Sexpression National Conference – Workshops

Along came Saturday afternoon and with it, three very interesting workshops run by some very interesting people. I opted for the following three…

  1. Lad Culture On Campus
  2. Training Curriculum Focus group
  3. Porn In Sex Education

Lad Culture On Campus

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Charlotte Warner – Leeds Student Union’s Welfare Officer – told us of the SU’s campaign against Tequila’s “Violate a Fresher Night” and what she and other SU members are doing in order to tackle Lad Culture at Leeds. Charlotte’s account of this one misogynistic event is not an isolated occurrence native to Leeds – several attendees told the rest of us of similar events in their area. Some just as large, and some being more subtle – a word said here, an inappropriate touch there.. 

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A recent study by the NUS has shown that these occurrences are becoming more and more prevalent throughout the UK and I for one think that it needs to stop! Well not just me – the whole of the workshop were in outrage! The disrespect that some “lads” (for want of a better expression) have for women and some women have for themselves once again reiterates and reenforces the importance of the messages that Sexpression spreads to all young people.

We want everyone to respect themselves, others and to be safe. I feel that a lack of sexual education plays a part in the lad and ladette culture which embarrasses the UK again and again. As well as causing the economy, government and society problems in the form of policing, healthcare and the general welfare of communities. Oh! And for those of you who may put the problems down to alcohol – Sexpression also delivers sessions around that as well.

Training Curriculum Focus group

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This session was run by Emma Whitehall – the National Training Coordinator for Sexpression. Being one of the Training Coordinators for the Liverpool branch, I felt as though I should show my face! I’m kidding! I chose this one as teaching is my passion and I therefore adore training the Liverpool volunteers as well! I was interested in what Emma had planned as she’s so dedicated to her position on the National Committee, and she loves a good game or two to break the ice!

After an icebreaker, we got down to business. Sexpression does not (as of yet) have charity status. It is a very well-organised collective of many groups around the UK, working towards the same ideal. In order to progress as an organisation and to obtain charity status, things need to keep on moving in the right direction and improving at the rate which we always have done.

The aim of this focus group was to build a training curriculum for volunteers in order to prepare them for sessions. All branches do offer individual training with emphasis on child protection, but there are not any solidified requirements other than that. The progression of the training program within Sexpression will hopefully provide a more consistent experience around the country – making it even more effective than it already is!

Porn In Sex Education

This third and final workshop was the one I was most excited about attending. Pornography is such a taboo subject in this country, and so many people watch it! Young and old alike!

I can remember when I was year 8, so I must have been about 12/13 and a load of guys in my history class were all huddled around someone’s phone. I went over to see what was going on and was unlucky enough to see a women with a load of fish erupting from her vagina. At 12/13 years of age, I did not want to see that. I don’t want to see that now! To be fair that was pretty niche pornography, but still! Scarred for life. My mum’s probably reading this not knowing what to think… (Sorry Mum!) How many 12 year olds will have seen porn in this day and age? With smartphones about I’m gunna say a lot more than when I was that age.

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This is where Emma’s second workshop came in. We began just shouting out some words relating to pornography – “dirty”, “secret”, “fantasy”, “pleasure”, “wrong”. 

The words expressed made it obvious that there are two points of view when it comes to pornography – for and against. This led nicely to a debate surrounding porn, with half the group against the other.

“Porn is a form of art”. ”Porn is a dirty little secret”. “Porn is informative”. “Porn represents only one type of sex”. “Porn represents lots of types of sex”. “Porn is easily accessible”. 

Conclusion? Porn is a point of contention with both good and bad aspects to it. It is important that young people learn about porn so that it is put into the context that it is fantasy and not reality. It is there for people to explore – most forms of it are legal. ‘Extreme porn’ is when things become illegal, with scenes of rape or abuse being shown. This limitation in legality should also be explained to young people, for their mental and emotional well-being – as well as ensuring they stay out of prison (always a bonus).

Luckily for me and the other Sexpressioners (aka Sexy P’s according to the Leicester branch), we then went on to demonstrate a few activities that could be used within school sessions in order to talk about porn. This is a lesson theme that I am really hoping we in Liverpool can convince a few schools to let us teach. With the access to porn becoming easier and easier, via the internet, sexting or snapchat – surely this is one of the more current issues effecting young people? It seems silly to shy away from something so obvious – WE NEED TO TALK ABOUT IT!!!