Feminist gives talk as part of ConsentFest

Jaclyn Friedman talked about enthusiastic consent on Monday as part of ConsentFest week

Jaclyn Friedman gives a talk in the Life Sciences Centre at Dalhousie University about the importance of consent. (Photo: Chelcie Soroka)

Consent needs to be a more important part of sexual interactions, a prominent feminist said during a talk on Monday night.

Jaclyn Friedman, an American feminist, activist and author, said if more people learn about the importance of consent, more conversations will take place and the message will spread.

"I really think there can be a ripple effect," she said in an interview after her talk at Dalhousie University.

During the hour-and-a-half seminar that kicked off the week-long ConsentFest Halifax, she spoke about the importance of enthusiastic consent. This is when people who are hooking up both casually and in long-term relationships are fully, continually and enthusiastically consenting. 

University of King's College student Natasha Hunt said she went to Friedman's talk because she needed a break from writing essays and has a growing interest in women's rights.

"I've discovered this place that doesn't make me feel depressed," she said, referring to feminism.

ConsentFest Halifax

ConsentFest is being held for the first time in Halifax by the Saint Mary's University Womens Centre and Dalhousie Women's Centre along with Venus Envy and the Avalon Sexual Assault Centre.

The event, first held in Saskatoon, focuses on the culture of consent and its importance in sexual relationships. There will be two additional workshops held this week at Venus Envy, and a conference held at SMU as part of the event.

Dee Dooley, program coordinator for SMU's Centre, said Saint Mary's and Dalhousie decided to sponsor Friedman's talk because there was no educational component included with SlutWalks earlier this year. 

She said the talk was originally going to cost the two university's women's centres $4,000 but that was too expensive and Friedman was flexible with her fee. Dooley said the final cost was about $2,000.

Friedman, who published her second book last month, came to Halifax when her first one was released. She said she had always wanted to return.

"I also know Halifax is kind of the highest rape incidence in Canada," she said, adding she's happy to do anything she can do to help make it a healthier place.

Nova Scotia has most sexual assaults in Canada

A 2009 report from the Nova Scotia Advisory Council on the Status of Women says the number of sexual assaults in the province in 2004 were almost double the national average.

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