Monday, Feb. 11 marked the start of McGill’s first ever Sex Week, presented by the Shag Shop. Despite her hectic schedule, the event’s organizer, Monika Viktorova, found time to sit down with the Tribune and give us a rundown on exactly what we can expect from the event.
McGill Tribune: How long has Sex Week been held at McGill? How did it begin?
Monika Viktorova: The health promotion team at the Shag Shop has had sexuality fairs in the past. But … this is kind of the first year we’re branding it ‘sex week.’ A bunch of other universities do have ‘sex weeks.’ The most famous ones are Harvard’s and Yale’s, because they get a lot of controversy. Last year Harvard’s almost got shut down—there’s just a lot of controversy about workshops they were running. It’s usually in that time period, that first couple weeks of February, to coincide with Valentine’s Day and make it romantic.
MT: Do you know what in particular was controversial about Harvard’s Sex Week?
MV: When I took a look at the programming for some of the sex weeks in the States, [I saw that] some of them centre around sex and religion. It’s a topic that’s kind of more specific to the States, and more controversial in the States; so I think that’s where some of the controversy arose.
MT: How does McGill’s Sex Week programming compare [to Harvard’s]?
MV: I have to say it’s not anything like it. When we were first kind of starting to sit down to plan Sex Week, we wanted to look at other models for how they were run. What we found was that the issues discussed [at Harvard and Yale] were campus specific … so we wanted to make sex week specific for the McGill community and the Montreal community.
MT: What kind of events does McGill’s Sex Week offer?
MV: We’re running a bunch of hour-long workshops that we do in the residences. The Shag Shop has a bunch of workshops developed. On Monday [we held a workshop on] sex positivity; just kind of breaking the barrier of talking about sex, discussing sexual stigma, and discussing health and contraception choices. Then, [today, on] Tuesday we’ve got a trans 101 workshop, which Queer McGill is running for us. Again, just breaking down stigma and opening up dialogue, so people are aware of transphobia. Wednesday, we’ve got a talk by the head of the IGSF, the Institute for Gender Sexuality and Feminist Studies, Professor Groanfeld, and she’s talking about sex and disability. So again: just de-stigmatizing the many different sexualities that are out there. And Thursday, we have a really cool workshop on kink and consent. So if people are thinking about kink, or are involved in the kink community, [they can] discuss consent culture. Then on Friday, we have a polyamory workshop. The facilitator of the workshop is coming in to talk about her experiences with polyamory; her relationships, and how she manages them. [We’re trying to] open up a conversation about what [people] think polyamory is, and the normative nature of monogamy in society.
MT: Can you tell me more about ‘One Night Shag?’
MV: One Night Shag is our grand finale for Sex Week. It’s on the Friday evening at Gerts at 8 p.m. Our colleague Kristin has been organizing it, and she’s very involved in it. It’s kind of an evening of performance, so a lot of the dance groups on campus are coming out to perform. All of the donations are going to support the ACCM which is an AIDS organization in Montreal.
MT: Had there been a pre-existing collaborative relationship between the Shag Shop and these other organizations?
MV: Some of the groups we’ve worked with before. Queer McGill we’ve worked with in the past, and they’re fantastic; so I really wanted to bring them in, so that the week was queer-friendly. In terms of getting in touch with speakers and stuff, we reached out to a bunch of different people. We wanted to make it as broad as possible….I’m definitely hoping that as we see how the event goes, and decide about whether it becomes an ongoing thing year to year, [as] we get more of the groups on campus involved with us, and kind of make it a very collaborative effort.
MT: What do you hope Sex Week will accomplish this week?
MV: I guess the overarching goal is the de-stigmatization of having a conversation about sex. That’s something that’s really important to me, and to everyone who works at the Shag Shop. We kind of work towards that, to just have open and honest dialogue about sex, and that’s something I think McGill could use.
MT: Where can students go to get more information?
MV: If they just look up ‘Sex Week at McGill’ on Facebook, it’ll come up with the whole event page. We’ll also be handing out little cards with schedules on them all of this week.
Sex Week runs Monday Feb. 11 to Friday Feb. 15. For more information, visit www.facebook.com/events/129897910512965/