When it debuted last year, Frisky February aimed to provide students with information about sexual health and relationships and get them talking about a topic many find hard to discuss. The monthlong series of events was so successful that it has returned to enliven the shortest month of the year. The project is sponsored by Wellness and Prevention Services at BU’s Student Health Services in partnership with several organizations across campus, among them the Sexual Assault Response & Prevention Center (SARP), and the BU Alumni Association.
“There will be a very broad range of topics, intersections between communications, public health, sociology, all of these different things and just opening up all of these disciplines to sexual health and sexuality,” says Wellness & Prevention Services health communications undergraduate assistant Ava Marinelli (CAS’17), one of the Frisky February organizers. “I think that for me as a college student, it’s really important to have these events cast in the light we do, in this really positive, fun, interactive, exploratory way.”
Among the faculty speaking tonight is Max Greenberg, a College of Arts & Sciences adjunct lecturer in sociology. Greenberg will give a presentation on strategies for discussing sex, sexual assault, violence, and masculinity with men on campus. He will discuss some of the themes from his book Some Men: Feminist Allies and the Movement to End Violence Against Women (Oxford University Press, 2015).
“I think students are really excited to learn about and talk about healthy relationships and healthy sexuality and all the topics of Frisky February,” Greenberg says. “I thought that this TEDTalk format was an exciting and different way to get into those conversations, that it would be the beginning of a good conversation that would be exciting.”
Also participating is Rev. Cameron Partridge, BU’s Episcopal chaplain, who came out as a transgender man 15 years ago, with a talk titled Coming Out as Spiritual Practice. Other speakers are Sophie Godley (SPH’15), a School of Public Health clinical assistant professor of community health services; Patrice Oppliger, a College of Communication assistant professor of mass communication, advertising, and public relations; Sarah Benes, a School of Education senior lecturer; Bayla Ostrach, a School of Medicine assistant professor of family medicine; and Jolion McGreevy, a MED emergency medicine instructor and a physician at Boston Medical Center.
“A major goal was to have it be a really collaborative month of programming,” says Katharine Mooney (SPH’12), Wellness & Prevention Services director. “We are hoping that by partnering with other groups that aren’t necessarily associated with sexual health the way we are, we will also be able to reach a different audience or a more diverse array of students, those who might not come to a wellness sexual health event at other points in the year.”
In addition to tonight’s SEXTalk, planned are a Condom Fairy Packing Party on February 4, and on February 10, a Sex Is Like Pizza party, hosted by SARP Ambassadors, with a discussion about consent. (BU students will design a pizza with their partner and can later pick it up, free, at OTTO, 888 Comm Ave.)
“Sex Is Like Pizza is a sex-positive communication workshop,” says Sarah Voorhees, a SARP health and prevention educator. “BU students can attend with a partner or a friend to find out more about how the process of making a pizza is all about consent. Consent can sometimes be an uncomfortable topic to talk about, but if we’re having honest conversations about sex, it’s just a natural and normal part of the mix.”
“There’s a big educational component to a lot of the events that we run,” says Marinelli. “I think that framing a lot of the educational aspects that we do in this interactive and exploratory way is a great way to reach college students and get them the information they might be missing.”
Some other highlights of Frisky February: Vulva Crafts with Goddess Cecilia, a local sexual health educator, and a workshop with Kenneth Elmore (SED’87), dean of students, titled Let’s Talk about Love, both on February 11; a Safer Sex Decathlon, featuring “minute to win it” challenges, presented by Fenway Community Health, on February 18; Terrier Love: a Relationships Workshop, hosted by SARP, on February 22; and a Sex Trivia night, at Sunset Cantina, 916 Comm Ave, on February 29.
“I think for a lot of college students it’s a totally new social world, a totally new environment,” says Greenberg. “I think that Frisky February gives them places and ways to talk about things that maybe they don’t have experience talking about, and I think it helps the University communicate its hopes and expectations for the students.”
Frisky February kicks off tonight with SEXTalks at 6 p.m. in CAS Room B12, 725 Commonwealth Ave. Find the full list of Frisky February events here.
Jennifer Bates can be reached at email@example.com.