On Thursday, Oct. 20, Brandeis’ Student Sexuality Information Service (SSIS) held their annual Sex In the Dark event in the Rapaporte Treasure Hall from 7:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m.
The student-run event consisted of four panelists answering attendees’ anonymously texted-in questions. This year’s panelists were Cassandra Corrado, Martin Henson, Joanna Mann and Anne Culhane.
Corrado, known as @feministsexed on Instagram, is a professional sex educator who “works with adults to unlearn the harmful myths [about sex] we learned when we were younger,” reads her bio on the SSIS Instagram. Corrado addresses topics such as feminist empowerment within sexual pleasure, queer issues and everything sex and sexual health related.
Henson is an advocate and leader for Black men and a part of the BMEN Foundation. Henson has experience as a therapist and brought an intersectional and male-identifying perspective to the event’s discussions. Henson is “on a mission to share how [he] found success building a world that can support the black community and address the systems of harm that impact us all,” according to his bio on the SSIS Instagram page.
Mann is an expert in mental healthcare, relationships and gender and sexuality. Mann works to “unpack shame and stigma through sex-positive education,” according to her bio on the SSIS Instagram.
And Culhane, a nurse practitioner at the Brandeis Health Center, is certified in women’s health and “passionate about helping students receive accessible and patient-centered care for all things related to health including sexual and reproductive health,” according to her bio on the Instagram page.
At the event, over 50 students sat in the dark—as the name suggests—and sent anonymous questions to the SSIS text line for the panelists to answer. The four panelists addressed a variety of topics in the two-hour session, including how to balance and uphold one’s feminist ideals in a culture of hyper-sexualization without giving up on pleasure, UTIs, the newest sex toys on the market and how to handle various situations within romantic and sexual relationships.
Students who attended the event received glow sticks and condoms; some who arrived early enough also received a T-shirt.
The Hoot reached out to SSIS member Sydney Padgett ’23 to discuss the history and motivation of the event. Padgett explained that “Sex in the Dark has been held [at Brandeis] since at least 2017, but this type of event is quite common and events of the same name and style have been held at many other schools besides Brandeis.”
Padgett also explained that the event has been put on by SSIS “so that students can freely (emotionally and monetarily) interact with and learn from sex educators who might otherwise be behind a paywall or emotional judgment wall.” By giving students this free opportunity to ask anonymous questions SSIS is hoping to “reduce stigma” to “empower the Brandeis community and community members to embrace their sexual health and pleasure and their agency within that,” Padgett told The Hoot.
SSIS’ office hours, along with their many resources can be found on their website and on Instagram @ssisbrandeis.