USC “Sexplores” healthy dialogue

The Sexploration Tent, situated in the McCarthy Quad, offered interactive and educational experiences for students. Organizers gave out sex toys and discussed an array of topics about sex. (Tomoki Chien | Daily Trojan)

Wednesday afternoon saw a new addition to McCarthy Quad: the Sexploration Tent. The tent, an event part of this year’s inaugural Sex Week, hoped to provide an inclusive, interactive and sex-positive hangout spot for USC students, featuring sex educators who answered anonymous questions pertaining to intimacy and sex. 

From vibrators to other sex toys, USC Student Health supported several student organizations — including the Graduate Student Government, Undergraduate Student Government, Student Assembly for Gender Empowerment and Women and Youth Supporting Each Other — to curate a welcoming environment for USC students to ask their most intimate questions. With trivia about human anatomy and a giveaway stand named “What’s Your Pleasure?,” the tent aimed to break the stigma of exploring one’s ever-evolving sexuality.

Certified sex educator and intimacy coordinator Erin Tillman, along with certified sex expert and USC’s LGBTQ+ campus advocate Edwin Bodney, were featured guests to answer Trojans’ questions. Tillman also gave away copies of her book, “The Consent Guidebook,” to educate USC students on a practical approach to consensual, respectful and enthusiastic sexual interactions. 

Tillman spoke about her mission as a sex educator and the importance of reducing the stigma surrounding embracing one’s sexuality. 

“Sexuality is one of the biggest things in our lives,” Tillman said. “It connects us together with each other as humans. It formulates how we move in the world, how we feel safe or not, so it’s really a very deep, profound thing to feel comfortable in one’s skin when also interacting with others.”

In an open discussion about an array of topics surrounding sexuality, Tillman and Bodney both answered questions around the importance of consent, communicating with one’s sexual partners about preferences and discomforts and how to approach such vulnerable conversations.

Bodney emphasized breaking the taboo of sex and other intimate matters.

“There’s a lot of unlearning … And then also in that unlearning, how do we shift the culture to be one that is open, that’s more communicative, that’s more consensual, that’s less shame-oriented, because we’re all humans, right?”

The Sexploration Tent educated Trojans on sex and the importance of consent.
USC students had the opportunity to read and take home a variety of books from the Sexploration Tent, detailing sexual health and exploration into one’s sexuality. (Tomoki Chien | Daily Trojan)

Nia Marshall, a senior majoring in arts, technology and the business of innovation, spoke on the benefits of events like the Sexploration Tent.

“I think college is a really interesting time because we all come into this university with different experiences [and] different knowledge,” Marshall said. “Not everybody received the same type of sex education growing up, whether that be formally in school or from their parents or other family members or friends.”

Representatives from Feelmore Adult’s Flagship also showcased their top sex toys and offered a raffle for Trojans on their most popular products. 

Tyler Trouillot, a senior majoring in business administration, attended the event and said he was impressed by such readily available resources regarding safe sex.

“When sex education is presented in such a healthy way like this, you can really be confident in yourself to make those decisions,” Trouillot said. “We were just going for a walk in the farmers market, noticed [the tent], popped in, saw a couple things and thought it was cool.”

Starting such an unprecedented topic of discussion required support from several organizations on campus including the Graduate Student Government, Undergraduate Student Government, Student Assembly for Gender Empowerment and Women and Youth Supporting Each Other with support from USC Student Health.

Recognizing the importance of educating USC students on what consent means, events like these open the discussion of what consent looks like. 

“These specific events are absolutely necessary, but they’re just one aspect of an entire infrastructure that has to be addressed and trusting that students know what they need for themselves or what they’re asking for is another huge component. Then, following suit to support them in the best ways that we can is absolutely imperative for us to change this into the safest campus we can,” Bodney said.

Bodney believes that in order to overcome the high rate of sexual abuse within society, institutions should begin with proper education on the matter.

“I am not the one Supreme Court justice who can shape things the way that they need to be shaped,” Bodney said. “I am not the one senate leader that can do that. It has to be something where we’re all working together… Understanding that those things take so much longer than any one person’s lifetime.”

Tillman also discussed how an issue as prevalent and systemic as sexual violence should be addressed. 

“Until American society in particular can get comfortable with eradicating shame and actually talking about these topics in ways that are accurate, it’s really just not going to change,” Tillman said. “How would it change? It comes from the top like the government, university leaders … leaders need to be part of the change, and if they aren’t, then it’s not going to change.”

A previous version of this article stated that there were dildos at the Sexploration Tent and that the tent was mainly curated by Student Health. There were no dildos at the event and several student organizations helped with its curation. The Daily Trojan regrets these errors.