By Liv Barry
Cleopatra’s Sisters shook up the Washington College campus on Thursday, Nov. 16 with their first-ever sexual education event, Empower and Educate: Breaking the Taboo on Sex Education, which was held in the Newlin Room of the Clifton M. Miller Library.
Cleopatra’s Sisters secretary junior Tiana Edwards spearheaded the event after presenting her idea to the club, noting the unequal footing that some students have when it comes to sexual health due to the varying state laws surrounding sex education in the United States.
“[I] wanted to provide a safe space for students to learn and ask questions about sexual health, as well as sex itself, since sex ed classes don’t talk about the aspects that go into intercourse,” Edwards said.
The club collaborated with the Clifton M. Miller Library to host the event, with Director of Public Services and Faculty Librarian in STEM Alex Baker helping Cleopatra’s Sisters organize the night.
“Alex Baker…was the first person [I] talked to about the idea for the event. Alex was on board from the beginning and was willing to help in any way she could,” Edwards said. “It was only right for Cleo’s and the library to team up on an educational event.”
Prior to the event, the club provided refreshments, as well as gift bags from the Kent County Health Center. Upon sitting down, students giddily searched through their bags, sifting through informational pamphlets, lube, and an array of tools for protective sex, including dental dams and glow-in-the-dark and flavored condoms.
According to Edwards, the attendance far surpassed what the club initially expected. Before the event even began, Baker had to find extra chairs to accommodate all of the students in the Newlin Room.
The talk featured Director of Health Services Lisa Marx, who provided an overview of the sexual health services available to students at WC, and Associate Professor of Spanish and Director of the Black Studies Program Dr. Elena Deanda, who gave a lesson that focused on sex positivity.
“Whether students engage or not in sexual acts, college students are in touch most of the time and for the first time with their sexuality and with other people’s sexualities,” Dr. Deanda said. “Having access to sexual education that is scientific, compassionate, and direct can allow these times to be less problematic and more positive.”
During their respective lectures, Marx and Dr. Deanda asked students what they knew about sex education, throwing condoms into the crowd whenever students answered correctly. Additionally, the speakers opened the floor to questions from students, encouraging them to ask about taboo topics, like the clitoris and prostate.
“I hope that we can continue to establish open communication bridges with regards to sexuality,” Dr. Deanda said. “As a specialist in the history of sexuality in the Western world and the early modern period, I am happy to participate in our campus conversations about this topic in any way needed.”
At the end of the event, Cleopatra’s Sisters hosted a quiz on Kahoot that contained questions relevant to the content of the night’s lessons. Prizes for first, second, and third place included a stuffed penis, a stress ball shaped like a breast, and a sex-themed ugly Christmas sweater.
Following the success of this event, Edwards said that the club plans on having a follow-up event in the spring, which will focus more on taboo topics in sex education, like masturbation and sex toys.
Photo by Liv Barry
Photo Caption: WC Director of Health Services Lisa Marx was one of the speakers at Cleo’s sex talk event