What we talk about when we talk about sex

In the timeless words of 90s rap duo Salt N’ Pepa, let’s talk about sex, baby. At least that is what ASUPS’ newest club, currently known as the Puget Sound Sex and Sexuality Publication, wants us to do. The club hopes to publish an erotic art magazine once a semester starting this spring, along with a supplemental blog.
“With the tangible, physical magazine we’re looking for a balance between visual art and literature,” Co-president Anya Callahan said. “We want to give a realistic portrayal of what sex is. It’s not about domination or force. It is about love and beauty and all of the beautiful things that come from our sexuality.”

The project is the brainchild of Callahan, Ruby Aliment and Megan Chambers, all of whom are seniors with minors in Gender Studies. The club was officially recognized as an ASUPS club on Dec. 1 and had over 35 students attend the first meeting.

“Our goal is that this publication is open to anyone interested in sex. I want to really paint a picture of our sex here at Puget Sound. Physical, emotional and spiritual sex,” Aliment said. “I think another purpose of this magazine will be to highlight the existence of the Gender Studies department.”

English professor Alison Tracy-Hale is the club’s advisor, because Gender Studies is not offered as a major and, therefore, technically does not have any designated professors.

It is among the club’s goals to become a campus medium like The Trail, Crosscurrents and Elements. That is a three year process, however, and the club is still working on securing funding for this spring. The club plans to request funding from ASUPS and other campus departments like Multicultural Student Services.

“We want this publication to stay around, so we want to take our time and have it come naturally,” Callahan said. “If ASUPS gives us funding, we’ll be working with them to ensure that what we publish is something they feel comfortable supporting.”

The club plans to solicit content from the campus community at large, with the option of submitting anonymous work. They are also hoping to be able to host video content on the club’s blog.

“Our requirements will be to be honest, be respectful, and not to be vulgar, which does not equate to ‘do not be explicit.’ We are not trying to censor, but we are trying to be respectful to everyone on this campus,” Chambers said.

Publishing sexually explicit content raised some concerns from ASUPS representatives in their Senate approval, although the club is following precedent from across the country. The club points to Harvard University’s H-Bomb and Columbia University’s C-Spot as inspiration.

“We’ve been in communication with editors of those publications, and they were super enthusiastic about what we’re doing,” Chambers said.  “We had some people at our ASUPS meeting that were concerned about the perceived ‘liberal-spin’ of this publication. Yet while this is a progressive publication in that it is inclusive and that there is no public place for the dialogue, it is not a liberal publication. If you are a conservative and having sex, we are happy for you.”

Callahan offered a slightly different perspective on a possible backlash.

“If people do have a problem with us, then don’t read it. Just like if you don’t like the Sound, then don’t listen to it. I think there might be a few people on campus that like sex, or are at least interested in it,” Callahan said.

“We wanted to start an open, comfortable and safe discourse for these topics on campus because we feel that they are often silenced, ignored or only depicted in mass media representations that can be damaging to individual identity.”