JENNIFER SU/THE VARSITY

From Monday, November 18 to Friday, November 22, the University of Toronto Sexual Education Centre (SEC) and Hart House’s Get Crafty! program teamed up for Kinky Crafts Week — five days of volunteer-run sex education, handmade leather and lace accessories, and do-it-yourself sex toys.

“It’s a base for people to have sex-positive discussions,” said SEC’s Norah Wardell, sexual education coordinator-senior. “And also it’s really fun and a really positive way to get people to come and meet like-minded people, talk to each other, create something that they can take home.”

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JENNIFER SU/THE VARSITY

The event was organized by Wardell and Ola Skudlarska, sexual education coordinator-junior, to provide what they consider an accessible platform for exploring sexuality, and to create a more light-hearted fall event. “We usually do Sexual Awareness Week, which is in January, and we’re still doing that, but we wanted to do something else to round the year out,” Skudlarska said during Wednesday’s workshop on burlesque headdresses. She also stated that since SEC has a whole new executive body this year, they have been attempting more educational outreach.

According to Skudlarska, Kinky Crafts Week has been successful as an outreach project, attracting groups of people that have not in the past made use of the SEC’s services and education. “We haven’t had necessarily a huge turnout, but we weren’t really expecting one. What we have had that’s really cool is that we’ve had people who don’t normally use our services coming, and people coming for multiple events and multiple days,” said Skudlarska. “Like we had a whole group of engineers come and decorate their lab coats, which I thought was super cool.”

Kinky Crafts is unusual for the SEC in both its format as a week-long occasion and its lightness and fluidity. In the past, SEC events have placed more emphasis on presenting educational material, while Kinky Crafts was designed to be a casual and accessible way to talk about and explore sexuality. Day Milman, program coordinator at Hart House and head of Get Crafty!, a weekly drop-in crafting session, was drawn to the event for that very reason. Milman said that inviting people to talk and complete an activity in a safe place is an excellent way to introduce the idea of self-empowerment and change.

JENNIFER SU/THE VARSITY

JENNIFER SU/THE VARSITY

Milman believes that the accessibility and low-risk nature of crafting is highly conducive to discussion, and others involved with Kinky Crafts agree with her. Michelle Gauthier, who volunteered to instruct in craft making, showed off her sex-themed cross-stitches on Wednesday while noting how her crafting has helped people comfortably bring up the otherwise taboo topics of their bodies and sexuality. “They feel like it’s private and they can’t talk about it,” she said of the subject of her crafts, “so it kind of opens up discussion.”

Both Hart House and the SEC have been pleased with the event partnership, describing it as a perfect connection for both campus organizations.

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