Reflections on the Guelph Sexuality Conference – Part 3 of 3

(Annotated by Sarah Lawrance)

[Courtesy of the SSHRC-funded research project that is responsible for this blog, I had the pleasure of spending a day at the 31st Annual Guelph Sexuality Conference in June. This year’s theme was “Positive approaches to sexuality and sexual health.” I am particularly interested in sex-positive and queer-inclusive approaches to this topic, so I was delighted to attend the plenary panel of sex workers discussing their work, a session of 3 research briefs on erotic photography and pole dancing, and a workshop on a variety of themes tied to sex-positivity. I briefly describe my thoughts on each of these sessions in three separate entries.]

Workshop – “Ask Me About Sex”: Positive sexual health discussions with young women, by Sonja Prakash and Melanie Stafford

This workshop had a lot of potential. It had originally been planned as a whole day of separate sessions, but the presenters were only given a 1.5-hour session to present a full day’s worth of content. In that time, they were able to cram together some brainstorming over what makes a safe, sex-positive space for having discussions about sex; a few examples of activities educators can use when trying to facilitate such discussions with their students; a very brief workshop on making one’s own sex toys; and more.

I was particularly intrigued by the DIY sex toy workshop. I really appreciated the presenters’ fun and silly approach to sex, which was clearly reflected in the workshop’s activities. Participants were able to construct edible floggers out of long, stringy licorice candy; ticklers from chopsticks and feathers; pasties using a bit of stiff felt, paper, or foam and a glue-gun, and more. This sort of crafting, an interesting variation on what has traditionally been understood as “women’s work” or “women’s art,” is another fun way for people to reclaim sex as a potentially very fun and empowering activity and to express their sexuality in creative new ways. For youth who are probably in the earlier stages of their sexual lives, such workshops can provide a non-threatening and inclusive environment to ask questions or express concerns they might otherwise be too intimidated or terrified to address. This activity could certainly have benefited from an entire 1.5-hour (or longer) session to itself!

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~ by artpoped on August 26, 2009.

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