BY: UTK FIRST YEAR
When I started college, I was not comfortable with my sexuality. My first sexual encounter wasn’t the awkward fumbling around of YA novels, but a violent depredation of my consent and my agency that to this day affects my ability to maintain healthy sexual relationships. The experience set me afloat in a confusing and vicious cycle of uncertainty. I never felt empowered in my sexuality; rather sex became an obstacle to overcome in relationships instead of a source of shared intimacy or pleasure.
No teenager wants to be burnt out on sex or have it seem like an obligation, but I never knew how to move forward because I never knew how to talk about my experiences. I was ashamed because I knew there had to be something wrong with me. I had an end goal of reclaiming my sexuality, but with no firm place to start and no resources to keep me going, I found I was never able to recapture what it seemed I was missing.
Nearing the end of my freshman year, I owe most of my progress towards a healthier sexuality to the existence and impact of Sex Week on our campus.
Sex Week has taught me that it’s natural to have questions and more than acceptable to ask them; that masturbation is self-care, not something to be ashamed of; that sexual exploration is an empowering and life-changing process. And most importantly, Sex Week has taught me the importance of communication and the power of my voice–in giving consent, in providing direction, and in asserting my opinion. I’ve become more comfortable in talking about sex, whether my experience with sexual assault or my sexual identity or just flavors of lube.
I’ve come to decide that healthy sexuality isn’t the end goal I initially thought it to be, but really more of a journey–it comes with wrong turns, missteps, and setbacks, but also victories and a few pleasant pauses to enjoy where you’re at. As Sex Week co-founders Jacob Clark and Brianna Rader get ready to graduate, I think it’s important that we thank them for equipping our student body with the tools to make the journey easier. Without Sex Week, I would not have made it nearly this far.
*Brianna and Jacob have graduated since this post was written; SEAT and Sex Week are also, like the author of this blog, incredibly grateful for their work and sacrifices, and wish them more than the best as they go on to their postgraduate lives.