It’s the first question anybody asks me after finding out that I am a college student: “What are you studying?” The answer, for me, is not so simple. As a self-designed Human Sexuality major with a minor in Anthropology, I’m proud of my educational path. The problem is, it makes some people uncomfortable. Though many people I talk with are genuinely intrigued by my desire to become a sex therapist, a lot of the adults in my life aren’t prepared for my answer to that very common question. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve stood there, awkwardly explaining my career path while watching someone’s face contort into various expressions of embarrassment.
Some have suggested that I just don’t answer the question, or that I make up another name for my path of studies. But to me, that’s a huge cop-out. The whole reason that I’m doing what I’m doing is because I want to make talking about sex less taboo. I want it to be perfectly acceptable in our society to discuss sex and sexual pleasure openly and freely. And if I myself can’t be a model for the way I want the world to be, well, then, I’m copping out.
On the other hand, I don’t want to embarrass those around me. I’ve been asked many times by friends and family when meeting new people to not talk about my studies, since it would make those new people uncomfortable. Which I totally respect- it’s not my job to walk in and start up conversations that are out of everyone’s comfort zone. On the other hand, when somebody asks me, I don’t want to lie.
So, what do I do? I am beyond proud that I am a sexual health educator, write for a sex blog, and am on the route towards becoming a sex therapist. I love that I am a resource for my friends and colleagues, and that everyone comes to me with their sex-related questions. Helping people talk about sex lights a fire in me, and yet so many people around me tell me I should be ashamed of it.
So, MSP readers, I’m posing this question to you. What are we, as sex-positive educators/workers/students/people in general supposed to say? When people ask me what I’m studying, should I lie and say what I’ve been asked by so many to say, that I’m studying gender studies and anthropology? Should I state with unabashed pride that I’m studying to be a sex therapist? How do I respond when people crack jokes about me getting paid to sleep with my clients?
Usually I take this space to share my knowledge about sex and sexuality with you all, but now I need help from you!
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