Interested in getting shagged? There’s a group for that. But perhaps not the way you think.
Jane Steckbeck and Judy Abel are two of the women behind SHAG: Sexuality Health Advocacy Group.
The primary goal of the group is to help inform health care providers “about the importance of routinely asking patients about their sexual health so that people can get support for any issues they may be having,” Steckbeck says.
Abel and Steckbeck want health care providers to know of the services they provide by offering support for any questions or possible issues patients might have within the community.
They say that allowing intimate discussions outside of a doctor’s office gives community members and health care providers insight into what people need without the awkwardness.
SHAG’s first event, “Sex, Chocolate, and…” was in January, and SHAG members say more events are on the horizon.
SHAG members say they don’t want to only help health care providers but community members, too.
“What you always wanted to know but too afraid to ask,” Abel says.
Both women say they hope hosting events through SHAG can offer women and non-binary persons a “safe place to ask questions” and give factual information to the community.
“Sex, Chocolate, and…” was free and open to anyone who identifies as a woman or non-binary. Local sexual health providers held a panel discussion where attendees could anonymously ask questions related to the event.
Steckbeck is a clinical sexologist and certified sex coach for the past five years and served on the Board of Directors of Planned Parenthood of Southwestern Oregon from 2014 to 2017. She seeks to give a “compassionate perspective born of hard experience and a determination to reclaim sexual normalcy.”
Abel has been a pelvic floor specialist since 1991 and practiced pelvic health physical therapy in Eugene for more than 29 years. She says she is one of three physical therapists in the world holding an American Association of Sexuality Education Counseling and Therapy (AASECT) certification from the University of Michigan.
The event itself involved a lot of laughing, support and snapping fingers in agreement when questions were answered from the panel. It was the group’s first public event and drew more than fifty participants.
From this event, SHAG hopes to “figure out where the needs are and go from there,” Abel says.
Topics ranged widely — from consent to menopause, SHAG talks about it all. “We need to reward yeses. We are taught at a young age, ‘no’ doesn’t matter. We need to stop trying to find a ‘yes’ within a ‘no,’” said Kim Marks, panel member and owner of As You Like It: The Pleasure Shop.
Marks told the crowd, “What happened here is magical and needs to happen more. We can be better allies and friends to each other and in the world. We are giving women a safe place to talk about sex.”
Attendee Geena Glaser said, “I’m passionate about talking about things we don’t as a society: food, sex, death. This event felt safe, normal and there was free chocolate!”
Abel and Steckbeck hope in the future they can provide more events to community members in the name of SHAG.
For more information about upcoming SHAG events, contact Steckbeck at 541-525-5886 and Abel at 541-515-6215. Steckbeck’s workshops are held at As You Like It, 1655 W. 11th Avenue #1. More information about workshops can be found online at EugeneIntimateHealthCenter.org.