Sex educator and social media influencer Eileen Kelly, better known to her 408,000 Instagram followers as @killerandasweetthang, visited Hofstra on Tuesday, Feb. 5, to normalize the topic of sex and open a discussion on the failures of American sex education.
The “Making Safe Sex Sexy” open dialogue was a collaborative effort by the Campus Feminist Collective (CFC) and Student Advocates for Safe Sex (SASS). CFC president, senior women’s studies and journalism major Maria Zaldivar organized and hosted the question-and-answer style event. Her hope was to normalize conversations about sex by giving students the opportunity to ask questions and learn from an expert their own age.
“I really hope that everyone understands that sex is perfectly normal to talk about,” Zaldivar said. “No one should feel shame in having conversations about their sexuality or things that they’re interested in, or things that they’re not interested in.”
A lack of comprehensive, dynamic sexual education has left many feeling ashamed and isolated because of thoughts and desires society would rather sweep under the rug.
“Even though the act of sex is very personal, a lot of people can share the same problems and feel alone because they are not taught that their feelings are normal,” said sophomore journalism and political science major Wiley Fletcher.
Kelly herself shared that she felt ashamed while attending Catholic high school. The processes of going through puberty and eventually exploring sensuality and sexuality there made her feel like she had no one to talk to.
A common complaint among attendees, as well as Kelly, is that sex education in schools is inadequate. “Comprehensive sex ed is abysmal in America,” said Dennis Van Duke, a sophomore physician’s assistant studies major and vice president of Student Advocates for Safe Sex (SASS).
According to Kelly, pornography is often where students go when sex ed classes leave them with unanswered questions. “[Pornography] is just not the reality of intimacy or sex with a partner,” Kelly said.
Jacob Seferian, co-panelist and editorial director of Kelly’s blog, Killerandasweetthang.com, called pornography “inherently evil” given its often misogynistic tone and choreographed scenes, which can mislead naïve viewers.
“I actually don’t even remember taking sex ed classes. I want to say I took one seventh grade,” said Paola Miranda, a junior psychology major. Kelly finds information like this troubling. That is why in her junior year of college she began writing about sex on her already popular Tumblr blog.
Freshman drama major Karli Robertson said that her high school has a very comprehensive program that normalizes sex. While she is comfortable talking about sex with her friends, Robertson still has issues talking about pleasure and masturbation.
“I was encouraged,” Robertson said. “I already knew that it’s OK to talk [about pleasure], but now I know that it really is OK. Like people are just sharing their stories so casually.”
“Our whole goal is opening up a discourse. The more we talk about things, the more we expand each other’s minds and the less ignorance gets passed around,” Kelly said. “We can learn something from each and every one of us and our different experiences, and that’s really cool.”