When you think about the standard for sophisticated, "highbrow" education in the U.S., it's probably the Ivy League colleges that come to mind: Harvard, Yale, Princeton, Columbia, Brown, etc. Which might be why so many people were shocked to see Harvard University students hosting an Anal Sex 101 workshop for their Sex Week this fall.
While we certainly think that sex-positive education like this is important for everyone — no matter which college they do or don't go to — some people seem to believe that Harvard's reputation as a prestigious university means that anal sex should never be discussed on campus.
Most of the detractors seem focused on Harvard's prestige. Why on Earth would a college that supposedly attracts the best and brightest students host an anal sex class? To these people, anal sex and education just don't mix. Their shock and horror at the idea that Harvard students are interested and want to learn about anal play reinforces the idea that kinky sex isn't something polite, educated people do or even talk about.
"When people picture Harvard students they often conjure up certain images," Lita D. Peña and Amelia Lamp, co-presidents of SHEATH, said in a statement to Refinery29. "Not only do these images often not accurately reflect the entire student body, but — you know what — even 'stuck up elites,' as Ivy League students can sometimes be referenced as, can have anal sex."
Clearly, the misconception that they don't is wrong. About 50 students showed up to Harvard's anal sex workshop on Tuesday, which was cleverly called "What What In The Butt," a reference to this viral, sex-positive Samwell song. There, they learned anal relaxation techniques and "how to avoid messy situations," according to a College Fix reporter who attended the class.
“Remember it’s all about practice, practice, practice,” Natasha, a representative from a local Good Vibrations store told the students, according to College Fix. She also told them that while “not all men have penises, and not all women have vaginas, the butthole is the great sexual equalizer." Because "all humans have a butthole."
This isn't the first time Harvard has held this workshop during Sex Week, either. The organization that hosts the sex education week, Sexual Health Education and Advocacy Throughout Harvard (SHEATH), said in a Facebook post that they brought the class back after requests from the student body.
So, yes, intelligent young people are interested in anal sex — and they're working to break the kind of taboos that make people think they shouldn't be.
"Unfortunately, anal sex is still highly stigmatized," Peña and Lamp say. "We as a society have this idea that sex shouldn’t be talked about at all. But if we somehow do actually talk about sex, then it better be a vanilla, heterosexual dialogue." Sex Week is breaking that taboo, with the anal sex workshop and other sex-positive programs like those that discuss porn, kink, communication, and consent.
"Let’s get rid of the stigma surrounding everything about sex," Peña told The Harvard Crimson. "That’s the only way everyone can have really healthy and successful sex lives, whether that includes having sex or not."
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