Farrah Khan speaks at the University of Victoria

Farrah Khan at the University of Victoria

Farrah Khan was joined by Jeremy Loveday, Ann-Bernice Thomas and Dr. Annalee Lepp last night to talk about building a culture of caring and resisting sexualized violence in community.

Khan’s talk was fantastic. She showed amazing range on stage, delivering her many messages. She was funny, tender and evocative, often asking salient questions and leaving suggestions for listeners as to how to explore the world for answers. There is, of course, too much to say on these topics, and it takes a gifted presenter to prioritize effectively in a keynote talk. Khan spent portions of her talk myth busting and tackling barriers to building a consent culture. She asked audience members to think more deeply about the way race and racialization intersect with sexual violence, and challenged us to wonder “who gets to be part of the conversation?” It’s too often binary bodies, able bodies, cis bodies and white bodies. Khan also touched on the importance of connecting consent culture to the challenges of colonization and land claims. From advocating for porn literacy, the importance of exploring pleasure in anti-violence work, to respecting sex workers and the body autonomy of children, her talk was wide ranging and inspiring.

We had a chance to chat with Loveday and Thomas before their performances.

Jeremy Loveday and Ann-Bernice Thomas take the #LetsGetConsensual Pledge
Loveday and Thomas take the #LetsGetConsensual pledge!

Loveday is a poet and City of Victoria Counsellor and Thomas is the City of Victoria Youth Poet Laureate. Thomas has been exploring concepts of family and inheritance and feminism in her poetry and wrote a poem specifically for her performance at UVic. She likes the challenge of writing for certain audiences. She performed at Canada Day this summer, and acknowledged the challenge of that, and also for the Bridges for Women AGM:

“I like the focus and structure that comes with writing for events. And I love that this is a University of Victoria sponsored event and we’re talking about gender and sexuality and violence. Everyone is affected by rape culture and it’s great that this conversation is happening.”

Loveday told us how important it was that the University of Victoria was helping to make these conversations more public.

“It’s great to see events like this happening. When I was in University this was not a widespread conversation. The conversation was happening in certain classes, in certain groups like AVP, and not nearly often enough among men. But I think men are more involved now and we’re waking up to the fact that sexualized violence is a men’s issue, and that we’re responsible for the vast majority of violence.”

Dr. Lepp spoke first and let everyone know about the efforts of the University of Victoria Working Group on Sexualized Violence Programs and Policy Development and that the interim report, with preliminary recommendations, has been published.

Counselling Services was also at the event last night. Susan Dempsey form Counselling Services told us about her interest in the talk last night:

“I love the title of the poster! Even that on its own drew me in and I’m so excited to have heard Farrah Khan. We [Counselling Services] know how important it is to keep showing up at these events because we counsel students who have experienced sexualized violence and we have a deep interest in this work being done. The support and prevention work that AVP does is really important and the way they situate sexualized violence in a bigger societal framework is really essential.”

So, in all, we want to extend a big thank you to Farrah Khan, Ann-Bernice Thomas, Jeremy Loveday and everyone who worked so hard to make this event happen.

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