Faceoff: should U of T have condoned a student-levy funded sex club adventure?
Jana Matthews, owner of the Oasis Aqualounge
Should the University of Toronto have allowed the student levy-funded Sexual Education Centre to conduct a student field trip to Oasis Aqualounge, an adults-only sex club? Two Toronto “sexperts” weigh in.
Rebecca Rosenblat, a local relationship expert, urges that sex positivity needs to be paired with thorough education
You know when a bunch of us are going someplace and someone says, “You know what, I’m going to sit this one out,” and you say, “C’mon, c’mon, it’ll be fun. You don’t have to do anything, just come along!” When there’s a group of peers that have a social connection, there’s always concern that someone who wants to opt out gives in to peer pressure.
A newbie in this environment, someone who doesn’t know the rules of the game or establishment unless they are covered in the educational part of the event, could be put in an awkward and potentially unsafe position.
I still think that sex positivity is very important to communicate. In a sex-positive environment, there is no segregation, and sex is looked upon in a very healthy way, and the biases are kept out of the picture. So I still think there’s merit, but it’s important to explain it so that people don’t think it means “Have as much sex as you want — indiscriminate sex.” Because ultimately our sexuality, particularly our initial experiences, defines how we see ourselves.
[Oasis Aqualounge] is absolutely amazing for people who are comfortable with their sexuality, and the club is very particular in their rules. So if they see someone pressuring someone else, of course they step in and say no, but the implicit pressure is harder to monitor when we’re trying to please our peers or fit in.
For someone who isn’t prepared, who isn’t mentally ready, who didn’t seek out that environment, because of their own reasons, I think it can be a little confusing. Even with bondage and domination, there are very, very specific rules about consent, about sobriety, about warming up, safe words, check-in signals — if they’re going to be exposed to the environment, have them taught. I hate to see those boundaries crossed.
Jessica O’Reilly (Dr. Jess), sexologist and author, thinks the kids are all right with the knowledge they have
Sensationalist headlines aside, the “sexy social” hosted by the University of Toronto’s Sexual Education and Peer Counselling Centre (SEC) is nothing out of the ordinary. In fact, as university parties go, it’s neither exceptionally wild nor atypically sexual.
Intended to kick off Sexual Awareness Week and promote SEC, the sexy social was just as much about education and empowerment as titillation and entertainment. While the venue, Oasis Aqualounge, does allow on-site sexual activity, only a small percentage of the 450+ attendees opted to indulge on premises. Many of those who did, did so in private rooms just as they might do at home or in a dorm. In the entertainment district on Friday nights, you are likely to see just as much “hands-on” activity among students with higher levels of inebriation.
As a sexologist, I have attended my fair share of sex parties (for educational purposes, of course), and they are nothing like the orgies we might envision. In comparison to other venues, including bars, nightclubs, frat houses and dorms, Oasis is a haven of safety. Free condoms, lube and no-nonsense security staff abound, which is more than I can say for many of the venues in our city that turn a blind eye to illicit restroom activities, overconsumption and sexual harassment.
In addition to promoting safer sex, SEC’s controversial event also encouraged students to engage in tough conversations about everything from personal boundaries to kinky sex practices. Research continues to confirm that these conversations empower us to make healthy decisions in the realm of relationships and sexuality.
If young people are going to be having sex, we should ensure that they are empowered enough to talk about it.