UNB’s Student Union celebrated the month of love with a week of sexual health education and positivity. Starting Monday on Valentine’s Day and ending Friday the 18, UNBSU hosted a variety of events including, “How to Hook Up,” Sex Toy Bingo, an Asexual Discussion Panel, and “Not Your High School Sex Talk.” All of the events were online.
I went into “How to Hook Up” with a hint of skepticism. I was mostly concerned that it would be too heteronormative, like many other discussions of “hook up” culture. I was soon proven wrong. The workshop was presented by sex educator Rachele Manett from Halifax’s Venus Envy, a sex shop that also provides sex education and sex-positive workshops. Manett focused the workshop on the importance of communication and consent in sexual relationships. They used gender-inclusive language and did not discuss heterosexual relationships, but rather sexual relationships in general, regardless of gender. Manett also discussed the value of knowing what you want, what you will do, and what you won’t do when it comes to sexual activities and relationships. The advice Manett gave was a recipe for happy, healthy sexual and romantic relationships.
Directly after the “How to Hook Up” workshop, the folks at Venus Envy hosted the tremendously popular Sex Toy Bingo. A whopping 241 people signed up for this event, of whom approximately 178 participated. The amount of attendees led to some technical difficulties. Zoom capped admittance at 100 and the event had to regroup on everyone’s favourite service: Microsoft Teams. This led to bingo starting about an hour late but no one seemed to mind since there were so many great prizes to be won. Venus Envy provided a total of 12 prizes, including buttplugs, vibrators, dildos, and various sexual accessories for all genders to enjoy. Unfortunately, this reporter did not win any prizes but all my congratulations to the lucky winners and all my thanks to the lovely people at Venus Envy for hosting this event and providing the coveted prizes.
The inclusion of the Asexual Discussion Panel put on by the folks at the 203 Centre was an appreciated contribution to UNBSU’s Sex Week. The panel discussion was small but compelling. They discussed asexual identity and how to support the asexual people in our lives. The panelists spoke heavily about the importance of validation for asexual persons and their identities. “And for the love of God,” one panellist cried, “don’t tell us we just haven’t found the right person yet.” The panellists went on further and noted the fact that asexuality, like all other sexualities, exists on a spectrum. They added that ace folks’ sex lives are nobody else’s business but their own.
The “Not Your High School Sex Talk” discussion panel, hosted by Fredericton Sexual Assault Support and Advocacy (CSASA), brought in folks from CSASA but also Student Health, White Ribbon Fredericton, and the LGBTQ+ community to answer UNB’s burning questions on anything and everything sex-related. Questions were submitted anonymously before the panel began and the team of panellists spent around an hour and a half answering and expanding on the questions submitted. I found this event to be extremely important, as it let people openly talk about sex in a safe and judgement-free enviroment.
All in all, despite going into Sex Week with doubts about its inclusivity, I was pleasantly surprised. Sexual education and discussion should not be saved solely for middle and high school, since sex is such a big part of many people’s lives and our culture at large.
So — let’s talk about it.