Consent Culture at Lakehead

“Let’s talk about sexy baby, let’s talk about you and me. And our mutual comfort levels”

By: Leah Ching, Staff writer

“Let’s Talk about Good Sex” is back, and it’s as raunchy as ever. Butt plugs and crop whips and candle wax, and more; these were all things brought up last Thursday night at the Study, where the first discussion of the year took off with a bang. “Let’s Talk about Good Sex” is a collaborative effort put on by the Gender Issues Centre and Pride Central. The discussion series focuses on a huge part of student life, sex.

Tracy Pollard led attendees in a guided talk about consent culture, and it’s importance in a healthy relationship. The night started off with some giggles and silence from the crowd, but with Tracy exuberating energy, openness and honesty, there was a lot of laughter and discussion by the talk’s ending.

The importance of creating a consent culture in our every day relationships was a huge focus of the talk, with Tracy and Stephanie Simko, GIC coordinator setting up a foundation of what consent is, and the importance of informed consent. Consent vs. coercion was then delved into, with Tracy elaborating on the issue by noting the difference between one’s partner saying “Holy s***, f*** me now” or saying “well, I guess.” It drew parallels to consent culture in terms of asking to borrow ones phone, or drinking cups of tea. It took the idea of consent back down to a base level before adding it to the discussion of sex itself. “You wouldn’t force someone to drink tea if they didn’t want to. Why would you force them into sex?”

Multiple sexual scenarios were discussed, illustrating the grey zones and unsafe feelings that often develop when people don’t make an effort to ensure that their partners openly consent to an activity. Also discussed were non-verbal cues, and how these can develop along with comfort level with individuals in long term relationships, and the grey areas that occur within that frame of reference as well.

Tracy is a huge advocate of the importance of bodily autonomy, drawing illustrations from every day life, like the annoyance when someone touches your hair or beard without asking first. More importantly, she reminded the crowd that survivors of sexual abuse and violence should feel autonomy and safety when it comes to their bodies. She offered suggestions like, “Start small, start with your friends. Start asking, and start communicating. Ask your friend next time you want to give them a hug.” Tracy continually reminded the crowd of the importance of bodily autonomy, and tied this into why consent culture is so important in sex, and in all relationships. “Your body is the one thing you have from your birth, to your death, and everyone deserves to have that respected.”