Love, Sex and Magic: Speaker and sexologist Michelle Hope presents "SexyEd 101"

Michelle Hope gives UConn students an engaging presentation about safe sex in the Student Union Ballroom on September 13th 2016. (Jason Jiang/The Daily Campus)

For some students, Tuesday night may consist of going to the gym, finishing up school work or trying to run to the late night dining hall hours before they close. On Tuesday, Sept. 15, though some UConn students decided to attend the second part of the two-night event, "Deciphering Love, Sex, Relationships, & Sexuality," sponsored by the Student Union Board of Governors (SUBOG).

While at first the theater was scattered with mumbling and side conversations, speaker and sexologist Michelle Hope quickly filled the room with laughter and large discussions with the audience. Hope presented ‘SexyEd 101’ which not only educated the audience how to have enjoyable (and of course, safe) sex, but also taught communication skills about sexuality, as well as rape culture.

Audience members were encouraged to participate throughout the presentation through online polls that were reflected on the screen. Hope even asked the tech-crew to dim the lights so that those participating would feel like they had more privacy to send whatever they desired without fear of judgment from the person nearby.

The presentation began with a quick biology lesson. Among one of Hope’s many visual representations for the night, was a plush-toy-diagram that helped visualize what happens in utero when sex is initially determined.

“We are more alike than we are different…Biologically, everyone starts out as a girl, technically,” Hope said.

Amid one of the more serious social topics for the night was gender and how it is socially defined. Hope told the audience about her childhood--how she was raised in Indiana, with a lesbian mom in a trailer park. These characteristics of her life and how she socially developed made gender a topic she had always seen as “fluid, and not just black and white.”

We are more alike than we are different…Biologically, everyone starts out as a girl, technically.
— Michelle Hope

Throughout the night, Hope also brought up topics that society often frowns upon. She talked about (and had several visual representations of) foreplay, post-play, porn, techniques that would stimulate more pleasure in sexual relations, and a few more topics.

“She was able to talk about taboo subjects and make you aware of important things. She showed how sex is so prevalent in society and made the group allow you to have the intimate space to talk about it. It makes you think ‘wow, I’m just like everyone else!’” Alexa Santos, a seventh-semester marketing major said.

Although the presentation was focused on embracing sexuality, Hope always made sure to point out that when she talked about sex, she was talking about consensual sex. The audience was seemingly shocked when she started to talk about how to prevent sexual assault and how none of the prevention tips were things that a victim (or as Hope refers to them, “thrivers”) could do. Rather, the tips were all things that sexual assault offenders should do.

“The idea of telling the victim they could have prevented sexual assault is preposterous. It’s time for us to switch the lens [about sexual reproductive justice],” Hope said.

When asked about what she thought about Hope, graduate student Aliyah Subhit, said, “I like how she used humor to make [the presentation topics] comfortable but always brought it back to the serious topic.”

The presentation was not only informational, but engaging. Hope hit on important topics in society like the importance of diminishing rape culture, but she also brought to light the importance of embracing your own sexuality and not feeling ashamed over such a “natural act.” Overall, the night was not only reflective about society as a whole, but about yourself as an individual.


Valeria Popolizio is a campus correspondent for The Daily Campus. She can be reached via email at valeria.popolizio@uconn.edu