Just moments after entering the stage, Laci Green projected a photograph of a vulva (as Green emphasized, not a vagina) onto the wall, establishing her intent to educate the students of the University of Redlands without concerning herself with respectability politics. Laci Green came to the university to speak about sex on Sept. 12 as a part of RAINN (Rape, Abuse, Incest National Network) Awareness Week. Her presentation centered on giving the audience the tools to have the “best sex ever,” including understanding the female anatomy, practicing safe sex, and of course, consent.
Green graduated with highest honors from the University of California, Berkeley in 2011 with a degree in Legal Studies and Education. While in college, she began her YouTube channel “Sex Plus,” which has over one million subscribers and viewers in 196 countries today. After graduating, Green worked with Planned Parenthood, the Discovery Channel, and has been the host of MTV’s first original YouTube show, “Braless”, since 2014. Earlier this year, she was named one of TIME’s “30 Most Influential People on the Internet.” In addition to her online work, Green speaks at a minimum of 70 different venues each year, focusing on universities and conferences.
Throughout her speech, Green consistently evoked laughter, provoked squirming, and encouraged audience participation by asking them to name genital anatomy and STI (Sexually Transmitted Infections) symptoms. She deftly maneuvered her way from amusing anecdotes of searching for pictures of an average penis to more serious discussions of HIV/AIDs and sexual assault. Green managed to speak in such a way as to give respect to the more serious topics while also keeping the audience engaged, positive and having a good time.
Green used a video entitled “Open Condom Style,” a parody of the song “Gangnam Style,” in which the music was made completely out of condoms to emphasize the importance of their use. She followed this video with a demonstration of how to properly put on a condom, as well as how to construct a makeshift dental dam out of a condom. Later on in the talk, she invited an audience member to repeat the demonstration, which Marissa Salomom, a graduate student at the School of Education, did to great applause.
Audience interaction was also used in the more sobering discussion of consent. On random seats lay either green or red cards numbered from 1 to 10 with a phrase on it. Green asked the people sitting on the cards to read out their phrase when their number was called. Green card phrases demonstrated consensual language like, “that feels good” and, “can I touch you here?” The red cards had such examples of non-consensual language as, “I’m having sex tonight no matter what” and “that hurts.”
The most powerful moment of the evening came when Green asked someone to read out the tenth red card. Twenty seconds passed, and no one said anything.
“Oh shit,” exclaimed someone as her point started to dawn on the audience, to which there was some cathartic laughter and a fake ‘mic drop’ from Green.
“That’s right. Silence. Silence is the No. 1 most common reaction of victims of sexual assault,” Green said. She went on to emphasize that communication is key, and that “becoming better communicators will be better for everyone.”
Green ended her speech with a call for people to spread her message, educate people on sexual health and call out predatory behavior, as well as proclaiming that if you mix together all the elements she covered, she believes, “you will have the recipe for the best sex ever.”
“Results may vary,” she added in a stage whisper before thanking the audience and leaving the stage to uproarious applause.
[photo courtesy of Maddie Ryan, Redlands Bulldog photographer]