For the past two weeks at AHA, the meeting topic has been sex, with special focus on sexual relationships. The meeting on April 3rd was led by Co-Volunteering Chairs Brandon and Amanda (“Bramanda”), who will be getting married in May of 2015. March 27th’s meeting was led by Tech Chair Elle and Officer Margaret.
The first meeting started out with a special visit from UW-Madison’s Sex Out Loud, who did a fun activity which involved stepping in or out of a circle if you agreed or disagreed with a question. Some example questions include:
Would you date a religious partner?
Would you consider a one night stand?
Is sex important in romantic relationships?
Once Sex Out Loud had finished, the group discussed these questions. The group was asked if they could date someone who was religious, and most people said that they weren’t sure, that it depends on what they believe and how they express it. The group also touched on the role of religion in the feeling of guilt that can accompany sex — most were in agreement that a lot of the guilt over sex is derived from religion.
Next up was the question of pornography and prostitution, and everyone in the room agreed that pornography often sets unrealistic standards for actual sex. The consensus was that porn sex and real sex are pretty different and that this difference can be hard for some to reconcile. Many members agreed that prostitution should be legal, mainly for the rights of sex workers.
The group discussed virginity and abstinence, and most agreed that the idea of purity is applied more to women and that it can often be harmful. In response to this video on Purity Balls, the group was universally revolted. All of the members agreed that purity is a myth and that in the end, it isn’t what makes people happy. Additionally, the group agreed that it is wrong and harmful to use words like “unsoiled” in regards to women who have made the choice to have sex is misogynistic.
On the topic of cohabitation, the group said that it’s important to know if you can live with a person before tying the knot. Beyond that, some group members didn’t see marriage as necessary — ever. This was only the first half of AHA’s discussion on sex, and the group was talking as they left and looking forward to next week.
To start the discussion in the next meeting, the group was asked if there is a secular case for marriage. Some said that, yes, there is a secular case for marriage, because it’s a good way to get tax benefits and to formally commit to a life partner. Others said that they simply did not see the point.
Next up was a question of imagination — what would you do if you got married? Mostly everyone said that they would not be married in a church, but from there, opinions differed. Some said that they’d want some traditional aspects of marriage, but many people said that they’d want to make the wedding their own. One member shared a personal story of his friends’ wedding where they themed it around video games.
The topic of monogamy came up next, and this was new to many people. The presenters introduced some of the basics of polyamory and other non-monogamous love lifestyles. When the group was asked to weigh the pros and cons of monogamy and non-monogamy, many people brought up jealousy as a con — it’s human nature, isn’t it? Some expressed that if they were to be in a non-monogamous relationship that their partner may find someone else and fall out of love with them, though that’s also common in monogamous relationships.
Everyone in the room agreed that trust is important in any relationship. There was a lot of questioning of the intentions of non-monogamous people — are you sure you’re not just after more sex? The monogamous people were questioned too, asked if they thought that going against non-monogamous human nature is really a good way to show love. The question of cheating was addressed, and the group discussed what cheating could mean for the non-monogamous.
Overall, the group agreed that whether or not people decide to be monogamous or not is a personal decision that shouldn’t be judged. The conflicting viewpoints and experiences made for rich discussion as always.