Sex educator advocates for social courage

Cindy+Pierce

Cindy Pierce

Ellen Lindblom

Sex-positive educator and social courage advocate Cindy Pierce presented her one-woman show on Wednesday, Sept. 11, to a crowd of approximately 60 students and community members.

The main discussion points of the presentation were education and perspective on sex, relationships, social media, porn, hook-up culture and consent.

Pierce first started talking to college students about sex 14 years ago and found that most of the kids she talked to were having “so much crappy sex.”

“My assumption was that college students have the internet. They have everything they need; they’re all dialed in. But I was horrified when I started to hear their questions,” Pierce said. “The lack of knowledge about sex among people who were having lots of it was pretty unsettling.”

Because she looked like she could be their mother, she found that most college students felt comfortable asking her questions about sex.

Known for her comedic storytelling and sharing her personal experiences, Pierce is also armed with information that might be new to some, including where the clitoris is.

The underlying theme of Pierce’s message is social
courage: speaking up if someone is racist, sexist, homophobic, transphobic or intervening in a situation that you are uncomfortable with. Social courage is something that needs practicing, Pierce said, because speaking up is hard.

“It works when you get yourself into awkward soup, swim to the other side and realize you survived, and say to yourself, ‘I can do that again,’” Pierce said.

Pierce was brought to campus by Empowering the Confidant: a program brought to NMU through the State of Michigan Campus Sexual Assault Grant Program. It is sponsored by a group of student organization and university programs, including the Dean of Students office.

While at NMU she also gave a presentation to all the student athletes and coaches, as well as Housing and Residence Life staff.

“I could really see a response when I’m talking about porn and pleasure. Kids are locked in,” Pierce said.
Pierce and her family also own and run an inn back in her home state of New Hampshire, and said her plate is pretty full. But, she said there’s something about sex education that keeps her
on the road.

“When you see the weight come off of someone’s shoulders—whether they’re worried about their sexual adequacy, whether they’re worried about erectile dysfunction, whether they’re worried they’re not capable of orgasm—when you see them make the connections and realize they’re not alone, that’s gold to me,” Pierce said. “I think so many people are carrying the weight of thinking they should know a lot more than they do. Giving them information is power and I can see how it changes the direction for people. If one person was reached today and decides to do something differently, all the power; that’s awesome.”

One of the students in attendance was senior outdoor recreation major Lauren Bichler.

“It’s so exciting to hear someone sex positive on campus because I’m really into sex positivity,” Bichler said.