Photo: Alexa Eliza-Carter.
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Diane Valiquette and Sue McGarvie
Photo: Alexa Eliza-Carter.

On Saturday, Feb. 4, I attended the Re-Ignite You! Conference at the Ottawa Convention and Events Centre. The event was hosted by the lovely Carol Ann Meehan, radio host for 1310 News, and featured famous sex therapist Sue McGarvie.

Sue is best known for hosting her number-one-rated radio call-in show “Sunday Night Sex With Sue”—not to be confused with “Talk Sex with Sue Johanson”—and for kickstarting various other media properties.

Sue is also a clinical and sex therapist and international expert in low libido and sexual desire. Her academic background is in psychology and education, sexuality and family life, and broadcast technology. She is the founding director of the Shirley E. Greenberg Women’s Health Center at The Ottawa Hospital. Her new book The Suburban Hedonist is set to be released this year.

During the Saturday event, Sue was wearing a lipstick-red dress and used her trademark humour to soften the more explicit aspects of her presentation. This was evident when she had fellow speaker Diane Valiquette come out wearing a vulva costume. 

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My time with Sue gave me some intimate insights into embracing your sexuality while in university. I hope you enjoy our conversation as much as I did!

Lex: We are doing a sex issue next week for the Fulcrum, so it is a special issue.

Sue: Perfect.

L: What would you say to the university students that are feeling the disconnect of wanting to be happy and have a great sex life with themselves or with others, but feeling guilty?

S: Number one, guilt is an emotion that says what your actions are aren’t lining up with your values. Accept (that) your values are changing. So, understand that early programming about sex really, really impacts it. Just like Diane was saying, (your development from ages) zero to eight really impacts how you do your paradigm. That time you are setting out “sex is bad.” Realize that that is a mythology.

I would get really, really educated about what the options are because most people don’t know what the options are. You know, the “ethical slut” and different kinds of polyamory. I see a lot of university students exploring all of that and want to ask all those questions.

So, I would say get educated the same way you are going to university for.

L: And what resources would you suggest if they were looking to get answers? I mean, they could Google it and so many thing would come up.

S: If they are in town, be local. Right?

By all means I have sexwithsue.com. They are welcome to check that out. If they email me, I have some books I can send them. Venus Envy has got some great resources around town and they have some courses for 30 bucks, which is way cheaper than what they’re paying at Ottawa U.

As I said, the school of sex I run monthly. We would love to have students. If they are still under their parents’ benefits, I’ll write them a receipt, that would mean it’s free. I would really look at different kinds of ways to say, “it is your sex IQ,” and if it’s not where you want it to be, do something about it because you are not born knowing it.

L: It is okay to be your own person, but do you think it’s okay to increase your sexual quotient and be comfortable with that, no matter where it may go, as long as it is consensual?

S: Absolutely, and sometimes it’s scary cause it’s close to the bone. Sometimes it’s scary and you’re like, “oh my goodness, I want peanut butter in bed.” Okay. That’s kind of weird. My parents would think, ya know. “No! Stop! Bad!” I’m not my parents. Right?

Understand what is your value, and what is value being put on you. That’s a hard thing to do.

I always say I learned way more off campus than what I did on. It’s about figuring out who you are, because self-awareness is the number one thing in my opinion.

Besides learning to navigate the stream of university and where you’d register and all of that stuff and learning how to write a paper, it’s also about how do you get along with your roommates, and how do you do your laundry, and how do you figure out who you are sexually is one of the big ones.

L: Thank you so much.

S: You’re welcome.


For more information you can visit www.sexwithsue.com or contact Sue McGarvie herself at suem@rogers.com