This past Tuesday, April 26, New York Times best-selling author of “Come As You Are: The surprising new science that will transform your sex life,” and TEDX speaker, Dr. Emily Nagoski visited the Keene State College Alumni Center to present “Sex Beyond Consent.”

Coordinator for Sexual Violence and Prevention with the center for health and wellness Forrest Seymour explained that this presentation was to provide students with the opportunity to learn about the science of sexual pleasure and communication, as well as connect with their own and/or a partner’s sexuality in order to maximize pleasure and agency.

KSC Coordinator of Wellness Education Tiffany Mathews said the event was a culmination of weekly discussions that happened throughout the semester regarding sexual health.

Mathews said, “Every week we held ‘sex chats and aphrodisiacs,’ which really gave students a time and place to discuss sexual health issues. With that being said, this speaker was invited to campus to essentially pull together everything that we were doing this semester.”

Mathews said she knows Dr. Nagoski personally since they both work in the “Health Education world.” She said in addition, “knowing her as a New York Times Best Selling Author and TEDX Speaker, I realized this would be a great opportunity to have her here.”

Tim smith / photo editor

Tim smith / photo editor

Furthermore, Mathews said she wishes more people would have shown up, but hopes to invite Dr. Emily Nagoski back “to speak on consent, and how complex the sex issue is, since it is not just a simple “yes and no” matter.”

KSC senior Pamela Delisme, an intern for Tiffany Matthews at the Counseling Center, said she “really enjoyed the presentation and would have loved to hear more. It was wicked interesting”.

Throughout her presentation of “Sex Beyond Consent”, Nagoski introduced sex metaphorically as “tea” using the song “Tea Consent” by Emmeline May and Blue Seat Studios. Nagoski used this metaphor as a way to convey a complicated teaching in a more pleasant way.

Nagoski explained, “Tea is easier to say yes or no to than sex. What does it take for us to create a world where you can go over to somebody’s house and person A says, ‘Hey would you like some tea?’ and person B says, ‘You know what, not so much the tea, but I would love some sugar and milk in your cups, how would that be for you?’ and person A says, ‘I would love some sugar and milk in my tea cups, sir.’”

She continued saying, “How do you even know when you want ‘tea,’ how do you know what kind of ‘tea’ you like, and what do you do with that?”

KSC first-year and member of Mentors in Violence Prevention (MVP) Morgan Sulham said, “I would like to do the work that Dr. Emily Nagoski is doing when I’m older, and of course wanted to meet this fabulous woman in person!”

Sulham said this presentation was far more than she had expected it to be, and appreciated Nagoski delving into the scientific aspect of “Sex Beyond Consent” since she finds that so many people don’t even take that into consideration.

More so, Sulham loved the whole “Arousal Non-Concordance” piece. She feels it’s important for people to understand that being turned on and liking the sexual activity are two different things.

When asked if she thinks this is important for more than just the small collective to have seen, Sulham said, “Absolutely, I really want to talk to Forrest Seymour about incorporating this into MVP Programs because this is a big part of victim blaming, and I just wish that everyone saw this – everyone.”

Jeane Cleveland, a resident of Keene, described Dr. Emily Nagoski’s work as quite effective. Cleveland said, “This was such a healthy, helpful way to talk about tuning into one’s own body. Nagoski has such a delightful presentation style while also being an amazing, spunky, outspoken, young woman; this was beautifully done.”

Dr. Nagoski reminded the audience that they should be sure to stand up for themselves sexually, especially since sex “is a really complicated idea because pleasure is not as straightforward as it is said to be.”

She continued, “Remember if nothing else…pleasure is the measure of sexual well-being; you know what you like and never do anything you don’t.”

Amber Stocking can be contacted at

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