The Let’s Talk About Sex panel at Summer in the City 2015 happened in Panel Room A on Sunday. It featured creators including Laci Green, Hannah Witton, Bethan Leadley, Benjamin Cook, and Tom Ridgewell. It was chaired by a woman called Julia, who works for the BPAS.
The panel, which Ben suggested should have been called “Sex in the SitC”, discussed the definition of consent, sexual education, responsibility for contraception, revenge porn, videos on abortion, societally-imposed shame associated with sex, and double standards.
It’s important to discuss these things and to dedicate time to these sorts of topics, but the way the conversation was handled may not have been as beneficial as it was intended to be. That’s not to say important points weren’t made throughout the hour, because they absolutely were, but the pace of the panel and the speed that such complicated issues were being addressed could have been done in a different way – which many panellists have taken to Twitter to address.
The "Sex" panel wasn't *quite* what any of us was expecting. Hope the discussion was useful. But we really needed more time/diversity. #SitC
— Benjamin Cook (@benjamin_cook) August 16, 2015
The topics weren't inclusive or YouTube oriented. Some good stuff (consent!! 🙌) but IMO it was a missed opportunity. https://t.co/epsKjL2tuY
— Laci Green (@gogreen18) August 16, 2015
That wasn't the sex ed panel I was expecting – maybe next time we should tackle different topics? I VOTE FOR @gogreen18 TO MODERATE 🙌🙌🙌🙌
— Bethan Leadley (@musicalbethan) August 16, 2015
Still, regardless of the disappointment following the panel, many good (if brief) points were made on each of the topics.
The panel opened by discussing the definition of consent and grey area that often comes along with it. “I don’t think consent is black and white, but I think there are a few basic principles we can talk about when it comes to consent,” Laci said. “One of the trickiest areas for me when talking to students is alcohol and they have a lot of different feelings about what constitutes consent and what doesn’t. There isn’t really a hard line of ‘If you’re this drunk or you’ve had this many drinks, consent is off the table’. So dealing with those blurred lines can be a bit tricky.”
Tom agreed, admitting that there is sometimes a pressure that comes with being in the public eye to make those definitions more clear-cut for their audiences, which can be difficult. In terms of alcohol he said, “if you’re drunk enough to wreck your car, you’re probably drunk enough to wreck someone’s life.”
From there, the panel jumped around a bit, which unfortunately meant moving on from topics before they were thoroughly picked apart, which would have been valuable for the packed audience.
At one point, Julia brought up a recent article in the media that was shaming young girls for using birth control, and asked the panellists for their opinions on the topic. Hannah was quick to jump in, admitting that the story angered her simply because it was sensational. She was quick to defend women, bringing up the point that birth control is often used to regulate hormones. “Girls under 16 get the pill regularly. They may have painful periods or irregular periods or acne, and they use the pill to regulate that and make it less of a hard time each month.”
Laci jumped off of that saying, “I think the entire world of sexuality, sexual health, and Sex Ed is rife with double standards. I encounter this all the time where women are held to a completely different standard when it comes to their behaviour or bodies.”
Although just hitting an interesting and critical point, the conversation was rushed to the Q&A due to the lack of time.
This portion also turned out to be a bit of a problem because room was completely packed with young adults who may not be getting this information elsewhere and were eager to learn, but there just wasn’t enough time to answer the overwhelming amount of questions.
One audience member asked the panel what she should do as she thinks that a friend of her may be a sexual abuser – which is obviously both a controversial and personal topic for the YouTube community. Ben brought up the complexity of the situation, which could have sparked an interesting discussion, but didn’t get the chance to. He said, “If you are aware that someone you are friends with is a sexual abuser, do you reach out and try to help them and try to educate them, or do you cut them out completely? This is something the YouTube community has had to deal with and it’s an ongoing debate. What most of have done, mostly because we had to, is cut them out completely. Whether that is the best way to deal with that situation, I don’t know.”
Photos by: Ollie Ali
Want more from Summer in the City 2015?
Check out our Summer in the City tag, where you’ll find all of our coverage. Also, why not take a look back at our Photo Recaps from Friday, Saturday and Sunday?
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