Kirsten O'Brien/The AS Review
Leave your inhibitions at the door and come prepared with all the sex-related questions you were too afraid to ask in high school health class: Babeland presenters are once again returning to Western for an uproarious and candid conversation about how to have a fun, safe and positive sex life.
The Associated Students Sexual Awareness Center will host “The Sex Ed You Wish You Had: A Presentation by Babeland” from 7 to 9 p.m. on Nov. 9 in Fraser 4. The event is being co-sponsored by the AS Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Alliance. It is free and open to the general public.
Alyssa Pirano, SAC assistant coordinator, said the presentation has been wildly popular with students in the past. She said this year’s presenters, Audrey McManus and Status Causey, will be discussing a number of topics including sex tips, how to have safe sex, how to effectively communicate with your partner and how to ask for consent. There will be a question and answer session following the presentation.
Claire Cavanah and Rachel Venning opened the first Babeland sex shop in 1993. They saw a need for a place that was focused on the needs of female-identified individuals. Since then, the store’s popularity with both genders has led to the opening of three more stores in New York, as well as an array of workshops and informational seminars offered at their retail locations.
What makes the Babeland event different from other sexual education presentations is that not only is the event inclusive to all genders, it is entertaining too.
“Babeland talks about sex in an upfront, real and positive way,” said Ben Crowther, LGBTA programs coordinator. “I’ve never had a sex education class that has made me laugh so hard.”
Crowther said that past Babeland presentations have focused on pleasure hot spots on the male and female body, how and where to use which sex toys and even had a demonstration on how to put on a condom using your mouth.
He said it is not uncommon for Babeland presenters to ask for audience participation or volunteers.
“They use anatomy diagrams to explain why certain things feel good, but they make it fun,” said Crowther. “Babeland not only covers the information, they make it memorable.”
Pamela Doan, from Babeland’s public relations department, said that Western students ask Babeland presenters to return year after year. Doan said that the only other school with more demand for Babeland presentations is the University of Puget Sound in Tacoma. Doan said that Babeland’s unique approach to talking about sex is what makes the presentations so popular.
“I think it is our frank, non-judgmental and honest way of talking about sex that is what you can’t find most other places,” said Doan. “We talk to thousands of people of all ages, experience levels and persuasions day in and day out and can offer resources for people at any point on their sexual journey.”
Crowther said the event is especially informative for queer students. He said that many traditional sexual education programs do not cover queer sex issues or use queer-friendly language. For example, instead of using the term “female condom” to describe a thin pouch worn by a female-identified individual during sex, the LGBTA office and Babeland use the term “receptive condom.” By using inclusive terminology, there are no assumptions made about the gender identity of an individual.
“Many sex educations programs don’t talk about queer sex, and they don’t use inclusive language,” Crowther said. “Having Babeland give a workshop that is queer-inclusive can be important to everyone in the Western community.”
Whatever your sexual orientation may be, Doan said that there is something for everyone at Babeland presentations.
“Everyone will take away a different message. For some people, it will be that talking about sex doesn’t have to be scary, and we will give them tools to speak easily and freely,” Doan said. “We hope that everyone will take away the message that safer sex can be sexy and hot and that sex should always be fun, pleasurable and consensual.”