Sex fair causes big stir

The New York City feminist group that hosts the annual masturbate-athon inspired students at Eastern to bring the cause to campus.

“They would come together and were given sex toys and would masturbate together on couches,” William Kendall said. “It was a liberating event and made a lot of money for Planned Parenthood. Obviously, we can’t do that here for health and other obvious reasons, such as it is not appropriate for a college campus.”

Eastern’s Masturbate-athon and Sex Positive Fair will be at 6 p.m. today in the University Ballroom of the Martin Luther King Jr. University Union.

Kendall, a sophomore art history major and event coordinator, said the event is promoting safe sex and sexuality.

“We want to give people the ability to be open with their sexuality and create a forum to understand why people make the decisions that they do,” he said.

All the proceeds from the event will go to Planned Parenthood in Effingham.

“(Planned Parenthood) is controversial to people and a cause that sometimes gets overlooked,” Kendall said. “It would be awesome that because of this event people would become more involved with Planned Parenthood.”

Laura Wussow, a junior physics education major and event coordinator, said the event will be an enjoyable way to help break taboos and look at things in a sex-positive way.

“Students can interact and talk about taboo subjects when people still want to know about them,” she said.

Wussow said the two main goals of the event were to raise awareness for sex-positive education and to raise money for a good cause.

“We didn’t want to offend or be completely radical,” she said.

Wussow said because of the liberal topic addressed at the event, she understands where the backlash is coming from.

“When we first put the fliers up on April 1, people thought it was an April Fools’ joke,” Wussow said.

Kendall said people had issues with the masturbate-athon.

“I think (the controversy) is a combination of seeing the word masturbate in big letters on the flier and the Planned Parenthood aspect,” he said. “I think the backlash stems from something deeper, though, such as not being comfortable with one’s sexuality.”

Kendall finds it interesting for a campus to freak out from the use of the word masturbate.

“We just thought it was a catchy title,” he said. “It shows that we live in a very conservative community.”

Kendall said the Human Education and Resource Center and Rubber Lovers withdrew from participating in the event because of controversy.

“The HERC will still provide materials for the event, but they could not publicly be there,” he said.

Kendall said he hopes the event does not receive negative attention protestors might cause.

Passion Parties representative Alicia Wilson will present a sex toy presentation during the event.

“We can’t sell them directly, but (Wilson) will be demonstrating how to use and buy them at a later date,” Wussow said.

A keynote speaker and a sexual education teacher at Eastern will speak about the history of masturbation, how it is viewed by different cultures and why the current society has a stigma attached to masturbation.

The name of the teacher could not be released at press time.

Terri Fredrick, an English professor and PRIDE adviser, said some people could be offended by how others embrace sexuality.

“However, students should have the right to express their ideas,” she said.

Jeannie Ludlow, a women’s studies professor, said she is both surprised and not surprised by the controversy.

“On one hand, I am very amused by how quickly people overreact to something that is normal, natural and healthy,” she said. “On the other hand, I’m not very surprised, and I’m pretty sure the students involved aren’t either.”

Students can either donate $5 to Planned Parenthood or $10 in masturbate-athon pledges at the door.

Heather Holm can be reached at 581-7942 or [email protected].