Upcoming "sex week" shares shame-free information
For many of us, sex ed took place exclusively in middle or high school and conveyed the basics: how to prevent diseases and how to not get pregnant, with a smattering of related topics from hormones to hygiene.
"That's really important information to have, but it's just the tip of the iceberg in terms of sexual health and sexual pleasure," says Lucky Tomaszek, the education coordinator at Tool Shed. "Actually, that's the thing that gets left out completely: sexual pleasure. Many of us have layers of shame and stigma to work through, and that can really impair our ability to have fun during sex."
To further educate healthcare providers as well as the general public, Tool Shed, 2427 N. Murray Ave., will host Milwaukee SHARE, a week-long event that brings several nationally known sexuality educators to the city for discussions and workshops.
Milwaukee SHARE runs April 3-10 and takes place, primarily, at Tool Shed throughout the day and in the evenings. On Monday, April 4 the event kicks off with "What Aren't They Talking About: Sex and Identity in Clinical Practice," a one-day conference for healthcare providers.
The schedule is still in the planning stage, but other topics will include sex and aging; talking to kids about sex; safe kinky play; sex for survivors of abuse; enhancing sexual pleasure and more.
A full schedule of events will soon be available here.
"Our goal for the week is to make sex ed more accessible to people throughout the city and to let people know that The Tool Shed is a great resource for accurate information all the time," says Tomaszek.
Numerous nationally-known sexuality educators will participate in SHARE, including Twanna Hines (funkybrownchick.com), Reid Mihalko (reidaboutsex.com), Joan Price (joanprice.com), Robin Mandell (readysexyable.com), Helen Boyd (myhusbandbetty.com) and Jiz Lee (jizlee.com).
"I expected to do some begging to get a few of these super stars here, but it turned out that everyone was eager to come to town," says Tomaszek. "People really love Milwaukee and are eager to work with us."
Tool Shed staff members, all of whom are sexuality educators, will also host events, as well as provide support to all of the speakers.
The cost of events range, depending on the session, and a many of them are free. All of the events require pre-registration because most are projected to fill to capacity.
According to Tomaszek, the inspiration for Milwaukee SHARE came from the annual "sex weeks" held at colleges and universities that provide information to students about dating, safer sex, harm reduction, consent and more. After participating in several of these as a presenter, Tomaszek decided to bring the idea to the Tool Shed.
Tool Shed is Milwaukee's first women-owned sex toy store with a strong education component. It has been in business for 11 years.
For anyone who's interested but uncertain if they'd feel comfortable in such a setting, Tomaszek says that's completely natural and offers a few words of advice.
"We are frequently asked, 'What exactly happens in your classes?' Let me assure you, these events are all legitimate and everyone's clothes stay on," says Tomaszek. "Our presenters are all experienced educators who know a lot about their topics. They are good at making people feel comfortable. Also, it's perfectly acceptable to come and sit quietly, just to hear the speakers. You don't have to participate or ask questions if you're not comfortable doing so."
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