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SHAG kicks off first in-person Sex Week since 2020

Staff advisor, student coordinators reflect on importance of Sex Week

<p>This year&#x27;s Sex Week theme is Coming of Age in response to the pandemic and the experiences students missed due to isolation. “I felt like the idea of a robbed coming of age was very, very prevalent,” said Monique Jonath ’24, a Sex Week student coordinator.</p>

This year's Sex Week theme is Coming of Age in response to the pandemic and the experiences students missed due to isolation. “I felt like the idea of a robbed coming of age was very, very prevalent,” said Monique Jonath ’24, a Sex Week student coordinator.

On Sunday night, The Underground’s floor and tables were littered with free condoms, chocolates and various other pastries. Students gathered in the cafe in the basement of the Stephen Robert ’62 Campus Center to partake in the Sexual Health Awareness Group’s “Sex and Chocolate in the Dark” event, a discussion-based gathering meant to facilitate conversations about sexual experiences and health.

"Sex and Chocolate in the Dark" is part of an annual week-long event called Sex Week, which is hosted by SHAG, a peer education program that operates under BWell Health Promotion. The week is meant to provide opportunities for students to engage with sexual health through a wide range of workshops geared toward different audiences, said Monique Jonath ’24, a Sex Week student coordinator.

“It's just really meant to remind everyone that sex is a part of life, whether you're choosing to have it or not and (no matter) how you decide to navigate your own sexuality,” Jonath said. “We say that Brown is committed to making that an option for everyone and there are a lot of different ways of being” and engaging.

The week’s events include a variety of discussion-based workshops, including “The First Time: Discussing Virginity,” “Sense and Sensuality,” “Scott Pilgrim vs. the World of Talking about Intimate Pleasure” and “Euphoria! Exploring Sex Toys and Personal Pleasure.” SHAG will also hold a Sexual Health Open House on March 15 and host Jayda Shuavarnnasri, a sexual health expert who will speak on sexual shame, March 16. The week will culminate in “Fifty First Dates,” a SHAG mixer, on March 17.

Priya Mosher ’23, another SHAG student coordinator, expressed excitement about the “Sense and Sensuality” workshop in particular. “I think that this workshop is definitely going to cover what it looks like to engage with pleasure outside of just having sex,” Mosher said. “I think that will be really cool and expand people’s definition of what pleasure and what enjoying pleasure looks like.”

“I’m excited to give people an opportunity to unpack what (virginity) means and to look at it from a queer perspective,” Jonath said, referring to “The First Time” workshop she will be leading today. “I think that’s a great place to start challenging various sexual scripts.”

The theme of this year’s Sex Week is coming of age, which Jonath thought of in response to the experiences that students missed out on as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“I feel like we got cut off right when we were starting to … have first experiences of all sorts and then we were thrown into this crazy isolation,” Jonath said. “I felt like the idea of a robbed coming of age was very, very prevalent.”

By centering Sex Week around coming of age, SHAG is attempting to express that “we can still come of age … Sexuality is a long, ever-changing process,” Jonath said. 

“No matter where you are, when you are, what stage of your life you’re in,” they said, “you can still be learning new things and changing and discovering all about your ages.”

Mosher said she thinks the theme can allow community members to put the concept of relearning into practice.

Last year’s Sex Week was held entirely online and Sex Week 2020 was cut short by the start of the pandemic. Naomi Ninneman, SHAG staff advisor, commended the group for staying active throughout the pandemic.

“We kept our community going,” she said.

Coming back to in-person programming has been more difficult in terms of event planning, but Mosher is excited to experience a “full in-person Sex Week.”

Even though “we were able to hold some pretty fun virtual workshops … I think a lot of intimacy and bonding and openness of having people in person (in) an enclosed, smaller, cozier space was definitely lost virtually,” Mosher said.

“There’s something about the energy of a room that just doesn’t carry over into Zoom,” Jonath said. “I think there’s also a lot of excitement about the confidentiality of it. I’m not being recorded, I’m not being watched, the doors are closed.”

Reflecting on what she hopes students will take away from Sex Week, Ninneman expressed that the event is meant to be a both fun and educational series.

“We raise awareness,” Ninneman added. “We help people learn about resources and just kind of connect them to a more complete understanding that’s going to help them make decisions that are in keeping with their values and desires.”

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Ninneman believes Sex Weeks fits into BWell’s programming through its focus on empowerment and growth.

“For a lot of people, it’s their first time being able to talk about sex openly, especially in … a school environment,” Mosher said. “One of my favorite parts of working in SHAG is just watching people open up through these workshops and be able to talk about things that they might not have been able to talk about before or learn something about themselves.”

“I hope that people feel empowered to engage with sexual health however they choose and know that SHAG is a resource that they can come to,” Jonath added. “I hope people learn more about themselves.”


Alex Nadirashvili

Alex Nadirashvili is the managing editor of multimedia and social media for The Brown Daily Herald's 133rd Editorial Board. As a former University News editor, he covered faculty, higher education and student life, though his proudest legacy is The Brown Daily Herald TikTok account.



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