Cook: Protect us from Sex Week

Cook: Protect us from Sex Week

April 5th, 2013 by David Cook in Opinion Columns

David Cook

Photo by Ashlee Culverhouse/Times Free Press.

Sex Week - billed as a way to educate the student body on sexual awareness - begins Sunday at the University of Tennessee at Knoxville campus.

(Not Shark Week. Sex Week. You read it correctly. Although, with sharks and sex, biting is usually a sign of trouble).

The week kicks off with Megan Andelloux, who heads the Center for Sexual Pleasure and Health in Rhode Island (where else) and was on campus last year, for her enlightening Fornication 101 exhibit.

Sunday, Andelloux -- "ever-enthusiastic," organizers call her -- will discuss orgasms, sex-positivity and how-to's, all without blushing once.

Monday, Sex Weekers wake up for a campuswide scavenger hunt for a hidden golden condom, followed by a workshop on virginity.

"Can one 'lose' her virginity just like one loses car keys?" the event schedule reads. "Can I find it again?"

Then Andelloux returns for an encore speech she's calling -- oh, Grandma, don't read this -- "How Many Licks Does it Take ..."

And you thought UT football was embarrassing.

If she's in a giving mood, Andelloux may talk to our future leaders about her new book: "Hot and Fast," an investigative study of one of the most compelling issues facing college kids today.

"An anytime, anywhere quickie!" her website reads.

Wish I could find my car keys that fast.

(In other news, American education continues its tragic decline).

Sex Week has a few serious components -- ways to prevent sexual assault, free HIV testing, discussions on religion -- yet the whole spectacle is tied together in reckless silliness. Sex trivia and pizza?

Come on.

When does Caligula speak? Before or after the 2 Live Crew concert?

Sex Week is not a serious, academic and soulful look at sexuality. It's foolishness disguised as college hipness.

What to really have an honest talk about sex?

Talk about this: why hookup culture sucks.

And why most students already know it.

"The culture of hooking up is causing a lot of struggle and ambivalence, and that worries me," Donna Freitas tells The Atlantic.

Freitas, a liberal feminist college educator, is everything a conservative isn't. But her new book, written after research with her own students, argues something not unlike what's been said from the right.

Her title says it all: "The End of Sex: How Hookup Culture is Leaving a Generation Unhappy, Sexually Unfulfilled and Confused About Intimacy."

"I don't see hookup culture as an empowering culture. I see it as a culture of pretend, where you're distancing yourself from what you truly want," she says.

Hookup culture is many things, most of them defined by the practice that sexual intimacy can and should happen without any emotional or social commitment.

Friends with benefits? Strangers with benefits.

It has also spelled the slow death of dating.

"There's a social contract to the hookup -- students know they're supposed to walk away not caring. What tends to be difficult is the walking away and not caring. They find that they're not so good at it," she says.

Equally troubling is the fear of many to resist hookup culture; sadly, what was supposed to liberate has become stifling.

"There's a huge fear of dissent," Freitas says. "The idea that we need to collectively agree is part of what perpetuates hookup culture. Students may privately disagree but would never say it in public because they think everyone else thinks it's great."

Mob-think, thanks to "Sex and the City."

What has become of restraint, grace and commitment? When anything this side of porn is considered Mary Poppins prudish, what is the next generation to face?

Does the pendulum ever swing back?

Meanwhile, back in Knoxville, someone looks for a place to hide the golden condom.

We sure need some protection.

Contact David Cook at dcook@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6329. Follow him on Facebook and Twitter at DavidCookTFP.