UCLA's Sextravaganza Gave Me The Empowering Sex Education I've Always Wanted

Experiencing sex week at UCLA two years in a row has given me more sex education than I ever received in my seventeen years of education. Back home my first exposure to sex education was in the sixth grade. It was back when elementary classrooms still functioned on VHS tapes and bulky televisions. Our teacher moved all of the boys into a different classroom while all of the girls stayed in our actual classroom. For the next hour we all proceeded to watch videos on the magical transformation of boys and girls bodies as they go through puberty.

It was awkward but necessary. Six years later I’m a senior in high school and my and my peers have not received any other form of sex education. We didn’t have sex education courses and the closest thing to sex ed we had been exposed to was a cringe-worthy modern play where teens had unprotected sex and learned about concepts like body counts, birth control, unwanted pregnancies, and common std’s. Unfortunately that play focused way too much on the apparent shame that young people, especially women are expected to feel when they do engage in consenting sexual activities.

Sex was also a taboo topic in my household. All you had to understand was that as a respectable young woman you shouldn’t be having sex so why talk further about it? Now I’m in college and I’m happy to say that collectively the topic of sex is not ignored here but rather celebrated! One of my favorite times of the year is UCLA’s annual Sex Week. The UCLA Sexual Health Coalition works hard every year to put on a week’s worth of events with topics like having healthy relationships, self-love, abstinence, and sex positivity. The event that I personally look forward to the most is the annual Sextravaganza! For an entire evening various organizations and businesses set up booths where they can educate all curious students on topics like sex safety, education, positivity.

Featured here are some of my favorite booths of the night:

1. CENTER FOR POSITIVE SEXUALITY

This non-profit has been attending the sex fair for the past two years now. Their goal is to address all social issues through sex positive research that is open and honest. By staying true to the World Health Organization’s definition of sexual health they manage to host multiple workshops that can teach the public about multiple aspects of sex like the emotional, physical, and mental well-being of partners individuals, and LGBTQA aspects of relationships. A man named Mathew is the lead educator and trainer of the facility who has graced the fair with his presence for years. I enjoyed learning about the BDSM courses that he teaches at the center. During one of his workshops I attended he never hesitated to answer questions no matter how awkward or outlandish they seemed. Mathew and the other educators of the center always knew how to put the audience at ease with humor and reminders that talking about sex doesn’t need to remain an embarrassing topic anymore.

2. CUDDLE SANCTUARY

While sex is a wonderful way to further intimacy within a relationship it shouldn’t be the only way that we can gain it. That’s why I absolutely adored the Cuddle Sanctuary headed by the founder and CEO Jean Franzblau. You may recognize her from the Buzzfeed video where various team members cuddled with a professional for the first time. It’s the first known “Affection Spa” that gives services such as cuddling, spooning, and holding hands to any customers in need of compassionate and platonic experiences. Franzblau and her team of professionally trained cuddlers ensure an experience that has clear communication between the client and cuddler so that they feel safe in the moment. Not only do the cuddle experts give great hugs they also provide workshops that teach people consenting non-sexual ways to achieve intimacy with those you care about. The practices range from helping people open up more to their partners. They also ensure that every student and cuddler follows a code of ethics that protects the power of professionalism, consent, and inclusiveness within and outside of the workplace. As an emotionally-needy Cancer I can definitely see myself booking an appointment with the Cuddle Sanctuary in the near future!

3. THE BODY LOVE LAB

The most important relationship is the one that you form with yourself but if you’ve never practiced self love then that statement is easier said than done. Cera Byer, the creator and coach of the Body Love Lab talks about how learning to love your body is such a foreign idea to us. Byer goes on to critique the idea of instagram hashtags telling us to love ourselves and treat themselves but they’re all devoid of an actual guide.

“The hashtag “love yourself” creates yet another pressure for people to live up to. If we’re not taught how to love ourselves then it makes it easier for us to feel like we failed at something.” explained Byer.

That’s why Byer came up with the idea of the Body Love Lab. Byer explains “When you are in a relationship what should be the number one trait about it? Trust. So if we’re trying to love ourselves and have a relationship with ourselves then what we need to build is self-trust.”. The Body Love Lab teaches a 7 week long online course learning to love yourself and your body so that you can feel and look your absolute best. You can find out more about the course and its cost at the Body Love Lab website!

4. UCLA OB/GYN CLINIC

The OB/GYN clinic is the one place that people shouldn’t avoid going to. However I and many other students may be nervous about going, unaware of a clinic’s location, or even afraid that they won’t be able to afford the services provided. That’s why I was happy and shocked to find out that UCLA’s own OB/GYN clinic not only extremely close to the campus but they also offer confidential and comprehensive services. I personally always have issues with my medical insurance but can’t afford UC Ship which is UCLA’s own medical insurance. That’s why I was pleased to find out that the UCLA OB/GYN takes almost all forms of public and private insurance including common insurance like Medical and PACT. The clinic has a large range of services included but not limited to all birth control methods, giving pre-natal care, emergency contraception, and STD testing and treatment. An added benefit is that many of the doctors are some of the best in their field so this is an amazing resource for UCLA students to take advantage of anytime they’re in need.

The clinic is located at 1010 Veteran Avenue, Los Angeles, CA, 90095 and you can reach them at 310-825-7955.

5. Screaming O

The sex fair wouldn't be complete without an explosive guest like the sex toy company Screaming O! Since 2005 this company has earned awards for their exceptional of popular sex toys on the market. They assure that their customers receive safe products that have been tested and deemed safe and are non-toxic so they are completely safe for the body. The company prides itself on creating toys that give their customers a safe more satisfying sex and masturbation while building intimacy and communication whether it be with yourself or with your partner. At the fair they were giving away free vibrating rings cleverly named Screaming O's and finger vibrators aka Fing-O's. Screaming O has been featured in various magazines such as Women's Health, Maxim, and Cosmopolitan to name a few. They successfully managed to promote sex-positive messages at their booth and even got many students to share their experiences and tips with others present at the table! 

Overall my experience at the annual Sextravaganza, like last year, was eye-opening. Not only was I able to learn more about all the things that I was taught to believe were taboo I also manage to meet beautiful people in the community who strive to break down those taboos in an effort to create a more educated and shameless community.

All gifs courtesy of Giphy