A night of sex

Annual Sex Positivity Expo graces the Memorial Union

The Sex Positivity Expo covered a wide range of sexual exploration.

Upon entering the Great Plains Ballroom, visitors received condoms, lubricant and education from the booths at the annual Sex Positivity Expo. The event was hosted April 4 by North Dakota State’s own Women’s Activist Organization.

“Here we’re creating a safe place for people to discuss some information about sex, gender, anything they might not know about,” WAO president Alexis Lohman said. “It’s doing nobody any favors to have sex be such a taboo topic in our society.”

“The idea is to open up a dialogue about sex, sexuality, gender, mental health because all of those, in some ways, are inter-related,” Lohman said. The event’s purpose is not to push people to have sex; according to Lohman, it’s about opening up a dialogue about the subject.

Lohman said there is a split amongst attendees when it comes to comfort level when it comes to this kind of communication. “I’ll say, ‘Free condom?’ and half the people will come over interested and the other half get really offended and walk away,” Lohman said.

This divide is due to the fact that the event takes place in a liberal part of a conservative state, according to Lohman. “My hope is that the people who are offended will come over and talk to me about why they’re offended so that we can come to a consensus and understanding,” Lohman said.

Planned Parenthood is no stranger to this divide. Multiple bills have been introduced to restrict abortion, including one that would make a common second term abortion illegal. The bill passed the U.S. Senate March 29.

James Darville, a Planned Parenthood grassroots organizer and NDSU alumnus, said he has seen movement on both sides of the issue in Fargo. “We are seeing a lot of people backing us more,” Darville said. The bills have brought with them more opposition, according to Darville.

Darville said he has also seen a lot of people in support of the bills. “Their voice is a little stronger than our voice,” Darville said.

Despite this divide, Darville said he finds a lot of support at this event. “There’s a huge community here, especially a huge feminist community at NDSU,” Darville said.

“We get a lot of foot traffic at these events and even when we just table on campus in general,” Darville said. Planned Parenthood tables at NDSU about once a month.

Darville said the booths do get backlash, but it’s usually tame. “It’s usually just mean stares, which I can handle,” he said.

When it comes to sexual education, Darville stressed its importance. “I think sex education, in general, is super important,” Darville said, “especially comprehensive sexual education in high school.”

This type of education would make sure students learned their rights, how consent works and how the human body operates, according to Darville.

The Expo was not just about safe sex, however. There were also student and community activist groups represented, as well as adult stores like Romantix.

Dena Halverson, assistant manager of Romantix, explained that the booth had testable products, including lubricants, and prizes that attendees could win by answering a trivia question.

The booth got a good reception, according to Halverson. “Christopher (the manager of Romantix) and I are very eccentric people, so we tend to pull in crowds, and we tend to get good responses,” Halverson said.

The booth did not have anything for sale, but did have information about sex and the store. “We are here to not only educate people on sex and the type of things there are for sex, but also just to educate people on our store,” Halverson said.

“We’ve had a few people who are a little bit nervous. Obviously, sex makes some people nervous,” Halverson said. Some people blushed and were hesitant about entering the drawing, according to Halverson.

“Even getting information out is a great way to start. You know, this expo is supposed to be sex-positive,” Halverson said. “People need to understand that sex is positive. Whether you’re doing it heterosexual, homosexual, it doesn’t matter.”

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