Obstacles To Teaching About Racism And Sexism

Discussing structural racism in the classroom recently made news when a professor who lectured on this topic was reprimanded for making white students feel uncomfortable. The Slate article reporting on this makes a number of excellent points, which I’ll summarize here and apply to other educational situations. Article author Tressie McMillan Cottom points out that “When colleges and universities become a market, there is no incentive to teach what customers would rather not know. When colleges are in the business of making customers comfortable, we are all poorer for it.” We know that gendered and racist micro-inequalities and micro-aggressions persist in academia, which is ironic because the ivory tower is supposed to be a place of free thinkers and intellectual inquiry. Continue Reading →

Compulsory Monogamy Going Mainstream?

Perhaps I should clarify: compulsory monogamy is already mainstream. It’s already the norm, and a largely unexamined one at that. What I mean to discuss here is how the idea of compulsory monogamy is now under discussion in the mainstream, thanks to its application to The Hunger Games movie franchise. This essay, Compulsory Monogamy in The Hunger Games, by Mimi Schippers, PhD, has been picked up by The Huffington Post and Jezebel. Meaning, it’s now reaching a lot of readers. Continue Reading →

Let’s Go Into The Snowman’s Vagina

Clicking on Jezebel showed me yet another reason why Chicago is a wonderful city (that I don’t get to spend nearly enough time in) – a giant bouncy snowman that doubles as a bounce house. The best part is that to enter the snowman bounce house, you hop in through the snowman’s vagina. The snowman was originally posted on Chicago’s Navy Pier Winter Wonderfest website. Kate Dries notes on Jezebel that “this Snowman is clearly biologically a Snowoman.” Do you think kids pick up on the fact that canal to enter is a vaginal canal? I don’t know about you, but I’m ready to head to Chicago pronto. Continue Reading →

The Oklahoma Example Of Sex Education

Oklahoma has the fifth highest rate of teenage births in the country, and yet sex education is not a state-wide requirement. This is leading to outcry among educators in Oklahoma City, the state’s largest school district. The pattern is a familiar one to sex educators and public health officials: lack of information leads to teenage experimentation, with consequences like high rates of STI transmission, teenage pregnancies, and other health risks (the CDC has released a study to this effect). How long will it take before legislators catch up with educators? Continue Reading →

The Must-Read Article On Herpes

Yes, yes, I know you’re probably thinking: “I don’t have herpes, why should I read an article on it?” Actually, you might. By some estimates, anywhere from 60% of adult Americans to 90% of adult Americans have herpes simplex 1 (HSV-1), which most commonly manifests as cold sores. There is not much stigma in having a cold sore, whereas the genital sores associated with herpes simplex 2 (HSV-2) can cause not only physical pain but also emotional stress around disclosure. According to the CDC, around 16% of Americans have HSV-2, but around 80% of them are unaware that they have it. Continue Reading →

And Then I Brought Up Flesh Hooks.

One of the topics I discussed with my fall college-level class on non-monogamy is BDSM and kink. I deliberately introduced the topic at the end of the semester, when we’d already studied sexual and gender configurations around the world, past and present, with an eye toward how gender, sexuality, and relationship models inform one another’s construction. Our purpose was to critically evaluate how these things work, not to judge them. My goal was to give my students a vocabulary for discussing various sexual practices, and then to have them turn that critical gaze on subjects closer to home and happening in contemporary America: swinging, polygamy, polyamory, and kink. But there I was, on Day 1 of discussing BDSM, mentioning extreme examples of kinky play like flesh hooks and blood play. Continue Reading →

New Study on Exercise and Sex: Our 30 Day Core Challenge

Researchers from the Center for Sexual Health Promotion at Indiana University’s School of Public Health in Bloomington, Indiana are recruiting women and men to participate in a 30 Day Core Challenge, which is a study of exercise and sexual feelings (such as arousal and orgasm). In order to be eligible you must be at least 18 years old. You must be able to engage in physical exercise (such as squats and abdominal exercises, like crunches). In addition, you need to be willing to go online every day for up to 30 days to complete a short questionnaire about the exercises you did that day (if you did any) and any sexual feelings, such as arousal or orgasm, that you experienced. To learn more about the study or participate, visit the study website at https://www.surveymonkey.com/s/corechallengestudy 

Thank you. Continue Reading →

Poly 101 Vs. Poly 201

In the class on non-monogamy that I’m teaching this semester, we’ve spent some time discussing polyamory and open relationships, focusing on how these relationship models intersect with cultural notions of gender and sexuality. We’ve covered a lot of “Poly 101″ topics such as how to communicate in non-monogamous relationships, so I’m going to pass along to my students this link to a blog post about Poly 201 issues. In it, blogger AmazonSyren describes the importance of having a space in which to discuss the issues that arise when one is practicing an alternative sexuality lifestyle. It’s less about “whoa, this is new, what are my options?” and more about “ok, now that we’re here, let’s discuss managing the daily things that crop up in this lifestyle.” Continue Reading →

Rethinking “Consent Is Sexy”

Condom Monologues recently published an interview with sex educator Ashley Manta on consent, sex positivity, and other hot topics in the world of sex education. In it, she urges us to rethink the phrase “consent is sexy,” claiming that it’s an oversimplification:

Consent is not always sexy—sometimes it’s downright awkward. Having a conversation about boundaries, STI testing, and other pre-sex talking points can be incredibly difficult. That does not make it any less necessary. I think it’s important to let people know that these conversations can be challenging and that good sexual communication takes practice. Continue Reading →

Eight Holiday Gifts for the Sex Geek in Your Life (2013 Edition)

There’s nothing quite like a thoughtful gift that says “I love you in all your sex geekiness.” And if you’re a reader of this blog, I’d guess you have a bit of a sex geek streak yourself. Continuing the tradition of curating a list of sex-positive gifts, here are my 2013 suggestions for the sex geek in your life. 1. Buy them an iTunes gift card so they can download the first season of Masters of Sex when it comes out. This well-reviewed series about sex research pioneers Masters and Johnson will be sure to please. Continue Reading →