Much of the McGill population might be tempted to think of grads and post-docs as prudish, old-school academics, sitting up in their beautiful wood-panelled Thomson House, a glass of brandy in one hand, discussing philosophy and plotting world takeover with other budding PhD students. But this perception is about to be shattered: the hair is coming down and the whips are coming out, with PGSS’s second edition of Love/Sex Week, starting this Monday. With workshops on S&M, safer sex, and queer speed dating, our curiosity was piqued. We sat down with VP Internal Harry Saitis to find out what prompted such an event.
Sex Talks: Why are you organizing this week?
Harry Saitis: The last Love/Sex week in 2008 was very successful. People have been asking for one since then, and in my position, I knew it was important to organize an event like this, in order to provide a space for people to discuss and learn about subjects, like sex, that we don’t usually talk about.
ST: What events have you chosen this year?
HS: The workshops this year reflect changing sexual interests that students may have, such as learning how to choose and clean sex toys properly or how to practice S&M activities safely. It is important for people to find out how to enjoy and get pleasure out of these activities, but also to know how to do them safely. This is one of the reasons we have also asked [AIDS Community Care Montreal] to do a safer sex workshop for us. There are a lot of fun activities as well that are more social. Sex columnist Sasha of the Montreal Mirror will be speaking about sex on campus. There is an evening of speed dating, with both straight and queer editions, and we are finishing off the week with a singles party, open to everyone.
ST: Most of the workshops seem to be about fun topics, sex, and parties, but the keynote’s title “Love me, Don’t Hurt me” differs from the rest of the presentations.
HS: Most of the events we are presenting are based around talking about sex, but we also wanted to incorporate relationships and love into the discussion. We have invited Stephanie Mitelman, a certified sex educator, to talk about other more problematic aspects in intimate relationships: resentment, abuse, and anger, and their effects on partners. This is a topic that people don’t talk about, even couples with each other. If the issue comes up, often couples try to deal with it themselves. Inviting Ms. Mitelman to speak is an effort to begin discussion on these taboo and often difficult subjects. SACOMSS will be present afterward to provide people with any information or support they may need.
ST: What do you aim to accomplish with the presentation of Love/Sex week?
HS: I want to create a different perspective on the McGill graduate community. I trust that our students are much more open-minded and progressive than people might think, and we hope to broaden their minds even more. With an attitude of curiosity and a desire to have fun, we hope to create an environment where we can educate on sexuality and provide a forum for discussion.