UMSU’s autonomous departments at the University of Melbourne hosted Rad Sex And Consent Week 2015 from the 20th to the 23rd of April. The yearly event, made up of a series of workshops and talks, tackled issues surrounding consent and a diverse range of sexual relationships.
With workshops covering topics from sex toys to interracial relationships, the week sold itself as ‘the sex-ed you never had’. In contrast to high school sex education, which provides fewer resources for those of diverse sexualities or in atypical relationships, Rad Sex And Consent Week held several workshops on less conventional relationships including, but not limited to, those who identify as queer, disabled or are affected by mental illness.
Each year, the week promotes and provides education for a variety of relationships while highlighting the importance of consent for making sex respectful and fun for those involved.
The issue of consent in sexual relationships can often be misunderstood and manipulated.
Andrea Gavran, UMSU Queer Officer and an organiser of Rad Sex and Consent Week defined consensual sex as “enthusiastic, sober, you can’t be manipulated into it; because someone wants to, not because they feel obligated or because they feel scared; or are too drunk to say no”.
Gavran stresses that consent is important in every situation, regardless of a person’s sexual experience. “It doesn’t matter if you’ve been married for 20 years or you’ve had sex before, or if someone is paying you – if someone decides to say no, you have no right to push them”.
With 18% of Australians aged 20-29 binge drinking at least once a week, knowledge of what constitutes sexual consent is an increasingly consequential issue for all young people.
Similar campaigns to educate and promote healthy sexual relationships have been held at universities across Australia, inspired by the original week held at Melbourne.