At the end of October I co-hosted the first ever Sex Salon with a classmate of mine. The idea was sparked a few months ago when a friend of mine and I were talking very candidly about sex and she suggested that there should be a forum for people to explore issues of sexuality and learn from the sexual experiences of others in an open and frank way. As someone who finds herself engaged in these types of conversations frequently in small groups of friends or one-on-one, I wanted to be the one to provide that forum. The first Sex Salon theme, “Feminism and Dating”, sparked incredible conversation about gendered expectations that still exist and have the potential to cause dating and sexual woes for e’rybody.
For me, the most interesting aspect of planning the Sex Salon and getting a group of people together to actually do this is that in the beginning there was really strong interest with loads of people saying they were on board to come, but the day of the discussion a few people jumped ship. I should mention that I attempted to get a group of women together to discuss the topic of female orgasm back in August and everyone who RSVPed to that Sex Salon backed out the day of. I decided I should tame the topic for the next go-round and broaden my reach. This drop-out rate is interesting to me because I think it goes beyond last-minute obligations and health-related absences. I think the reason that these types of discussions are so valuable is because so many of us want to be open about our sexual selves, but the reality of doing so is frightening. I believe that the more we normalize these discussions the more comfortable we will be with communicating openly, especially our partners, about our own sexual wants and needs.
After the Salon, a few of the people who couldn’t make it asked how it went and I recapped some of the key ideas that came out of the conversation: who is expected to pay on dates? does masculinity have a place within a feminist dating landscape? what is the value of having space for the masculine-feminine spectrum to play out between two dating partners in more fluid ways? Immediately, whatever group of friends were there at that time began offering up their perspectives and the conversation became a mini version of the discussion that we had at the Salon. The fact that the dialogue can continue in this way makes me super proud.
Part of what I hope to achieve through facilitating these group discussions is the awareness that we are all on some level interested in talking about our own sexuality. Some of us may need the space or encouragement to do so but the desire seems to be universal. The resounding positivity of the responses I’ve gotten so far is very inspiring and I hope to continue to host as long as there are topics to discuss and people willing to participate.