Students ask: What happened to Sex Week?

Amnesty International sought to fill in for Sexual Health Awareness Group with Women’s Week event

Each+year%27s+Sex+Week+features+a+banner+with+painted%2C+nude+students.+Photo+courtesy+of+Melina+Bell.

Each year’s Sex Week features a banner with painted, nude students. Photo courtesy of Melina Bell.

Grace Mamom

The large banner of nude students with “Sex Week” painted on their backs wasn’t hanging from the staircase of Elrod Commons this year. No one from Sexual Health Awareness Group tabled in Commons with a display of lubricants or sex toys. 

The week of events organized by SHAG to promote sexual health and body positivity that has captivated campus for decades didn’t happen this year.

Katie Evans, ‘22, said she first visited campus as a prospective student last year during Sex Week. She said she was so impressed by its role on campus that she joined SHAG as soon as she matriculated.

But she said once she joined, the organization’s executive board shrunk and so its infrastructure fell apart.

“There wasn’t structure to support any activities,” Evans said. “I feel like SHAG’s place could easily be filled by other organizations.”

Co-presidents of Amnesty International, Mohini Tangri, ‘19, and Rossella Gabriele, ‘19, decided to incorporate the Sex Week vision into the third annual Women’s Week.

“We wanted to bring an aspect of Sex Week and the positivity of a woman’s experience in sex to Women’s Week,” Tangri said. 

Amnesty held events from March 5 to 8 to recognize and celebrate women, fundraising $1,000 for Project Horizon, Lexington’s domestic violence shelter. This included an open mic poetry reading by female writers, a lip-sync battle and a women’s sexual health trivia night at Salerno Pizzeria, Bar and Bistro in Lexington. 

“We wanted to bring attention to a lot of the aspects of what it means to be a woman,” Tangri said, “the kinds of struggles women go through but also the kinds of fun things women can do.”

Amnesty International hung its Women’s Week poster at each event throughout the week. Photo by Hannah Denham, ’20.

Amnesty partnered with Generals’ Unity for Thursday night’s event. Close to 50 participants, mostly female students, gathered in the newly renovated arcade room of Salerno and formed teams for the jeopardy-style game to answer questions about sexual health, women’s sexual health, STIs and miscellaneous fun facts. 

Teams kept track of their own points and the winners received prizes from Amnesty and GU. After every two questions, smaller prizes were auctioned off to raise money for Project Horizon. 

“An event that is fun and informative is a really great way to become more aware of what it means to be healthy in a sexual way and what women need to enjoy sex,” Tangri said. “That’s really not something that’s talked about.” 

Others in attendance found that the trivia night was a great way to educate participants, in addition to raising money for a local nonprofit. 

Amnesty International’s event at Salerno raised money for Project Horizon. Photo by Hannah Denham, ’20.

“I feel like a lot of people, especially our team since we’ve been getting a lot of answers wrong, aren’t aware of women’s sexual health,” said Maya Hernandez, ‘22. 

Melina Bell, a philosophy professor and a program head for women’s, gender, and sexuality studies, also attended the event.

“I think it’s really great that there’s a social space where something really fun is happening that is run by women, organized by women, and geared toward women as its audience,” Bell said. “So many of the social opportunities at W&L are controlled by men. It’s nice to have one controlled by women.”

In addition to the educational aspect, Bell said she found the trivia night was impactful in empowering women on campus and providing a fun space for students to come together. 

“I think it’s a way for women to have the power that they deserve as more than half of this campus,” she said. “Also, it was just such a great opportunity to laugh and have fun and raise money for some really important charities.”

Bell said she’s also working to reintroduce Gender Action Group (GAG) on campus, another organization that seeks to empower women on campus that began in 2014 but has since fizzled out.