stigma

Recent posts

Bystepping Stigma By Easily Locating STI Clinics

It’s important for both potential and current sexual partners to be able to give informed consent to participating in sexual acts, which includes, among other things, knowledge about one’s STI status. STIs like herpes are much more prevalent than they are assumed to be, and due to the stigma surrounding having an STI, it’s often difficult to even initiate a conversation about getting tested. That’s why I was pleased to learn about the website, FindTheBest, which allows you to compare STI testing clinics using a set of filters and factors. Unfortunately, a lot of people tend to assume that the only places to get tested at are a doctor’s office, which is not true at all. I played around with the website’s comparison tool, and I thought it was pretty neat. 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 →

Informed Consent: Risk Assessment vs. Stigma

As part of my informed consent post series, I’d like to talk about the issue of risk assessment regarding STIs when deciding whether to have sex with someone, and how to grapple with the problem of stigma. I wrote about stigma in my post on the adjacency effect, but the brief recap is that stigma is a sense of judgment or pollution attached to people who deviate from the norm. They’re seen to be dirty, unworthy, and so on. People who have been diagnosed with STIs certainly fall into this category; many face judgments such as slut-shaming, intolerance, and even human rights violations. In the context of informed consent, it is incredibly important for people to disclose their STI status to potential sexual partners. Continue Reading →

Want To Donate Blood? Make Sure You Don’t Look Gay.

Blood banks in the US will not accept blood from men who’ve had sex with men in order to try to prevent the spread of HIV and AIDS (despite the fact that the blood is tested before it officially can be used). Not only does this practice prevent potential donors from giving blood, it also allows for arbitrary and idiotic discrimination, as in this case of an Indiana man who was rejected because he “seemed” to be gay. This discriminatory policy costs hospitals healthy blood, and individuals their dignity: regardless of one’s sexuality, to have one’s appearance used against you is wrong. Follow us on Twitter @mysexprofessor. Follow Jeana, the author of this post, @foxyfolklorist. Continue Reading →

Professor Writes Romance Novels… And Keeps Job

Perhaps reports of a high-school teacher receiving criticism for writing erotic novels and of a transgender professor denied tenure have made me cynical, but I was surprised to read about this professor who is “out” as a romance novelist and seems to be doing fine. Her colleagues all agree that the caliber of her scholarship speaks for itself. Wouldn’t it be nice if everyone who was somehow involved in thinking/writing about sex were treated with the same regard? Follow us on Twitter @mysexprofessor. Follow Jeana, the author of this post, @foxyfolklorist. Continue Reading →

Transgender Professor Denied Tenure

After completing her transition, a transgender professor was denied tenure and terminated. The professor also experienced harassment specific to her situation: she was told that she could only use one bathroom on the campus, a restriction that was placed on no other faculty member. After her tenure review, the professor was told that the dean and vice president of academic affairs found her “lifestyle” inappropriate, so she was going to be made to leave. There are no transgender anti-discrimination laws in the state of Oklahoma, nor are there specific laws about hate crimes based on gender or sexuality. Thus, there may not be any recourse for the professor, even though the president of academic affairs has openly stated that the professor’s lifestyle “offends his Baptist beliefs.” Continue Reading →

Can Educators Write Erotica?

A high school English teacher has been outed as a romance novelist, leading parents to question whether she’s fit to teach their children. The teacher writes under a pen name, and had not received complaints about the appropriateness of her teaching before someone recognized her from her writing publicity photos. This raises the question: is it appropriate for an educator to also be involved in a profession that involves thinking and writing about sex? One parent complained: “Now my son knows so how is he thinking when he’s sitting in her class knowing what she does on the side.” This isn’t the first situation of its kind: in an earlier MSP post on sex work and academia, I discussed standards of appropriateness specific to the educational workplace. Continue Reading →

Legalized Sex Work in Victoria, Australia

When I first arrived in Melbourne last January, one of the first things I did was take a tram to the Melbourne Sexual Health Centre. The MSHC is affiliated with the University of Melbourne and I knew I’d be taking many of my public health classes there. On my way there from the city center, very excited about exploring my new turf, I saw a maroon-colored, neon-lit building right down the street from the MSHC. “Is that a brothel?” I asked. Continue Reading →

What Happens When Sex Work And Academia Collide?

I recently read an article in the Chronicle of Higher Education about a “professor-dominatrix scandal”. In brief, various faculty members and grad students in the creative writing department at the University of New Mexico were involved with phone sex work, and the whole thing blew up with accusations, resignations, and so on. Notably, many of the people at the university involved in this thing were women, and they suffered terrible consequences at the hands of their colleagues. One of the smarter, more nuanced analyses of the situation is titled “The Scarlet SW for Sex Worker”. The author correctly points out that of the faculty members involved, one woman apologized, quit the phone sex job immediately, and was not found at fault by the university’s administration–however, the other faculty continued to persecute her. Continue Reading →