The Sexual Education and Peer Counselling Center. Jennifer Su/THE VARSITY

This year’s Sexual Awareness Week (SAW), run by the U of T Sexual Education Centre (UTSEC), took place from February 8 to 12. All the events were free to attend and included A-sexy Time! with Asexual Outreach University of Toronto (AOUT), Q21 Cafe: Consent, Communication, and Pleasure with the Sexual and Gender Diversity Office, and Kink 101.

These events have become an annual tradition. “The aim of [SAW] is to promote sexual health on campus and to start interesting, nuanced conversations around sex-ed in fun, inclusive, and affirming environments,” said Rowan* and Mika*, external education coordinators of UTSEC, in a joint statement.

SAW sought to spark conversations about consent throughout the week, especially at the Q21 Café where communicating consent and stating boundaries were at the forefront of the event’s discussion.

A-Sexy Time!

The A-sexy Time! session took the form of a community discussion. According to Brian Langevin, AOUT president, a group of asexual spectrum, or ace, students attended and shared their experiences. The history of the ace community, the politics of aromantic communities in relation to ace communities, and the various ace events that have taken place on campus were among the topics discussed.
“The event was incredibly successful in creating a safe small group for ace students — something that had not existed at the university beforehand,” Langevin said. Students present at the event agreed that there needs to be a dedicated safe space for ace students; as a result, Langevin is now leading a biweekly discussion group called “ace/aro space.” The group meets every other Wednesday evening.

Kink 101

Kink 101 was the last event of the week, led by Rae Costin and Jordan*, members of UTSEC. The focus was on creating awareness about consent, the resources and research available in the context of kink, the importance of implementing risk aware consensual kink (RACK), and how to properly practice RACK.

Understanding terminology was also a focus. At Kink 101, the facilitators walked the attendees through the various acronyms used in the kink community including BDSM, which refers to bondage and discipline, dominance and submission, and sadism and masochism. These acts include things like restraining another person, inflicting pain on others, or inflicting pain on oneself.

Safety was another major theme at Kink 101, as Jordan emphasized that researching about the safe ways of doing otherwise dangerous things is a necessary step in engaging in kink. The workshop showed how to engage in impact play and binding safely.

Costin highlighted the importance of having safe words, which are predetermined words used to end or slow down a scene, or an instance of engaging in BDSM.

Costin also covered non-verbal cues, such as dropping or jangling keys, which can be useful when someone is unable to say or clearly pronounce a certain word.

“All of our events were great successes and we hope to work with the individuals and organizations who held them in the future,” said Rowan and Mika.

*Name amended at individual’s request.

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