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Saturday, May 8, 2021

The sex ed you never had

By Roisin Cowan-Kuist

Sex. The word alone can make some people squirm with discomfort, break into nervous giggles or blush with embarrassment.  

But for pleasure-based sex educator Cy Enseñat, talking about sex with a room full of complete strangers is just another typical day on the job.

Enseñat, who works for Seattle-based sex toy company, Babeland, spoke with Western students Thursday night about the side of sex that traditional sex-education curriculum rarely covers in public schools.

The presentation, entitled The Sex Ed You Wish You Had, covered a broad range of topics, including consent, communication with sexual partners, self-pleasure, anatomy, practicing safer sex and how sex changes across a lifetime.

“I like to say I teach everything from blowjobs to cancer,” Enseñat said.

While much of Enseñat’s presentation was light-hearted and witty, they didn’t shy away from tackling serious topics.  

Event speaker Cy Enseñat gives sex talk at Western on Thursday. // Photo by Roisin Cowan-Kuist

Enseñat stressed the importance of consent when engaging in any kind of sexual or physical relationship with a partner.

“Consent needs to be active and ongoing. Consent can be revoked at any time, and can be given at any time,” Enseñat said.

The push for comprehensive sex education continues to gain momentum on college campuses, and Western is no exception. Nationally, 11.2 percent of all college students experience rape or sexual assault, according to the Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network.

Many sexual health education organizations, such as Planned Parenthood, have emphasized consent in recent years as a way to open up a dialogue on the importance of having safe, consensual sex.

While Enseñat touched on a number of more serious topics, such as health and safety concerns when using various products and engaging in certain activities, they also covered anatomy, physiology and bodily sensation.  

“Consent needs to be active and ongoing. Consent can be revoked at any time, and can be given at any time.”

CY ENSEÑAT, SEX EDUCATOR

While the sex-education most students receive in high school covers the bare basics, curriculum is mandated on a state-by-state basis and is often taught through an abstinence-only approach, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.

This approach to teaching often leaves gaping holes in students’ knowledge on a wide array of sexual issues, and can lead to harmful myths and misconceptions.

Senior and sociology major Carissa Loft attended the event with a friend and noted the stark differences between the sex-education she received and what she heard in Enseñat’s presentation.

“It’s a lot more open to the idea that a lot of people are sexually active, and how to attain pleasure instead of shaming sex,” Loft said.

Melting away the cultural shame surrounding sex is part of Enseñat’s job description. They passed around a number of sex toys, lube and other props for audience members to familiarize themselves with, and let audience members send in anonymous texts with any sex questions they still had. The talk ended with a raffle, the winner of which received a goody bag of Babeland products.

The event was sponsored by the AS Womxn’s Identity Resource Center, the AS Queer Resource Center and the AS Disability Resource Center. The presentation was part one of a two-part health series hosted by the AS.

The next event will be a birth control expo and will take place in February.

 

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