The Center for Sexual Pleasure and Health (CSPH) is a sexuality training and education organization that works to reduce sexual shame, fight misinformation, and advance the sexuality field through educational initiatives, community events, and professional development.
“Put simply, we work to educate people and spark dialogue, especially around topics that may be very difficult, in service of creating a more sexually intelligent society and promoting sexual health and wellness,” said Aida Manduley, training and development manager with the CSPH.
The organization was founded by Megan Andelloux, who according to Manduley, wanted to “create a physical space where people could go to find accurate information about sexuality topics and feel safe doing so, without pressure or judgment.”
“The beginning was rocky due to zoning laws and pushback from some people who oppose the center’s mission, but that only catalyzed the community to show great support and have a broader discussion about what an organization like this could be and our rights to comprehensive sexuality information,” said Manduley.
CSPH opened its doors in 2010, growing from a small office to a much larger organization today, with volunteers, interns and staff helping to run the show. Based in Pawtucket, Rhode Island, the center contains a library and community space, which Manduley said resembles “a mini sex-museum with a 1950s home flair.” The space features educational materials, adult toys, books, and the largest handmade vulva doorframe in America. [pullquote]CSPH offers events, a place to read, personal consultations, and more. Based in Pawtucket, Rhode Island, the center contains a library and community space, which Manduley said resembles “a mini sex-museum with a 1950s home flair.” The space features educational materials, adult toys, books, and the largest handmade vulva doorframe in America.[/pullquote]
In May, CSPH held one of its events, “Sticky Stories,” a night of community members coming together to share their experiences. According to its description, it was designed “to create a space for community members to come together to share funny stories, especially from childhood or adolescence, about wet dreams, strange crushes, embarrassing love letters, coming out, sexual debuts, awkward locker room incidents, menstruation disasters, furtive first kisses, sexual awakenings, or what you thought sex was before you knew what sex was.”
“Participants shared diary entries about junior high crushes, stories of first porn shopping experiences, Catholic college sexual adventures, and life growing up on the nudist ranch,” said Kayla Wingert, former intern and current event and outreach coordinator for CSPH.
Attendees also had the opportunity to browse a raffle table, anonymously share tidbits of their stories by texting in answers to questions, and participate in contests and games.
“The Center’s hope is that Sticky Stories created the space for members of our community to come together to laugh and share stories that are normally deemed too taboo, embarrassing or shameful to speak of,” said Wingert. “For participants, this experience may have been a cathartic one, allowing them to finally tell stories they had otherwise buried or kept to themselves for lack of a safe space to share. For audience members, we hope that stories resonated with them and possibly even encouraged them to start sharing some of their own experiences.”
Due to the positive feedback CSPH received about the event, Wingert says they plan to make it an annual event. [pullquote]“The Center’s hope is that Sticky Stories created the space for members of our community to come together to laugh and share stories that are normally deemed too taboo, embarrassing or shameful to speak of,” said Wingert. [/pullquote]
“We wanted people to share honest stories, laugh, and learn, while also making them think about hard-hitting and important sexuality issues, such as coming out and double-standards in the bedroom,” said Manduley. “As an organization dedicated to reducing sexual shame and increasing frank discussions about sexuality, we felt that it was important to provide a space where people could reflect on their lives and share their stories with others, particularly when those stories dealt with topics that invoked shame, discomfort, or just a lil’ facepalm. There is immense power in storytelling, and we wanted to combine that with the topic of sexuality to allow people to learn from each other instead of just learning ‘from an organization’ or ‘a set of professionals.’
Other events throughout the year include Smut Night, a performance event with a focus on all things smutty, sexy, and erotic; Sex Trivia Night, which happens every fourth Thursday of the month at The Salon in Providence; and Queer Porn Night, an opportunity to view and discuss a selection of erotic films by and for the queer community.
For more information and ticket prices for future events, visit www.thecsph.org.