Chelsea Asplund/The AS Review

As much as we may want to forget, many of us probably remember when we were sat down to have “the talk.”  Many of us can also remember when our 7th grade health class was divided by gender and our teacher first showed us a diagram of a vagina or penis.

Whatever our memories or horror stories may be, fast forward to right here, right now, and think about how our views on our own sexuality has changed.

Today marks the start of the annual Associated Students Sexual Awareness Center Speaks Week, a series of events from Jan. 31 to Feb. 3 that examines how sexuality plays a part in everyday life.

Shawna Leader, coordinator of the SAC, said the goal of the week is to have several events that target different people and their interests.

“It really demonstrates on how sexuality plays in so many parts of our lives: in the media, with a performer such as Lady Gaga; in our schooling, such as sex education and sex research; in our everyday lives, cooking aphrodisiacs,” she said. “We have a variety of topics and types of events, all with different focuses.”

Monday, Jan. 31

To start off the week, the SAC and ASP Films will show the film “The Education of Shelby Knox: Sex, Lies and Education,” at 7 p.m. in Viking Union 522.

The Sundance award-winning documentary follows Shelby Knox, a 15-year-old Southern Baptist, over the course of four years as she challenges her church and school board’s abstinence-only sex education policy. The twist: Her conservative hometown of Lubbock, Texas has the highest teen pregnancy rate in the country.

Tuesday, Feb. 1
The SAC and the VOX: Voices for Planned Parenthood club will co-host a presentation by Pepper Schwartz titled “What it’s like to be a Sex Researcher,” at 7 p.m. in Arntzen 100.
Schwartz has been a professor of sociology and sex researcher at the University of Washington and is the author of more than 16 books.

Her presentation will cover a variety of topics, such as what happens during research of sex and relationships, how she’s played a role in current events and what she tells strangers when they ask what she does for a living.

“It’s really good to see someone talking about sex so positively and being so open about it,” said Leader. “I think it sets a good example about being able to talk openly about sexuality.”
Schwartz has been featured in The New York Times, People, Seattle Magazine, and on “The Oprah Winfrey Show” and “Good Morning America.” In 2003, Law & Politics Magazine chose her as one of the “25 Smartest People in Washington State.”

Wednesday, Feb. 2

The SAC will hold a discussion titled “Love Games: A Discussion of Lady Gaga and Sexuality” in Academic West 204 at 7 p.m.

The event will take a deeper look at pop culture icon Lady Gaga’s portrayal of sexuality and sexual identity. It will include a critique of her music videos and interview clips. There will also be a Lady Gaga costume contest with a prize for the winner.

Thursday, Feb. 3
On the final day, the AS Environmental Center and the SAC will co-sponsor an event called “Sustainable Cooking Class: Aphrodisiacs” from 6 to 8 p.m. at the Community Food Co-Op Kitchen on North Forest Street.

Participants will learn how to make aphrodisiac foods, including a breakfast dish, an entrée and a dessert. There is a suggested donation of $3, and attendees must send an RSVP e-mail to to reserve a spot.

Environmental Center Coordinator  Chelsea Thaw said they were approached by the SAC because of their successful sustainability cooking classes last year. Their collaboration not only strengthens their relationship as offices, but supports the idea of environmental issues being social issues as well, she said.

“They said they really wanted this event to not just be their event, but to have an element of sustainability, an element of supporting local farmers,” Thaw said. “It kind of goes to show that anything you want to do can be put through the lens of sustainability. We were happy to hop on board.”

Sexual Awareness Center Assistant Coordinator Alyssa Piraino said she hopes the variety of events will help students become more comfortable with the topic of sex and how it relates to all aspects their life, something the SAC encourages.

“I’m hoping it’ll be a lot of fun and people will walk away understanding that talking about sex and thinking about sex as an okay thing,” she said.