On Monday night at 8:30 p.m., students filtered into the lofted upstairs of Cityside Bar and were promptly offered goodie bags unlike any handed out at a children’s birthday bash: Attendees of the sexual health bingo and trivia night reacted with glee as they dumped condoms and promotional “Just Wear It” stickers onto the tables.
Students grouped into teams, each with their own sexy names—anything from “Quesadildo” (a team made up of one enthusiastic Cityside waitress) to “Sex in the Cityside.” The focal point of the room was a table covered in a menagerie of sex paraphernalia for which participants would compete in an hour and a half of sexual health trivia bingo.
Although they would be competing individually for the prizes, one of the event’s organizers encouraged participants to share or exchange their loot with team members. “Except for the vibrator,” he said. “Don’t share that.”
Students For Sexual Health, the student group putting on the event, is a nonofficial club (meaning the BC administration has not approved it) that aims to promote better sexual health amongst college students by offering physical and educational resources. Most commonly, they’re known as the renegade group of students that distributes condoms on College Road.
Whether handing out contraception to bashful freshman on their way to Upper or remodeling the sterile sex-ed experience into a convivial bar outing, SSH serves up sexual health as something accessible, worthy of discussion and (would you believe it?) fun.
The events’ emcees (or as they called themselves, the Co-Mistresses of Ceremony) set a lighthearted tone by telling sexual jokes as people settled in with their bingo cards. “What do a penis and Rubik’s Cube have in common?” asked one of the hosts. “The more you play with them, the harder they get!”
When the laughter subsided, it was time to gear up for the main event. One of the first questions asked was, “What percentage of women consistently reach orgasm by vaginal penetration?” The answer? 25%, in response to which a club member joked, “If you’re in the lucky 25%, raise your hand.” The hands of two of the men in the room shot up while none of the women identified with this minority.
As the night progressed, the trivia questions fluctuated between myth dispelling (it turns out bleeding when a women loses her virginity is most often caused by vaginal irritation, not the hymen breaking), statistically startling and utterly comical.
Confusion about the bingo square labeled “BC oral,” was clarified by a club member who explained, “BC stands for birth control, not Boston College, because we don’t have birth control.”
Whoops of agreement with this jab at the University’s policy of not offering birth control on campus was followed by another student shouting, “But if you ask Father Leahy, BC is birth control.”
One of the more staggering statistics shared was that only 25% of instances of vaginal intercourse in the United States are protected, a statistic that SSH members insisted must change.
The group’s efforts to increase the percentage of sexual encounters that are protected on BC’s campus continue to bump up against administrative barriers. SSH President Erin Barry, MCAS ’16, said the group is “not allowed to book venues on campus because they are not a registered student group.”
Still, the group hosts a bingo night in the fall, and a similar trivia night every spring, without fail. Since the closing of Roggie’s, the event’s old venue, Cityside took the group in. “Having it at a bar makes it fun,” said Barry. “We get to confront people with the facts, but present them in an honest, not intimidating way.”
The subject matter was serious in nature, but throughout the evening the room roared with laughter and playful chatter as competitors noshed on M&M candies and bar food.
Finally, all at once, bingos started popping up throughout the room and the victors rushed up to the front table to claim their prizes. The first to go was a hot pink vibrator called the Devilish Rabbit. One victor toyed confusedly with a so-called pleasure egg—“It expands!” he exclaimed, reading the instructions—while another laughed with friends over her “House of Wicked” DVD.
After collecting their sex toys and goodie bags, students leaving the event laughed about the absurdity of their prizes and talked about all they had learned throughout the evening, or even more so, about all they realized they didn’t know. Sexually-charged and studious as college kids may be, trivia night showed that hitting the books is just as necessary to good sexual health as it is to passing a chemistry exam. Study up, BC!