On Being A Sex Educator When You’re Not

A funny thing has been happening to me lately. People have started treating me like a sex educator, even though I’m not. I work in adjacent fields, certainly (such as folklore and gender studies), but I wouldn’t claim the title of sex educator for a number of reasons. What’s a well-intentioned scholar/blogger to do?

First, while I frequently can and do educate people about sex, there’s a reason I’m not calling myself a sex educator. 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. I know enough about sex education to know that there are lots of things I don’t know… er… if that makes sense.

I know enough to refer folks with questions about sexual health to, for instance, the CDC page on sexual health, or for a more accessible take on sexual health, Scarleteen. I’ll look up articles by my peers here at MySexProfessor.com and I’ll sometimes bother them over email with specific questions. I can’t pretend to have all the answers, but at least I know where to look for them.

So if I’m not actually a sex educator, why do I sometimes act like one? Because people seem to need it. I cannot count the number of friends and acquaintances who’ve come to me privately with an admission or a question wondering if what they’ve experienced is normal, or wanting more information, or simply wanting to share their experiences with someone for validation. American culture remains awash in stereotypes and misinformation about sex (thanks, abstinence-only education! ugh!) and thus people need to be getting their information about sex, relationships, and so on from somewhere.

If that somewhere is a well-meaning, tolerant, but not the most thoroughly trained person yet someone who still has experience in the field? That’s a reasonable compromise in my opinion. I have yet to see any negative consequences of talking openly about sex, whereas there are many for keeping it a secret (unplanned pregnancies, STI transmission, ignorance about relationship abuse, and so on).

I’m proud to be a part of the MSP team, and we’ll keep fighting the good fight – for accessible sex education for all – for as long as we need to. Peace out.

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.