Student group spotlight: FemSex

FemSex, Brown’s Female Sexuality Workshop, is holding info sessions this week for its spring semester workshop. The workshop requires that students attend an info session and fill out an application to be eligible, so make sure to attend if you are interested.  Info sessions are Wednesday (Feb 1) at 6:30 and Thursday (Feb 2) at 6:30 in Wilson 302. In order to learn a little bit more about our most intimate non-academic seminar, we spoke to Darcy Pinkerton, a FemSex facilitator.

What is FemSex?

I’ll respond with our mission statement:‪ The Female Sexuality Workshop is a 12-week not-for-credit workshop that aims to destigmatize and demystify female sexuality by providing comprehensive sex education in an inclusive, non-judgmental environment. We believe that sexuality can serve as a foundation for discussing power and privilege as they relate to the intersection of race, class, and gender. As part of our larger commitment to dismantling oppression, FemSex strives to deconstruct the powerful assumptions present in everyday language and to find non-violent alternatives… In an intentional space founded on reciprocal commitment and consent, participants can challenge their ideas, validate their experiences, and take ownership of their bodies, desires, and self-expression.

FemSex meets for two hours twice a week, either on Mon/Wed or Tues/Thurs. A FemSex section is composed of about 15 participants and 2 peer facilitators who have already taken the workshop. FemSex runs for 12 weeks throughout the semester, for a total of 23 classes, ranging from Privilege, Language & Identity to Body Image to Masturbation to Sex Toys to Communication & Consent.‪

Can guys do it?

FemSex is open to people of all genders and sexualities, and we believe that having a diverse array of experiences and opinions represented in section is crucial to forming a learning space where we can hear from experiences that are not our own. I think anyone interested in FemSex should apply!  If sex ed in a safe, egalitarian space sounds good to you, we’d love to have you apply.

Top 5 words used in FemSex that you’d never hear anywhere else?

This is a great question, because FemSex has a particular set of language tools that we use in section. FemSex language is focused around using I-statements to speak for oneself and one’s own experience, rather than assuming the experiences of others in the form of generalizations.

FemSex also uses gender-neutral language, like “parent” instead of “mom” or “dad,” and “partner” instead of “boy/girlfriend.” This includes using gender-neutral pronouns; a Brown-specific gender-neutral pronoun is “phe/phe/phe’s” (rather than “she/her/hers” or “he/him/his”), so that’s definitely something you wouldn’t hear elsewhere!

Do you ever collaborate with MSex? Is there a PheSex?

MSex is a different workshop from us, with different goals. Again, however, FemSex is really for anyone, no matter their identities or background.

How do you create an open space?

The term that we often use is “safe space,” and for us that means mutual adherence to certain ways of communicating in FemSex. Several of the characteristics we use to define a safe space are: mutual respect for each others’ varied identities; willingness to listen to and learn from others; confidentiality, meaning that sections agree together on a level of privacy for the stories people might share in section, where typically people are allowed to shared opinions expressed in conversations in FemSex, but not who said them…

What is the goal/point of FemSex?

I think that the point of FemSex is a not a goal, but rather, the encouragement of a process of self-exploration and communication across difference. FemSex is a very different experience for everyone who takes it, such that, if this question were to ask “what do I want participants to get out of FemSex,” I would say “whatever they want to!”

What was your biggest “I Love FemSex!” moment?

Loving FemSex just goes on and on for me. I think that I appreciate most the communication skills that I’ve had the opportunity to reflect on and develop effectively in FemSex. That’s not to say I use “phe” with everyone in my life!  I think almost everyone involved with FemSex could agree that would be a little extreme, and, in my opinion, not really the point of using gender-neutral language in the first place. However, every time I advocate for myself in a conversation with an authority figure, or stand up for my opinions in a hostile environment, or ask a friend how I can support them the way they want to be supported, I’m happy to have taken FemSex.

Best thing you learned in your time in workshop?

… For me personally, it was probably learning how many assumptions I make about people around me every day—FemSex, by letting me interact with people regarding such intimate subjects, allowed me to get to know my fellow participants on a real level. I learned something from everyone in my section, and often grew in ways that I never expected.

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