Communication

Recent posts

Sexual Harassment And The Problem Of Being “Creepy”

Geek culture has some problems with sexual harassment and misogyny, sadly, many of which manifest at conventions in the form of stalking and generally creepy behavior. Genevieve Valentine’s experience at Readercon is only one of the most recent and publicized examples. As I’ve discussed previously, “creepy” may not be the best term for these kinds of behaviors. For one thing, the word itself is vague, and can mean different things to different people. For another thing, the term can be used to indicate unwanted social or sexual attraction regardless of the other person’s intentions. Continue Reading →

Need Help Teaching Sex Ed?

Talking about sex can be difficult enough – so what do you do if you want to teach sex ed? For some teacher friends of mine, they were given the responsibility of teaching sex ed, but no manual or curriculum (in fact, one friend was told to “just figure it out”). Understandably, this can be overwhelming. In order to make sex education easier for teachers to deliver, the UK’s National Children’s Bureau (NCB) provides  a number of resources for educators. While the NCB is based in the UK, the links and information that they provide is invaluable and likely to be helpful regardless of where you are teaching. Continue Reading →

Limits of the English Language – Revisited

Our most recent theme week, Sex and Language, has prompted me to revisit a topic that I blogged about a while back: the use of language when describing a significant other. At the time, I was struggling with what I should call my Sig O. Since my partner (yes, I’ve settled on that word) is transgender, I was bouncing between boyfriend and partner. “Boyfriend,” on the one hand, led everyone to assume heterosexuality, while “partner” made me sound like an old lesbian (no offense whatsoever to that crowd, I’m just not quite there yet). This of course brings up the question of whether or not I actually care what people think of me. When I use boyfriend and people assume I’m straight, should that bother me? Continue Reading →

Jealousy And Language

Jealousy is a problem that irks many a relationship. It’s possible to be jealous of many different kinds of people or things, to be jealous of people who have what you want, or are with who you want to be with. You can be envious or someone for being the kind of person you’re not. In many instances, though, jealousy in the context of relationships means feeling annoyed or frustrated or hurt or angry when your partner (or love interest or crush object) pays attention to someone else instead of you, whether that means going so far as cheating or simply flirting. Since I have the good fortune to be a relatively un-jealous person, friends often come to me for advice about how to handle jealousy issues. Continue Reading →

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 →

Making Poly (And Other) Relationships Work

I caught an interesting summary on Polyamory in the News of five things that make polyamorous relationships work. In the original article, the author (a therapist) describes the five essential components that she believes an open relationship requires in order to succeed. I mention them here because, as I’ve described in the past, often something that make an open relationship work will be useful in closed or monogamous relationships too. First, everyone involved in the relationship has to really want it: they have to be engaged, active, willing participants. While this is obviously crucial in open relationships in order to make sure that one partner doesn’t feel pressured or dragged into something they’re not ready for, this is also an important point for closed relationships. Continue Reading →

The Sex-Positive Parent: An Interview with Founder Airial Clark

Airial Clark has an MA in Sexuality Studies and is the founder of The Sex-Positive Parent. She writes about the intersection of sex-positivity and parenting for multiple media outlets, teaches workshops for parents who have alternative sexualities, and offers one to one coaching for parents looking for sex-positive strategies and support. I first met Airial when we were both studying Anthropology at UC Berkeley. Who knew we’d both follow careers in sexuality education? When I learned about Airial’s amazing project, The Sex-Positive Parent, I couldn’t wait to share her inspiring message with the MSP community. Continue Reading →

This Bed’s For You

Do you prefer having the bed to yourself or do you like to share? Despite having a queen size bed, I often find that my two (not large!) dogs take over. I recently read an article from the Wall Street Journal about whether it’s better to share the bed with a partner or not. While the research that the article mentions is focused on heterosexual couples, I believe that it works for all individuals regardless of sexual orientation. In general, they say that sharing a bed has some major benefits (aside from having your own personal space heater). Continue Reading →

Sex, Love, and Life Advice for Women

In my role as a sex educator, I am often asked – especially by young women – to give one single “must-know” piece of advice about sex. Something that if they knew, their sex life would be better for it. While I can never boil my advice down to just one thing, here are 7 pieces of advice that I wish more women would take to heart:

1. Your vagina smells just fine. You don’t need to douche, spray, or wipe it with anything scented. Continue Reading →

Three Things I’ve Learned Living With An Introvert

Being in a personality-discordant partnership can have its fair share of challenges. I’m a die-hard extrovert who lives with and loves a staunch introvert, and this personality discordance often feels like a greater divide than our differing genders. He is baffled that I can spend all day with lots of people and come home feeling energized, rather than exhausted. Even after I’ve been around individuals I find tiring, I tend to look for connection with other (non-tiring) people to feel more buoyant. This difference is not due to a respective lack of competence. Continue Reading →