The show must go on.
When hazardous weather conditions prevented Megan Andelloux from flying into Knoxville on Monday for her "Get Wet: Pleasure, Health, & Advocacy" seminar as part of Sex Week, Reid Mihalko quickly stepped into play.
Mihalko presented Sunday night's "Hook-up Culture" event, and, as a close friend of Andelloux's, was eager to speak again.
At 8 p.m. in the University Center Auditorium, Mihalko lectured on the importance of understanding one's body, other people's bodies, sexual safety and much more. Ultimately, Mihalko said, he wants people to be comfortable enough in their own skin to know what they want and how to ask for it.
"You can be a virgin for the rest of your life, I don't care," Mihalko said. "You can be a huge slut like me, I don't care. ... What's important is you figuring out what works for you and doing that with people who like that around them."
Speaking on Andelloux's original topic, Mihalko added his own spin and style. He began his talk by having the audience yell out "penis" or "vagina" to warm up, and then began outlining the female and male reproductive anatomy. However, his lecture grew increasingly less medical as he described the most effective ways of "creating pleasure."
"Most people want to feel more confident and competent in bed," Mihalko said. "So, one of the things is, as you start to learn about pleasure and how bodies work and start being less squeamish about talking about it, that's actually like a revolutionary act."
Mihalko also explained the importance of appreciating someone's individual sexual organs that, like fingerprints, are always unique. Mihalko avoided using gender-specific pronouns like he or she, but instead used the terminology "penis owners," and "vulva owners."
"If anybody ever shows you their genitals, and it's consensual, please compliment them," he said. "Because we have so much body shame and sexual shame, everyone is like shy about stuff, and really be the person to say, 'Your genitals rock.'"
Alyssa Loveday, a freshman biology major, said she appreciated the raw topics that Mihalko confronted throughout his lecture.
"It's very shocking to hear someone speak so candidly about things like genitalia, but it is also so refreshing," Loveday said. "It makes you want to talk about it with more people, honestly."
Mihalko asserted that once you recognize your own anatomy and pleasure and are able to communicate that, self-esteem and confidence are sure to increase as a result.
"When you feel more competent playing with somebody, it ups your confidence," Mihalko said. "By learning how to play with your own body and other peoples' bodies, and learning how to talk about what our wants, needs and desires are, and helping other people speak about them, you actually raise your self-esteem."
Anna Agusta, a sophomore majoring in nutrition, said she enjoyed the general atmosphere in the audience.
"Everyone here seems to recognize that sex is something to celebrate and not feel ashamed about," Agusta said. "Everyone was really comfortable and recognized that it's a healthy part of life."
Mihalko spoke about the importance of using condoms and getting tested for STDs. He encouraged even those who are virgins or celibate to get tested at least once a year. Most STDs, Mihalko stated, are treatable if caught in time.
In Mihalko's opinion, sex is very important and very personal, and open dialogue is indispensable when understanding sexuality and practicing safe and pleasurable sex.
"You having the kinds of sex that you want, or abstaining from sex but still knowing this stuff so if and when there comes a day where you want to put this to use, you can, that shift changes the world," Mihalko said. "You are entitled to the sex that you like. You are entitled to the relationship style that you like."
Andelloux is expected to arrive and present a Sex Week talk on Tuesday.