Hooking Up Healthy Since 1970

WiSE Workshop Recap


November 2, 2015

Cypress and I (Susannah) facilitated a workshop about Healthy Relationships for WiSE, or Women in Science and Engineering. They are a dorm theme program and weekly discussion group comprised of freshman women who are pursuing science and math related careers. As Cypress and I walked in, they were already engaging in an enlightening discussion about gender equity in the workplace and how the lack of it can drive women from science oriented careers. Their insights served as a great segue into our presentation and discussion because, of course, gender equity is directly related to healthy relationships.

Cypress and I started with an icebreaker game about communicating boundaries and how to set them. We then talked about communication within a relationship and ways to communicate sexual and emotional needs. Then, we started a group-led discussion about relationship violence and the many forms that it can take. The women had really interesting insights and we heard from women with different cultures and backgrounds, even some from different countries. We discussed how relationship violence may not always be what we traditionally think of violence, like explicit violent acts. The women also talked about what coercion, sexual violence and even economic violence might look like. I think the women came away with concrete ways to identify relationship violence and we hope that they consider it in their future discussions about gender equity.

We both had a lot of fun talking in this group and I’m really happy that this theme program offers and supports this safe space for women in science.

-Sensual Susannah

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Decaler Jacob’s Random Act of Sexiness


When I completed my random act of sexiness I passed out condoms and flyers at Tan Kho Kee Hall on the University campus at 10:45 on October 29th. My catchphrase was “Free HIV testing at Tang on Friday.” I chose this phrase when passing out condoms for several reasons.

First, I chose this phrase because I feel like it is one of the most important events going on during Sexual Health Awareness Week and very few people feel that it is relevant to themselves. Not many people are aware of the free service so I felt it would be beneficial to spread the word about it being free. Second, I chose this phrase to quickly grab the attention of people passing by, and at the very least it did. I got a lot of mixed reactions while telling people about HIV testing and passing them condoms with a Sexual Health Awareness Week flyer.

While handing out condoms and advertising free HIV testing several people were very grateful and asked for a few more condoms and many people actively ignored me. One reaction that stood out to me was a group of men walking together and as handed them a flyer and I condom and gave my spiel, they simultaneously began to laugh. I was confused with their collective reaction, but also reminded about the stigma that HIV as well as many people’s’ idea that sexual health is irrelevant or does not apply to them.

For the second half of the condoms I distributed them near Haas on October 29th at 1 PM, just after my class. When I passed the condoms and flyers out at this location, I generally got the same reaction. Most people just accepted my offer of a flyer and condom and kept walking. Overall I distributed about 30 condoms.

Why Representation Matters

How many brands and logos can you name? How often do you see something you vaguely recognize and realize it’s from an advertisement you’ve seen? How often do you hear someone talking about a show or company or movie that you’ve heard of but haven’t really consciously been aware of?

How much do we internalize the media?

The media is a huge source of social norms and internalized behavior. Generally the mentality of big companies looking to profit is that if you see something enough times with some kind of positive influence, you’ll be more likely to choose something put out by that company. If it’s a really unusual advertisement, you’re more likely to remember it.

It’s also a huge source of our internalized social norms because of how often we see people and scenarios represented in those images and messages (overt and covert).

Given that we live in a very consumer-driven society, advertisements are almost everywhere. Entertainment media is not exempt from our conception of social norms. Movies, music, TV shows, video games – all of them are fed by and continue to feed our ideas of involve social norms and conceptions. It affects our language, our thoughts, our impressions of others before getting to know them, our actions.

Too often we see skinny, white women in scantily clad clothing promoting something that doesn’t require a lack of clothing or sexualized message. Too often we see men being portrayed as buff, dominating, suited up and in positions of power when advertising for the same products. Too often we see the token gay best friend character in movies and TV shows. Too often we see people of color in minor roles or roles with negative connotation. Too often being anything but straight is “just a phase,” or experimenting in college (often portrayed as a woman having tried being in relationships with other women) as a “sexy phase”. Too often we see Halloween or cosplay costumes rejected by children because that character was white or blonde or a different gender. Too often children are told to play with the “boy toys” or the “girl toys” and are assigned colors upon birth based on their sex. Too often we run into homophobia and transphobia that emerges as inconveniences and things to be ashamed of. Too often women who don’t shave are scolded for being too masculine, or men who put on makeup are scolded for being too feminine. Too often do we run out of space to list all the things that are wrong with social norms and roles that we see in the media and everyday life.

When did we decide all of these norms?

Representation matters. We are a world of many people – of many expressions, of many races, of many genders, of many sexualities, of many habits. We’ve begun to see a transformation of our norms and a transition into challenging the norms, but it’s still far from complete representation of all the people we have in the world.

The next time you see an ad, watch a show or a movie, play a video game, listen to a song, pay attention to who’s in it. How are they portrayed? How could it have been done differently? Changing these “norms” requires awareness of what’s wrong with it, and realizing ways to include more people and represent more identities. Pay attention to your surroundings, and realize what kind of society we live in so you can be part of the change towards equal representation!

– Mariya


Decaler Janet’s Random Act of Sexiness!


For our sexual health decal, I was assigned to promote sexual health on our campus by, doing “ Random Acts of Sexiness”, where we inform others about sexual health awareness week and pass out condoms. At first I was shy about doing this, but then began brainstorming ideas and was looking forward to doing this.

Originally I wanted to pass out condoms on Halloween night and dress up as the condom fairy, but unfortunately this assignment was due before Halloween, so I went with another plan. I live in a sorority house, a giant house full of women. Overtime I have heard several sisters, mention when they go out and end up with someone, “oh the guys (or partner) should have condoms”, in my opinion sex is a two person activity and it is not one persons responsibility to have protection, both people involved should be prepared. So I think it is essential for women to be prepared even if they aren’t sexually active or planning on participating in any sexual activities.  For this reason I choose to pass out condom in my sorority house.

Our sorority has a health care worker, that works along side the Tang center and promotes health tips and care in our house, I want to apply for this position next year, I spoke to our house health care worker and talked to her about this project. She seemed really interested and agreed it was a good idea to pass them out in the house.

We have a private Facebook page for our house, so I went on and posted info about sexual health awareness week, and information about condoms and said I would be distributing the condoms in the evening around the house. I wasn’t expecting many girls to show up but to my surprise, a few girls came to me before the evening and into my room and personally asked me for some, then later on in the evening more and more girls showed interested and before I knew it, I was out of condoms and done with random acts of sexiness.

I was not sure what to expect at first, and was nervous about the reaction, I wasn’t sure if some people would be okay with this, or if people would show up, but it all went well beyond what I expected. I was so surprised that as soon as I posted the info on Facebook, people reached out to me before the evening when I was supposed to pass them out.. Sister of all ages came, form freshman to seniors, the picture below was a sister who is a senior a=who reached out to me, and was interested in SHEP. I also talked to a lot of the girl about the decal, and what it was about, and recommended it if they were looking for a decal to take, since tele-bears is coming up. I really enjoyed this experience; it pushed me out of my comfort zone, and helped me bring sexual health awareness to my sorority house.


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Your Fav is Problematic

Positive and accurate representations of a variety of sexualities and genders are extremely difficult to come by.  Even in the modern era, where sexuality is understood as a spectrum, representations of LGBTQIA+ characters are rarely portrayed as normal human beings.  Most of these characters aren’t full characters.  Their characters on the show, their relationship is with other characters, and their narratives are based entirely on the non-normative nature of their sexualities and genders. This is extremely unfair to the LGBTQIA+ people watching these characters become erased, reduced to stereotypes.

However, there are people taking steps to create more accurate representations.  TV shows like Orange is the New Black, How to Get Away with Murder, and Modern Family display lesbian, gay, bisexual, and trans characters that are so much more than just their sexual and gender identities.  They are living full and complete lives and participating in the shows.  These characters are a huge step towards creating positive representations for the LGBTQIA+ people watching these shows.

As awesome as these characters are, no media text is perfect.  These shows still contain residues of sexuality and gender stereotypes, but they also contain other problematic views regarding ethnicity, ability, and other frequently stereotyped human conditions. There is also a significant lack of representation of LGBTQIA+ people of color, asexual people, and non-binary people. Ultimately, every fav is problematic in one way or another.

But don’t lose hope! Recognizing the problems within your favorite TV shows, movies, and music is an essential part of consuming media.  It’s also the first step towards creating inclusive representation and quality content.  The best thing to do is to support content with positive representation, and call out the problematic features.  Slowly but surely, we can help create content that is based on well built characters and narratives, rather than stereotypes and discrimination.

Stay safe and sexy,



Decaler Sean’s Random Act of Sexiness!


I decided to handout condoms and SHEP flyers on Thursday, Oct. 29 at the South entrance of campus near Sproul Hall.  It was around 10 am and there was a decent amount of foot traffic, but not as much as around noon.  This was the first time I had ever handed anything out to people on campus.

Before I handed the condoms and flyers out, I was a little hesitant.  I’m not very outgoing to random people and don’t like just approaching people out of nowhere.  Also, I didn’t want to seem like some random, creepy guy just handing out condoms.  However, with it being a requirement of the class, I went along with it anyway.

I handed each condom out with a flyer and told those walking by that they were free condoms from SHEP.  At first, no one really grabbed any.  People just sort of walked by ignoring me, or quickly said no thanks and continued walking.  That kind of sucked, but I understand it because people are always handing out stupid flyers left and right on Sproul.  But at least these weren’t just flyers, they were free condoms too.

Not too long later, though, a couple people grabbed the condoms from me.  Sometimes there would be streaks where everyone I approached would take a condom and then other times it seemed like no one wanted any.  It was also easier for me to hand the condoms out to men than it was for women.  I think this was just due to my own awkwardness of giving random ladies condoms.

It didn’t take too long to handout all the flyers and condoms.  Overall, I thought it was an interesting experience.  I wish I had more to say about it, but it was pretty straight forward.


Meet Sexpert and Student Leader Justin!



I’m Justin, and I’m a Sexpert in the Sexual Health Education Program. I’m currently studying Public Health, and maybe trying to be a doctor, I don’t know. I joined SHEP because I’ve worked as a clinical HIV Counselor for about two years now, and have never ceased to find satisfaction in the work. There’s no feeling like helping someone to drastically change their life and stay healthy, as well as helping de-stigmatize a disease that has plague my community, the queer community, for decades. SHEP’s HIV Clinic, combined with our Sexpert Education Clinic, lets me combine my passion for clinical health, and providing resources and education to underserved or oppressed communities.

In my opinion, the stigma surrounding HIV is the truly dangerous aspect of the disease. I’ve seen stigma keep someone in fear of getting tested for years following their diagnosis, cutting their life far too short, so I’ve made it my personal goal to make sure every client I see leaves my clinic with at least one more piece of knowledge or information that they didn’t have before they came in. Mainly, I just want to talk about sex, and SHEP has been the perfect outlet for that, so come visit!

Decaler Melody’s Random Act of Sexiness!

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I passed out the flyers and the condoms in the Unit 1 area today, mainly in front of Putnam, which is my building. One of my friends was around as support and also helped me take the picture.The courtyard wasn’t extremely busy during this time, kind of a slow in-and-out of people. In all honesty, I was pretty hesitant to approach people just because I wasn’t sure how open people would be and how comfortable they were. When I did, there were a lot of awkward exchanges where I could sense the subtle confusion until I explained that this was an assignment for the Sex 101 Decal.
Though I can’t say flyer-ing and passing out condoms is something I would volunteer to do on a regular, it definitely got easier as I got a little bolder.The majority of people that I talked to were friendly but not a lot of them actually wanted to take condoms from me, maybe one in every eight did. Sex definitely still seems like a taboo topic, really evident that people shied away from me. Thankfully, I saw a couple familiar faces and a good amount of people did end up taking condoms and flyers.

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