Everybody loves pizza

Nationally renowned dating and relationship expert speaks to students.

Catherine Stolz, News Editor

Sexuality educator Al Vernacchio managed to incorporate humor and pizza into his presentation on Sept. 20 titled “Just Sexy: Sex and Relationships that Work.” His presentation was sponsored by the Title IX office, Hamline Undergraduate Student Congress (HUSC) and Safety and Security, and aimed at advocating for healthy sex and promoting a culture of sex positivity.

Vernacchio, who has taught human sexuality for the past twenty years and given four TED talks on the subject, opened his talk with a moment of silence to allow students to center themselves before diving into a discussion on sexuality and the way society perceives sex.

“I didn’t get into this work to keep people from having orgasms,” Vernacchio said. “Healthy people can incorporate sex into the rest of their lives.”

He began by outlining the ways in which society currently thinks about sex, explaining that sex is either seen as something dangerous or damaging, or as disconnected and separated from other aspects of our lives.

Vernacchio then presented the “nourishment model” to students, explaining that sex is a natural need that must be tended to, just like the need for food and water, before segueing into his pizza analogy.

Vernacchio aims at replacing baseball metaphors for sex with pizza metaphors, which he argues are more inclusive.

“When you start talking about sex as baseball, it can be really problematic,” Vernacchio said.

He explained that in a game of baseball there are winners and losers, a constant progression with an end goal and a culture of competition. Pizza, on the other hand, offers a variety of choices, a culture of sharing and consumers can stop when they are satisfied. Vernacchio said his pizza model is inclusive of all aspects of gender, where baseball metaphors tend to center on heterosexual sex.

“The most important part of the pizza model though, is that you always talk about what you want before you get pizza,” said Vernacchio. “If you can’t look someone in the eye and talk about sex, you probably aren’t ready to do it with them.”

Through his pizza metaphor, Vernacchio also aims at revising genital expectations that often come with a culture centering on heterosexuality.

“We live in a society where there’s a lot of penis pride, a lot of genital arrogance,” he said. “We need to decrease arrogance and increase awareness of differences and pride.”

Student Athlete Advisory Committee (SAAC) Vice President Keenan Jones, attended Vernacchio’s presentation along with many members of SAAC, and hopes more student athletes continue to participate in Title IX discussions.

“I thought that it was wonderful,” Jones said. “Al was able to engage Hamline students with the presentation and make learning about sexual awareness fun and entertaining. He was successfully able to make a sensitive topic feel enjoyable.”

This was Vernacchio’s seventh visit to Minnesota, making Minnesota his most visited state.  He spoke at the University of St. Thomas the following day before heading back to Pennsylvania, where he teaches human sexuality and English classes at Friends’ Central High School.