by Colleen Fraser
Stacy Zummack, the event coordinator for the University of Regina Students' Union, had admittedly selfish reasons behind contacting the special guest lecturer for the URSU Sexual Health fair held January 13.
"I want to be a sex therapist, so it was the perfect opportunity to spend a day with Sue."
And with thirty seven years in the business of sex education, Sue Johanson knows what people need to hear.
To a crowd of 650 laughing and sometimes shocked U of R students, Johanson spent two hours dispelling sexual myths and breaking common taboos through her patented combination of humor and bluntness.
From anal sex to "vaginal farts," she isn't shy about subjects that would normally make people blush.
“I can do it because I am older, so that makes me safe. I’m not seen as sexy, I’m not seen as cutesy, I’m not seen as titillating or appealing. I’m seen as safe and harmless… someone who is very knowledgeable. And I am. I know a great deal about sex,” said Johanson. At 78, it’s like watching your grandma lifting her leg onto a table to demonstrate how to insert a tampon.
Johanson, a native of Kenora, Ont. started her career as a clinic coordinator at Don Mills High School in Toronto. In 1972, she opened the first free birth control clinic in the area.
"We wanted to get kids treated now, not three weeks from then when they could get an appointment with the family doctor." At the clinic’s height, staff were treating 45 kids a night.
As Johanson gained fame through the school, she was asked to lecture across Toronto. In 1984 she was offered a weekly one hour call-in show on Q107FM. Thus the Sunday Night Sex Show was born.
In 1985, she turned to tv and in 1996, the show was picked up by an American channel, Oxygen.
The Sunday Night Sex Show gained notoriety and stayed on air until the end of last year.
Johanson said she started talking about sex because schools were only teaching the “plumbing”.
"There is so much we didn’t tell you. Men are taught to guide a woman, with their hands, or head, to show them what they want. Women expect men to know by divine intervention. They don't know how to talk about it.”
Open communication is key to a solid relationship, according to Johanson. "It is so easy to do it, but not so easy to talk about it.”
Johanson also emphasized the use of protection, and not allowing a pushy partner to coerce you into doing something you don't feel comfortable with.
If a partner is being insistent, “give them their walking papers.”
Now semi-retired, Johanson still performs free lectures to college and university campuses across Canada and the Northern United States.
Spending time away from her family is tough. One student asked how her sex life was, which made the grandmother chuckle.
"I know that some people think you don't have sex after 35, but I tell you, I'm double that and I take it any chance I get.