Claiming The Title Of Sex Educator

Half a year ago, I wrote a blog post called “On Being A Sex Educator When You’re Not,” which related my experiences of acting like a sex educator when people in my life needed access to that sort of information. However, as I wrote: “I know that there are specific degree programs dedicated to training sex educators, and I would not want to denigrate them (or the people who work so hard for those degrees) by claiming that title for myself.”

Recently, though, I’ve changed my thinking. I’ve been writing for MySexProfessor since 2010. I’ve done research on sex education, and learned about some of the methods and paradigms used by sex educators to impart information to their audiences. I’ve acted as a sex educator in plenty of informal situations, when people needed information about consent, relationship communication, monogamous vs. non-monogamous relationships, kink and BDSM, contraception, sacred sexuality, gender identity, and depictions of sex and gender in the media.

Even though I haven’t trained specifically to do sex educator work, I am realizing that my PhD coursework in folklore and gender studies, followed by teaching and writing about these topics, has prepared me to fulfill the role of a sex educator. I may not have stats like average penis length memorized, but I know where to find them. I know how to decipher scientific studies and parse their relevance for real-world questions. I am a good teacher, and I have thought about how to apply clear teaching principles to sex education.

Beyond my academic training and teaching experience, I have personal experiences and a belief system that makes me quite well suited to educating people about sex. While I don’t find it appropriate to discuss my sex life in public webspace, I’ve had varied relationship experiences, which helps me empathize when others discuss their relationships. I’ve had to come up with strategies for dealing with harassment. I struggle to recognize my intersectional privilege so I can be a better ally. As discussed in my post, Why Can’t We Just Talk About Sex?,  I find sex to be an utterly normal topic. I’m not embarrassed to talk about it in the least. Same goes for relationships, desire, gender roles… you name it, I’ve talked to people about it, and listened to people talk about it without judging or belittling them. This is my way of living Dr. Debby’s very important admonition to Make Sex Normal.

Finally, I have a lot of advantages because of the communities I find myself in. I’m grateful to my fellow MSP bloggers for teaching me so much about sex education, and for mentoring me as my interest in this field grows (especially Debby and Kate – a million thanks!). I’m grateful to the people in my life, friends and family and students and acquaintances, who trust me with their questions and personal narratives about sex.

So, if you see me branching out into sex education in the future, this post explains why I feel comfortable doing so. I think it’s incredibly important work, and I have a skill set, personal beliefs and experiences, and community connections that will help me in this endeavor. Thanks for reading, and wish me luck!

About Jeana

Jeana

Jeana Jorgensen, PhD recently completed her doctoral degree in folklore and gender studies at Indiana University. She studies fairy tales and other narratives, dance, body art, feminist theory, digital humanities, and gender identity.