Sex can be an uncomfortable topic to discuss, which could explain why no students showed up to Alysa Mozak’s “Do You Have it Covered? Practicing Safer Sex” presentation last Thursday.
Mozak, who is the coordinator for sexual violence response and healthy relationship promotion, brought in Dana Stuehling from Planned Parenthood to speak to students about sexually transmitted infections (STIs), birth control and other aspects of safe sex.
“Some people may not feel comfortable asking those questions, especially in a group like this, if there were people here,” Stuehling said. “That also tells you why people aren’t here.”
According to Stuehling, sex is a topic that college students usually feel uncomfortable discussing.
“One of the biggest reasons is that sex and sexuality are shamed in our society,” Stuehling said. “So people are taught not to ask questions, not to be open about it and not to talk about it. So that’s where we see a lot of unplanned pregnancies and STIs, but also a lack of pleasure and intimacy and healthy sex lives.”
The safe sex presentation is part of a four-part educational series titled “Let’s Talk About Sex” held by Mozak.
This was the second event in the series. “When we talk about comprehensive sexual education, that is a more sex positive approach to education that recognizes that sex as something that can be absolutely normal, healthy and pleasurable,” Stuehling said.
Sexual education is required for K-12 education in every state, but not at the collegiate level.
“I think it’s especially important for college students,” Stuehling said. “You all start to have more freedom in exploring your identities and your wants and desires a little bit more.”
Stuehling discussed that it is important when the typical sexual education begins.
“The more kind of concrete, STI and birth control kind of lessons in the state of Iowa generally starts around seventh grade,” Stuehling said. “That’s when a number of middle schools generally start teaching, then again in high school and then hopefully repeated often and regularly throughout a person’s life.”
In order to continue this education after high school, Stuehling also mentioned how long running programs are beneficial for nearly all ages, even older adults.
She said that it gives group members time to build the trusting relationships that’s needed to talk openly about sex and discover what they want in a relationship.
“I think that’s one of the key components sexually to be able to build those relationships and be comfortable asking,” Stuehling said.
To Mozak, receiving apathy from students can be a hurdle, which goes along with motivating students to care about sexual health and violence.
“Unless it happens to them or it’s someone they know, or have had experiences or are generally wanting to be explorative, and open to new areas of cognitive development or personal development, that’s the biggest hurdle I see,” Mozak said.
In order to help this hurdle, Mozak created the “Let’s Talk About Sex” series to further students’ education about sexuality and relationships.
This is a part of Mozak’s job to focus on assisting students with multiple social justice issues.
“I do a lot of mental health, body image, eating, sexuality, communications skills and interpersonal skills,” Mozack said. “I do a lot around gender issues, gender identity, gender violence.”
The next “Let’s Talk About Sex” event will be on Mar. 3 and will be about building healthy relationships. The last event, “Finding Sexual Agency” will take place on Mar. 31.