A new ASUN club called Femsex holds weekly classes about pornography, contraception, masturbation, and many other taboo subjects that are turning heads on campus.
Female Sexuality, popularly known as Femsex, is a program geared towards teaching the subject of female empowerment as a basis for social change. This is done through discussions of the various course materials ranging from female anatomy to consent.
Dr. Tory Clark, a clinical sexologist and professor of Advanced Human Sexuality at UNR, is the frontrunner in bring Femsex to our campus.
I want incoming freshman to take a class like this to learn what consensual sex is, to learn about your body, and to learn about protection early to make better decisions, says Clark.
Clark first heard about Femsex through the video Female Sexuality: Radical Sexual Pedagogy at UC Berkeley an account of one woman’s experience with the class.
Once Clark saw this video she immediately emailed a few of her colleagues whom she thought would be interested in starting the course here. One was Katie Mondschein, a 30 year old graduate student working towards her masters in school counseling.
“At first we set out to make it a DeCal class,” says Mondschein.
DeCal is a democratic student-run education program at UC Berkeley that allows students to establish and run their own class that counts for one credit.Femsex started as a DeCal class in 1993 at Berkeley and since has spread throughout the country to many college campuses. Now UNR will be added to the list of Harvard, Brown, and Columbia.
At the beginning of Winter Break had met with the school for it to become a class, but Vice President Bill Cathey was hesitant about instating Femsex into our curriculum. Because of timing and too many administrative barriers, Femsex was not established as a DeCal class at UNR. So they decided to just make it an ASUN club instead.
“There is a beauty of it being a club,” says Clark. “This way we can get more involved in the community.” Femsex Reno is now working on having campus movie screenings and bringing in mentors to lecture on female empowerment.
The small group of 15 people meet every week to discuss the topics on the syllabus. This first session of Femsex gathered a pretty diverse group from freshmen to working mothers.
“We even have two men,” says Clark.
The club still follows the arrangement of a student taught class even though it is not for credit. Student facilitators take turns teaching the weekly lessons and readings are given for each class.
“It was very nerve racking teaching at first,” says Melanie Lopez, Femsex student facilitator and mother of two. “But it gives the class a different, more open-minded environment.”
Many of the members are involved in similar clubs and activities around the community such as Red Tent (where women meet and share experiences of menstruation) or the Vagina Monologes (an episodic play about female empowerment).
How will Femsex fit in with these other communities?
Right now the club is in the early stages and is still developing. But as more applications come in for next semesters sessions, and word spreads around campus Clark is confident the club will catch wind. Ultimatley the goal is to have the students take over and continue the tradition of the club.
“We are not doing it the way Berkeley did it,” says Mondschein. “but I would love to have the students take it and make it their own.”
Femsex meets every Monday from 4-6pm in room 312 of the Joe.
You can apply for next semesters Femsex right here.