Craig VanKempen

Craig VanKempen

Craig VanKempen, LLMSW/MPH, is a sex educator and therapist practicing in the Detroit/Ann Arbor area. His professional interests include HIV, polyamory, compulsive sexual behavior, religion and sexuality, and GLBT issues.

Recent posts

Our Whole Lives – Sexual Language Lessons for 8th Graders

One of my joyful duties as a sex educator is to help teach the Our Whole Lives (OWL) curriculum at the Unitarian Universalist congregation that I attend. The OWL curriculum provides a chance for eighth graders to examine their ideas and attitudes about sex and relationships, practice friendship and dating skills, and learn facts about pregnancy, contraception, and STIs that will help them stay safer when they do become sexually active, if they haven’t already. A favorite session of mine occurs early in the curriculum, where we talk with the youth about the different types of language one could use when talking about different sexual acts and body parts. And since OWL is an activity-based curriculum, we can’t just talk about it, we also need to do an activity. The facilitators read aloud some words for sex acts and body parts and the youth write down all the synonyms they have heard for that word. Continue Reading →

Thanks, Tennessee Legislature!

Dear Tennessee Governor Haslem and the Tennessee legislature,

I just wanted to take this opportunity to thank you.  Due to your hard work at drafting and passing the HB 3621 and SB 3310 law, my sex therapy practice will continue to be profitable for years.  While your law outlawing the teaching of  ”gateway sexual activity” and “non-coital sexual activity” is on the books, thousands of Tennessee teens will be taught that their sexual feelings are bad and that they need to refrain from any kind of affectionate touching until their relationship is recognized by the state, and the only way to be sexual with someone is through coitus in marriage.  And my fellow sex educators in your state have their hands tied in terms of giving these confused teens options and speaking frankly about things they could do to deal with these sexual feelings in a way that lower their risks of making their partner or themselves pregnant or contracting STIs. So, thank you, because as a sex therapist, I will reap the benefits of this law for many years.  People will come to me confused as to why the sex in their marriage has fallen apart, or asking how they can stop being attracted to their same gender because they were never taught that same gender attraction was possible, or that any kind of sex exists besides coitus in the context of marriage. Perhaps I’ll even get a chance to meet with a young man who is diagnosed with HIV because his school didn’t address the type of sex he was having, and the risks involved with that. In short, your legislation will allow many more people to be undereducated about sex and relationships, which will lead to problems down the road, even in their state-approved marriages.  They will come to my sex therapy practice to talk about their deep dissatisfaction with their sex lives which may have been prevented were it not for your legislation. Thanks also for helping people think that sex should be painful and scary, and not the pleasurable, wonderful thing that it can and should be.  Those people will need counseling in the future when they don’t want to have sex because they simply don’t like it, or because their head is so filled with sex-negative messages that even when they want to enjoy sex, they can’t get to the point where it feels good. Continue Reading →

How The Germans Do It

When I was coming of age and starting to ask my parents questions about sex and puberty, they did their best to educate me.  Like many good Midwestern liberal parents, they sat me down, looked me in the eye…and handed me a book. The “What’s Happening to my Body? Book for Boys” allowed me to learn about the changes in my body and mind, and read about masturbation, body growth, and attraction.  This book was my entryway not only into my pubescent years, but also into my lifelong interest in sexuality and sex education.  However, as I grew older and learned that many aspects of sexuality made people in the USA uncomfortable, I found I was interested not only in what this seminal book contained, but also what it omitted. So, while studying abroad in Germany, I acquired a book called “Weil Wir Jungen Sind (Because we are boys)” that was also aimed at teens trying to figure out what to do with their growing bodies and feelings.  After a decade spent with the American version, I was surprised by how open and detailed the German version was about some aspects of sex that my book simply glossed over. Topics covered in detail in the German book, but conspicuously absent even in the latest edition of the American book include:

Anal Intercourse
Coming Out
Fetishes
Erogenous Zones
Sexual Positions (with line drawings!)

I found myself thinking, “Why can’t we have such detailed sexual health information in the United States?”  And I realized that any book marketed for teenagers in the US and containing these topics would be quickly attacked and accused of being pornography.  One of the reasons I love to travel and explore is to notice these cultural differences, and see what I/we can learn from them.  Maybe from the Germans, we Americans can learn to be a little more open when talking about sexuality. Continue Reading →

Review of Jonathan’s Engel’s “The Epidemic”

As promised, here is my review of The Epidemic:

The Epidemic: A Global History of AIDS promises two things in its title: to explore HIV/AIDS both from a global and from an historical perspective.  This promise of comprehensive coverage is met with aplomb as Engel takes us on a dizzying tour of the trajectory of HIV/AIDS.  Starting with its alleged origins in Africa, he traces the vectors of the disease into the gay population in the U.S., on to IV drug users, then back across the ocean to talk about how it currently affects the developing areas of Africa and Asia.  Along the way, he discusses the politics, civil rights issues, and how the disease actually works.  Engel approaches issues from all angles, making sure all dissenting opinions and seemingly crackpot theories are mentioned.  He debunks myths, gives proper credit for important advances, and attempts to keep a neutral tone while discussing these hot-button issues. Continue Reading →

Anne Frank’s Edited Anatomy

In all the places to find interesting sex-positive talk, I was informed of this link while listening to SModcast with Kevin Smith.  He and his hetero-lifemate Scott Mosier expressed their disappointment in our society for the censorship that we feel we need to impose on our children, including basic anatomy talk from a famous teenaged figure.  This from the guys who made “Clerks.” The body talk in Anne Frank’s diary is an older story (the content discussed was first published in 1995), but resurfaced two years ago when parents in a Virginia middle school were complaining about the “explicit sexual content” in this classic piece of literature. Reproduced here is the “explicit sexual content.” “…Until I was eleven or twelve, I didn’t realize there was a second set of labia on the inside, since you couldn’t see them. What’s even funnier is that I thought urine came out of the clitoris…When you’re standing up, all you see from the front is hair. Continue Reading →

Tech Guys Finally Get Some Solid State Support

Check out Menaga Miss’ music video “Hard Driving Me Crazy”

This is the hetero tech guys’ erotic dream – the cam girl who dresses up as Leeloo and Lara Croft (AND some leather suited robot-dancing lady – Aeon Flux?) and then leaps out of the monitor for some F2F sexy time.  Thanks, Menaga Miss, for including so many computer puns.  One of my favorites is “gigabyte me all night long.”  Enjoy the nerdiness. Learn about MSP posts as they happen by following us on Twitter @mysexprofessor. You can also follow Craig VanKempen, the author of this post, @craigvk and make friends with us on Facebook. Photo thanks to Reverbnation.  

  Continue Reading →

Wii Dares What Kinect Won’t

In a previous post of mine, I conjectured that it would be a long time before we see a Rock Band type game looking at sex and sexual activity.  Well, I have been proven wrong! This article talks about the parents who are up in arms since a company released a sexy Truth or Dare game for the Nintendo Wii.  Check out the commercial – it seems like tame fun that could lead to other things! What do you about this?  Like Violet Blue, the NSFW bloggess that led me here, does this entice you to purchase and/or dust off the Wii?  Or perhaps something to use the Wii for now that your Wii Fit board is languishing unloved in the corner?  Or is this normal adult/teen antics for the virtual video game age? Learn about MSP posts as they happen by following us on Twitter @mysexprofessor. You can also follow Craig VanKempen, the author of this post, @craigvk and make friends with us on Facebook. Continue Reading →

Coming As You Are

In chatting with my colleague about how the media sexualizes women to sell things, I got a chance to share with him these images from the Society Pages.  I was shocked by the blatant pearl necklace imagery used here to sell everything from liquor to jeans. I’m not getting down on the facial as a sex act. Many men and women I know enjoy being the recipient of their partner’s messy orgasm.  However, I feel a little uncomfortable being confronted with it on TV and magazines.  The “cum shot”, while ubiquitous in porn, should be kept out of our non-erotic magazines and movies. Although I was craving Baileys after watching the ad with it dripping on lips, so I guess it works! Learn about MSP posts as they happen by following us on Twitter @mysexprofessor. Continue Reading →

How Fear of Men Hurts Us All

In my work as a director for a boy’s camp, I was able to see some of the best examples of male leadership, compassion, and care.  I was particularly touched by the multiple times I saw college-aged young men helping to comfort homesick ten-year-olds.  These young leaders were some of the most caring and fun guys I’ve met, busting outside of gender norms to help be role models for the next generation of men. 

Which is why it worries me to see articles like this one in the Wall Street Journal.  To summarize, Lenore Skenazy shares stories from around the world that point to society’s growing distrust of men as caregivers.  While I understand how men are the primary perpetrators in the majority of crimes, I think there are better ways to protect children than constant suspicion and vigilance towards half of the population. It’s quite concerning to me that we demonize men like this, when there are many examples of positive male role models and caregivers in our society (one only need look at the White House to see that).  While attacks, sexual assaults, and misogyny happen, we need to be aware that there are just as many men out there fighting against these things than who perpetrate these acts. The trend pointed out by Skenanzy also relates to growing suspicion of other people in general, with folks locking their doors and avoiding neighbors.  We as a society are more distrustful in general.  Ask any typical parent today whether they’d let their kids go to the park down the street by themselves, and I’m guessing they would say no, for fear of their kids going missing from the “strangers” in their neighborhood. What can we do?  We need to remember that the potential for good and bad can exist in all people, and living in paranoia is an unhealthy practice both for us and for our community.  As a staunch supporter of using a community to produce social change, this idea is difficult for me.  When you and your neighbors (especially the male ones) lack a mutual sense of trust, it will be impossible to create those special communities that take care of each other.  Let’s make sure that any males in our life are treated with cautious respect when it comes to children, and acknowledge that while any given male may be a sexual predator, the vast majority of them are not. Continue Reading →

Erotic ESP?

Check out this article from the Edmonton Journal about a pending study involving people appearing to have ESP, but only when the concealed pictures were of an erotic nature.  Apparently thinking about sex makes us psychic.  Makes perfect sense to me. Learn about MSP posts as they happen by following us on Twitter @mysexprofessor. You can also follow Craig VanKempen, the author of this post, @craigvk and make friends with us on Facebook. Continue Reading →