Northwestern’s annual Sex Week drew to a close on Friday after five days of programming led by NU College Feminists. This year’s Sex Week was more inclusive than ever, according to NU College Feminist co-president Eliza Gonring, a junior in SESP.
“I typically say it's a week focusing on topics pertaining to sexual health and sexuality, but it's also so many things,” Gonring said. “Like it's kinks and preferences, not in the weird racial way that people like to talk about that, but it's like what you like having done to you, which I guess would go under sexual health kind of because I think it is a part of harm reduction, humanizing each other to learn about what other people have going on in their sex lives.”
The week virtually kicked off with a keynote presentation called Masturbation for Manifestation, hosted by sex KiKi, who is based in Chicago. In order to avoid travel costs for what was supposed to be an in-person Sex Week held the week of April 27, NU College Feminists only brought in Chicagoland professionals.
After the announcement on April 6 that Northwestern would conduct the remainder of Spring Quarter online, Gonring said Sex Week's status was up in the air.
“We really were intentional about choosing people of marginalized identities, and a lot of these people were relying on the money that we promised them,” Gonring said. This influenced the decision to go through with virtual Sex Week, with Gonring adding it is one of her favorite parts of the year.
The subject of sex involves more than just what happens in the bedroom. Sex Week featured a sex toy raffle and concluded with a performance from artist Cunty MeMe. The lineup also included conversations and workshops covering topics such as sex work, taking nudes, drag makeup and burlesque.
Red Hot Annie, a burlesque performer and teacher who has participated in Sex Week for several years, hosted the burlesque workshop on Monday night. She said that her participation in Sex Week usually entails an explanation of her work then a Q&A session. However, the virtual edition of Sex Week gave people the opportunity to engage in burlesque themselves, in their own spaces.
“That night was really what I needed after all of this,” Gonring said. “I don't think we'll ever return back to normal, but for a few minutes, it made everything feel like none of this was happening, and just seeing everyone on the Zoom gallery, all of us just dancing in our bedrooms, it was so fun.”
Red Hot Annie drew the connection of how burlesque relates to Sex Week.
“The hallmark of modern burlesque is that it's incredibly inclusive,” she said. “It's really about getting on stage and expressing your truth, whatever that may be, and doing it in a space that is really relatively judgment free and very encouraging toward the wide spectrum of what people experience in the world. So what you'll see in a burlesque show is a lot of people of varying body types getting up on stage, getting naked and then perhaps even possibly projecting an idea that's really sexual or really out there.”
Red Hot Annie also said she she noted the breadth of sex-related topics surrounding this year’s Sex Week.
“I'm always so impressed by the way that Sex Week ends up curating these different workshops that are so provocative and progressive,” she said. “I was really impressed to see sex work as a as a topic on this year's sex week. It's really fun for me to think about what the future is going to be like with people coming out of college with their minds wide, wide, wide open.”