My Male Sex Ed Heroes

Recently, Susan Wilson wrote a blog post on Sex, Etc. lamenting the lack of male sex educators.  She cited societal pressures, gender norms, and basic discomfort with males and sexuality as the main reasons this disparity exists.  She shared a quote from an administrator who was concerned about male sex educators because they are “teaching to students who are potentially only three to four years younger than they are and in fact ‘datable’ outside of school.”

Can Men Teach Sex?

This argument worries me – what is it about males and sex that scares people?  I’m sure young teachers are just as likely to date someone in their biology class as much as their sex ed class.  And why is the administrator more worried about males than females?  Shouldn’t we be equally concerned about female sex educators?  It really irritates me how males are portrayed as sexual aggressors, unable to resist temptation and needing to be controlled.  The spectrum of sexual desire and control is as wide as any other sexual spectrum, and both males and females can be found on it.

Men Who Make Sex Ed Great

But, in response to Susan, here are a few of my current male sex-ed heros:

Bill Taverner – Director of the Center for Family Life Education in New Jersey; his organization sponsors the Sex Ed conference in November.  He uses humor to great effect in teaching about healthy sexuality.

Paul Joannides – Author of “Guide to Getting it On,” an essential sexuality tome, and blogger for Psychology Today talking about pleasure and sexual health.

Dan Savage – Calls himself an advice columnist, but in reality he’s bringing sex ed to the masses.  Love him or hate him, he has his opinions and voices them loudly and clearly, and many love him for it.  Started the “It Gets Better” project to help GLBT teens. He also has a great podcast.

T Michael Rock – A minister and trainer for Our Whole Lives (OWL), a healthy sexuality curriculum used by the United Church of Christ and the Unitarian Universalists, he trains folks at every level of OWL, from Kindergarten to Adults.  He is also one of the co-authors of the Sexuality and Our Faith books for Young Adults and Adults.

Todd Heywood – A force of nature in Lansing, MI, Todd writes and fights to make sure that people know about HIV and why it is important to continue to talk and educate people about it.  He is especially concerned with HIV disclosure laws, and the barriers these laws erect for many people living with HIV.  He is longtime leader in the GLBT community, and works hard to make sex-positive communities a reality.

While these are just a few examples of the many men that are doing wonderful things with sex ed, I agree with Susan that we need more.  Please encourage the sexy men in your life to teach what they know and get into this amazing field.  I know I’m looking forward to it!

We hope you’ll follow us on Twitter @mysexprofessor and make friends with us on Facebook. You can also follow Craig VanKempen, the author of this post, @craigvk.

Image thanks to Hocine Amrane from Picasa Creative Commons.

About 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.

  • Garnet Joyce

    In general men are the sexual aggressors and this can often make people feel uncomfortable, especially women. It takes a special kind of man to realize this, accept it as true, and work around it. Getting frustrated or angry about it isn’t going to help your cause. Instead try understanding why people don’t feel as comfortable around men teaching about sex.

    I’m not saying that it isn’t important for men to teach people about sex because it is. I am saying that it is more difficult for men to do so and for good reason.

    I highly recommend you check out Charlie Glickman who often talks about this and the dynamic between men and those they pursue. Because I really feel like that has a lot to do with this topic.

  • Anonymoose

    I have to agree with Garnet. When I read, “what is it about males and sex that scares people”, I thought “did he just ask that?”

    In the Congo recently, armed men swept into villages and raped more than 200 women. In the child armies of Africa, young girls are turned into sex slave child brides. Russian criminals trick young women and girls into sex slavery as use violence and threats to coerse them. In America, a man gets mad because a woman refuses to dance with him in a New York City nightclub and he follows her into the bathroom, and beats her badly. Chris Hanson and the Perverted Justice team have no problem filling up hours and hours of Dateline with footage of men who drive many miles to some house to have sex with an underage girl. Many times a year, the local news features a story about a male teacher / coach in one of the surrounding schools who had sex with a student. The list goes on and on.

    Thus, I can see why school administrators would wonder why a male is trying to get a position as a sex ed teacher and if it can come to a good end.

    Add to this the fact that it is usually women’s magazines, radio shows, etc. that talk sex to death. This female driving media about sex is well received by other women and voyeuristic men. (Voyeurism is good.)

    When men attempt to talk about sex, it kind of turns people off and away. It is sort of like … there are dozens and dozens of female written tell all books where women write about their life as a stipper, pron star, call girl, etc. and women (and men) love reading about the lurid details. These women get celebrated and become darlings of society. A ‘released under protest’ home sex tape video of a woman can put her on the map quicker than anything.

    But when a men starts doing this stuff, he ends up being painted as the creep whose libido needs to be crushed. So really, I can understand why men would just take all of the cues of society and simply fall into the role of just ‘shut up and enjoy the fuck’ without risking ridicule by talking much about it.

    I do wish you success in your sex education endevors.