more about my background here) I’ve worked with thousands of students across the United States and Asia for over 17 years, ranging in age from 13-70. In the public sphere I offer sacred sexuality workshops for adults that allow them to explore this very topic. More and more parents are reaching out to me to offer mentorship and education in sexuality for their teenagers and young adults.
When I began to take this into the context of college campuses, at places like Colorado College, Middlebury and Wesleyan, the response was overwhelmingly positive. Each time I sit in a room with students, I watch relief spread across their faces.
From one student at Wesleyan, “Thank you so much for coming and speaking to us, so much of what you said resonated deeply with me and came at a point in my life in which I badly needed to hear it….I was deeply inspired by your talk and feel that you have a real, world-changing movement building. I think your outlook will provide the much searched for solution to issues of sexual culture on college campuses, and I hope that your voice will touch the lives of so many more.”
My workshops are unlike anything that is being offered currently on college campuses. What I offer is a holistic approach to sex and sexuality. I slow the conversation down, invite students’ feelings and vulnerability into the room, and disarm the shame around sex. Every body is welcome and supported: all genders, all sexualities, all levels of sexual experience. Students who are not having sex feel more supported in their decision to not have sex. Students who are having sex feel more supported in their value and ability to make discerning choices and make sure that the sex they are having feels mutual, satisfying and valuable.
Through my teaching, students connect to their bodies and their intuition in a way they never have before. They learn to trust themselves, to make sense of and heal past experiences. They learn how to communicate their wants and needs to others so that the conversation is not just about consent. Finally, they learn what they deserve to experience in sex–pleasure, respect, mutuality, connection, joy, trust and intimacy–not simply a series of mechanics followed by a bunch of unanswered questions and wonderings.
Students learn what they want and don’t want in sex. As a result, they are more discerning and empowered in their sexuality.
This is the paradigm shift that our culture needs, especially on college campuses.
THE BODY OF SEX
TWO 1.5 hour workshops
- These can be single gender or mixed gender and will cover male-identifying and female-identifying material comprehensively.
How can students talk about consent when it’s totally unclear what sex really is (which is more than simple mechanics)? It’s difficult because no one has ever taught them about their BODY…. And the body is where SEX HAPPENS. The body is where CONSENT happens.
In these two workshops, students learn how their body works when it comes to pleasure and sex and how their body is connected to their intuition and inner sense of self. They will see that their body is a place that they can TRUST and listen to.
Workshops 1 and 2 offer education on:
- Uncovering the “lies” about sex and sexuality in our culture and freeing ourselves from shame and fear about sexuality
- Vulva and phallus anatomy (beyond the simple anatomy of sixth grade sex ed)
- The anatomy of sexual pleasure
- The difference between male and female pleasure
- The limiting constructs of masculine and feminine that we are often stuck in. How these constructs make everything more difficult and less true to who we really are
- Premature ejaculation and impotence (why they happen and how to work with them)
- How pornography can ruin someone’s sex life (in ways that they might not imagine or realize)
- Why sex can physically hurt and how to help it feel better
- The infinite range of orgasms (beyond the race to orgasm)
- The relationship between trust and pleasure
- The role of eye contact
- Asking for what they want
- Connecting to their own sexual intuition and instinct
- Why sexual relationships get “messy”
- Why people feel so many damn emotions in bed (and how to navigate them)
- Why vulnerability and sex matter so much to each other
Workshop 2: Q and A 1.5 hours
The second workshop provides a safe space for students to ask questions and guide the discussion based on their needs for more learning. THIS is where we really begin to shift the sexual culture on campus. We slow down the pace of conversation and let participants connect with how they actually feel about sex in a safe environment that invites vulnerability and the ability to “not know.”
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