Heather Saitz

The Walrus tackles vice

By Jason Herring, January 22 2015 —

Everyone has their vices, be it alcohol, gambling or shitty action movies. The Walrus Talks Vice, an evening featuring speeches from eight Canadian scholars and writers, will discuss why we are drawn to “immoral” behaviour, and why that’s not always  a bad thing.

One of the speakers, Jim Pfaus, is a prolific researcher of the neurobiology of sexual behaviour. Pfaus will speak about how sexuality is often thought of as a vice, and how such framing treats sex as an immoral act.

“I’m going to make fun of the idea of vice with regards to sex,” Pfaus says. “It’s so interesting to me that we’ve taken something that we do with statistical regularity — and something that we absolutely have to do for our species — and we’ve turned it into something that polite company cannot talk about.”

Another speaker at the event is journalist and author Ann Dowsett Johnston. Johnston recently wrote Drink, a book about her struggles with alcoholism and the increasing alcohol consumption of women. As a contrast to most other talks, Johnston’s speech is personal and serious.

“We live in what I call an alcogenic culture. And the alcogenic culture is very much focused on the fact that if you’re a professional, you’ll know your wine, and if you’re an adult, you’ll be able to hold your liquor. The problem is, it’s not true for everybody,” Johnston says. “A lot of people are able to drink with impunity. I just wasn’t one of them.”

Other speakers include Dave Bidini, a popular rock musician and member of bands such as the Rheostatics, and Noel Biderman, the CEO of the controversial dating website AshleyMadison.com, which facilitates affairs for married men and women, and journalist and former Swerve Editor-in-Chief Shelley Youngblut.

The evening is presented by Concordia University and The Walrus magazine, and is in town as a part of the High Performance Rodeo.

The Walrus Talks Vice will be presented at the Jack Singer Concert Hall on Jan. 29 at 7:00 p.m.

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