Dozens of Novos logged on to Zoom on Friday, Nov. 6 to participate in RA Loveline, an annual event aimed at celebrating sexual health and positivity. Participants could hear their anonmyous questions answered from a panel of sex educators including alumna and sex educator Cassandra Corrado (‘12), Professor of Gender Studies and Humanities Nick Clarkson, Health Educator from the Counseling and Wellness Center (CWC) Susan Stahley and Dr. Emily Smith.
Students arrived in groups or solo with sultry attire and dark lipwear rallying in the Zoom chat with shoutouts and corny sex jokes. The event kicked off with a game of virtual bingo with terms like “COVID-POD,” “BUTT PLUGS” and “VIRTUAL SEX PARTY” to warm-up the attendees before the panel. Winners recieved sex toys delivered to their door.
“I think it’s great that our college is open enough to give us an honest outlet to talk about sex in a positive way,” a student at the event, who wishes to remain anonoymous, typed in chat box. RA loveline, a tradition at New College, consistently offers students a space to unabashedly examine and celebrate the intimacies of platonic and sexual relationships.
“I am really appreciative to have the opportunity to learn about sexual health from the perspective of pleasure, not shame, stiga, or abstinence only,” the student wrote.
Panelists responded to anonymous questions regarding sexual trauma, oral sex, kinks versus fetishes, expressing intimacy, sexting and disabilities. Corrado, who is active on Instagram as @feministsexed, offered students insight on how to cope after sexual trauma by using grounding techniques as simple as brushing one’s hair or setting affirmations.
The panel continued with questions about what does and does not count as sex, especially in queer relationships.
“Everything is sex!” Corrado told the crowd. “Heteronormativity makes us believe that penetration is the end all be all of intimacy. It’s a major problem when we say that the things that brings us sexual fulfillment (such as oral) aren’t real sex.”
The event concluded with panelists covering all corners regarding sexual health and intimacy amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
Susan Stahley, who was recently hired as a Health Educator for the CWC, informed students that as of right now the CWC is not offering STI tests. Students should head over to Planned Parenthood for low-cost testing. Stahley said she is currently making efforts to bring a “health bus” on campus for testing and resources. However, she did not provide further information about it during the event.
General inquiries regarding sex during COVID-19, specifically cyber-sex, was a new topic that was discussed in the RA loveline. The popularity of cyber-sex has risen now that most interpersonal interactions are confined to cameras and phone calls.
“Sex during this particular time requires more communication,” Carrado explained.
Engaging in digitized sex practices becomes a viable option to folks who are looking for new ways to be intimate with social-distancing and lockdown protocols. However, sex cues are few and far between when limited to chatboxes and cameras.
“In terms of technological sex, make sure to define what privacy means to you,” Corrado said, “Because something that may feel private doesn’t mean that it is.”
In a previous interview, Corrado mentioned that most of the people who have questions on digital sex are college students.
“You have to be as realistic as possible—because there are risk factors involved—it’s a safer form of sex in the COVID-19 era because we cannot be in physical contact with each other, and it can be a great way to strengthen intimacy and foster a sense of connecton when you’re in things like long-distance relationships,” Corrado said. “It can also be a great way to explore sexual fantasies. But you have to know the risks too—how to pose yourself, what things you can and cannot include in the background.”
Carado linked several apps like Signal, where images and videos sent are not encrypted. It also prevents receivers from screenshotting any content compared to apps like Instagram and Facebook.Links to organizations and resources like Disability and Sexuality Access Network, Rape, Abuse & Incest Network and Planned Parenthood were consistently typed in chat for people to easily access. Students expressed their appreciation to guest speakers and lingered after the panel drew to a close. Further information and resources regarding sexual health and intimacy can be found in the SHARE center in Hamilton “Ham” Center and the CWC.