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UM sexologist provides ‘serious’ sex tips, promotes sexual health and HIV awareness

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Marilyn K. Volker, sexologist, spoke Tuesday on the myths and lies surrounding sex. Sex-based conversation starters on cards and a "my sexual limits are..." t-shirt are amongst the items Volker brought to the discussion. TANYA THOMPSON // Hurricane Staff

Sex may be on the mind of many college students, but it is not everyday that there are open, honest and informative discussions about the subject on campus.

Tuesday night’s event, entitled “Sex on the Beach,” changed that. The discussion was organized by students as part of the University of Miami’s A Week for Life, a week-long series of events to spread awareness about HIV/AIDS and promote sexual health. The discussion took place in the University Center’s I-Lounge, which was filled with decorations, food and even virgin daiquiris. Each guest donned a lei necklace and sat on one of the many sofas that were arranged in the shape of a circle.

To begin the event, Leslie Elus, a senior and chair of A Week for Life, introduced Marilyn Volker, a well-known sexologist who teaches sexuality classes at the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine.

“How many of you see yourselves in long-term, monogamous relationships?” Volker asked the audience. “People have trouble talking seriously about sex, especially with their partners.”

Although Volker encouraged audience members to comment and question, she emphasized that the information shared by individuals was not to leave the room; Volker wanted to make the topic of sex as comfortable for students as possible, and names of the students involved were not to be publicized.

Volker’s job as a sexologist involves facilitating communication about sex that is often difficult for individuals to engage in. She used a set of cards to pick sexual topics, including faithfulness, sexual boundaries, HIV/AIDS and sexual assault.

“Is it unfaithful to fantasize about someone other than your partner during sex?” Volker asked.

The question elicited a variety of responses. After each response, Volker would comment and provide insightful information. To this specific question, she stated that “people have a range of what is faithful and unfaithful.”

Another question posed was: Do your sexual boundaries change when you’re on vacation? The audience responded an almost unanimous “yes.” One member of the audience stated that he felt that there was “no recourse” when he was away from home.

Volker discussed HIV/AIDS as well. She said that HIV/AIDS are not “gay” diseases and that many people assume that gay men have HIV. She emphasized the fact that this is inaccurate and that she sees many heterosexuals and women in her practice with HIV. Although she did provide a lot of commentary, instruction and anecdotes, Volker encouraged students to participate, giving them a choice of flavored condoms as a reward for each comment.

Throughout the presentation, Volker emphasized that there is more to sexual intercourse than the actual act. She called the society that has conditioned us to believe in very rigid sexually acceptable behavior as “limiting” and encouraged people to look at what the norms are in other cultures. She exhibited a free-spirited and open attitude towards sex and asked, “Who makes the rules [about sex]? Towards the end of the presentation, she discussed the eight types of intimacy and emphasized that “sex is only one of them.”

April 15, 2009

Reporters

Claire Arritola

Contributing News Writer


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