Rachel Chapman ’18
This upcoming week, Sexual Health Advocacy and Education throughout Harvard College brings together organizations and departments to offer programming covering all aspects of sex at Harvard. The 2015 schedule includes informative panels, open discussions, and opportunities to have a good time with peers. Looking through the tentative timeline, the clear highlights are “But How do I…? Sex Ed Q&A,” “Feeling Myself: Conversations About Masturbation,” “Decolonizing Desire,” and “BDSM.” These events not only offer an academic perspective, but also incorporate the thoughts of classmates, which creates an informed yet relatable experience. In preparation for a week of sexual discussions, I caught up with Kristen Shim, a member of the Confi.co team, to update my own knowledge.
Confi.co is a startup out of the Harvard Innovation Lab VIP program that will be advertising during Sex Week. Confi, a site targeted towards college students, is somewhere in between WebMD and Cosmo in that it provides answers to intimate health care questions without the terror or fluff. The website presents beautiful visual organization and the stories are punctuated with smart graphics. The Confi starters focus on “easy to navigate and easy to read”: the homepage display colorful symbol categories and the articles are short and to the point. All of which are attractive qualities to busy college students.
Harvard Sex Week aims to create open and inclusive conversations by targeting many of the event topics towards women, since conversations about female sexuality have historically been limited. Similarly, Confi’s content is predominantly focused on women’s sexual concerns. However, an incredible 50% of their users are men. Kristen explained that male users are drawn to Confi because it reads like “your girlfriend’s diary.” This concept is brilliant and a possible avenue for attracting more male involvement in Sex Week as well.
Confi is hoping to attract college students across the country, but right now they are building popularity within Harvard. Members of the team have spoken at sororities and are using email lists to get the word out as well. The Confi team has found that outside of a vocal minority on the site, it is still difficult to attract attention to taboo topics. One of the primary concerns is keeping students from seeking sex-related information from online forums. Often the information on these forums is horrifyingly incorrect and insensitive. Many college students ask the question “am I normal?” The misinformation in online forums can be particularly harmful when trying to decipher this dilemma. Confi.co offers information vetted by medical professionals, psychologists, and relationship counselors.
To sate my own curiosity, I explored the website. The articles were informative and easy to read. (I particularly enjoyed the article about different types of contraception.) My favorite part of the site, however, was the Story-Share section. It was reassuring to identify with other women, even over the Internet, since speaking openly about sex is still an activity primarily reserved for men. It’s no wonder why so many women do not find sex pleasurable; how are we supposed to understand how to enjoy sex if we are limited to our own experience? Especially since society often looks down upon women who want to experiment, sexual encounters leave many women wondering if they are normal and misinformation often convinces them that they are abnormal. These are all reasons why we need events like Sex Week and sites like Confi.co: to combat judgment, societal pressures, misinformation, and sexual exclusivity.