Sue Johanson shares safe sex tips for frosh

Tuesday, April 7th, 2009

Sue Johanson

Jon Purdy

Sue Johanson seems more like your favourite grandma than a world-famous sex guru.

“Help yourself to a carrot,” Johanson implores. “It’s probably the first vegetable you’ve had in years.”

It’s strange coming from a woman known for answering all kinds of sex questions. Not only does she incorporate sex toys into her zany antics on Talk Sex with Sue and Sunday Night Sex Show, Johanson unabashedly cracks up famous talk show hosts like Jay Leno and Conan O’Brien.

Johanson’s maternal nature may be hard to reconcile with her over-the-top onstage persona as a famous sex educator, but these two roles aren’t so different. Johanson is an extremely pleasant woman who just happens to know a lot about sex.

She got her start in the sex education business years before the debut of Sunday Night Sex Show.

“I used to teach [sex education] in high school...and I found that it was too frustrating, because I had to deal with the parents who were saying ‘My beautiful daughter doesn’t need to hear about things like that!’ Meanwhile, their beautiful daughter’s doing it out in the back yard, or in the driveway.”

She finds talking to university students a welcome change to the limitations of teaching high schoolers " the main reason why she speaks at university events.

“University is where parents are overjoyed that somebody’s [teaching about sex], because they are terrified. And kids are older and they’re ready for it, and they realize what they didn’t learn in school. And also, [university students] are adult enough to know that they’re not going to go right out and try it.”

The needs of high school students and university students are also very different, a fact Johanson addressed in her Talk Sex act during O-Week.

“High school kids are…well, [some high school-aged boys] are just awful. They’re throwing spitballs, they know more about sex than I do, they’ve done it more than I have. And high school females are just like sponges; they’re just taking it in. Whereas at university, by now, both are very curious, both are very interested, and both have a lot of questions that weren’t answered.

“For example, questions that I got last night at University of Toronto " ‘If you don’t have a lot of sex are you gonna lose your sex drive?’ That kind of question, ‘Use it or lose it’... Those are the kinds of things [university students] need reassurance and information about.”

Johanson also stresses students develop safe sex habits as they’re important for students to get through university unscathed both physically and emotionally.

“First of all, you’ve got to know what you’re doing, which is part of what I do. And then I want them to think ahead. Now, that’s very difficult for kids, especially females, because we’ve been taught nice girls don’t plan on sex...but you need to think ahead, so that you’re prepared. And also make sure that you are fully prepared to practice safer sex. You’re gonna demand it. You’re not gonna settle. If some guy says ‘I didn’t bring condoms,’ then [your response should be] ‘Good night, dear.’ That’s it.

“Also, it sure wouldn’t hurt if you had condoms in your purse,” Johanson continues. “Then you’ve got to rehearse how to say, ‘Well I was very attracted to you and I’d kinda hoped we’d get together, so I put some condoms in my purse just in case I was gonna get lucky.’ What guy wouldn’t think he’d died and gone to heaven?”

Johanson also insists jumping into bed shouldn’t be students’ first reaction to the freedom university provides. She prefers they don’t allow their first year to fly by in a sex-filled haze.

“I’d like to say, ‘What’s your rush?’ I’d love them to become comfortable with their own body long before they got involved in sexual relationships. Get to like your body before you try to get somebody else to like your body.”

After dishing out a buffet of lessons in responsible sex, Johanson reflects on what she has learned from students throughout her career.

“Oh, my goodness. [Kids have taught me] a whole different vocabulary. It’s very difficult because it differs in different parts of the country,” Johanson explains. “So what means ‘quiffing’ in one part of the country means something altogether different in Vancouver. So it’s tricky.

“I’ve learned not to be shocked,” Johanson continues. “I’m unflappable. And I’ve learned that I really love kids.”

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