The Oberlin Review
<< Front page News November 4, 2005

Let’s talk about safe sex, baby
Where the sex was as safe as the night was long

Safer Sex Night is one of the highlights of the Oberlin experience. Here’s the hook — hundreds of sweaty, mostly naked people get together and party. Last year I just got dressed up and danced the night away, but this year was different.

I was supposed to get the scoop on the night and find out what Safer Sex Night is really all about. I wasn’t Aubrey Hope-My-Mom-Never-Sees-This-Outfit Woolverton: I was Aubrey Hope-My-Mom-Never-Sees-This-Outfit Woolverton, journalist, and I had a mission.

Let’s start with the basics. Yes, Safer Sex Night is a dance party, but this ain’t your mama’s dance party. I can promise that no matter how little you wear, there will be people there wearing less than you.

You’ll almost definitely see someone you vaguely know from a class in a candy thong with condoms taped over their nipples. This stuff is legend. I heard about the event when I was thinking about applying to Oberlin and I’d be lying if I said it had no bearing on my decision to come here.

But no matter how much you’ve heard about it, there’s nothing quite like being compressed into a small space with a ton of people you definitely don’t know well enough for it to be okay to be so close to naked with them in any other setting.

Strangely enough, it doesn’t feel as much like being caught in a broken elevator at a nudist colony as it sounds. Somehow, it works.

So here was my big challenge as a reporter — what about Safer Sex Night makes people keep coming? What’s so special about it that our dear old alumni and faculty decide to put on an event known to conservatives as “an orgy held on campus” every single year?

Well first off, there’s the title: Safer Sex Night. This night is about learning safe sex — safe ways to have intercourse as well as alternate methods of mutual pleasuring that are safe.

In the ’Sco, the music is stopped repeatedly to allow for onstage demonstrations about safe ways of performing various types of inter- or outercourse, and SIC staff members wander through Wilder with baskets full of condoms, lubes and dental dams for people to take. Hundreds of stickers were printed up reading variations of the phrase “I like your ____ and I want to ____ it. Are you as into that as I am?”

While perhaps a little more unorthodox than last year’s popular “You Are Beautiful” campaign, these stickers are supposed to make people feel good while educating them about the importance of consent.

But wait, there’s more! It’s not just the ’Sco that hosts the events of Safer Sex Night. DeCafé also held several games of “Sexy Twister,” as advertised on the posters around campus, which wasn’t actually as perverted a version of the game as I’d thought.

The only thing that separated it from regular twister was the amount of naked skin that revealed itself when people were pretzeled around each other. I’m such a dedicated journalist I decided to participate in a round, and it wasn’t as uncomfortable as you’d expect twisting yourself around a naked stranger, honestly.

The other workshops held by the SIC took place in the Rat, where you could learn everything from how to safely practice BDSM (Bondage-Domination-Sadism-Masochism) to the operation of various kinds of sex toys. They also held “Erotic Storytime,” which I had the good fortune of catching a portion of. Who knew so many naughty works of fiction have been published and so readily available at our disposal?

There’s a sign at the ticket booth for Safer Sex Night that proclaims it as an “educational event.” And that’s true: this is school-sponsored for a reason. The main focus at Safer Sex Night is that of educating the students about safe ways of practicing sex. The demos, the porn, the free condoms, it’s all educational.

I know, I know, like you want to get all dressed up on a weeknight to go out and learn (as if that’s what college is about). But it’s like the math teacher I had in high school who taught us to count cards as a way of learning probability. Only after an hour of gambling away fake money did I realize I’d also learned a valuable tool.

And if knowing probability is valuable, just think how valuable it is to know how to practice safe sex. It’s what Salt ’n’ Pepa have been telling us to do all along, and Oberlin is taking the hint. So come on, let’s talk about sex.


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