Bowdoin Healthy Relationships’ (BHeRe) Sexual Respect Week is getting more intimate this year. Yesterday, BHeRe kicked off a week of concentrated programming dedicated to creating discussion and awareness around sexual respect, boundaries and healthy relationships.
“The goal of the week is really to get these ideas of sexual respect out there in the open because sometimes it’s a very taboo topic or it’s talked about only in a very restricted context, so hopefully having this week will make sexual respect something more prominent that students think about in their day-to-day lives,” said Monica Xing ’19, a co-leader of BHeRe.
Sexual Respect Week was previously known as Consent Week. BHeRe believed that the new name would convey the importance of respect and communication in any type of relationship.
“Discussing the broader concept of sexual respect hopefully helps illustrate expectations around consent and that focusing on the notion of ‘permission’ falls short of a commitment to respect for others,” wrote Lisa Peterson, associate director of gender violence prevention and education, in an email to the Orient.
When brainstorming programming for Sexual Respect Week, co-leaders Anna Martens ’20, Grace Pettengill ’21 and Xing wanted to make sure they were reaching a variety of audiences on campus through their events.
The week will include the second annual “Dating Across Identities” event, co-sponsored by the African-American Society (AfAm) and Bowdoin Queer Straight Alliance (BQSA). It garnered such positive feedback last year that BHeRe decided to host it again.
The All-Women’s Self-Pleasure Panel, co-sponsored by fEMPOWER, is open to those identifying as women and will include the raffling off of a vibrator.
“Instead of the sex panel, we’re having an all women’s pleasure panel, so hopefully that’s a smaller, more intimate environment,” said Xing.
“It’s something that’s happened on Bowdoin’s campus before, but it hasn’t happened as a part of BHeRe,” added Pettengill.
“Reacting to Kavanaugh,” which will be mediated by a reverend from Brunswick, is open to male-identifying students and will consist of structured discussion time.
“When we were coming up with a list of events, the all male discussion, I think that was the last one that we put on,” said Pettengill. “We were trying to think about events for men who might not be as inclined to talk about this kind of stuff, so that’s where that idea sprung out of.”
Sexual Respect Week will wrap up next Friday, with two events: A self-defense workshop taught by Prevention. Action. Change. and The Moth, a storytelling event. The self-defense workshop will focus on boundary-setting, communication skills and physical self-defense mechanisms.
The Moth will feature stories from faculty, students and President Clayton Rose, who is going to tell the story of how he met his wife.
“Our group in particular is really interested in hearing stories of faculty and staff, just because we’re all part of the same community,” said Xing. “It’s also a way to more passively engage because it’s not super intimating to just go and listen.”
There will also be music by Alana and Sweet Anne & the Milkmen at 24 College next Thursday as a way to bring people into the conversation surrounding sexual respect who may not be as comfortable participating in an event.
“A music thing where you are just coming to hang out doesn’t have as much of a message as an hour-long conversation does, but hopefully, the bands will insert their sexual respect blurb and then will go on and have a good time in celebration of a week that’s thinking about sexual respect,” said Martens.
BHeRe also put out table tents in Moulton Union and Thorne Hall with questions related to sex, love and relationships as a way to encourage discussion.
“Even if people don’t come to any of the events, they are still having this conversation and that’s part of the point,” said Martens.