Autostraddle Live!: Come See Me Talk About Sex at Yale For Sex Week

My senior year of high school when I learned the uniform requirement had been lifted for Halloween and needed to throw together a quickie costume (read: find a way to wear a hoodie and call it “a costume”), I strapped on some khakis, slipped on some boat shoes and fake glasses and donned the Yale Hoodie my then-boyfriend had brought me from his campus visit and said I was going as a “smart person.”

In the twelve years since that Halloween, I have clearly evolved into a genuinely smart person and therefore will be addressing a room of other smart people this Sunday, February 5th at 6:00 PM. I will probably not be wearing a hoodie. You should be there, it’s only a hop/skip/jump away from New York City.

If you had plans to watch the Super Bowl, you should probably change your plans.

“Writing Sex”: A Panel on Sex-Positive Writing @ SexWeek 2012

Date and TimeSunday, February 5, at 6:00 PM

Student Co-sponsors: Sappho (queer women’s social group and blog), Q Magazine (Yale’s LGBTQ magazine)

Speakers: Riese Bernard, Lena Chen, Miriam Zoila Perez

Event DescriptionLet’s be honest, talking about sex can be really difficult. Talking about sex in an inclusive, sensitive, and informative way is even more difficult. This panel, made up of prominent feminist and queer writers who tackle the world of sex with their words on a daily basis, will provide a space in which to explore the question of sex-positive advocacy through writing, a highly relevant issue for many students on this campus. Panelists will offer their own experiences of the challenges and successes of writing about sex, and then enter into a discussion of relevant questions: what is sex-positive writing? How can we write in sex-positive ways? And, perhaps most importantly, how can writing about sex be a form of activism in and of itself? The panel will be moderated by a writer from Q Magazine.

As you may remember from when Yale Alum Brittani (aka an actual real life Smart Person, not just one who dresses up like a smart person for Halloween) wrote about it, Yale cancelled Sex Week this year. This decision seemed primarily inspired by a Title IX lawsuit filed against Yale last year which cited Yale as a sexually hostile environment for women which prevents women from participating in campus life as fully as men. Canceling Sex Week was a really bizarre way to address this, as Brittani pointed out in her piece. One consistent complaint about Sex Week was that it had become too porn-focused.

But Sex Week‘s passionate believers seduced the administration back into their harem via a revamped, revised and very-well-written Sex Week 2012 Proposal. They promised to focus less on porn and more on queer and female sexuality and, most importantly, planned to put on the program without corporate sponsorship. A group called Undergraduates for a Better Yale are still against Sex Week and will be hosting an alternative event called True Love Week which “will feature fun events, great speakers, engaging student panels, and abundant opportunities to meet and interact with other Yalies and grow in fulfilling friendships.”

My fellow panelists will be Feministing Editor Miriam Zoila Perez and my cyber-acquaintance “reluctant sexpert,” feminist and queer advocate Lena Chen.

Here’s what we’re all about:

Lena Chen is a Boston-based writer and the author of the blog Sex and the Ivy, which she wrote as an undergraduate at Harvard, which she graduated from in 2010. She has contributed personal essays and reportage on sex and gender to a variety of online and print publications, including The American ProspectThe Boston Globe MagazineThe Sydney Morning HeraldGlamour, and Salon. She produces Sex Really with Lena Chen for, a project of The National Campaign To Prevent Teen & Unplanned Pregnancy, and hosts Sexy Times, a web series about health, sex, and relationships debuting in January 2012 on, Alloy Digital’s award-winning alternative web portal for adolescent girls. She organized the Rethinking Virginity Conference, is the co-founder of Feminist Pride Day (formerly Feminist Coming Out Day) and the Feminist Portrait Project, which have since become incorporated into the Feminist Majority Foundation’s national campus programming. Lena has served on the Leadership Council for Bitch Magazine, been recognized as a young feminist leader by More Magazine, and named a Progressive Women’s Voices fellow at the Women’s Media Center. Her current blog, The Chicktionary, is a chronicle of her daily life and likes, as well as all things feminist, queer, or otherwise radical.

Miriam Zoila Pérez has been working in the reproductive justice movement for over seven years, both online and off, including more than five years working with the National Latina Institute for Reproductive Health (NLIRH). She works as a consultant for NLIRH and other social justice non-profits, focusing on online communications. She is the founder of Radical Doula, a blog that covers the intersections of birth activism and social justice from a doula’s perspective. You might also know her from her work at, where she is an Editor. Her writing has appeared in Bitch Magazine, The Nation, RH Reality Check, Alternet, The American Prospect and she is a frequent contributor to Colorlines. Pérez’s work has appeared in a number of anthologies, including Click, Yes Means Yes and Persistence. She was chosen as a 2010 Lambda Literary Foundation Emerging LGBT Voice in Non-Fiction.

Riese Bernard
is the founder, editor-in-chief and CEO of, the world’s most popular independently-owned lesbian website. She’s an award-winning writer, blogger, fictionist, copywriter, video-maker and aspiring cyber-performance artist who grew up in Michigan, got wise in New York City, and now lives in the San Francisco area. Her work has appeared in ten books, magazines including Marie Claire, GO, Curve, $pread, Interlude, Listen, NeXt, The Sarah Lawrence Review and College Bound Teen; and all over the web including, Jezebel, OurChart, Emily Books, The L Word Online and Suspect Thoughts. She has produced videos for Autostraddle, Broadway World and Wingspan Pictures and starred in Showtime’s record-breaking Lezberado webseries. Her personal blog, This Girl Called Automatic Win, is a thing and won a lot of awards. A graduate of Interlochen Arts Academy, The University of Michigan and The Olive Garden’s week-long training intensive; she enjoys eating foods, having big ideas, reading books & talking to her stuffed dog, Tinkerbell.

This is the description of Sex Week:

Sex Week 2012 (SWAY) seeks to cultivate a forum for engaging and meaningful discussions about sexuality, intimacy, and relationships. Our goal is to provide students with events and resources that increase self-awareness and understanding of sexual topics. We hope to promote students’ agency in making educated decisions and to foster a sexual environment that is respectful, well-informed, and intellectually engaged.

We recognize that this is not a goal that can be achieved in one week. This conversation is and should be ongoing because sex and sexuality are contextualized within the dynamics of our personal and social lives. However, Sex Week 2012 is an opportunity to shed new light on this conversation and share a common space for the multiplicity of discourses that engage the wide diversity of our student body.

Sexual culture is not homogeneous. We differ not only in the way we understand sexual culture, but also in the way we negotiate our place inside of it. Conversations about sexuality matter to us because they implicate ideas about what we should and should not do with our bodies; ideas that affect not only our physical, emotional, and mental well-being, but also the social environment around us.

Okay see you there!

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Riese is the 41-year-old Co-Founder of as well as an award-winning writer, video-maker, LGBTQ+ Marketing consultant and aspiring cyber-performance artist who grew up in Michigan, lost her mind in New York and now lives in Los Angeles. Her work has appeared in nine books, magazines including Marie Claire and Curve, and all over the web including Nylon, Queerty, Nerve, Bitch, Emily Books and Jezebel. She had a very popular personal blog once upon a time, and then she recapped The L Word, and then she had the idea to make this place, and now here we all are! In 2016, she was nominated for a GLAAD Award for Outstanding Digital Journalism. She's Jewish and has a cute dog named Carol. Follow her on twitter and instagram.

Riese has written 3183 articles for us.


  1. I like the photo – it looks like it was snapped moments before Riese straddled that pair of unclothed legs.

    • WORD.

      also, i love the descriptor “the world’s most popular independently-owned lesbian website” and i think it would be even better with more superlatives.

  2. I wish I could go! Please stream/film it so we can all watch :)

    And WOW You’ve all done so much impressive stuff :)

  3. oh my goodness, this was my response when my ladyfriend told me

    “OMGOMGOMG WHATWHATWHAT hyperventilating I need to write her a note ZOMGZOMGZOMG Please help me see Riese’s face and cry at her with tears of feelings”

    This past summer, I spent a few days without sleep and very little food reading all of autowin in essentially one sitting…
    Autostraddle has really helped me fix myself/address myself/feel less crazy. But enough about me… I love you, Riese. Eternally in your debt.

    • Ladyfriend above and I are part of this Sappho business that’s cosponsoring you and we love you and would like to take you to dinner/perform a queerladythemed interpretive dance in your honor/sit and gaze at you adoringly/go get drunk with you at gay bars…

      I don’t know if it’s related, but this is what cookedbread gchatted me after aforementioned weekend of autowin: “I feel like I’ve broken up with a schizophrenic lover… I’m kind of emotionally destroyed and I’ve just been eating ice cream and crying for a few days…”

  4. I. AM. SO THERE.

    Our school gets a lot of shitty press (often for very valid reasons), but can I just take a second to talk about how awesome our ladygays are at planning events? Last year Krista Burton from EffingDykes came to campus and was amazeballs, and now RIESE FROM AUTOSTRADDLE?? It’s like my Internet history has been brought to life. PROPS TO SWAY.

  5. ok riese but the really important question is which pizza joint. just have them take you to BAR on york street; accept nothing less. (maybe modern on state is also ok but really, go to BAR.) also there’s a bar called the owl shop which does fancy old cocktails & cigars, you should go there too. i can also tell you where to get thai food, friendly alcohol, ice cream, nachos, salad, vegan everything, burritos. and how to find the secret great architecture. god i miss my city ok new haven love that’s all

    • Whoa. Whoa. You cannot POSSIBLY be implying that BAR is superior to Pepe’s. Impossible. Pepe’s is an institution. Though BAR is also delicious. Basically New Haven has infinite delicious pizza.

      • I think I’m gonna have to go with BAR. Mashed potato and bacon. White pie with chicken and broccoli. Classic cheese. There is never a point in which you say, “whoa I think I’ve had enough.” The pizza runs out and you kind of just accept it because you don’t have a choice and have someone with self-control roll you down the street back to your home.

      • ok hold on, i am a sally’s girl THROUGH AND THROUGH so you can shove it with the pepe’s nonsense. for riese’s purposes – high quality craft beer available, within walking distance of the likely lecture hall/168 york/the study, & wait time under a half hour

      • the people hosting the panel? also skull n bones probably. RIESE YOU’RE GOING TO MEET KATIE MILLER. I TRIED TO CONVINCE MY RUGBY TEAM TO HAVE SPRING BREAK AT MY HOUSE INSTEAD OF IN JAMAICA SO WE COULD PLAY YALE. i know you aren’t the sort of person to do this or at least your internet self isn’t? but please check her out real good and uh report back

  6. PS Riese I’m part of a drag/burlesque/queer cabaret group at Yale and many of us love you and you are totally invited to come to our show/afterparty.

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