Voices of Strength (VOS) is a peer-led-student group that educates the student body at ‘Berg to promote safer, healthier relationships and positive sexual interactions for all students. Members are trained and educated on how to discuss subjects related to consent, sexual health, campus services, intimate partner violence and Title IX.
On Thursday, Mar. 4, VOS peer educators gathered for their second virtual self-pleasure event as part of a semester-long series.The event, entitled “Songs & Sex, Self Pleasure Edition,” was facilitated by long-time VOS member Renee Levine.
Levine said, “This event was inspired from my podcast, ‘Fine-Tuned: Between the Lyrics,’ and I am so thankful that I was able to combine my love for what I do in my personal career with the VOS and Muhlenberg community.”
“This event is a good representation of VOS because it shows that we can hold events that can peak the interest of any student on campus.”
Her first episode of this format on her podcast was with Jules Purnell, associate director of Prevention Education at Muhlenberg, on Cardi B and Megan Thee Stallion’s song “WAP.” She presented more songs to analyze at a virtual VOS event in the fall semester, and the event was so successful that the group decided to make it a series. This was the inspiration for the March 4 event.
The songs featured in the discussion were “Body of my Own” by Charli XCX, “Soulmate” by Lizzo, “Love Myself” by Hailee Steinfeld and “Fingers” by Pink. Everyone listened to all the songs at first, then people were put into breakout rooms to have discussions about one of the songs they were assigned lyrics to analyze.
This provided for more personal conversations to occur where students could really analyze and talk about the themes of self-pleasure seenin pop music today. In the breakout room analyzing “Soulmate” by Lizzo, the group discussed how the song relates to self pleasure, demonstrates the theme of female empowerment and fights the stigma that women have to “have a man for self pleasure.”
Everyone reconvened towards the end and discussed themes about self-pleasure that were brought up in all of the songs.
“She [Levine] has a vast understanding of music combined with her ability to create a very open and welcoming space to talk about sex.”
One of the VOS student leaders, Chrissy Nagrowski ‘22, expressed that VOS members “felt the event went really well.” Nagrowski also expressed praise towards Levine, saying, “She has a vast understanding of music combined with her ability to create a very open and welcoming space to talk about sex.”
The event was reflective of VOS’s message and goals, as the event showed how passionate this peer-led student group is in encouraging and addressing sex positivity.
Nagrowski said, “This event is a good representation of VOS because it shows that we can hold events that can peak the interest of any student on campus.”
Levine said, “The event went so awesome in my eyes. It was so wonderful speaking about taboo topics of self pleasure and the embracing of sexuality in music. I really appreciate the openness and excitement everyone brought into the conversation.”
The student-led group will continue to hold events and awareness campaigns throughout the rest of the semester. This Friday, Mar. 19, VOS will be tabling in Seegers Union and distributing STI resources from 12:30 p.m. to 2:30 p.m. for students on campus.
Tabling will be followed by an event entitled “Breaking Down Barriers: Erasing STI Stigma,” on Thursday, Mar. 25, at 8:00 p.m.