“I understand why sex education may seem controversial, but it’s not an “intimate” subject, especially at a university. Sexual assault can’t be a “taboo” subject when women have to include mace and keychain knives on their list of school supplies.”
The portrayal of sex and sexual violence in American culture needs to be transformed. This generation of women, including myself, has grown up with everyday innuendos seen in advertising, pop culture, and media. Those hyper-sexualized photos and Robin Thicke lyrics transfer over, inevitably, to our workplaces and our schools. I’ve heard countless stories of objectification, I’ve experienced it, and I think we’ve had enough. It’s time we begin to empower ourselves.
Last week, walking through campus, I saw a flyer that grabbed my attention: How To Be A Gentleman and Get Laid. I stopped, ready to be annoyed, but I was relieved to see that it was an advertisement for UNM’s Sex Week, co-sponsored by the Women’s Health Resource Center and the Self Serve Sexuality Resource Center. UNM would be offering workshops to educate students on the importance of consent and to raise awareness about sexual assault.
The “vulgarity” of the titles did what they intended to – draw attention to a very important series of workshops. However, they also attracted critique, and the critics focused their attention to the titles of the workshops rather than the content. This was a rare opportunity for UNM to focus on sexual assault, and it instead found itself distracted with a new focus: the student right to sex education.
Students are adults. This is why I was so surprised to see that most of the 40 complaints received were from parents. Not only that, but that these complaints were met with an apology from Eliseo “Cheo” Torres, the Student Affairs Vice President, suggesting that UNM “will do a better job in the future of vetting and selecting programs offered through campus groups.”
This apology exemplifies our culture’s failure to empower our students with sex education. If students must feel censored and shamed for receiving sex education, how is that going to effect their actions? Sex education is a simple, healthy way to counter our rape culture. Our society is too comfortable with slut-shaming and victim-blaming instead of taking the time to realize how ignorant and harmful those ideas are.
Our sexuality should not be politicized. Students should be unapologetic, vocal, and empowered to learn about healthy sex relationships. Students should have the opportunity to learn about it at their university. Especially if the university has a problem with sexual violence.
So far, there have been 6 reported cases of sexual assault to UNMPD this year. Last year there were 11. If that’s not troubling enough, over half of sexual assaults are not reported, and this does not include other problems, such as stalking or domestic violence.
I understand why sex education may seem controversial, but it’s not an “intimate” subject, especially at a university. Sexual assault can’t be a “taboo” subject when women have to include mace and keychain knives on their list of school supplies.