The infamous Shag Week rocked campus from the 1st of November with talks and workshops galore taking place across campus to raise positive awareness for ~that~ deed we all do.
Our beloved Students’ Union organised a plethora of workshops, the first being ‘Kink101’ on the Monday. With a more than decent turnout, the speakers offered a helping hand to an audience who wanted to “add a sprinkle” of kink and/or BDSM into their life. With an aim of providing proper advice for safe, risk-aware kink practice as well as a lighthearted background into the world of taboo, all in attendance were guaranteed a “spankingly good time”.
‘Good Sex 101’ along with ‘Pride and Pleasure’ focused their approach along the same lines of practising safe sex (which is always good sex) and finding what’s right for you and your partner. Or partners – no shame here. Those participating in each workshop were rewarded with an abundance of information, such as approaching pleasure with equality in mind, the importance of good communication, and how to use sex toys safely and to your advantage. Spicy.
Stalls were also dotted around the Student Centre to offer a friendly chat and open ear for any concerns or questions we Students may have. Standing among these were Dublin’s Rape Crisis Centre (RCC), offering information leaflets, condoms, Lucozade and other little goodies to make our days a little perkier. Following suit from the RCC were Active* Consent, also showing up as a friendly face for a chat about sexual health, all the while handing out free sanitary products, badges, and even more condoms and information pamphlets.
To end the week with a slightly more festive tone, the Ents of UCD’s Student Union organised a ‘Big Sexy Comedy Night’ in our Student Centre’s Astra Hall. The night was bound to be a tremendous hit with a bottle bar on-site, spot prizes, a ‘Big Sexy Quiz’, and headlining acts: the wonderful Alison Spittle and outrageous Kevin McGahern. With roars of laughter echoing through the solid wood of Astra’s doors, even those set up in the ClubHouse could take part and appreciate the merriment of the evening.
With heavy turnout for the week’s events, the overall comments and reviews of this year’s Shag Week were quite mixed. Third-year student, Tom Cleary, thought the week was “a massive step in the right direction” for the mission of providing a safe and informed community for our university’s students as well as staff. On the general atmosphere of the week, he spoke of the events taking place “getting it right, with a nice balance of fun and inclusivity”.
Although the week did seem to have everybody in good spirits, not everyone was impressed with the somewhat minimal effort put in by UCD to raise awareness for the cause. Granted, the Student Union’s Instagram (coupled with the Entstagram) was utilised for spreading the word about the events of the week. With the rising necessity and exigency for open dialogue when it comes to the stigmatised mindset associated with sex still ever-present in this country’s supposedly modern society, you would think that there would be a heightened emphasis on support from UCD Management. Alas, we once again see a question mark over the blurred face of Deeks as he chooses to stay silent on current affairs that truly matter to his student body.
Controversially, another take on the RCC’s appearance can be seen as slightly hypocritical with their two-year-long waiting list and a seemingly brash service when it comes to support and advice. It can – and has been – questioned why they chose to participate if not to show face and hand out freebies because it is quite clear that their services are lacking. Alas, I will merit their persistence in the fight against rape in this country as every little bit does indeed help.
To re-focus on the point at hand; we must also recognise the importance of having a ‘Shag Week’ in the first place. Yes, Ireland has come an awfully long way from where it was fifty or even twenty years ago in terms of sex and the conversations surrounding it, but I think we can all agree that we still have a long way to go. From slut-shaming to homosexual slurs still being used on the daily, we must all strive to be better and more inclusive as we continue to move through life in Ireland. Shag Week and the like, although taking the embodiment of an easy approach, are vital in the battle against destigmatising sex and encouraging a safe, respectful approach towards it.
Therefore, I congratulate our Students’ Union on their work, endeavouring to create a safe space for every single person on campus, and encouraging a healthy relationship with sex and those you have it with.
Rhoen Eate – Features Editor