“Pleasure, Desire and Arousal” workshop aims to de-stigmatize conversations about sex

Renny Acheson, A&E Editor

When Whitman Delta Gamma alumna Haley Ireland responded last fall to an Instagram post on the sorority’s Instagram page gauging interest for a women’s health event, she was met with overwhelming excitement. 

Ireland, now a Bay Area-based sex educator, returned to Whitman via Zoom on Feb. 25 to give a workshop entitled “PDA: Pleasure, Desire and Arousal” for all women and non-binary identifying members of the community. Hosted by Delta Gamma, this event aimed to create a space for attendees to talk openly about sex and sexuality, as well as the opportunity to learn more about pleasure and arousal from Ireland. 

 Sophomore Delta Gamma president Alice Primozich appreciated the event’s commitment to providing sexual education to address historical taboos.

“I think that the topics of this event are topics that women and non-binary folks have not had access to so much just in the course of history,” Primozich said. 

Ireland covered a variety of topics in her presentation, ranging from the myth of libido to lube to masturbation. She shared resources such as the Sexual Excitation/Sexual Inhibition Inventory for Women, which is a survey designed to help people assigned female at birth learn more about their sexual “excitors” versus inhibitors. 

While some parts of the program centered around practical tools for learning, the event kept a playful, conversational tone. Ireland asked guests to participate via the chat box and was satisfied with the response. 

“I was impressed with everybody’s ability to engage and talk and have fun and laugh at themselves and me,” Ireland said. “The people who are approximately ten years younger than me are already on a more hype advanced path of being engaged with their sexual knowledge and that is very exciting to me.” 

Delta Gamma vice president of finance sophomore Lucie Hoeschen organized the event after gaining inspiration from a women’s health trivia fundraiser for Planned Parenthood. She reached out to the online sex toy store Unbound Babes to offer a discount code to attendees, with the goal of making sex toys more accessible. 

Hoeschen shared Ireland’s sentiments about the event itself offering a unique opportunity to talk about sex in a fun, thoughtful way. 

“Seeing girls have a really good time, and feel good and laugh about sex and be able to talk about this stuff was really empowering and really rewarding,” Hoeschen said. 

With a mix of informative sources and lighthearted discussions, Hoeschen and Ireland hoped to break down discomfort about sex. 

 “There are such shame and stigma attached with talking about sex, talking about enjoying sex, but also talking about not enjoying sex, and I wanted to offer tools for people to maybe learn about themselves and understand how they can accept their own version of desire and what pleasure looks like for them,” Ireland said. 

Given the positive engagement of this event, Hoeschen and Ireland hope to offer more programming of this type, aimed to help guide members of the community towards sexual liberation.