Meeting Dr. Ruth Again

Last week I was so honored to give a talk at the Center for Sex Education’s National Sex Ed Conference, held in Meadowlands, New Jersey. The Sex Ed Conference is the brainchild of sex educator Bill Taverner, who has long been something of a hero and mentor to me. So when he asked me to come give a talk at his meeting, the only possible answer was “absolutely!” Imagine my surprise and delight when, in the months that followed after Bill’s invitation, I learned who else would be there: Jane Fonda also gave a keynote talk related to her book Being a Teen and her years of work in adolescent reproductive health; Former Surgeon General Dr. David Satcher won an award; as did Dr. Ruth Westheimer. I could go on and on about the wonderful women and men who gave talks at the CSE conference, but really you should see for yourself. I met people working from all over the place, in communities large and small, some who worked with LGBT youth or with teen parents and others who worked with the elderly or in clinics or in schools. Continue Reading →

Claiming The Title Of Sex Educator

Half a year ago, I wrote a blog post called “On Being A Sex Educator When You’re Not,” which related my experiences of acting like a sex educator when people in my life needed access to that sort of information. However, as I wrote: “I know that there are specific degree programs dedicated to training sex educators, and I would not want to denigrate them (or the people who work so hard for those degrees) by claiming that title for myself.” Recently, though, I’ve changed my thinking. I’ve been writing for MySexProfessor since 2010. I’ve done research on sex education, and learned about some of the methods and paradigms used by sex educators to impart information to their audiences. Continue Reading →

Making Sense Of Sex Work

In previous posts here on MSP, I’ve struggled to make sense of sex work as a feminist and as a scholar. I’ve discussed why legislating sex work is problematic, and that post sparked a further rumination on how my position as someone who doesn’t have sex work experience means I have to check my privilege when talking about these issues. Because this continues to be a hotly debated topic, I thought I’d share some resources that have been helpful for me in making sense of sex work. First, have a look at the sex worker flow chart here, which encourages viewers to reflect on their reasons for being against sex work, providing a list of consequences of taking those stances. This Feministe post, The War on Sex Workers, emphasizes that we should view sex worker rights within the larger issue of women’s rights (though I’d urge people to keep in mind that men sell sex too, as do people not identifying within a binaristic gender). Continue Reading →

Does Being Gay Make You A Minority? Part 4

For the final post in this series (here are links to Part 1, Part 2, and Part 3) we’ll examine the final 3 characteristics of minority groups based on a sociological list of 5 traits that minority groups tend to share. And we’ll discuss some implications for considering LGBT folks a minority group when it comes to the question of “rights.” 3) A shared sense of collective identity and common burdens: The LGBT community has bonded in order to provide community support to one another, both in cases of discrimination and intolerance described above, and to do what all social groups do for one another (celebrate life, mourn death, share their daily existence, tell stories, make art, help one another, work, gossip, raise children, and so on). 4) Socially shared rules about who belongs and who does not determine minority status: This group might be more porous than other minority groups, since many GLBT groups accept straight allies, asexual allies, and so on within their ranks. But there are still norms for membership, inclusion, and so on. Continue Reading →

Does Being Gay Make You A Minority? Part 3

In this post series, I’m defending the idea of giving GLBT people minority status. My first post gives some background on the issue, while my second post documents the oppression they face, thus fulfilling the first of 5 sociological categories that grant minority status to a group. Now we’ll get into the 2nd of these 5 categories:

2) Physical and/or cultural traits that set them apart, and which are disapproved by the dominant group: as far as I can tell, the scientific community is still researching the nature vs. nurture explanations for same-sex desire (take, for instance, this Slate article explaining some of the recent theories for the biological basis of homosexuality). My educated guess is that there are both biological and environmental factors going into sexual identity, and we’re still figuring out which conditions cause certain factors to come to the forefront. Continue Reading →

Does Being Gay Make You A Minority? Part 2

In the first post in this series, I listed 5 sociological characteristics of minority groups, intending to build an argument that LGBT people are, in fact, deserving of minority status. Here’s where I’ll get into the first – and perhaps most important – of those characteristics. Please note that for the purposes of this discussion, I will be focusing on gays and lesbians; this is not to erase the unique challenges faced by bisexual people, trans*people, queer folks, asexual people, and others, but simply because I’m not trying to conflate all these groups under one umbrella heading, though in some cases it does make sense to consider them grouped together, and I’d argue that they all do deserve minority status based on their uniqueness and their experiences of oppression. 1) Suffering discrimination and subordination: here is a list of atrocities committed against gays and lesbians specifically because they are gays and lesbians:

Numerous hate crimes against gays and lesbians, such as the murders of Matthew Shepard, Steven Simpson, Sakia Gunn, and many, many more, as listed on Wikipedia’s page, History of violence against LGBT people in the U.S. (seriously, click on that last link if you don’t believe that hate crimes against LGBT people are a thing)
Put another way, according to The Leadership Conference, “Of all hate crimes reported in 2007, the proportion committed against lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) individuals rose to 16.6 percent, also the highest level in five years.” I’m gonna go out on a limb and say that the population of gays and lesbians probably remained fairly constant, so the fact that the proportion of hate crimes against them went up means that they are being targeted specifically for who they are. Continue Reading →

Does Being Gay Make You A Minority? Part 1

Since I started following the news about HJR-3, the proposed Indiana amendment that would ban same-sex marriage (which will not appear on the 2014 ballot after all), I have gotten more and more involved in debates on why gay marriage should be legal, what gay rights are, and whether the phrase “gay rights” should even exist. One Indiana blogger, Sam Kean, wrote in a blog post titled Sexual Identity & Equality that “The LGBT culture attempts to claim rights as a minority against which discrimination is happening. That claim for equal rights as a minority is based on sexual identity, as if sexual identity must be equated with other essential (permanent) descriptors of human identity–race/ethnicity, gender, nationality (origin), age.” Kean discusses other aspects of sexuality in his blog post, which I won’t get into here, as my main goal is to demonstrate that gays and lesbians do, indeed, deserve minority status. Here’s why. Continue Reading →

All Rape Is Corrective Rape

(Trigger-warning for discussion of sexual assault.)

While researching a blog post on anti-gay hate crimes such as corrective rape, I stumbled across this piece on corrective rape. The author’s main argument is that in our patriarchal society, all rape is corrective in that it is meant to “correct” women’s behavior when women step outside the lines of acceptable femininity:

Because any woman who exists outside of those proscribed, religious-gender roles, needs to be corrected. That way she will learn her place, but also serve as an example to other women in the vicinity, that if you want to benefit from the protection of the law, and society, you best toe their line. The message that rape sends is that you’d better behave within these narrow confines… or else. Continue Reading →

Activist Pick-Up Lines

Wanting to impress that socially-conscious special someone? Check out these pick-up lines for activists that have been trending on Twitter. My favorites include:

I’m a socialist in the streets but an anarchist in the sheets. Is that a rolled up secular, minority rights-protecting constitutional draft in ur pocket,or are u just happy to see me? Rose are red. Continue Reading →