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September 17, 2018 | by  | in News |
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Sexing up the Hub: Condoms, Clits & Suzy Cato

While other student associations throw gigs or market days, ours does sex ed. Last Thursday, Kelburn was decked out for “Sex in the Hub”. There were stalls, talk panels, STI testing, an erotica writing workshop, life drawing, and a dance class.
It’s the first time VUWSA (or any student association in NZ, for that matter), has hosted such an event. Beth Paterson, Welfare Vice President and co-organiser, said that the event was about “absolute sex positivity, in your face sex content” with consent in the heart of it. “We’re checking in with the people who come in throughout.” There was a content warning line that warned students they were about to enter a sex-positive space. Students are asked before participating in each activity: “Do you want to pin the clit? Do you want to hear some stories of sexual abuse?” She said the whole event was “quite metaphorical” for consent.
Ella Hughes, VUWSA Wellbeing and Sustainability Officer and organiser, said the event came out of the fact that students, especially those coming into halls, had “such differing levels of idea of what sex looks like”. She believes the nuance of the #metoo movement hasn’t yet reached its peak. “We can’t just be critical,” she said. “We can’t just respond to sexual violence, we need to educate people about positive sex culture.”
It’s hard to imagine this happening at any other uni in NZ. Otago got huffy about the Critic cover showing a bloody vulva – a far cry from our giant penis archway and the “pin the clit on the vulva” featured in the main thoroughfare of the university.
The event was funded by VUWSA in partnership with Victoria University. While there was a “conversation” about the decor, the uni was reportedly all good with it, which was “surprising,” said Beth.
The life drawing activity featured Rhianna Morar, Education Officer, and Connor MacLeod, Clubs and Activities Officer, posing fully clothed, in a variety of sex positions in the middle of the hub. Sounds awkward? That was probably the point. Connor said that while he was “out of his comfort zone”, he could see that what they were doing was “starting conversations” and “breaking down barriers”. Rhianna said “cos we’re friends it shows you can have healthy sex relationships. Good vibes”. She said it was like “being married for 20 years and the kid walking in − nothing to see here.”
On the upper level of the Hub, cookies and sexual assault stories were on offer. The installation “Some Shared Experiences” gave passers by the chance to listen to students recounting their stories of sexual abuse in headphones.
There were couches, a semi enclosed tent, and counsellors to debrief with. “People found it heavy but powerful” said Jacob Chase, creator of the installation. “Some people have come out crying.” Beth, whose story featured in the installation, said that while she was anxious in the process of writing the story, the process brought her closure. She said she was glad her vulnerability “can turn into something useful”.
The climax of the day was the tango classes with Suzy Cato. While not directly sex related, the event was intended to foster communication with a partner, to teach them how to be in touch with your body, and how to be more comfortable with physical contact. It also had the benefit of featuring the “mother of the nation”. Around 20 students learned to dance in the Beaglehole courtyard. Participants were emotional. “When she sang ‘See You See You Later’ I almost cried,” said Beth.
VUWSA started planning the event 4-5 months ago. They couldn’t find any models for the event, and had to create it from scratch. They hope that the event will be a recurring one.
Ella said the pleasure focused stalls enjoyed the event: “Glide want to come back for O week”. Beth said “Suzy loved it, and that’s the best feedback we can get.”

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