On Tuesday night, about students gathered in a classroom in the Reiss building for “Torn about Porn,” a discussion about pornography’s effects on society. The students barely glanced at the front of the room as one of the discussion moderators changed the slide and an image of one woman fisting another was projected onto a screen—they were too engaged in their discussion to notice the actual porn.
“Porn is still porn,” one student argued as a man with modish glasses appeared on screen with a naked woman. “This is just porn with hipsters.”
The event is part of Georgetown’s first Sex Positive Week, cosponsored by GU Pride, United Feminists, and Georgetown Solidarity, which aims to stimulate a frank discussion about sexuality on campus.
Monday night saw a discussion in Gaston Hall featuring a representative from the Woodhull Freedom Foundation, a non-profit organization that promotes sexual freedom and privacy, and a representative from a local BDSM group. On Saturday, two women who have written about having open relationships will speak in the ICC.
“The focus of this week is to introduce the idea of Sex Positive, and that’s really about acceptance of a wide range of desires and sexual expressions as a way of understanding one another,” GU Pride political chair Olivia Chitayat (COL `10) said. “People have sex, and if they don’t, it still impacts them. This is encouraging a dialogue in a way that people don’t feel ashamed about engaging in it or not engaging in it.”
The Student Activities Commission provided University funding for the week’s events, and several administrators approved it, including Vice President of Student Affairs Todd Olson, Director of Student Programs Erika Coen-Derr, and LGBTQ Resource Center Director Sivagami Subbaraman.
But that’s exactly what has upset some student leaders, such as David Gregory (COL `10), the Editor-in-Chief of The Georgetown Academy, the Catholic-focused, conservative-leaning student publication.
“I’m absolutely furious,” Gregory said. “SAC in no way, shape, or form should be funding anything like this. I think about Gaston Hall and you have ‘Wisdom’ on one side of the ceiling and ‘Virtue’ on the other side. And a discussion like the one that took place there on Monday does not promote a healthy view toward human relationships. I’m so upset [because]there was no one to counter this anything-goes point of view.”
Chitayat said that the event organizers didn’t feel that introducing a debate about the theory of Sex Positive was appropriate given week’s purpose, which was merely to introduce and explore the message of Sex Positive. SAC co-chair Juliana Pugliese (COL `10) wrote in an email that while SAC members were initially concerned about funding the events, they ultimately felt that the week had merit as it addresses sexuality in a positive manner and encourages students who might feel like they are a minority on campus, given their sexual choices.
But Joe Kapusnick (SFS `10), the Grand Knight of the Georgetown Knights of Columbus, and many other Knights and members of the Academy, remained perturbed by the week’s events.
“It … strikes me as the wrong approach for their purported goals,” Kapusnick said. “These are groups that are supposed to be working for greater justice, greater tolerance, and this week … sends the message that anything but complete sexual openness is wrong.”