Sex Fest removes taboos, encourages conversations about fun and safety

Sex can be a taboo topic for many students, which is why the Students’ Association and Project Lighthouse organized Sex Fest. Many students enjoyed learning about and buying sex toys, as well as learning about consent and safe sex. The event was held in the Student Commons on Nov. 9 from 11 a.m. to 1 […]
Photo: Kit Gervais
Mari Meneilley sets up her booth on behalf of Pleasures and Treasures at Sex Fest.

Sex can be a taboo topic for many students, which is why the Students’ Association and Project Lighthouse organized Sex Fest.

Many students enjoyed learning about and buying sex toys, as well as learning about consent and safe sex.

The event was held in the Student Commons on Nov. 9 from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m., with organizers and volunteers excited to talk about everything sex.

A popular table was hosted by Project Lighthouse’s manager of sexual violence prevention, Sarah Crawford.

“We want to make talking about sex fun. I think it’s a good way to encourage students to have conversations about sex and consent,” Crawford said. “I think a lot of students think that when we talk about how to get consent, how to talk to your partners about sex, it has to be boring. We want to make it more fun and engaging.”

To make the conversation fun and engaging, the booth organized a competition to see who could put a condom on properly the fastest. Crawford would explain the rules, including checking the expiration date, using hands and not teeth to open the packaging and making sure the participants are unrolling it the right way on fake models. Many students were excited to participate in the competition since they earned prizes such as condoms and sex toys with their win.

While they focused on protection, another table hosted by business and marketing student Mari Meneilley focused on education about sex toys and kink.

Meneilley has been working at a sex shop, Pleasures and Treasures, for about four years and received permission from management to sell some of their products at the event.

Between vibrators and toy cleaners, they also sold sexy photoshoot opportunities through the brand. Some things on the table weren’t for sale but were left as a display for education on kink.

“I even brought these ones here, they’re just like rope bondage, tape and a crop, so these are examples. These aren’t for sale, but I wanted to be able to explain some of the kink aspects of, like toy use and stuff like that,” Meneilley said, pointing to a roll of red tape and purple bondage rope.

Another table was hosted by the Ottawa Rape Crisis Centre (ORCC), with resources on how to get support in the event of sexual violence, such as accessing individual or group counselling. They provided pamphlets with crisis lines and information about the centre, along with social media links, which are all featured on their website.

Communications lead at ORCC, Roselin Dixon, explained why the event was so important for students.

She said sex, consent and safety are important topics of conversation.

“Safety first, right?” Dixon said. “ORCC is really passionate about serving everybody throughout Ottawa over the age of 16.”

At all the booths, every volunteer and organizer was excited and willing to discuss sex in a safe environment to help students feel more comfortable.

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