Creating a conversation on ‘ethical sexuality’

Heather Elizabeth brings Breakfast and BDSM discussion to St. James

“Imagine what the world would look like if we were all having the sex we wanted to be having,” said Heather Elizabeth. It’s the mantra which drives the Toronto-based sexuality educator and empowerment coach’s work in which she strives to help her clients, “discover, create, and connect with their sexuality by overcoming their shame, judgement, fears, and general bullshit that stops people from getting what they really want.”

Elizabeth, who began working in the sex and sexuality education industry around 2000, believes that many issues can affect our interaction with our own sexuality, but that none are insurmountable. Sometimes, even our politics can feel out of sync with our sexuality.

In her upcoming Breakfast and BDSM: Anti-O and Fetishism workshop at George Brown, Elizabeth will focus on how to explore sexuality and fetish in an anti-oppressive way. The workshop will touch on avoiding such issues as sexism and misogyny, racism, ableism, cultural fetishism and more, as well as how to reconcile our feelings around these issues with our sexuality.

In BDSM, for example, Elizabeth highlights a common misconception. “Many people think being a sub is all about being a doormat and giving up their agency,” said Elizabeth. “No one should give up their agency. It is an exchange of power in which one must have power to give up power.”

She will also address how to mitigate possible negative implications involved in BDSM, because many participants may be unaware of the hurtful possibilities. According to Elizabeth, many of these issues also relate to our own internalized insecurities and feelings of shame or guilt, as well as feelings of how entitled we are to pleasure and what kinds.

Elizabeth’s main goal is to create a space for students to discuss practical points on critical issues in a non-judgmental environment. She believes confidence in our own sexuality translates to confidence in other aspects of our lives.

Samantha Frasier, another Toronto-based sex and sexuality writer, advocate, and relationship coach agrees that more ways to discuss our sexuality as it relates to the rest of our lives are needed. Frasier created the Playground Sexuality Conference in 2011, Toronto’s only intersectional, sex-positive, and educational social gathering, to address this lack of discussion.

When asked why she felt the need to create such a conference, she said “quite simply, it didn’t exist. The sex world was so different five years ago.”

Frasier felt there was a void in the way we discussed our sexuality, citing inclusion of marginalized or under-represented people, bodies and communities as a highly meaningful aspect of her work.

Frasier hopes her work can contribute to breaking down what can be an intimidating culture to penetrate for newcomers or anyone questioning the status quo of sex, kink and the discussion around them.

Elizabeth says a discussion on ethical sexuality is vastly important one to have and she looks forward to bringing it George Brown.

She said that she is “not here to be an authority on anti-oppression but on BDSM, and as a group we’re going to talk about what it means to live our anti-oppressive values and still participate in BDSM so that we all feel good at the end of the day.”

Breakfast and BDSM Discussion: Anti-O and Fetishism is part of the Community Action Centre’s Sexual Health and Wellness Week. The session is taking place on Feb. 23, from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. in room 165B of the St. James campus.

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Creating a conversation on ‘ethical sexuality’