Positive Sex Week is on.

VULVApalooza TONIGHT in Chapin! 7:30pm.
And on SATURDAY, the Porn Star herself…Annie Sprinkle!
(www. anniesprinkle.org)
Sat, 12-1:30–“The Amazing World of Orgasm” porn viewing. Lunch and discussion with Annie. Hardy House living room.
Sat, 2:30-5pm–Free Sidewalk Sex Clinic! With Annie and other sex experts. Open to any and all questions. Paresky Center.
Sat, 8-10pm–“My Life as a Feminist Activist Porn Star” Brooks Rogers

My thoughts are the same as before. Note that the above announcement comes to us from Sara Ansell, an employee of the college. If students want to lead and organize such events, then great. More power to them. But, from a distance, a lot of these efforts seem driven by Ansell. True? And how much is all this costing?

Money is limited. Future Marine Jeff Castiglione ’07 was trying to organize a talk with Anthony Zinni, retired Marine General and Iraq War critic. Castiglione was told that there wasn’t enough money available. Yet Sara Ansell seems to have no trouble rounding up the funds for a week-end’s worth of insights from a porn star. If the College only has funding for one speaker, should it choose Zinni or Sprinkle?

More importantly, I have my doubts about how open Ansell and her ilk are to opinions on sexuality which differ from their own. Where on this week’s program is someone with a perspective like that of Wendy Shailt ’97?

It’s like some big cosmic joke: The people who are supposed to be “sex positive” and enjoying their cultural freedoms are actually lonely and having terrible sex, whereas studies have shown that religious marrieds are the ones enjoying themselves the most. What’s happened? Perhaps without emotions involved, sex becomes boring.

More from Wendy here.

But much more important than the numbers are the underlying attitudes. Here social science is pretty clear. Teens, especially girls, tend to regret their sexual experiences, and the more experiences they have, the more likely they are to be depressed and commit suicide. For both sexes, an increase in sexual partners throughout one’s life is negatively correlated with human happiness.

Consider Levy’s 19-year-old Debbie Cope, who experiences regret after doing a “scene” for a Girls Gone Wild video–not because she masturbated on camera in the back of a bar, but for “not doing it right” when for some reason beyond her grasp, she couldn’t climax.

The fact is, “do whatever you want” is meaningless to a girl like Debbie. Debbie has had more “sex-positive” opportunities than she knows what to do with. Still, she doesn’t realize something basic: Women are typically paid to appear in pornography precisely because being a sexual object is not supposed to be fun. Like many young women today, Debbie is publicly sexual, while remaining utterly alienated from her own sexuality.

I think girls today want to hear that they can be sexual beings without having to be boy-toys. And indeed, we’re seeing that there’s a greater chance of real intimacy that way.

If the Women’s Center is so interested in ensuring that students at Williams are exposed to a variety of viewpoints, then we can safely assume that she will be inviting Wendy, or someone like her, to speak at the College sometime this spring. Right? (Related WSO discussion here.) Lauren Guilmette writes:

Sex Week is full of several activities and a variety of angles. Annie is one. We’re bringing Annie Sprinkle because, as a performance artist, activist and sexologist, she adds an interesting spin to the very issues you’re raising – can pornography exist outside of the objectification it seems to inevitably create? (as the filmed experiences/bodies of others, literally objects… can there be anything positive for sexual expression/understanding/dialogue there?) While certainly not an apologist for pornography, Annie has worked from the inside (pun intended) to change a genre that will exist regardless of what feminists think, to make it positive for women in a groundbreaking way. The reason we’re bringing Annie is not because we want all women on campus to believe in the merits of pornography; rather, we want to get people talking about this and other topics, latent in our everyday experiences.

Back in the day, the trouble I used to make was most excellent at getting “people talking” so I shouldn’t complain. But I’ll believe this spin when Wendy is invited to Williams by the Women’s Center.

UPDATE: Great comment in that same thread from Madelyn Labella.

Besides which, I’m not convinced that the best response to the continual commodification of sexuality is by embracing self-commodification. I understand that the Women’s Center wants to celebrate female sexuality, but I feel like part of the larger mission of protecting dignity and demanding respect for the gender as a whole is getting lost. It really upsets me that this is coming from the organization whose stated purpose to support and nurture the female population here — I actually feel rather betrayed.

Am I an outlier?

No. What does it say about the sort of job that Ansell is doing that some students feel “betrayed?”

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