Wednesday at 1 p.m., two girls took turns reading aloud descriptive passages about the clitoris in Red Square, attracting the attention of students on their way to class. One of the passers-by included a bewildered Chris Wright (MSB ’11), who stopped to watch for a brief moment then asked his friend and teammate on the Georgetown basketball team, Jason Clark (COL ’12), “Am I hearing right?”
The event, formally known as “Guerilla Sex Theatre,” was part of Georgetown’s second annual Sex Positive Week. The week long event strives to encourage more open discussion about sex and sexuality, with the belief that sex can be a healthy, positive part of life.
“The goal has been to promote a positive sex idea and combat some oppressive notions of it on campus,” Amelia Powell (COL ’12), one of two participants in Wednesday’s guerilla sex theatre said. “This is to get the attention of people who walk by. And it definitely works.”
In light of the controversy sparked by some of last year’s more radical events, however, SPW 2010’s organizers made an effort to include a wider array of perspectives. The discussions officially sponsored by the University, entitled “Virginity and Losing It” and “Disability and Sexuality,” reflected this more moderate approach.
One of the planners of “Virginity and Losing It” was David Gregory (COL ‘10), a vocal critic of last year’s event and editor-in-chief of the Georgetown Academy, a Catholic, socially conservative student publication. Gregory and a few friends attended some of the organizing meetings for the week.
“Our presence there, I think, caused them to think carefully about what they were proposing,” Gregory said. “Talking about disability and sexuality is completely appropriate.”
The Cardinal Newman Society, a group dedicated to renewing Catholic identity at Catholic institutions across the United States, spoke out against last year’s SPW, saying it “conflicted with Georgetown’s founding principles.” The organization did not respond for comment about this year’s SPW and has not released any public statements about it.
SPW 2010 organizer Kristine Mitchell (COL ’10) said the “Virginity and Losing It” event attracted a different crowd than usual.
“We had a lot of people I hadn’t seen before,” Mitchell said. “We talked about peoples’ perspectives on virginity—what it means to them personally and culturally. We definitely had a lot more inclusion from people with religious backgrounds.”
Nonetheless, the leading figures of Sex Positive Week didn’t shy away from pushing the boundaries of what they see as a largely sex-negative campus community. The events not sponsored by the university—Guerilla Sex Theatre in Red Square, guerilla queer bar at the Tombs, a female orgasm workshop, and a sex toy party—are meant to challenge what they see as static and limited conceptions of sex at Georgetown
“I think the reason we do this is that this is a campus that really doesn’t show sexuality at all,” Liz McAuliffe (COL ’10), the other Guerilla Sex Theatre reader, said. “Even mainstream sexuality is largely behind closed doors.”