May is Sexual Assault Awareness Month and the Victoria Faulkner Women’s Centre in partnership with Les Essentielles want you to know that Consent Is Sexy.
The women’s groups are hosting a handful of events this month and kicked off their campaign with a reading on May 3rd of Chance, a new play by Yukoner Melaina Sheldon.
On May 10th people can attend a youth panel discussion hosted in partnership with the local youth empowerment organization BYTE, called “I didn’t consent: The Ghomeshi Sexualized Assault Trial and the (In)Justice System”. The panel will discuss the various ways consent was portrayed in the media and judicial system during this recent, high-profile Canadian trial.
“The Ghomeshi trial puts everything in the spotlight… I think people are really kind of angry (about the outcome) of this trial and this is a forum for them to talk about it,” says Sofia Fortin, who is coordinating the event for Victoria Faulkner Women’s Centre.
The Ghomeshi trial featured defendant and high-profile former CBC announcer Jian Ghomeshi facing multiple accounts of sexual assault from various women and focused highly on the concept of consent. The trial concluded on March 24, with a not-guilty verdict, which left many women’s groups dissatisfied.
Following this event, both men and women are invited to come out and play “Consent is Hot BANG-O” on May 12. The event features drinks and prizes, and is played just like BINGO, except that, instead of calling out numbers, the game is sex and consent themed.
The goal of the event, says Fortin, is to encourage healthy, sex-positive dialogue in a fun atmosphere. Fortin runs a sex positive program called The Happy Vagina Project, which is hosting the BANG-O event.
“People are terrified to talk about sex,” says Fortin, “It’s a messy issue.”
Hillary Aitken, program coordinator for the Victoria Faulkner Women’s Centre, says these events are designed to break down narratives about sexual assault and shift the dynamic.
“By having a really sex positive campaign we are saying that everyone deserves a positive sexual experience,” Aitken says.
Much of the consent campaign is about re-thinking the hookup culture, says Fortin.
“Sexual violence isn’t going to be stopped by asking everyone to play nice,” she says. “We’ve normalized a lot of these behaviours. Taking a drunk girl home from the bar is not ok – it’s like there is a grey zone about this and that’s not okay… people should be sure they have a clear and enthusiastic yes from their sexual partners the whole way through, both men and women.
“If you aren’t sure if you have consent, then you don’t have consent.”
During the last two weeks in May the Yukon Consent Crew will be touring bars to talk about the importance of consent. They will be educating about consent and sexual assault awareness with games and prizes.
The BYTE Ghomeshi panel takes place at Baked Cafe from 5:30 p.m. 7:30 p.m. on May 10th. People are encouraged to come early as seating will be limited.
Consent is Hot BANG-O is a 19+ event and runs from 7:30 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. on May 12, also at Baked Cafe. People are encouraged to register at bang-o.eventbrite.com in advance.
For more information about Sexual Assualt Awareness Month please visit EndViolenceYukon.com.