The Student Alliance Against Sexual Harassment and Assault (SAASHA) will host its fourth annual sex-positive seminar on Feb. 4 at 7 p.m. As an organization, SAASHA aims to provide several services to the Lawrence community.
First, they work to support survivors of sexual assault and harassment. They actively fight to eliminate both sexual harassment and assault on campus. SAASHA serves as an open space and confidential resource for students. SAASHA’s role on campus has been to welcome all Lawrentians to ask any questions or reach out for help. Also, SAASHA can contact the sexual assault advocate for Lawrence and the Title IX coordinator if a student requests to do so.
They also promote consent, sex-education and sex-positivity. This summer, SAASHA started an Instagram page where they post educational content, such as definitions of terms and what sex-education entails. This year’s topic for the sex-positive seminar is “Come Again? A Masturbation Conversation.” Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, masturbation/solo sex is the safest form of sex, said junior Maggie McGlenn. McGlenn is the SAASHA Social Events Chair.
As with most activities on campus, accommodations are being made to meet COVID-19 safety guidelines. In previous years, the seminar has been held in person; however, it will be held via Zoom this year. This event is open to all Lawrence students. SAASHA plans to make the Zoom link available on their social media and the Lawrence University Shoutbox.
McGlenn stated that this is the fourth year SAASHA has brought in Hudson, a representative from Tool Shed Toys, for the seminar. Tool Shed Toys is a “mission-driven, education-based sex toy store located in Milwaukee.” All employees receive “extensive, ongoing training on a variety of topics around sexual function and pleasure,” according to the store’s website.
In previous years, Hudson has given talks surrounding the topic of kink. However, this year, Hudson will be giving a presentation on masturbation.
For the Chair of SAASHA, junior Fannie Vazquez, sex-education and practicing safe masturbation are very important. Vazquez attended a Catholic high school that did not teach sex-education. Vazquez feels that it is scary to figure out these topics on your own, which is why it is important for SAASHA to have this sex-positive seminar.
Further, this year’s sex-positive seminar’s topic of masturbation is important because it provides students with a safe way to start the conversation, Vazquez said. According to her, there will be a questionnaire at the seminar where students can submit questions for Hudson if they do not feel comfortable vocalizing them.
McGlenn echoes Vazquez’s sentiments surrounding the importance of education and practicing safe masturbation. For McGlenn, it is important to discuss and educate students about masturbation; this helps to remove the stigma and ensure that all students know the safest way to masturbate. At the end of the seminar, there will be a sex toy giveaway open to all students that attend by filling out a Google Form.
“I think there’s a lot of stigma about masturbation, especially for communities that weren’t discussed until recent years, like people with vaginas and queer people,” McGlenn said. “I hope that, by learning from an educator about these issues, students will be able to practice safely and fight these stigmas.”
An earlier version of this article incorrectly stated that Maggie McGlenn is a sophomore, she is a junior.