Ashley Manta presented the Having An Affair With Yourself lecture on Tuesday, April 4 as a part of Sex Week.

While Justin Bieber may have meant “go and love yourself” as an insult, Ashley Manta came to campus to tell students why it's not.

As part of Sex Week, hosted by the Campus Events Board, guest speaker and sex educator Manta came to campus on Tuesday, April 4. The Pennsylvania native now calls Southern California home where she advocates for both positive sex and the use of cannabis. Her mission has been to spread ideas like inclusiveness and personal growth across the country and to tear down stigmas against sex in our society.

Manta navigates these topics in a fun, entertaining way and isn’t afraid to say the occasional swear word. Along with her title as a sex educator, Manta is also a writer, coach and facilitator.

During her lecture, “Having an Affair With Yourself,” Manta spoke about body confidence, sexual empowerment and connection through stories of personal experience. The talk, however, did not just entail Manta standing at a podium and flipping through a slideshow. Rather, she encouraged open dialogue between audience members and asked them to share their feelings, questions and experiences with others.

Of course, she did set guidelines for this sharing: “Don’t say ‘ew’ to someone’s ‘yum,'” own your experience and be honest. Audience members complied with Manta’s requests and stepped out of their comfort zones to participate in a uniquely free setting.

Manta also spoke about her experience as a plus size woman living in Los Angeles. She shared that her own self-doubt led her to miss out on valuable opportunities both professionally and personally. In addition, Manta opened up about her genital herpes diagnosis and the difficulties that come with the stigma of STDs.

Manta’s talk attracted a fair amount of listeners, including Crystal Marie Alberson, sophomore in theatre, who said she was surprised by the content of the lecture.

“I honestly thought (the lecture) was going to be more frisky than ‘love yourself’, but once she started going it was really nice to listen to everyone’s individual opinions and experiences on self-love,” Alberson said.

She said that Manta's personal approach to sexual education was different and refreshing.

“I think that this event was perfect for Sex Week, because so often we think it is going to be about safety and ‘techniques,’” Alberson said. “This event brought importance to ourselves, and the idea that we deserve to be our own best partners.”

Another audience member Evan Oliver, sophomore in psychology, works with CEB to plan events like Sex Week every year and said that he was glad Manta's lecture was so impactful on the audience.

“CEB chose her because we knew that she could offer some alternative ideas than what we are familiar with as a southern university. This event also touched on an often overlooked part of the sexual experience: self love,” Oliver said. “The content of her talk definitely made me think about the way I treat myself, and I could tell that others in the audience were influenced.”

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