LETS TALK ABOUT SEX, BABY – KNOWLEDGE AND CONSENT BY ANNIE DURWOOD
Long before becoming a student at UCA, I had always held an interest on the topics of sexual health and consent. Coming from an excessively conservative part of the United States, I grew up with the knowledge that those around me (especially the adults) would not be of any help when it came to matters of the bedroom. As a teenager, I found the behavior of those around me truly alarming, and found myself scrambling for any actual information that would be of help to myself in my own endeavors. Luckily, I lived in an area with a Planned Parenthood clinic and began going there for information. Through the PP organization, I learned very quickly how plagued by misinformation society is when it comes to sex.
Why was no one talking about these things? What are we all so afraid of? Oddly enough, once I possessed this information, I found that my peers had little to no interest in learning about any of it. Looking back, I suppose this was the seed that would eventually become my desire to spread the information to anyone I could.
Once I did move to the UK, it was evident that the same lack of knowledge I had experienced in the US was taking place. Very quickly I found myself sharing, what I considered to be, very basic information about sexual health and consent. It was obvious within the first month of my studies that not only did the majority of those around me not have this information; they had no idea where to get it.
Not long before arriving at UCA, I became familiar with consent seminars taking place in universities in North America. Various studies showed that not only were these seminars helpful, but they had an immediate impact on their student populations. Realizing that this might be the best way to spread the information here, I tentatively began looking into holding seminars on my own. At the suggestion of a friend, I ran for Women’s Officer on the platform of spreading this information to anyone who wanted it. After winning the position, I was encouraged to begin immediate preparations in conducting the seminars.
Originally, I contacted the Women’s Officer at Cambridge due to her involvement in the I © Consent campaign taking place in the UK for guidance on what kind of information to focus on. Graciously, she sent me the packet they use for conducting the seminars. While enormously helpful, I found the information to be too focused on women, and not at all covering the issues of sexual health. In the end, I decided to design my own seminars, and ended up with two separate programs designed specifically for the issues of sexual health and consent.
In the first seminar (sexual health) I cover a wide area of information. In a nutshell, the seminar teaches how to have sex safely and how to be proactive in doing so. There is in-depth information about STI’s, condoms, birth control, where and how to get tested, and how to access any and all information you might need. All of the information provided is factual and in no way based on opinion. I did this very intentionally so as to reduce any further misinformation. I also focus very heavily on the universality of the information, as these issues affect everyone.
In the consent portion of the seminars, I focus on the importance of communication and how absolutely vital it is that we understand the effects of our behavior on others and ourselves. There is in-depth information about sexual assault, rape, legality, and how these things affect everyone. My goal ultimately is to help people start a conversation with themselves and those around them.
With great assistance from the UCA SU, specifically Democratic Coordinator Nate Murdoch, I have been able to attend all four UCA campuses and distribute the information to any and all who are interested. I have been blown away by how positive the effects of these seminars have been so far. It is absolutely your right to have this information, and there is no shame in wanting/asking for it. As scary as the information can be, I am very deliberate in pushing a sex-positive agenda. It is your absolute right to have access to this information and to have a healthy life.
The underlying message I try to communicate is that sex isn’t inherently bad, but it should be done with consideration and thought. The most important thing you can do is to educate yourself and try to have an open mind. It is your absolute right to have access to this information and to have a healthy life. Anything else is just wrong, I will continue to ensure you have any and all information you might need.
If you missed Annie's talks, you can watch them on our youtube channel: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kkB_Qs9S6Bw
The Gist Of It
No means no, and use a condom ;)
Posted in: Blog on Tuesday, May 10th, 2016 by