NEWS

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February 19, 2008

Students celebrate V-Day U of C style

[img id="80317" align="alignleft"] Throughout the week of Valentine’s Day, some U of C students had something other than midterms on their minds: sex. Campus groups geared up for the celebration of love with workshops on flirting and sex, along with a performance of Eve Ensler’s The Vagina Monologues.

Self-proclaimed nerd and flirt Rebecca from Early to Bed, a woman-owned sex-toy shop in Chicago, led the “Flirting for Nerds” workshop on Wednesday evening.

Rebecca asked the attendees if they considered themselves nerds. About a quarter of the audience members didn’t raise their hands.

“You guys want to get it on with nerds,” quipped Rebecca, who spoke on the condition that her last name would not be used.

During the class, one man reviewed a PowerPoint presentation, another pondered Nietzsche, and a woman annotated her Foucault while listening to the dos and don’ts of flirting for nerds.

Graduate student Phil Redman said that he attended the workshop “mostly…to see if it was a huge farce.” Although he doesn’t consider himself a nerd, he confessed that he did end up learning some useful facts.

Other students embraced their nerdiness more readily. One girl confessed that she loved video games, while another announced she knew 300 decimals of pi.

“Own your nerdiness,” said Rebecca, an NPR fan with a crush on Ira Glass. “I believe firmly that nerds make the best flirts.”

Steinmetz diagrammed the Flirting Continuum, which spans nonsexual flirting to sexual flirting, with playful flirting somewhere in between. Attendees then paired off to gauge each other’s ability to determine different levels of flirting.

Rebecca shared some tricks of the trade, suggesting making eye contact, smiling, playing with your hair, and touching your face.

“Flirts don’t make eye contact with anything below the neck,” she said.

Flirting props, like interesting items or clothing, can make it easier to initiate flirting. One student had the foresight to wear her “I Heart Nerds” shirt to the event, while another wore another shirt that read “University of Chicago students do it, theoretically.”

As a warning to would-be U of C lovers, Rebecca instructed students not to be “that creepy person.” She said it is most important to be aware of people’s personal space.

“That creepy guy is someone who doesn’t understand space issues or power dynamics,” she said.

At an event sponsored by the U of C Sex Education Activists (SEA) last Monday, instructors Rebecca and Demetra, who also spoke on the condition that her last name not be used, from Early to Bed taught classes on how to please your partner to a group of 70 students.

“I thought it would be really funny to see awkward people discussing good sex,” said first-year Ryan Hatten, who attended the event. He added that he also wanted to pick up a few good tips.

“I feel we study books and ideas so…we should also study our bodies,” said fourth-year Joshua Baxter. “I feel like so much about sex is instinctual.” He added that he wanted to learn how to be a better partner.

“Don’t do what they do in porn films,” said Demetra. She explained that the films are designed for arousing men, not teaching technique. “It’s not necessarily where you’re going to learn how to please your partner.”

First-year Graham House resident Alex Murray attended the event with his house, and stayed for both the male and female partner classes.

“It was good to kind of learn about the other side and learn about yourself,” he said.

Rebecca, the instructor for “Pleasing a Man,” said her workshop was about “how we feel about penises, what we think about penises. It’s kind of like The Vagina Monologues of penises.”

She spoke about the influence of penises on American culture.

“There are so many references to how penises are the ultimate tool for pleasure,” she said. However, she added, “There are so few places where we can get accurate, comfortable knowledge about sex.”

Perhaps unwittingly damaging roommate relationships, Rebecca encouraged more vocal sex. “Disturbing your dormitory neighbor is lots of fun,” she said, before talking about ways to begin better communication with your partner in order to find out what they like best.

SEA hosted the workshop with the hope of providing an activity couples could enjoy together, said fourth-year Rebecca Abraham, president of SEA.

“Our goal is to bring sexual pleasure to campus,” said Abraham said.

She added that SEA is considering organizing a sexual myth or fact game show with faculty as participants for a Hollywood Squares–style format. The group is also planning a contraception workshop for next quarter.

Thursday’s performance of The Vagina Monologues included a vibrator lottery sponsored by Early to Bed.

The reading was part of V-Day, a national event to raise money to end violence against women. Money raised through the lottery and sales of vagina-shaped cookies went to the St. Martin de Porres shelter for homeless women, children, and pregnant teens on Woodlawn Avenue and 64th Street.

All of the monologues were centered on Ensler’s concern: “I was worried about vaginas,” the first monologue read. “At first, women were reluctant [to talk about it] but once they got going they didn’t want to stop.”

The subject matter ranged from menstruation to pubic hair to the “surprise–triple–orgasm–moan,” which was performed for the benefit of the mostly female audience.