Beverly Dodard-Guillaume, Bedsider Campus rep., and senior marketing and supply chain management major, sports a t-shirt in honor of the event. (Trey Sherman/Bloc Reporter)
Beverly Dodard-Guillaume, Bedsider campus representative, and senior marketing and
supply chain management major, sports a T-shirt in honor of the event. (Trey Sherman/Bloc Reporter)

Nearly 700 students of all genders and sexualities flocked to the Stamp’s Grand Ballroom for an unorthodox, but educational experience: how to “maneuver” and understand the female orgasm.

It’s an ever changing dialogue – one therapists and couples have pondered for decades, a salacious conversation uncomfortable for some and encouraged by others.

Sex educators Dorian Solot and Connor Timmons conducted a discussion about “The Big O” at this university Monday for “I Love Female Orgasm,” an interactive presentation on the subject.

Sex Week at Maryland sponsored the event for Love Your Body Month, a campuswide event in February with a goal of promoting positive body image and assistance for how to cope with eating disorders.

Dorian Solot addresses the audience for the first time. (Trey Sherman/Bloc Reporter)
Dorian Solot addresses the audience for the first time. “Sex Discussed Here!” is a sex education program that sells pins, T-shirts and hats in order to raise money. The organization donates 25 percent of all merchandise revenue to Breast Cancer Action. (Trey Sherman/Bloc Reporter)

Solot, a sexuality educator at Brown University and co-author of I Love Female Orgasm: An Extraordinary Orgasm Guide, grew up in a family comfortable with discussing subjects like sexuality and masturbation.

As a result, she found herself interested in human sexuality.

However, she recognized not all young people are comfortable with the subject.

“There are so few places where female sexual pleasure is discussed,” Solot said. “So much of the focus of sex education is on what could go wrong – about STIs, preventing pregnancy, sexual assault – and those things are so important. But nobody ever talks about what you are trying to achieve and what sex can be.”

Due to the lack of open platforms for conversations about sexuality, Solot and her partner, Martin Miller, created a series of programs on a variety of subjects called “Sex Discussed Here!”

The University Health Center offers multiple forms of contraception.  (Trey Sherman, Bloc Reporter)
The University Health Center offers multiple forms of contraception. (Trey Sherman/Bloc Reporter)

“I have an ex-boyfriend who was very open to talking about sexual things and I wasn’t, so I came to this to see what sex was all about,” said junior kinesiology major Lily Gamse. “I was embarrassed to come; I thought it would be kind of weird.”

During Monday night’s presentation, students shared what they had heard about sexual pleasure growing up.

The responses varied: some students said they received positive messages during adolescence, while others experienced negative messages about sexual pleasure; the latter was especially common among women.

After discussing the myths surrounding sexuality, orgasms, and masturbation, the presentation divided into three workshops: one room for women, one for men and a gender-neutral room.

In the privacy of these rooms, students discussed sexual positivity, told stories of their first orgasms and shared tips for achieving orgasms.

Upon reconvening, Solot and Timmons talked to students about several things often left out of many high school health class curriculums – the clitoris, the G-spot, the phases of arousal, the use of vibrators and the difference between male and female orgasms.

For example, in I Love Female Orgasm, a 2,000 person survey determined it takes women, on average, 20 minutes of direct clitoral stimulation to achieve an orgasm, while it takes men two-to-five minutes.

The presentation shed new light on the subject of sexuality for students like Gamse, who said she left feeling “more comfortable” and less worried when it comes to talking about sex.

“The feedback from audiences is so positive,” Solot said. “I love getting emails from women saying, ‘I got my first orgasm!’ But I also love getting emails from people who say, ‘My partner and I had the best conversation we’ve ever had about sex last night.’ So, getting people started in these conversations, this is just the beginning.”

Sex Week will take place from April 6 to 10, said Sree Sinha, co-president and co-founder of Sex Week at Maryland.

To discover more Sex Week events, follow @umdsexweek

writersblocheadshots11Daphne Pellegrino is a sophomore journalism major and can be reached at dpellegr@terpmail.umd.edu.

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