By Kelly Magee | email@example.com
Flagler College is known for its rich history, but what many may not know is that Flagler students are making history.
Taryn Kalsch, president of Flagler’s new club Liberated Bodies, has been inspired by her friends and family and wants to spread that positivity to Flagler students.
Liberated Bodies is a student run club and the first sexual education and consent advocacy club at Flagler. They spread their message through a variety of projects such as “The Vagina Monologues” and the upcoming “Me Too Monologues.”
“I have so many friends and so many family members that have gone through horror stories and yet have been able to turn it into something so beautiful and have been able to grow from that and be strong,” Kalsch said. “But I still know people on our campus who don’t feel like they’re understood or that they’re being heard, and so creating a safe space where they can do that was super important to me and just letting people know that they’re not alone.”
The idea for the club started last year when “The Vagina Monologues” was first performed on campus, because throughout the rehearsal and performance process, it became clear to those involved that conversations about sex education and consent were not happening.
“The Vagina Monologues” sparked the desire to continue the conversation and slowly but surely, Liberated Bodies was formed.
The goal of the club is to normalize conversations regarding sexual health, sex education and consent by creating a safe space to discuss typically taboo topics.
The club’s meetings are an open and inviting environment where people can feel safe to talk about things that might scare them and it’s a chance to learn about things that you might not already know or learn elsewhere, said Darice Fowler, social media and PR director of Liberated Bodies.
Fowler works with Flagler’s Student Government Association to advocate for Title IX, which prohibits discrimination on the basis of sex and can include sexual misconduct, to help give a voice to those that may not always have theirs heard.
“Every person has a different experience. The more people we get involved, the more we can learn as a group,” Fowler said.
Vice President Eileen O’Connell also advocates for Title IX and consent on campus.
“Title IX is something that should be taken seriously because it’s something that happens. It shouldn’t be joked about,” O’Connell said.
She hopes that by talking about the topics that Liberated Bodies focuses on, students will become more educated and fewer problems will occur.
“People think that we can’t talk about things that happen because it was wrong and it’s awkward, but that doesn’t mean it’s not valid,” O’Connell said.
For many involved in the club, including O’Connell, friends and family are a huge inspiration. Learning how to build a support system is just as important as education.
“I haven’t personally had any incidents, but a lot of my friends have and I know how difficult it can be to go through. So for me it’s about being more supportive for my friends and learning how to be there for them,” O’Connell said.
Kalsch hopes that Liberated Bodies will help give students an understanding of what consent and sexuality entail.
Normally when telling people what their club is about, “it usually scares people for about 30 seconds,” according to Kalsch. “Then we talk about it and make them know that this is what we’re here for and we are here to talk about sex and we are here to talk about sexuality and all the things that we shy away from.”
Kalsch first noticed a shift in the right direction at Flagler after performing in “The Vagina Monologues” last year.
“A couple of us from the cast walked into D-Hall, and there was a group of guys and girls sitting at one of the long tables and they were quoting the show and having conversations about it,” Kalsch said.
Kalsch and other club members knew they still had quite a way to go at the first Liberated Bodies meeting after playing an icebreaker game that posed the question, “how would you like to be touched for three minutes?”
“The people in the room looked at each other, and then looked at me and Eileen and the other executive board members like ‘Are you insane? We’re not doing this.’ We got into the game, and it was so awkward and people didn’t know what to do; I even felt awkward. Afterwards we sat down and were like ‘that’s how you know that it is so awkward and taboo to talk about consent.’ It was a safe space and we still felt uncomfortable,” Kalsch said.
However, Liberated Bodies has sparked conversations across campus through their events and since their first meeting in October 2018, the club has gained a diverse membership of nearly 60 people including male female and transgender students.
“We had so many people come up and say ‘Wow, I didn’t consider how important this is, but it definitely is,’” Kalsch said. “Or people that had been through violence say ‘I’m so grateful that this is a conversation that’s being held.’ And just walking around and hearing the name Liberated Bodies pop up has been really, really exciting and we hope that that grows as the club grows.”