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Thinking Sex Forum

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Restrictive Views of Sexuality in a Catholic Setti
Name: Sarah Hess
Date: 2002-09-29 14:37:32
Link to this Comment: 2991


English 212
2002 Second Paper
On Serendip

Since I preferred not to post my whole paper on the web, following is a general description of the sexuality issues I found important in the context of a Catholic education. I felt my Catholic education avoided discussion of sexuality, and as a result, made my classmates and I unaware of the varying degrees to which sexual behaviors can be dangerous and skeptical that the teachers had any idea what sexual behavior even was. Then, in High School, the feeling that either you were a good Catholic school girl or a bad one mirrored the idea in Catholicism, and perhaps other branches of Christianity, that a woman is either in Mary's image or Eve's, nothing in between. Even nuns who talked about sexuality didn't seem to have healthy, inclusive views about it. The healthiest open sexual discussion I've ever experienced is with my friends, and though I am grateful to this, I think it can lead into a downward spiral of the blind leading the blind, so to speak, where people with equally sparse knowledge are helping each other make decisions that can potentially be life-altering.

Catholic Sex: An Oxymoron?
Name: Lindsay Hi
Date: 2002-09-29 23:35:52
Link to this Comment: 3010


English 212
2002 Second Paper
On Serendip

In the first paper I explored the lack of "Sex" language used in the Catholic religion, and how at times this was detrimental to my peers and myself in terms of development as a sexual being. In many ways religion is a means by which parents are able to educate their children in the difference between right and wrong, sharing, compassion, and overall citizenship. Sometimes using religion in this manner can be problematic, we see this especially when it becomes a limitation on a child's overall development. Examples in which this lack of "sex" language becomes detrimental is the middle school girl with gonorrhea of the throat, who has an obsession with the Catholic ideal of virginity to the extent that oral sex is a means of sexual preservation, or the high schooler who ends up pregnant because of the lack of contraceptive education, or more so the college student or adult who has grown up with an incredible sense of self hatred manifested in the individual as a result of what has been termed "spiritual violence." The maladies which arise from the lack of "sex" language is a clear indication of the need for sexual education reform among Catholics, and an embracing of a more open language in which to acknowledge the sexual side of human nature.
By no means would I argue the replacement of traditional Catholic values such as abstinence, natural family planning or marriage, but I would argue that there is a set of Catholic values that is missing in sexual education, and that is in turn what we should spend our energy resurfacing, rather then fighting thousands of years of tradition. The values I would emphasize when introducing or altering the current forms of sexual education would include those of responsible decision making and unconditional love.
I believe very strongly in the notion that while one may raise a child in the teachings of a certain religion, it is not their responsibility to force the child to adhere to its doctrines. Rather, it is the families' role to support the child in the decision making that they make regarding religion. We give them all the information they need about religion even educating them about other religions, preparing them to make a decision about their commitment to religion on their own. One of the key Sacraments of the Catholic faith is Confirmation. At one's Confirmation, they declare among a community of believers their belief and dedication to leading a life as a Christian. The idea is that at the time at which this occurs the individual should have developed enough to make their own decisions regarding religion. We should honor this same principle when giving our children information about sex. We should give them all they would ever need to know about sex, and trust ourselves and our ability to educate responsible decision makers, and allow them to choose what sexual acts they engage in and when. This type of education would include an element of frankness regarding sex and contraception that hasn't been seen in most Catholic sexual education environments, while at the same time reaffirming traditional Catholic values.
The second forgotten value is the idea of unconditional love. It is my belief that people fear the unknown, and issues such as sexual orientation and premarital sex all of a sudden become these plagues in which people must fight to protect themselves and their loved ones from, they use religious doctrine and quote biblical excerpts as their weapons against these plagues. Thus a sense of betrayal, guilt, alienation and in some cases ultimately self hatred is perpetuated amongst these individuals. One way of alleviating this unnecessary violence would be to reiterate the fundamental Christian ideals such as "God created us in his like image" and his message of unconditional love. By stressing the importance of such ideals in sex education, we reiterate how God loves all people, regardless of sexual orientation. By adopting this practice we are promoting an overall tolerance of people as a key component of sexual education, a component that has been missing for sometime. This element would similarly acknowledge our humanity. Catholics believe the idea that Jesus was human, fully human; did he not have feelings or sexual desires like us? This idea baffled my high school friends and I, why should we work so hard to cover up such feelings?
Thus I would propose a sexual education program that was simply more inclusive, of Catholic teachings as a means of educating children and adolescents. Rather then less inclusive. The purpose would be to encourage a general discourse about responsible decision making, tolerance, and unconditional love, integrated closely with traditional beliefs, but not stifling individual development the way old sexual education curriculums had the potential of doing in the past.


"Bringing the Fundamentals of Gender Studies Into Safer-Sex Education." Ed. Janet Lever. Family Planning Perspectives. Vol. 27, No. 4. (Jul. - Aug., 1995), pp. 172-174. [ONLINE][24 Sept 2002].

Claussen, Dane. Sex, Religion, Media. Lanham, Maryland: Rowman & Littlefield, 2002.

The Edge of the Bed: How Dirty Pictures Changed My Life. Lisa Palac. Boston, Massachusetts: Little Brown, 1999.

The Good News of the Body: Sexual Theology and Feminism. Ed. Lisa Isherwood. New York, New York: New York University Press, 200.

School-Based Sexuality Education: The Issues and Challenges. Ed. Patricia Donovan. Family Planning Perspectives., Vol. 30, No. 4. (Jul. - Aug., 1998), pp. 188-193.
[ONLINE][24 Sept 2002].

"Teenage Partners Communication about sexual risk and condom use: the importance of Parent Teenager discussions." Eds. Daniel J. Whitaker, Kim S. Miller, David C. May, Martin L. Levin. Family Planning Perspectives., Vol. 31, No. 3. (May - Jun., 1999), pp. 117-121. [ONLINE] [24 Sept 2002].

Miss America
Name: Nancy Evan
Date: 2002-09-30 20:51:23
Link to this Comment: 3048


English 212
2002 Second Paper
On Serendip

Miss America
In most cases, hindsight truly is 20/20. Had I known we were to eventually plan a sex ed program for the group we chose, I probably would have left the Miss America contestants alone. How can you prescribe an effective sex ed curriculum for adult women? First, I think it is important to decide what exactly these women represent about our culture that needs changing/updating. Obviously, they are in some way represen-tative of the female culture. I mean this in a general sense; for example, while the majority of women are not beauty pageant contestants and are never literally judged by beauty, most women are incapable of openly expressing ideas about sex. While they most likely do not need a sex ed intro outlining ¡®The Birds and The Bees¡¯, they probably do need a chance to re-think their definitions of ¡®being female¡¯ and a chance to learn how to ¡®push the envelope¡¯ a little in order to move the Miss America system towards a more liberal way of thinking. This sex ed program will cover a range of topics, from language to re-thinking outdated modes of thinking about sex and moves beyond the traditional background material often taught in sex ed programs.
Since these women are not much older than many of us in this class, I believe it is safe to assume their sex ed programs were similar to those we have described: some had effective experiences and some have had no sex ed background at all, but most fall somewhere in the middle. With that idea as a starting point, we can examine outdated models of sex ed make up their backgrounds and find an appropriate curriculum that exists beyond the traditional definitions of sexual education.
A plausible reason for the taboo nature of sexual subject matter stems from an ultra-conservative, abstinence-only view of teaching sex ed. Groups advocating this method often use scare tactics to blur the lines between sexual promiscuity and responsible sexual activity. For example, one group advocating abstinence-only, the American Christian Right, has a website entirely devoted to declaring the sins of
teaching children and young adults any ¡®sex ed¡¯ other than abstinence. The resource guide ( ¡®Keep Out of Reach of Children!¡¯) declares the immorality of comprehensive sex ed programs with exclamation-point-bulleted criticisms: ¡°! The sheer quantity of explicit material presented in mixed groups year after year removes inhibitions¡± 2. To re-enforce the message, all sex ed programs that are not exclusively abstinence-only are referred to as ¡®promiscuity education¡¯. This misconception, that all sex acts are restricted and promiscuous, plays mainly on the fears of teenage girls, afraid to be labeled ¡®promiscuous¡¯. Aside from perpetuating false stigmas, these programs perpetuate a certain level of fear associated with sex, a fear that is very difficult for a young woman to shake later in life, when attempting to function in a society where sex is ever present. It
also does not provide for students who have already had sexual experience and may never ¡°admit to [their] first mistakes¡± for fear of being ridiculed or punished5. This kind of restricted thinking is the antithesis of the ideas needed to make sex okay to talk about.
By the time young women are old enough to compete in Miss America, their feelings toward sexuality are pretty much decided. This poses a problem and a solution in itself. The problem, obviously, is that the same conservative view has pervaded in the Miss America pageant for many years; the solution draws on the diversity of sexual backgrounds in the group. If every woman expressed her views on sex and sexuality, the issue would be so abundant it would be difficult to extinguish. This hasn¡¯t happened because of the delicate nature of the issue as well the absence of a large group demanding change. Platforms that have become socially acceptable to discuss (for example AIDS) are for the contestants to uphold. A former Miss America, touring the nation¡¯s schools to promote AIDS awareness was faced with restrictions on her speeches. In many schools she was informed that aside from suggestive words, such as ¡°condoms¡±, homosexuality¡±, ¡°intercourse¡±, she was ¡°free to discuss whatever she pleased¡±3.
Why does such a conservative view of sexuality pose a problem, and how can a sex ed program amend such a deeply varying and personal problem? It seems sexuality pervades every aspect of our culture and lives. Speaking about and understanding sexuality is essential. As Leo Bersani contends in his essay ¡°Can Sex Make Us Happy?¡±, if women are ¡°denied the opportunity to take an intellectual interest in sexual problems¡¦ they are deterred from thinking at all.¡±1
The formal sex ed program challenges women to take control of sexuality and of language. The main fear of vocalizing aspects of sex is the apprehension of being condemned or labeled. However, if all 51 women learn to embrace their opinions about sex, own them, and present them in an intelligent and effective way, the roadblocks that prevent the contestants from vocalizing sexual subject matter dissipates6. By creating a community based on openly expressing issues of sexuality, a new value system can begin to emerge. According to Ruth King and Susan Ehrlich, linguistic meaning¡¦ is determined by the dominant culture¡¯s values.¡±4 By taking the role of ¡®dominant culture¡¯, the contestants can make the informed decision to implement a dialogue about issues of sex.

Works Cited
1. Bersani, Leo. ¡°Can Sex Make Us Happy?¡±. Raritan. 21.4. Spring 2002. p15-30.

2. Grant, George. ¡°Promiscuity Education¡±. [Online] Available: January 2002.

3. Hess, Scott. ¡°Let¡¯s Talk About Sex¡±. [Online] Available:

4. Lakoff, Robin. ¡°Language and Woman¡¯s Place¡±. The Feminist Critique of Language.
2nd Edition. Deborah Cameron. New York: Routledge, 1998. 242-252.

5. Sholl, Betsy. The Red Line. Pittsburgh, 1992.

6. Wright, Susan. ¡°Report on the Suppression of Sexual Diversity in the Arts¡±. [Online]

Color me...Sex?
Name: Fritz-Laur
Date: 2002-10-01 00:00:13
Link to this Comment: 3053


English 212
2002 Second Paper
On Serendip

In creating a sex-ed curriculum for my group I think it would be ideal to use all the languages that are available. As discussed in previous conversations in class it seems as if using one language to try to carry across the full impact of a fully developed sexual being, would somehow fall short of the desired goal due to the restrictions of any individual language. Because of this my sources range from different time periods and focus. The sex-ed curriculum that I would use for my group starts with accepting ones self as a sexual being and realizing that like everything else sex has been around for thousands of years and is nothing new. With this ideal firmly in place it seems as if it would then be easier to talk about sex in a safe and open environment. Where people would be comfortable with their own individual sexuality and in turn, feel more comfortable with asking questions and making suggestions.
The books I picked for my curriculum were ""Sisters, Sexperts , Queers" : Beyond the Lesbian Nation" which was edited by Arlene Stein, "The Sexual Politics of Black Womanhood" an essay found in Patrica Hill Collins's "Black Feminist Thought: Knowledge, Conscience and the Politics of Empowerment", and "Stolen Women: Reclaiming Our Sexuality, Taking Back Our Lives" by Gail Elizabeth Wyatt .
These books and the essay deal with the problems facing women of color when it comes to their sexuality. "The Sexual Politics" and "Stolen Women" have the same general theme though the approach their points differently. While "Sexual Politics" digs through the historical foundations for perceptions and stereo types surrounding women of color through pornography and slavery, "Stolen Women" traces the foundation of how women of color in America view their bodies and their sexuality through behavioral trends and historical myths. Trough these books it is hoped that my group will gain a better prospective on how history affects our daily lives, our thought and how we seen or choose to be seen by others in society. In hopes of avoiding some of the damaging behaviors that have plagued us through the generations.
"Sisters, Sexperts, Queers", deals with an invisible community, the lesbian women of color. It brings a complex and usually underrepresented group to the foreground. The book shows the immense diverse community within another .Through the same lines that flow from "sexual Politics" and "Stolen Women", lesbian women of color are a practically inviable community. Patricia Hill Collins mentions in the essay I've chosen for my curriculum. It seems in a society that is generally homophobic and where women of color are seen as sexual objects rather that sexual beings the worst thing for a woman of color to be is a lesbian woman of color. This puts her in a compromising position, what little power she might have held is questioned. Collins goes on further to develop her theory on this constant power struggle that is bases in years of history.
The web sites I choose for the curriculum were mostly geared toward general health issues as well as sexual well being. They ranged from those who advertised as being mostly for teenagers to those who were aimed at an older audience. They were :

Mysistahs is aimed more towards the teenager , but it had very interesting and though provoking articles on todays culture. One that caught my attention was on the exploitation of women in todays popular Hip-Hop music.

This web-site is geared more toward women in their late twenties and older. It has a variety of forums available for health questions . Their topics range from alcoholism to breast cancer. This is be a resource for women of any age.

This site covers all the things that are found in Judith Levine's "Harmful to Minors" and then some. They take each of the topics such as outer course and take them a step further with examples.

An Extended Conversation
Name: Ngoc Tran
Date: 2002-10-01 11:57:44
Link to this Comment: 3061


English 212
2002 Second Paper
On Serendip

Imagine a scene during one of these coming up holidays where every member of my extended gathered at my third uncle's house. We have just finished dinning and making minor conversations with one another. We are moving ourselves back to the living room where comfortable seats await. I can already see that it will take us a while to gather all in this small intimate living room. Nevertheless, once we are all present, I believe one of my close relatives will come up with a joke and that would bring us to relaxation. Only in this calming and less culture-bound atmosphere would I begin my effort to extend an open dialogue on this particular topic of sex.
One of the great challenges in this curriculum is figuring out a place, a time, an atmosphere fit enough to mention the word sex without criticism and condemnation. While it is important for me to bring up the discussion, it is even more important whether they are willing and are comfortable enough to participate, to share their feelings and thoughts. When a classroom takes form of a small family living room, the students are no longer just students—they are human being with diverse and unique experiences, values, and beliefs. Rather than considering my extended family as students, I consider them as spectators. My goal for this curriculum is simply to open dialogues among these spectators.
The interchange can begin with a true and typical story of a girl who "said she was worried she may be pregnant because her boyfriend kissed her on the cheek. She heard that story from her mother and her grandmother" (Viet Nam News, July 31st, 1999, p. 5). Questioning her naivety will initiate responses from only a few but these few reactions will be a good lead way to a movie (Girls Like US). The movie will provide time for further reflection on the topic. In a way, this presentation will force the viewers lightly into surveying the reality.
With the talkative nature of this group, I can foresee how it is not difficult to receive general comment after the film ended. It will be difficult, however, to direct the discussion with a deeper, and a more meaningful, literal language. To reach this state of comfort and ease, I believe we will need more than one gathering and perhaps that can happen throughout the somewhat long break during the holiday. Each of these discussions may last from one to two hours but it is difficult to estimate or predict the degree of sensitivity that may be displayed with these individuals because we have never really touched upon the topic.
I will imagine that I have the ability to persuade them to gather again, my next agenda will be distributing excerpts and sharing their thoughts in writing. Making this sharing time both personal and informal, I would collect all their writings, put it in a basket, and then randomly select from the basket for discussion. Excerpts are selected from texts that have to do with Vietnamese, Vietnamese-American, and American perspectives, cultures, values, and beliefs about sex. We would focus on what and why of the question. The first part of the discussion will have more to do with theories and ideals while the second part, which will place at a different session, will have to do with the reality—exploring and acknowledging what is out there in the media, on the net, and in education. For adults/older adults, I would like to gather their response to what their children and grandchildren are learning about sex. For the younger members, I would like to gather how they feel about their education about sex and what their response to their parents and grandparents' opinions and beliefs about their sex education.
It may not have been apparent, but our conversation will take place both in English and in Vietnamese. We will come to an understanding of a set of technical terms during discussion for both set of languages. There will be a time where individuals will get to be in their comfort zone. In other words, they will be with members who either feel more comfortable in either English or Vietnamese. Working with their group, they will come up with a short lesson on terms and stereotypes of their group to introduce to the other group. We are not teaching each other but rather we exchange and learn from one another. With this attitude, we will be able to slip through the cultural barriers at a better ease.
The more we can be open about our attitude, our beliefs, our values, and ourselves the more we get out of this curriculum. I am uncertain of how my extended family will receive this idea of having an extended conversation about sex, but I do hope that at the end of this short-lived effort, we can come to acknowledge ourselves as sexual being without fear of guilt, shame, and condemnation. Indeed, in silence, we are mothers, fathers, daughters, sons, brothers, sisters, nieces, and nephews. In dialogues, we are simply human being.

Opening the Lines of Communication
Name: Bea Lucaci
Date: 2002-10-01 15:03:13
Link to this Comment: 3063


English 212
2002 Second Paper
On Serendip

Using humor when talking about sex can be a great way to uncover ideas and feelings that lie hidden within an individual. Some people prefer masking the truth with humor because of insecurity, or simply because they were raised to do so.

When faced with the task of educating my sexual sub-group (my peers), I realized my curriculum would have to reach out to a variety of people: a female virgin with no sexual experience, a male virgin with little experience, an experienced male, and many others. If most of them have had sex, why aren't they able to speak about it in serious discussion? Why is it that the women feel more comfortable talking about sex in a smaller, female group, and can we change this?

I came across a list of movies relating to real life and sex that were recommended for viewing by adolescents. I glanced over it, trying to determine if I would show any of them to my friends to open up discussion. However, the majority of the movies were comedies (e.g. The Breakfast Club, The Birdcage, In and Out). If the goal is to achieve an honest and serious environment, the use of a comedy seems counterproductive.

The curriculum should be "taught" in a neutral place – such as the diner where we usually meet. Sexual openness cannot be forced or planned. Discussion needs to begin naturally. There are plenty of magazines that put out information and advice about sex. Using these articles and/or advice columns may ease the group into a serious exchange of personal stories and opinions. This medium allows for open conversation, whereas a movie would be difficult to follow while conversing with the group.

This curriculum would try to combat the views of sex and sexuality with which this group has been raised. We were all taught to be discreet and never discuss our private, i.e. sex, lives. Also, many within this group have skewed ideas of what sex is like, and what our bodies should look like. This is greatly due to the mainstream media's influence, as well as pornographic movies. Some people develop unrealistic expectations and impressions of sex because of what they see in such movies. Others don't take the films seriously, but, rather, watch them simply to help themselves get off. Talking about such things may help my peers to become aware of different perspectives, and to separate reality from pornography.

Listening to a variety of music may also provide some insight into how each person feels about sex. Some may find certain types of music to be intensely sexual, while others may find feel something completely different when hearing that same music. Utilizing music during discussion would work in bringing about a more intimate look at sex. We can find how each person is affected by music, and which music in particular they find to be overtly sexual.

The "curriculum" for this particular group is not designed for a classroom setting. It is designed to manipulate the discourse among friends about sex. The best way to reach this group is not through a designed lesson plan which attempts to teach them about sex. Instead, maintaining an open and honest conversation allows for each person to learn from the other. The main goal of my curriculum is to help the group achieve a comfort level with each other that previously did not exist among them. It has been said that female friendships are more intimate and socially supportive. Men, however, prefer "side-by-side" friendships to "face-to-face" friendships. I have witnessed this within my group. The women are more likely to talk in smaller groups about serious matters involving sex, love, and relationships. However, the same rules do not apply to the sexual/peer sub-group as a whole, seeing as how the group is comprised of men and women.

Some may be too embarrassed to share stories or ask questions. However, by using a variety of magazine articles and advice columns, each person may find a topic regarding sex that they feel comfortable discussing. This way, they don't necessarily have to share stories, but can inquire about different aspects related to sex (especially the members of the group with little to no experience).

By manipulating the discussion, we can turn an average conversation into a brief course in achieving a new comfort level with friends. No one will be required to divulge their most intimate secrets; however, each individual may feel at ease when the topic of sex comes up, and may even share his/her own thoughts or experiences. Of course, humor can still be worked into the conversation, probably making it even better and much more natural for the parties involved. The actual teaching about sex and sexuality will come from one another once everyone feels comfortable enough with speaking about themselves instead of discussing the sex lives of strangers.

Auhagen, Ann Elisabeth. "Adult friendship." The Diversity of Human Relationships. Ed. Ann Elisabeth Auhagen. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1996. 229 247.
Blackburn, Randal. "Just How Different Are American Views On Childhood and Adolescent Sexuality?" All About Sex. March 2002. (September 25, 2002).
Blanke, Hanne. "Looking, Lusting, & Learning." Scarleteen: Sex Education for the Real World." 2001. (September 25, 2002).
Bradley, Loretta J., Elaine Jarchow, and Beth Robinson. All About Sex: The SchoolCounselor's Guide to Handling Tough Adolescent Problems. Thousand Oaks: Corwin Press, 1999.
"Sexual Politics: Advice Column." Scarleteen: Sex Education for the Real World." 2001. (September 26, 2002).
Trudell, Bonnie Nelson. Doing Sex Education: Gender Politics and Schooling. New York: Routledge, 1993.

Masturbation 101
Name: Jessica Tu
Date: 2002-10-01 16:52:38
Link to this Comment: 3077

<mytitle> English 212
2002 Second Paper
On Serendip

Jessica Tucker
Thinking Sex

Masturbation 101


Development of Sex-Ed Curriculum


The sexual subgroup that I examined in our last paper was heterosexual women at Bryn Mawr who are not currently sexually active.  These women are already fairly knowledge about sex and safe sex and they are already not using this knowledge because they are not sexual active.  A curriculum concerning these topics would not be very beneficial to them.  However masturbation is a topic that is shrouded in secrecy much more than other sexual topics and sex-ed class about masturbation would probably be very beneficial to all women, because masturbation is a great way to explore ones’ own body and desires regardless of other sexual activities.

In the sexual subgroup there are women ranging from those who have never masturbated to those who do it frequently.  It is a topic already discussed by these women, but a sex-ed curriculum would provide the forum for all the women to share their positive and negative feelings and experiences concerning masturbation.  Also it would give these women the opportunity to talk and ask about something that is usually unspoken (masturbation and female anatomy) and learn more about themselves and what is “natural.”

This course would be taught as seminar/workshop in masturbation positive manner. Within the class masturbation would not be treated as something dirty, wrong, or harmful, but these connotation of masturbation would be discussed.  The class would be an exploration the female body, what masturbation is, the connotations and feelings surrounding masturbation, and how/why women masturbate.  Assigned readings would be informative, but also to allow those women who do not want speak about personal masturbation experiences the ability to participate in the class in a removed manner.  Furthermore there should never be any pressure on the women to divulge experiences/information or do anything to her body that she is not comfortable with.

The following is a basic outline for the subject matter of this curriculum.  Sections do not necessarily correspond to one day/meeting.


Section 1: Learning About Our Bodies:

Through in-depth explanations and explorations of the female body and female arousal, we will learn about our own bodies, the private areas that are usually kept secret and we therefore lack knowledge of.  The readings examine the female body biologically and scientifically.

Bring to class: A few artistic (realistic photographs or paintings) or scientific representations of the female body (genitals).


§       Barbach, Lonnie Garfield. For Yourself: The Fulfillment of Female Sexuality. (49-72)

§       Masters, William H. and Virgina E. Johnson: Human Sexual Response. Tables 17-1 & 17-2 “Sexual Response Cycle of the Human Female – Extra genital Reactions and Genital Reactions”. (286-289) & (Optional reading 27-80,111-140)


§       Using the text and pictures brought to class we will explore and discuss the female body.

§       What new things did you learn about the female body?

§       Did anything seem particularly interesting or unusual?

§       Why is this part of the body so hidden (both physically and culturally)?

Homework:  Explore your own body. Possibly with the help of a mirror examine the parts of the body that we have read about and discussed. The purpose of this is not for sexual gratification, but for a greater understanding/knowledge of your own body.


Section 2: Views on Masturbation

To understand our own feelings on masturbation, we will look at how masturbation has been viewed by society, other women, and history.  Readings include exploration of masturbation confusion, national survey answers on masturbation and a Q&A forum on masturbation.

Bring to class: A few masturbation myths.


§       Barbach, Lonnie Garfield. For Yourself: The Fulfillment of Female Sexuality. (1-31, 39-48)

§       Hite, Shere. The Hire Report: A Nationwide Study on Female Sexuality. (5-18, 57-127 and optional 131-253)

§       Klassen, Albert D., etc. Sex and Morality in the U.S. – Questionnaire: Feelings about Masturbation (400-403)

§ Go Ask Alice: Q&A forum.


§       How is masturbation viewed culturally and individually?

§       What are the negative views/myths about masturbation?

§       Are these views founded?

§       What are the positive views about masturbation?

§       Is male masturbation more accepted/depicted than female masturbation in our culture? Why?

Homework:  Tell one person about a masturbation myth and why it is incorrect.


Section 3: Starting Masturbation

Women in this group have different masturbation comfort levels.  To begin exploring our bodies sexually we are going to start with the very basics. Readings are designed to introduce these women to masturbation.

Bring to class: An open mind.


§       Barbach, Lonnie Garfield. For Yourself: The Fulfillment of Female Sexuality. (73-122)

§,10707,166917,00.html Article on masturbation at Read “Masturbation 101: 6 Tips for Solo Pleasure” and “Masturbation How-To (Cosmopolitan)”


§       Why masturbate?

§       If you have masturbated before, how did you get started?

§       Does anything in the reading sound interesting/fun?

§       Do the women have masturbated before have advice for those who have not?

Homework:  If you feel comfortable, try masturbating.


Section 2: More “Advanced” Masturbation: Sex Toys and Exploration

Masturbation in its essence is a sexual exploration. There are an endless number of sex toys and styles of masturbation to explore.  These readings help explore the possibilities of masturbation.

Bring to class: An open mind.


§       Hite, Shere. The Hire Report: A Nationwide Study on Female Sexuality. (19-54)

§       Go to a site like and look around at sex toys that could be used in masturbation.

§,10707,166917,00.html Article on masturbation at Read “Masturbation 201: 5 Tips for Advanced Masturbation Pleasure” and “Buzz on Vibrators”

§ Masturbation Page – Read some of the visitors’ own masturbation experiences.


§       An in class workshop with sex toys. A representative from a female orientated sex shop will bring sex toys.

§       Based on participants’ comfort level: talk about masturbation experiences.

§       Are there any of the sex toys or visitors experiences that you are you interested in trying?

§       How do you feel about masturbation?

Homework:  Have fun! Be comfortable with and explore your body!


Sensual Eating - A Sophomore Denbighte's Guide to
Name: Hanan El-Y
Date: 2002-10-02 15:29:26
Link to this Comment: 3091


English 212
2002 Second Paper
On Serendip

I find this project somewhat uncomfortable as it asks me to assume much about A, B, and C's sexual behavior and knowledge. I agree that one always has more to learn and that growing is a life-long process that has no end. What disgruntles me is assuming the position of instructor. Who am I to teach these women about sex and its languages? How do I know they want to hear what I have to say? This assignment is challenging in this uncomfortable aspect, however I have made efforts to make this sexual education curriculum fun, humble, and accessible. I plan to offer this as a token of gratitude to B and C for participating in my imposed and rushed discussion about sex a week or so ago. For the record, I am A, B will be called Blondie, and C will be called Cat. This sex ed curriculum is designed for Blondie and Cat specifically and it is to them that I address this. I am not excluding myself but simply making this curriculum more tailored with specifics. This does not indicate a change of the sexual subgroup nor my removal from it.
I asked Blondie and Cat what they wanted to know about sex that I could teach them, or refer them to. Blondie responded that she wanted to learn more about aphrodisiacs and pheromones. Cat said she wanted to know how she could get laid. I also took into consideration that Blondie and Cat share a great appreciation for comics and comic strips as well as food. Cat in particular enjoys cooking (whereas Blondie enjoys eating). I was inspired to use Phoebe Gloeckner's comic A Child's Life and Other Stories. I had trouble finding this book - it is currently being sent to the local Barnes & Noble. Although I cannot implement this comic directly in this sexual education course, I would like to keep it in mind as a source of pleasure, humor, visual stimulation, as well as reflection for these particular women. It may offer them a new, if not different, perspective on putting sexuality into a language that incorporates many different desires, family dynamics, individual strife, medium / form, and emotions. Another source of recommendation to these two women is a comprehensive, accessible, and delicious sexual instruction book. It is called Guide to Getting it on! : The Universe's Coolest and Most Informative Book About Sex for Adults of all Ages by Paul Joannides. This book is currently being held hostage at Swarthmore's library, and again, although I could not directly implement it for this particular curriculum, I mention it as a source for future research or use.
The point of this curriculum is to help these women have a more positive attitude towards sex and sexuality. I do not think that Blondie or Cat have negative attitudes, but the conversation that we shared indicated a somewhat tarnished view on sex. I believe that these women's experiences can be altered by their attitudes going into a sexual situation (of course this is to the extent that their partner(s) is / are reciprocating mutual respect). With this, Blondie and Cat's language of expression, or mood of language, may become more positive, healthy, reflective, and didactic. In order for Blondie and Cat to have more positive sexual encounters they need to be able to communicate what they desire, engage in "healthy" or "safe" sexual behavior, and be at terms with their emotional desires / expectations (i.e. communicate what feels good, use contraception, express emotions). I have researched some ways in which they may be able to do this. The main focus, of course, is the sensual meal. But I will give some attention to masturbation (addressed to Cat) and attachment behavior in adult relationships (addressed to Blondie). Narrowing down sources was difficult - I have found many primary sources (and have a personal preference for primary sources over electronic ones) however I will attempt to incorporate the technological resources as well.
The main portion of this course will consist of a personally designed and tailored recipe for a complete meal (see attached). This meal takes into consideration the individual gastric preferences of Blondie and Cat respectfully. However, this meal is not just any meal. These dishes are not only tailored to varied tastes - from appetizer to desert to bread and cheese, these meals are made up entirely of natural aphrodisiacs! My main source is Isabel Allende's Aphrodite. It is important to keep in mind the "science" of organic aphrodisiacs. Allende does not delve into the intricate chemical processes that make certain foods sexual stimulants and others a sexual bore. It is implied that these aphrodisiacs work best if the mind believes. Allende cites examples from a B.C. Taoist monk's orgasmic recipes for his wife, to a Chinese female Tao master who permeated and radiated intense sexuality, to the European Middle Ages of fasting and abstinence. All of these methods of stimulation are, or were, thought to be aphrodisiacs. Allende makes the point that most anything can be an aphrodisiac if one puts one's mind to it (and excludes only a few certain things as anti-aphrodisiacs, i.e. bad breath, television, ice water baths, etc.) (Allende 30-31).
I am providing a "scientific" definition of aphrodisiacs and pheromones for Blondie and Cat as well. These were found in the Encyclopedia Britannica Online (copies attached). Aphrodisiacs are defined as "any or various forms of stimulation thought to arouse sexual excitement. Aphrodisiacs may be classified in two principal groups: (1) psychophysiological (visual, tactile, olfactory, aural) and (2) internal (stemming from food, alcoholic drinks, drugs, love potions, medical preparations)." Pheromones are defined as "any endogenous chemical secreted in minute amounts by an organism in order to elicit a particular reaction from another organism of the same species . . . Pheromones may be involved in human sexual response. In testing human vaginal secretions, scientists have identified fatty acids identical to several that are presumed to act as sex pheromones in other primates." Sexual pheromones are pheromones whose elicited "particular reactions" is reproductive or sexual. I consulted another web source to test the consistency of this definition. According to Webster's Dictionary Online (via Expanded Academic), aphrodisiac is defined as "1: an agent (as a food or drug) that arouses or is held to arouse sexual desire 2: something that excites" (also attached). I hope this will provide a succinct definition of aphrodisiac that marries well with Allende's assertion that the success of an aphrodisiac is perhaps more dependent on folklore or mind-set than actual chemical processes.
Now, to address Cat pointedly, and Blondie indirectly, the joy of masturbation should be reclaimed in order for these women to regain a positive attitude towards sex (or lack thereof). Felice Newman's The Whole Lesbian Sex Book: A Passionate Guide for All of Us, dedicates an entire chapter to the art of masturbation. The subtitles within this chapter are enough to give one an intriguing sense of what the pages have in store - "What Will Masturbation Do for You?" "The Masturbation Workshop Adventure," "Teach Yourself Some New Tricks," "How-to's of Masturbation," "Solo Toys," "Erotica and Fantasy," "How-to's of Orgasm," and "Masturbating with a Partner." I will not delve into the details of this book, and leave the rest up to Cat and Blondie's imagination and own trial. I am sure that this chapter will be useful in tailoring skills, technique, and pleasurable outcomes.
Finally, to tackle the seemingly most difficult aspect of this course, "teaching" Blondie about attachment. Blondie enjoys sex for emotion, not sex for pleasure. She is not comfortable with casual sex and sex that is detached or devoid of emotion. This is a personal preference and choice and I do not wish to impose my own, or anyone else's, opinion on this woman. This source is not particularly academic, intellectual, scientific, or artistic - it is representative of pop culture (see attached). Sex expert Tracey Cox of lists concise pros and cons about casual sex as well as couple sex (sex with an assumingly consistent partner). This article, hopefully will either reinforce Blondie's preference for couple sex, or open a door to the joys that casual sex can bring as well.
All in all, this has been challenging. Despite the multitude of sources available (not to mention the varied forms of those sources), it is difficult to discriminate and choose just a few for very complex and multifaceted women. This is a reaffirmation of the triviality of defining a sexual (sub)group and sexual preference. We women are creatures of stabilized change. While we look for security and consistency, we are not closed to surprises and bends in our roads. I hope that this mini sexual education course will help Blondie and Cat to reclaim the positive aspects of sex(uality) and hence to use a more positive language in discussing it. A toast, to reclaiming passion!

The Menu
I have offered several choices in some cases as it was somewhat difficult for me to be exclusive. After all, my palate is not Blondie or Cat's. This will give these women space to choose according to their particular preferences. I also chose to serve Hors d'Oeuvres instead of Appetizers. This will give the couples something to nibble on while preparing the rest of the meal. And of course, all cooking is intended to be done in the nude!

Blondie's Menu:
Hors d'Oeuvres: Frivolous Prunes or . . .
Festive Mushrooms
Soup: Cucumber Breeze
Main Course: Filet Mignon Belle Epoque or . . .
Champagne Tenderloin or . . .
Risotto Lori
Dessert: Spellbinding Apples or . . .
Mousse au Chocolat
Blondie's meal will be served with a sweet red wine. To finish - an assortment of milder chesses (Gouda, Hollande, Boursin a l'Ail, Brie, etc.) with bread, coffee, and a less traditional pousse-café but very much to Blondie's taste, a vodka.

Cat's Menu:
Hors d'Oeuvres: Shrimp Pica Pica
Soup: Consomme El Dorado
Main Course: Mexican Chicken Mole or . . .
Coq au Vin or . . .
Rosemary Venison
Dessert: Charlotte for Lovers or . . .
Madame Bovary
Cat's meal will be served with a deep, dry red wine. To finish - an assortment of sharper cheeses (Roquefort, Gorgonzola, Camembert, etc.) and bread, coffee, and for a pousse-café a cognac.

All recipes courtesy of Aphrodite by Isable Allende. Bon Appetit!

Talking is Essential
Name: Monica Loc
Date: 2002-10-02 22:19:07
Link to this Comment: 3098

Sexual Education Curriculum for the Locsin Family

* This curriculum is based on the first essay about the Locsin Family but is not involving my ongoing relationship (having a bf) as an adolescent with their knowledge.

This is a Sexual Education curriculum created for The Locsin family, the subsexual group I chose as an example. It is a curriculum that is explored through a Map of Events explained thoroughly in its' dynamics. Here is an overview of the Locsin family: conservative, Catholic (very religious), loving and not open about sex, it is nonexistent in their language. "Sex is a vehicle for a variety of feelings and needs" (Weeks, 65) Thus, the need for a sexual education curriculum has been made for this family.

Goal: My goal is to construct a way of communicating sex in the Locsin family. Thus, creating this language will draw the family and it's members closer and will then lead to open discussions on sex.

Dynamics: I propose to devise a sexual education curriculum through a "Map of Events". This plan will clearly explain each step in the procedure to generate a sexual language in a family setting. Ten days have been allotted to perform this curriculum. Each day has its' own particular theme and language used. The language that will be used will change throughout the process. Thus, the language in the beginning will be more generalized and indirect. This will involve events such as communicating sex for the first time with parents and siblings, trying to make it a dinner table topic and the whole aspect of dating the opposite sex. Since most of the conversation will be with parents, it will be non-academic and non-slang as opposed to language used with a more familiar sex group. As time progresses, communication will be more specific in language and opinionated. These events will include the rules of the game in dating, having a steady boyfriend and accepting the issue of sex in a conversation played in the household.
The illustrated map has a word that represents each day. This will give the reader a sense of how the curriculum progresses in terms of emotional and physical factors. It is also set up in such a way that there will be support groups that the members of the family can turn to in case they do not feel that they want to move on from the day or step they are in. There will be four support groups: my auntie Cindy, my grandmother, a group of my friends and my uncle June. Remember, this curriculum has been made in such a way that each event has been accepted by the members. However, hypothetically I will add some instances where some of the members do not comply with the events and I will also give input in what "they might say or do". These will be cases when the support group will be of good use to the members.
· Talking to mom about dating in Starbucks
I will plan for my mom and I to go out for coffee on a nice Sunday afternoon. We will have our occasional girl talk, the conversation mainly consisting of all my recent crushes. I will bring up the idea of whether I am allowed to date. I would want to hear her reaction to this issue. She might be hesitant to answer the question and just change the subject all together or she might be accepting and elaborate on what I mean by "a date". In the case where she doesn't want to talk about it and feels uneasy, she can always turn to one of the support groups for their opinions. In this situation, she would probably turn to my auntie Cindy, her sister for some advice. The reason why I chose to begin this process by conversing with my mother first is because I feel closest to her and I feel that she understands me most. As Kahn states "Mothers appear to take more responsibility for sexual communication with children than do fathers" (Kahn, 287).

·Joining my siblings watch some TV and then asking if they want to have a snack after.
I plan to have a conversation about dating with my siblings after watching TV, because it is this time when they are relaxed and will be more than willing to talk. Talking over a snack is a way of being open and welcoming new subjects for conversation. I will bring up the subject of dating with my brother first since he is the eldest and he is very protective of me and my sister. He might not be open to the idea and will just tell me that it isn't going to happen soon or he might joke around asking me if there is someone I like but at the same time tell me that he doesn't like the idea of me dating. My sister on the other hand might nod and be like why are you asking this or she will be like okay you like Ralph but you cannot date him yet. The language here would be casual and at the same time more general and indirect. I chose them next to talk about dating because they don't take it seriously and probably understand more where I am coming from considering the fact that we are around the same age range.

·Talk with dad during a Monopoly game.
I am the baby of the family and with the close relationship I have with my father, dating was one issue we never talked about and one which I wish he did talk about. "As a child matures, a parent should readjust his way of relating to the child to foster growth" (Graybosch, 314). It has never been easy for me to bring this topic up, so during this conversation I would use very general language and make sure that he understands what I am trying to say. I plan to ask him what he thinks of the idea of me being involved in a relationship with a boy and if he will allow this. My father would either be appalled with what I am talking about and just give me the "I don't want to talk about it" look or he might react in such a way that is telling me that he realizes that I am not a kid anymore. I chose to discuss this with my father last because I wouldn't know any way to approach this subject by telling him first. I feel that by letting him know last, I would have had enough practice in talking about it already.

Dating and SEX
·Discussion of dating and sex over dinner
A Friday evening dinner would be a good time to have an open discussion on dating and by this time, everyone should be prepared for this because of the pep talk I gave each member during the past three days. I would then ask my parents if dating is allowed (this would be in front of everyone) and what would be an appropriate time for me to date. I would also bring up the subject of SEX just because we never talked about it and since I am of age to date I would want to know their opinions of SEX. I would be speaking in very indirect terms and trying to let them know what I was feeling and thinking. I would want them to understand my position and take it as it is. At this point, my mother would probably tell me that SEX is out of the question and give her reasons, but on the other hand she might tell me that she is not approving of letting me have sex at this age, but if I do just to be safe and with someone who I love. My father and siblings would probably not say a word and my mother would handle all the talking. At this point, my siblings would probably turn to a support group and most likely it would be my friends. This is because they would probably be thinking that I am sexually active and would like to know who this person is.

Being honest with Dad
· Library visit
At this time, I plan to visit my dad in his library and talk to him. I would tell him that I have been dating someone. My dad not knowing what to do would say would be silent for a moment. He then would either say that he was glad that I was being honest with him and then ask me some questions or tell me that he would talk to my mom about it. The reason why I chose to tell my father about this relationship was because in our family system, the father is head of the household and I felt that telling him first would show my utmost respect.

Rules of the dating game
·One long afternoon
By this time, language should be more direct and the other members should be initiating the conversation, my parents in particular. I would be doing my homework and my mother would tell me that she knows all about it and say that there is nothing she can do about the situation. She would probably tell me that I am of age to make my own decisions and she is not too happy about it or she would tell me that she wants to meet him. On the other hand, my father would tell me that he wants to invite the guy for dinner. In this event, my parents would be throwing questions back and forth such as where he's from, how did I meet him, how long has it been. In this occasion, my mother might consult a support group which would be my grandmother this time. She would ask my grandmother how she would go about discussing issues such as intimate relationships. At this time my siblings would also know about this and just leave the talking to my parents since they don't feel that they are in the position to get involved with my personal life.

Meet the Parents
This would be the day I would introduce my parents to the guy I am dating. The dinner would be a casual one in my house and not one of those Filipino dinners which the extended family attends, just one with my immediate family. My parents would ask him questions and want to get to know him a little bit better. Since a new addition to the group has been added, I think that the language will be back to being general and indirect.
Most of the time, my sister would be silent and my brother on the other hand would be inquisitive and would not stop asking him questions.

Let's talk about Love
""Being able to communicate, listen, negotiate, ask for and identify sources of help and advice, are useful life-skills and can be applied in terms of sexual relationships" (Forrest, 1)
· Me and my guy
After having a very tiring and eventful night, my parents would want to have a talk with me about my relationship with the guy. During this time, the language will be more specific and direct regarding the fact that they have already met him and this is a conversation involving only me and my parents. I would ask them what they thought of him and to give me some feedback on how the evening went. My mother would probably comment on saying how he is nice and say that if it is serious, I should wait awhile before I get intimate with him because it is only natural to get to know the person better. My father on the other hand might be accepting of this developing relationship between me and the guy and warn me to be cautious of what I am getting myself into because he doesn't want me to get hurt. The conversation would end in a silent note and I would just be listening the whole time and thinking.

· Reflecting internally
Day 9 is planned to be a day of reflection for each of the family members. These past days have been very overwhelming and it is time for each member to have his/her time to reflect and think about the situation at hand. "That is the silence of contemplation; that is the silence where people get in touch with themselves; that is the silence of meditation and worship. And what makes this distinct is that it is a silence that is an enabling condition, that opens up the possibility of unprogrammed, unplanned and unprogrammable happenings" (Franklin, 1).

DAY 10
· Sex?!?!
By this time, my parents should be more open to the discussion of sex and tell me how if dating is going to be permitted and what I have to follow if I am allowed to date. Language would be very casual and specific. I also would be able to give my opinion to whatever they have to say about my relationship with my guy. My parents would probably let me date if they like the guy and how he presented himself to my family at the dinner. "By being open to discussions on a variety of topics, including sex, the line of communication between you and your child is established"(Feightner,1). My mother would let me date him but sex would still be out of the question but she would be willing to talk about it. My father would probably comply with my mothers'decision, considering the fact that they trust me, this would make dating alright with them. However, with sex, yes they would probably be more open with the issue but would prefer me to abstain. There could also be a possibility where both my parents would not let me date yet and not
accept the fact that sex has been brought into family discussion.

Conclusion: Having been through ten days of this curriculum should at least help develop sexual discussion in the Locsin family. The discussions that occurred in these ten days were used as tools to unravel the nonexistent language of sex in the household. Even though sex would take time in being an open discussion, this curriculum is a start for sex to be discussed seriously and for the family to realize that it is the decision of any member to make in these types of instances such as dating and sex. This not only brings the family together but also makes them understand each other better.


Feightner, Susan. "The Birds, the Bees, and You". Online: . Visited (Sept. 28, 2002)

Forrest, Simon. "Sex Education that Works". Online: Visited (Sept. 28, 2002)

Franklin, Ursula. "Silence and the Notion of the Commons". Online: Visited (Sept. 28,2002)

Irvine, Janice. Sexual Cultures and the Construction of Adolescent Identities. Philadelphia: Temple University Press, 1994. pg. 287.

Stewart, Robert. Philosophical Perspectives on Sex&Love. "Parents, Children, and Friendship by Anthony Graybosch".New York: Oxford Press, 1995. pg. 314

Weeks, Jeffrey. Sexuality. London: Tavistock Publications, 1986. pg.65.

Menopause and Sexuality Curriculum
Name: Deborah So
Date: 2002-10-03 00:30:52
Link to this Comment: 3100


English 212
2002 Second Paper
On Serendip

Deborah Sosower
Thinking Sex Paper 2
Menopause and Sexuality Curriculum
Quarterly: $25/year
Box 816
Stoney Brook, NY 11790-0609
**Menopause Core Curriculum Study Guide
**Menopause Guidebook


*What is it?
‡Menopause is the transition women experience from being able to bear children to being unable to. Now, it is recognized that menopause is a natural step in the process of aging. Menopause is the technical name of when a woman stops having menstrual periods. This occurs because, due to aging, the ovaries stop producing estrogen.
*When do you get it?
‡Women anywhere between the ages of 45-60 can experience menopause, but the onset of menopause can occur earlier, or if a woman's ovaries are surgically removed or for any other reason stop functioning.
‡The most common and stereotypical symptom of menopause is hot flashes, where women are suddenly and intensely hot, despite whatever weather they are in. This can cause women to have trouble sleeping, and may induce mood swings in some cases.
‡Irregular periods, or "break-through bleeding"; this is where a woman may menstruate irregularly, such as every other month, or when they are around female relatives that have not gone through menopause yet.
‡Vaginal or uterus infections
‡Urinary incontinence; where a woman may have trouble controlling urine flow, or have leakage.
‡Vaginal inflammation or atrophy; since the vagina is very affected by estrogen, it may become swollen in reaction to menopause. Conversely, also due to the lack of estrogen, the tissues in the vagina begin to become more delicate and dry and may start to shrink.
‡Some women experience changes around skin, hair, or their digestive tract as a result of menopause
‡Some of the more long-term effects of the halted production of estrogen include increased chances of osteoporosis and heart disease.
‡About 75% of women express a feeling of some uncomfortable symptoms of menopause, though it varies from case to case. The most common symptoms are hot flashes.
*How long to symptoms last?
‡The immediate effects of menopause, such as mood swings, irregular bleeding or hot flashes do not last a long time, relatively speaking. Some of the more lifelong changes from menopause are due to the lack of previous estrogen levels, including bone density or optimal organ function.

Sex after Menopause

* Sex After Menopause
Of all the complaints and fears that women express about the effects of menopause, the possibility of the loss of sexuality is most pervasive. However, a recent study indicates, "Little difference was found between age-matched subgroups of pre- and postmenopausal women in frequency of sexual behavior and attitudes towards their sexual relationships."(10) In this study 436 women were assessed. Outcomes indicated that while frequency of sexual encounters decreased somewhat with age,
enjoyment and satisfaction associated with sex was not related to age. In a very real sense, the old adage, 'if you don't use it, you loose it', applies to sexual function. Women who continue to experience sexual stimulation, either with a partner or via masturbation exhibit less thinning and drying of the vagina after menopause. (11)2
* Is a change in sexual desire normal after menopause?
Many women say that their sexual desire lessens during the time of menopause. In many cases, the cause is physical. For instance, because lower estrogen levels sometimes cause physical changes in a woman's sexual organs, having sex may become uncomfortable or painful so it is important to find out whether there is a physical cause for lack of desire. For some women, taking hormones called androgens can help restore sexual desire.

Some women find that sexual desire changes because of how they feel about themselves during menopause. Counseling and support groups can help women learn strategies for coping with the physical and emotional changes that occur during menopause.
*What can be done to relieve pain during sex?
Intercourse may be painful when there is not enough moisture in the vagina or when the tissue lining the vagina becomes fragile because of lower estrogen levels in the body. Several methods are available to relieve pain during intercourse. It may sound surprising, but frequent sexual activity is one of the most effective remedies for vaginal dryness. Other remedies include taking a warm bath before intercourse or using lubricants. Short-acting, water-based lubricants, such as K-Y Jelly, supply moisture and are used immediately before intercourse. These products are readily available in grocery stores and pharmacies, usually at a low cost.

Long-acting vaginal moisturizers are also available, and can provide extended relief. Vaginal creams containing estrogen are very helpful in relieving the symptoms of menopause, including vaginal dryness.3

The Language of Fetishism
Name: Chelsea Ph
Date: 2002-10-03 18:49:17
Link to this Comment: 3105


English 212
2002 Second Paper
On Serendip

(fet´ish-izm) 1. a primitive religion marked by belief in fetishes. 2. a "paraphilia" PARAPHILIA characterized by the use of inanimate objects (fetishes), most commonly articles of clothing such as shoes, gloves, female undergarments, or hose as a preferred or necessary adjunct to sexual arousal or orgasm... (1).

Fetish(n.): a. Originally, any of the objects used by the Negroes of the Guinea coast and the neighbouring regions as amulets or means of enchantment, or regarded by them with superstitious dread. b. An inanimate object worshipped by primitive peoples on account of its supposed inherent magical powers, or as being animated by a spirit. c. fig. Something irrationally reverenced. d. Psychol. An object, a non-sexual part of the body, or a particular action, which abnormally serves as the stimulus to, or the end in itself of, sexual desire (2).

The sexual sub-group that I chose was a sub-group of people with "fetishes". However, the definition of "fetish" which I worked with was inspired by Samuel Delaney's comment that anything we find arousing may be considered a fetish. For my curriculum, then, I have chosen to give a comprehensive education to my sub-group about the origins of the word "fetish" and the development of the meaning of the word in society. This curriculum, then, is designed to give a more informed definition to the word fetish, through an examination of etymological, medical, historical, political, artistic and psychological factors.

Interestingly enough, the origins of the word "fetish" are in religious practice, not sexual practice. The word actually comes from fettico, which means "charm", "sorcery" or "skillfully made" (2). Hence, the technical first "fetish" was an amulet worn around the neck and believed to channel power from greater sources (gods, magic), not toenails or hair. Later, the word took on the broader definition of any inanimate object to which an abnormal sexual attachment is formed. The current medical definition of a fetish ranges from something found exciting to include during sex, to something without which one or both of the partners cannot climax (or climax too early to provide stimulation for their partner).

An intriguing part of the evolution of the word fetish was its first appearance in psychological literature. This took place in France during the 1880-90's, when the concern of a declining population gripped the country's intellectuals in a struggle to find the root cause. The first "sexually deviant" behaviors to be termed fetishes were those not leading to procreation: homosexuality (or inversion) masturbation and obsessions such as nails, shoes or hair (3). These behaviors were considered both distressing and unacceptable for fertile adults in this society where sterility caused decreased birthrates. Most of the reasons were widespread venereal and penal diseases and infertility in both men and women. A campaign against masturbation was enacted to keep men and women from "expending themselves" and weakening their fertility1 (3). Essentially, the starting point for the association with illness and disease began with sexual behavior widely accepted now, what does that say for the future of behavior now considered deviant?

A very different use for the word fetish can be found when in the hands of a political theorist. Marx uses the term to suggest the personification of man-made products, and their influence over the natural processes of human life. In this sense, Marx uses "fetishism" to strictly mean obsession; his political theories follow that capitalism is essentially an obsession with commodities and the ability of humans to produce inanimate products, with the tendency to then personify them. While its root meaning is still being used, the application of it to political theory and something non-sexual is important. At this point, the classroom or sub-group would be split into two factions and lead in a debate as to the effectiveness of Marx's use of this term in the following excerpts from his writings.2

"In that world the productions of the human brain appear as independent beings endowed with life, and entering into relation both with one another and the human race. So it is in the world of commodities with the products of men's hands. This I call the Fetishism..." (4).

"The mysterious character of the commodity-form consists therefore simply in the fact that the commodity reflects the social characteristics of men's own labor as objective characteristics of the products of labor themselves, as the socio-natural properties of these things." (5).

The Marxist ideas on fetishism address its social implications as relating to capitalism. Freud addresses the other part to the social question:
"According to Freud, fetishism functions in a way that falls between neurosis and psychosis. Freud originally distinguished between neurosis and psychosis in the following way: 'in neurosis the ego3 suppresses part of the id4 out of allegiance to reality, whereas in psychosis it lets itself be carried away by the id and detached from a part of reality.'" (6).

Taking this definition, apply it to pictures of Hans Bellmer5's dolls (7). How would Freud react to Bellmer? What do you think he would say was the underlying drive or motivation that Bellmer felt to create these dolls? Do you agree?
Consider this quote from Therese Lichtenstein:

"Bellmer's dolls participated in the dialogue of ambivalence about mass culture found in many early-twentieth-century avant-garde representations. This ambivalence is incorporated into the very structure of the doll's uncanny body, appearing both human and mechanical, animated and dead. The frozen, immovable aspects of Bellmer's dolls, like assembly-line parts, are a metaphor for the alienation and commodification of human lives and desires under high capitalism." (7).

Have the group split in two again, discuss how both Freud and Marx would respond. Once each group has presented its initial argument, open to the large group for discussion.

The final meeting for this class before presentations of final projects will be a discussion of the following in a large group.

"Both Freud and Marx use the concept of fetishism in an attempt to explain a refusal, or blockage, of the mind, or a phobic inability of the psyche, to understand a symbolic system of value, one within the social and the other within the psychoanalytic sphere." (8).

Do you agree or disagree with this statement, based on the readings and discussions in this class? In what ways do you agree or disagree?
The final project for this curriculum will ask you to use the definition of fetishism you have developed over the course of this class. Drawing from the sources we have used, your assignment is to create a collage to visually represent your definition of fetishism. This collage may be made of pictures, words, objects, or a combination of these, and you may include an explanatory paragraph if you wish. The collages will be presented to the group, where each one will be open for comments and questions from your classmates.

1) Miller-Keane Medical Dictionary, 2000.

2)Oxford English Dictionary, OED online.

3) Nye, Robert A. "The Medical Origins of Sexual Fetishism." in Fetishism as Cultural Discourse, Emily Apter and William Pietz, eds. Cornell University Press, 1993.

4)Encyclopedia of Marxism, Basgenm, Brian and Andy Blunden, eds. A concise and clear guide to definitions and ideals of Marxism

5) University of Utah Economics Department, Tatsuo, Miyachi. "Marx's Critique of the Fetishism."

6)Purdue University, Felluga, D.F. "HONR 199: Telling the Holocaust, A Guide to Terms."

7) Lichtenstien, Therese. Behind Closed Doors: The Art of Hans Bellmer. University of California Press, 2001. 15.

8) Mulvey, Laura. Fetishism and Curiosity. British Film Institute and Indiana University Press, 1996. 2.

1 First activity: Design a poster and slogan that you, as a 19th century Frenchman/woman, would have used to do your part in making the country more fertile.

2 These excerpts from Marx' Kapital are to be read, not for their political value, but for the relevance of the language used. Suggest a stronger focus on the imagery that comes to mind when reading, and how this affects ability to conceptualize his theory of capitalism. Make sure this does NOT become a political debate, keep it within the confines of a debate on the merits of language.

3 That part of the mind which is most conscious of self; spec. in the work of Freud that part which, acted upon by both the id and the super-ego (ego-ideal), mediates with the environment. (2)

4 The inherited instinctive impulses of the individual, forming part of the unconscious and...interacting in the psyche with the ego and the super-ego. (2)

5 Hans Bellmer (1902-1975), surrealist known for his photographs of life-sized dolls in various stages of assembly and poses. Mostly active in 1930s, he used the dolls to oppose Nazi ideals of perfect, Aryan bodies.

Language Brought Into the Open
Name: Jenny Wade
Date: 2002-10-04 00:27:00
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English 212
2002 Second Paper
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After writing my first essay during which I simply addressed the subject of heterosexuality and language, I found myself developing a theme for language that balanced both subtle and blunt methods of response, claiming characteristics of poetry, music, and art where language could be both confessional and hidden within metaphor. I now want to become more specific in terms of addressing a more particular group of individuals, individuals with psychological disorders, and plan to explore how this group articulates sex and the function/impact of sex both on the disorder and upon the individual in general. Interestingly enough, it seems that individuals who have dealt with depression, addiction, eating-disorders, and other disorders (yes I?m heavily generalizing for just a moment) use a language which plays heavily upon the blunt/metaphorical method of reponse displayed in art, poetry, and music. A psychological disorder highly sensitizes the individual who searches for a more effective type of language, but I want to specifically address the two particular disorders of addiction (sexual, alcohol, and drug) and self-injury (especially cutting ) due to the immense connection I see between them and within their attitudes towards sex and language.

As stated on the Sexual Compulsives Anonymous homepage, individuals suffering from sex addictions behave quite similarly to individuals suffering from drug/alcohol addictions by allowing sexual obsession to fill a void (as also attempted with substance abuse), resulting in a temporary escape from the real world. The addiction isn?t necessarily truly about sex, but about feelings of self-worth (or self worthlessness as for some victims such as those who suffered sexual abuse) Addictions to either drugs or alcohol function in a similar fashion by allowing the patient to either avoid a problem completely or deal with the problem by lessoning the emotional overwhelming through the dependence upon a substance. Likewise, their addictions are not simply caused by a love of drugs or alcohol, but from something incredibly complex. The Secret shame (self injury information and support) offers a similar explanation of dependence upon cutting (and other forms of self-injury) in order for an individual to relieve a ?numbness?, overwhelming despair, or altogether absence of emotion. Much like an addiction, self-injury becomes habitual and for the individual, provides an illusion that he/she can handle reality. In fact, the page attributes one of the causes of self-injury to feelings of low self-worth and repression, often times sexual repression in particular. This linkage between self-abuse (whether addiction or self-injury) and sexual repression/ inability to effectively address personal sexual identity clearly exists, and I have personally had friends who have experienced both cases of addiction and self-injury due to sexual repression or overwhelming feelings towards how to deal with the broader topic of sexuality.

Although the reclusive behavior and dissociation experienced by victims of self-abuse (for the rest of this paper I will use this term to refer both to self-injurers and sufferers of addiction) is widely complex, I believe that a sex-ed curriculum can be created to help these groups not only deal with sexuality, but in doing so, learn to more effectively discuss both sex and problems/emotions in general. I am not prescribing a way to necessarily cure these disorders, but to at least improve the level of openness in sexuality and abolish their silent screams. As stated in Psychology, a common characteristic of many psychological problems remains the attempt of many victims to dissociate, or distance, themselves from what causes their pain (799). This distancing of oneself remains an attempt of the individual to try and alleviate emotional distress, but more often results in numbness, estrangement, or lack of emotional connection to the issue that ails them (C8). On one of the self-injury web pages I visited, a private page by Yggdrasil entitled Psyke.Org, a large selection of poetry written about self-injury was available. Although self-injurers often have touble talking about what they do to themselves, these poems painted vivid accounts of the real situation. Interestingly enough, a great deal of the web pages I visited contained poetry. Perhaps poetry remains identifiable with these victims of self-abuse because it is passionate, full of emotion, yet still possesses a mysterious serenity that makes the intensity of the subject matter possibly to relate to and understand without overwhelming the victim. In The Search for the Perfect Language, art is claimed to be an ?eternity? that is a constant starting place (49). Taking this to heart, I propose a sex-ed curriculum that literally starts with art as visual image, music, and poetry,constructing simple yet concise ideas. Using these forms of language to encourage self-abuse victims to slowly start to express themselves, at first about anything, but eventually about sexuality. These forms allow expansion from the abstract to the specific as individuals become more comfortable in expressing themselves.

In Speaking Sex, Anthony Grey explains the relationship between sexual desire and aggression (89). It remains unquestionable that self-abuse victims suffer from aggression, which they unfortunately direct at themselves. Anthony Grey also clearly states that in order for a sex-ed curriculum to be effective, their must be no prejudgment and instead, openness towards attitudes different from one?s own (95). Emphasizing acceptance remains extremely important in the context of self-abuse victims due to the shame often already felt by these individuals for their addictions and habits (and what perhaps motivated them to take part in these self-injuring behaviors in the first place). The hope is to encourage openness through a comfortable language, whether painting, poetry, music, or any other form, that will allow the individual to first express himself without everyone else necessarily understanding highly metaphorical ?words? (the importance of language in this first step is not to communicate with others, but to articulate to oneself the reality of sexual identity and bring these feelings out in the open rather than drawing them within). Then, perhaps the issues can be discussed between participants after a raised comfort level is reached. The self-harming activity that preoccupies the individual and the energy these activities consume, can perhaps be transformed into a different type of passion, a new addiction, an addiction to searching for oneself, for methods of personal expression, of no longer swallowing bitter, horrific feelings but instead eliminating them.


Eco, Umberto. The Search for the Perfect Language. Trans. James Fentress. Cambridge:
Blackwell Publishers Ltd, 1995.

Gleitman, Henry, Alan J. Fridlund, and Daniel Reisberg. Psychology. Ed. Cathy Wick. 5th
ed. New York: W.W. Norton & Company, Inc, 1999.

Grey, Anthony. Speaking of Sex. New York: Cassell, 1993.

Martinson, Deb. Secret shame (self injury information and support). 12 July 2001. Psych
Central.29 Sept.2002.

Sexual Compulsives Anonymous. 1997 Sexual Compulsives Anonymous International Service
Organization. 30 Sept. 2002

Yggdrasil. Psyke.Org. 8 Sept. 2002. Ratatosk. 29 Sept. 2002

Sex Ed--Lesbians, etc.
Name: Sarah Mend
Date: 2002-10-06 15:02:59
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The following paper is a brief sketch of a sexual education "curriculum" I have constructed that is geared towards the acceptance, appreciation and encouragement of lesbians. I will not address the paper to only members of that group nor will I present only lesbian sex education because one of the key elements of the education is to do with the flexibility of labels and orientations which would render the formation of a group of strictly self-identifying lesbians and the idea of a strictly lesbian sexually active lifestyle impossible. More importantly perhaps, I have chosen to present this curriculum in a heterosexual setting because that is where lesbians live—within a heterosexually dominated society that automatically links lesbianism with abnormality in life and in language.
The main goal of the education is to dispel this notion of abnormality and inferiority by discussing sexuality as a qualitative experience rather than sex as a quantitative act, in other words, to emphasize the feelings involved in sexual acts rather than the actual acts themselves. But in order to dispel the popular notion that lesbian sex is somehow inferior to heterosexual sex, an education of what is meant by "sex" emotionally and physically is necessary. I feel that in order to break down the stereotype of heterosexual sex as the "only" sex, an exploration of how men and women can be sexual with each other is necessary. To tell youths that there are lots of ways to be sexual with each other without informing them how is to deny them their own well-educated, well-explored opinion. While I hope I could say I value all opinions, I will admit that the desired opinion is of a more open-minded nature. The curriculum will achieve its desired effect by presenting a truly sexual education which is to say that it will not consider homosexuality a separate topic; it will instead discuss a topic of general sexual interest in terms of homo and heterosexuality together.
Early Education and Parent Orientation
The first step to take is to subtly include in the kindergarten classroom art and literature that depicts homosexuals as couples and parents. Wherever "mommy and daddy" were once incorporated, now so must "mommy and mommy" and "daddy and daddy" exist. Though children have already been through quite a bit of socialization by this time, it is still early enough to encourage their acceptance of homosexuals by acknowledging their existence and acknowledging it as normal. Complementing this subtle education, a meeting should be held for the parents of entering students for the purpose of explaining the school's long-term approach to sex education. The orientation should be presented with assertiveness and pride; no change in curriculum on the basis of parent concern may be allowed. Parents may, of course, ask questions and voice concerns but the presenters should remain steadfast in their dedication to teaching sexual equality. Parents should also be encouraged to promote the school's teaching of such equality and be reminded of the importance of their actions and words particularly in terms of sexuality.
Middle School Education
Early in the middle school, the idea of sexuality should be introduced explicitly. Sexual behavior according to sexuality must not now be discussed; it is important first to establish the idea that difference in sexual preference does exist and the feelings attached to those preferences are important to explore in one self and honor in others. Discussion of sexuality should not be divided between homosexuals and heterosexuals but instead use more all-encompassing words like pansexual, flexural or PoMosexual (post modern sexual) as examples of an open-minded attitude expressed by a growing population. Feelings rather than explicit detail should be discussed so as to promote a general acceptance of the idea of flexible sexuality.
Soon after, though, it is necessary to get more specific; to support the notion of men and women being sexual with either men or women by explaining how. A comprehensive list of sexual possibilities should be drawn from the classroom and the facilitator may add to it accordingly. The important part here is to not divide the sexual acts between homosexuals, heterosexuals and particularly bisexuals who will seem to apparently experiment in all of the actions listed, thereby exacerbating the preconceived notion of this group as sexually promiscuous. It should be mentioned, for example, that a man can fist a woman, that fisting is not necessarily a strictly "lesbian" activity. By breaking down who can do what to whom, the line dividing sexualities becomes considerably blurred.
Safer sex education should begin not long after the introduction of sexual activities. The one thing that must not occur during this section of the education is the merging of talk on homosexuality and AIDS. It should be stressed that since AIDS and other STDs can be transmitted through body fluid swapping it can happen between any two people; the risks of sexually transmitted diseases should therefore be defined in terms of behaviors, not sexual orientations. In order to make this very important point it may be necessary to remind the group of the previous list of sexual activities and how much overlap of who can do what to whom exists. Methods for practicing safer sex should be described clearly and any supplements like condoms and dental dams should be made readily available; risks must be described. One of the main goals of this part of the curriculum, however, is to convey a sense of trust in the student's decisions and should instill in him or her a sense of responsibility to his or her own body and those of potential partners.
High School Education
It is at this point during the student's life when a deeper analysis of homosexuality promulgates rich conversation and intense introspection. Discussion should take place in small groups and should include topics such as stereotypes (particularly of lesbians, of diesel dyke versus lipstick lesbian), identity markers, religion as it relates to sexuality, homophobia, the idea of nature versus nurture, labels (do we need more of them or fewer? And how do we label ourselves and others?), what is deemed trendy versus what is felt as truth, how is to be on either the offensive or defensive side of homosexuality, bisexuality or heterosexuality, and reproduction as a more viable option for homosexual couples than ever before, to name a few.
A Note
It should be mentioned that the kind of education I am describing will not be implemented easily in any school setting especially in light of homophobic and/or fearful parents and the media. An article reviewing a state sponsored workshop on homosexuality education read, "To say that the descriptions below...are 'every parent's nightmare' does not do them justice. It is beyond belief that this could be happening at all. One music teacher who attended out of curiosity said that she could not sleep for several nights afterwards and had nightmares about it." It is, however, because of comments like this made by parents that make it all the more necessary to implement such an education for children.

Sources Referenced:

Rouse, Rose. "Life: Living: Love, Sex, Family, Friends." The Observer, April 28 2002.

Camenker, Brian and Whiteman, Scott. "Kids Get Graphic Instruction in Homosexual Sex." Massachusetts News.

Planned Parenthood. "Lesbian Safer Sex."

Newman, Felice. Book Review: The Whole Lesbian Sex Book.

Marti, Hohmann. "Sex Between Women." Harvard Gay and Lesbian Review, The. 1997. wysiwyg://48/

Bernhard, Linda. "Let's Talk About Sex." Lesbian Review of Books, The. 1997. wysiwyg://40/

Kitzinger, Celia and Perkins, Rachel. "Demoralizing our Sex Lives: What Lesbian Psychology Does to Lesbian Sex." Off Our Backs: A Women's Newsjournal. 1993. wysiwyg://32/http://gw.softlineweb/com/r...rnPage=list.asp&articleID=44568&recNum=2

Bernard, Linda. "The Bedrock of Lesbian Culture." Lesbian Review of Books, The. 1998. wysiwyg://25/http://gw.softlineweb/com/r...rnPage=list.asp&articleID=81370&recNum=1

Sample Sex Ed Outline
Name: lupdegro@b
Date: 2002-10-07 13:32:48
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Today, mothers and their teenage daughters have a difficult time talking about sex. This problem stems from a variety of origins. Teenage girls often feel that their mothers play the role of the preacher when it comes to sex. Most mothers find the thought of their daughter becoming sexually active disturbing, and therefore avoid the awkward subject. One issue does stand out as the primary source of the uneasiness mothers and daughters experience in communicating about sex: most mothers lack the information necessary to teach their daughters about sexuality.

"A mother who believes that 'babies are made from menstrual blood' or that they 'come from the hospital' cannot help her daughter sort out fact from fantasy." (Kirkpatrick 120) Sex education would certainly be a prescriptive way of dealing with this problem. The sex education that mothers give to their daughters should not be a one-time thing, in the form of a "big talk." It should instead be an ongoing, developing process that opens up lines of communication between mothers and daughters in early childhood. Therefore, a mother needs to have had education that prepares her for the day when her daughter asks the initial questions about her body.

The principal question that mothers have regarding their daughters and sex is "how to communicate?" Sex Ed needs to address appropriate forms of communication at different stages in a girl's life. For example, during the years when a child's language is still developing rapidly, it would not be feasible for the mother and daughter to actually speak about sex. At this time, the mother can express trust and begin to demonstrate values regarding sexuality. The educational environment should be open to small group discussion so that mothers can become more comfortable with speaking about sex.

Here is a sample timeline of curriculum. Ages are approximate and subjective.

Early Childhood (Aged 3-6): The mother should be instructed in

· Communicating the proper terminology for body parts

· Addressing the difference between the sexes

· Explaining the basic fact of reproduction

*Mothers should encourage questions and try not to avoid or ignore them

Later Childhood (Aged 7-10):

Menstruation- communicate that it is a positive thing
Physical development- respecting and caring for the body
Discuss mother and daughter's perceptions of what it means to be female
*Mothers should share personal experience and demonstrate values as much as possible


Discuss cultural standards- what pressures are present in the daughter's environment?
Sexual relations- physical and emotional significance
Sexual health- contraceptives (try to avoid limiting this discussion to warnings)
Desire- what are the pleasurable aspects of sex?
*The mother should make her values clear throughout this discussion

The media can be a very useful tool in discussing issues of sex. If the daughter has questions about something she saw on television, the mother should try to answer them instead of maintaining an awkward silence. Mothers and daughters can watch movies or read books and magazines together, and discuss the sexual issues breached in these sources. In the event of discussions about general attitudes toward sexual subjects, the mother should always try to relate on a personal level in order to demonstrate the values she wishes to communicate. "Adolescents may relate more readily to information about sex if parents are willing to share their own values and experiences." (Simanski 8)

When mothers demonstrate an attitude of open communication regarding sex, daughters have the reassurance of someone to rely upon during the years of coming to terms with their sexuality. Sexual education, in some form or another, has always been passed from mother to daughter. The crucial thing now is to make sure that the education is the best possible for the daughters of today.


Sexuality Education for Mothers
Name: Sarah Hess
Date: 2002-10-07 13:36:48
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In considering a sex-ed curriculum for the group of people I am working with through MOMobile, I had to extend the possibilities of such an education beyond their traditional realm. The population I work with, mostly women, all have babies up to 1 year old; it is a sexually active population who is now dealing with the trials of motherhood for the first time, or perhaps the second or third time. Thus, it seems necessary to gear the sexuality education toward safe sex practices and largely with issues surrounding pregnancy. Also, along with safe sex rhetoric, positive outlooks that celebrate pregnancy despite the age or marital status of the woman seem applicable. An overlying theme of this sexuality education might be Celebrating Motherhood.

All of the web-based research I found dealt with maintaining the mother's health during and after pregnancy. I think this component of a sex-ed curriculum, though not traditionally related to sexuality, would benefit this group. Such an emphasis would reinforce the woman's separateness from her new child, and the fact that maintaining her own health does not mean neglecting her child's. Physical fitness is also a large part of self-esteem and positive thinking. The articles I found indicated that women who took care of themselves after their pregnancies where happier and less stressed. Also, after giving birth, women's images of their own sexuality often change. Physical fitness can help facilitate this change in thought and actual appearance by helping reinforce that though the body is changed, it is still strong and healthy.

The same ideas apply to addressing eating habits and weight gain. Much of a woman's negative feelings following pregnancy, or at any time, relate to bad habits rather than actual appearance. Eating healthily is important to the mental and physical health and recovery of the mother, but also to the care of the baby. If a woman is breastfeeding, her milk is directly affected by her food intake, and even if she is not, she will be ill-prepared to care for a child if she does not maintain her own health. For these reasons, the importance of exercise and diet seem relevant, if not indispensable, in creating an applicable dialogue of sexuality among this group.

Another relevant facet of sexuality education for this group is safe sex practices as well as changing views of sexuality. Safe sex seems a logical topic to preset to a group who is obviously sexually active, but to present it in the traditional way would probably seem preachy and irrelevant to this group; therefore, a new approach would be in order. One such approach might be fostering open discussion about what methods of safe sex are accessible and realistic, and why others do not seem to be so. This could precede a discussion on making other forms more available, or how to talk to peers or younger women about the importance of such practices. This would be particularly applicable to women with children in their adolescent years.

Changing views of sexuality seems another topic relevant to this group ñonce women become mothers, who they are to others, and what they must be to their child, redefines them as individuals, and particularly as sexual individuals. Again, open discussion seems the best way to approach this topic. Asking opinions about how different women dealt sexually with becoming a mother would create a dialogue between the mothers, and a support system as well. Especially if women are single, not only do their perspectives on dating change, but the people they date also see them differently. Opening discussion to these changes could create an opportunity to reinforce the positive effect motherhood has on one's sexuality, but also to voice the personal challenges it presents, which are often overlooked. Then, a group workshop could brainstorm ways in which mothers can negotiate their lives as sexual beings and their new role as mothers without neglecting either role.

Along these same lines of redefining and rediscovering the individual, I feel an important topic to address would be the way women in their position are represented and perceived in society. To look at different media forms such as TV shows, movies, commercials, billboards, and music, and critique the messages these media forces send to society might be useful in realizing the societal roots some perceptions of the self come from. The idea that women with children, especially single women, are so strong that they have no needs of their own, for example, is an idea reinforced in media that limits single mothers' perceptions of self.

In brainstorming an appropriate language to approach a group of people with more experience and certainly different experience than myself, I continually revert back to the importance of their own language and their own voices. By presenting information, such as topics on health and exercise, and then letting the women claim the topic for their own and rework it in a way fitting to their lifestyles seems the most beneficial. Especially in relating academic topics to a population largely college uneducated, the use of familiar language is crucial. I believe this education curriculum would work best in a setting where opinions are welcomed and valued, and where the population has as much say in the curriculum as its coordinator.



Exercising During Pregnancy
Pregnancy and Weight Gain
Keep in Shape While Pregnant
For New Moms


Chase, Susan E.. Mothers and Children: Feminist Analyses and Personal Narratives.
New Brunswick, N.J.: Rutgers University Press, 2001.
Merrick, Elizabeth. Reconceiving Black Adolescent Childbearing. Boulder, Colorado:
Westview Press, 2001.
Kaplan, Elaine Bell. Not Our Kind of Girl: Unraveling the Myths of Black Teenage
Motherhood. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1997.

Co-op Curriculum
Name: Michelle M
Date: 2002-10-10 11:10:25
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I have a unique group to work with in that they are already close and comfortable with each other and with discussing sex. As a result the curriculum will be largely discussion based, which will allow for deeper more rich understandings of the topics we explore. Despite the closeness of the group the first step will be to establish the meeting as a safe, non-judgmental space where confidentiality is guaranteed and things said in the room do not leave it. At the first meeting of the group one of the initial activities would be establishing guidelines for respecting ideas and comfort levels that hold for the duration of our group meetings.
As I see it the group is already very focused on the act of sex especially vaginas and orgasm. We could start by reading a description, if one could call it that, of the vagina by Natalie Angier in her Woman: An Intimate Geography. She uses numerous metaphors for the vagina and vulva, using biological language, ordinary almost practical language, not to mention flowery, romantic language as well. It glorifies the vagina in the way this group often does yet in very different kinds of language. I would like to see this as the jumping off point of a discussion about the way we as a group speak of ourselves and the responses that our language choice evokes in us. Looking at the foundation of our communication through a discussion of language, is a good way for a group to become self aware and come to an understanding of the impact of their speech on how others or themselves react to sex.
Most of the women in this group have sex with women either occasionally or exclusively, yet to the best of my knowledge they have not been properly educated about safer sex practices in lesbian sexual relationships. While many of them have heard of things they ought to do many only have half the story. I found a website that deals specifically with safer lesbian sex ( listing sexual acts in order of increasing risk for transfer of STDs. I might also seek out a speaker who can talk more explicitly about ways to approach safer sex with women in addition to ways of bringing the issue up while in "the heat of the moment." Keeping with the theme of discussion, each woman who was willing could discuss her experience or lack thereof with safer lesbian sex and how she has, or perhaps has not dealt with risk reducing practices with women.
At this point we will have explored the language that constitutes our thoughts on sexuality and also some practical issues with the act of sex itself. What has not been discussed are the emotion and passion that can surround sex. This is an aspect of sex that I think many in my group of women my miss for they are able to enjoy sex physically without much of the aforementioned emotional content. I picked up a book by bell hooks called All About Love which deal with a range of issues having to do with love, the emotional half of sex. While I have only skimmed the book I believe that it would be relevant and provoke interesting discussion. It will also introduce feminism into the discussion which will lead into the next lesson.
Most of the women in this group would also consider themselves feminists which I believe at least reflects one's sexuality. In an article called "Consciousness" (which I would have them read) Vivian Gornick writes:

I was on my way to a meeting one night not too long ago, a meeting meant to fashion a coalition group out of the movement's many organizations. I knew exactly what was ahead of me. I knew a woman from NOW would rise and speak abut our "image"; the Third Worlder would announce loudly she didn't give a good goddamn about anybody's orgasms, her women were starving, for chrissake; that a radicalesbian would insist that the woman's movement must face the problem of sexism from within right now; and 10 women f rom the Socialist party would walk out in protest against middle-class "elitist" control in the movement. Radical Feminism: A Documentary Reader, Ed. Barbara Crow, (p. 290)

I want the largely white, middle class, women of the co-op to try to look at their role in feminism critically and also recognize what they can contribute. I found this quotation particularly relevant because of the mention of orgasm as liberation vs. economic and human needs of women across the globe as the place to begin liberation. That is not to say that both cannot exist simultaneously but I would like us to see how they interact, and what are we as social activists missing. What can we contribute?
Finally I want to spend the last session on the notion of Third Wave Feminism that I am not sure that all or any of the women are aware of. There is an idea that young women in their teens and twenties are members of a Third Wave of Feminism that is in many ways opposed to that of the Second Wave Feminism of the 1970s. Two websites that I would have everyone explore are the Third Wave Foundation ( which gives grants and has a few specific campaigns, and a site that contains an interview with the well known authors of Manifesta, a book that articulates this notion of a Third Wave of feminism ( We would discuss if we think there is a distinct third wave and how it's view of sexuality is possibly different than that of second wavers. Are we part of that third wave sexuality? What advantages do we get from this sexuality? Are there disadvantages?
This curriculum takes a group of women who are already rather sexually knowledgeable and expands upon what they know in creative ways. It allows them to think about the language they use to describe sex and fills in gap in basic information that many of them are still missing. Furthermore I have pushed them to think about sex with respect to emotion and to feminism, places that they usually do not place sex as central. I think that my curriculum would create bonding, expand knowledge in new and interesting ways, and explore issues unique perspectives on already developed sexualities and worldviews.

What the Sexual Subgroup 'Maggie' Wishes She Had B
Name: Maggie Sco
Date: 2002-10-12 09:57:03
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My experiences with sex education seem to be fairly typical. I had a basic health class in middle school and a more in-depth one in high school. Both of these classes had sex ed units that didn't teach us as many things as they did teach us. I was homeschooled in elementary school, and while my parents are both open and easy to talk to, I do not remember having a sex talk with either one of them until it came time for them to worry that I might be having sex. An effective sexuality education class should teach many issues. The following paper is a discussion of a few of the specific topics that I was not exposed to about sex and that I think are an important part of any sexually healthy person's knowledge.

The word 'masturbation' was never mentioned at any point in my formal high school education or my informal education with my parents. The most educational conversation I had about masturbating was in French class when my classmates consisted of guys who joked about it because they were embarrassed and girls who would have rather quit the cheerleading squad than admit they masturbated. I grew up surrounded by the opinion that guys who were going through puberty were the only people who masturbated, and it was certainly not something that people should talk about. It is very important for all adolescents to be exposed to the idea of masturbation as more than something that should produce guilty feelings. Students, either in sex(uality) ed class or from their parents should be taught that masturbation could help them learn more about their bodies and sexual responses. People who are just becoming sexually interested or active may find masturbation to be a safe way to do this without worrying about pregnancy, pleasing a partner, or diseases. Masturbation can be done for pure pleasure, exploration, relaxation, to aid sleep, to enhance sex activities with a partner, or many other reasons. Sex ed should include many of these reasons and stress to the students that they are all healthy and not shameful.

Masturbation can cause some health problems, only if it is done unsafely (such as autoerotic asphyxia, which involves masturbating with something tied around the neck) or too frequently. These problems should be pointed out and discussed, but not stressed so much as to reinforce the message that masturbation is bad. I do not necessarily think that masturbation should be encouraged, anymore than I think any type of sexual behavior should be promoted over another. A poll from the week of January 11, 2001 from shows that over 96% of teenage males who answered the poll masturbate, and about 84% of teenage females who answered the poll masturbate. Another poll from this site, taken the week of September 7, 2000, shows that over 50% of teenagers have either been told that masturbation is bad or have always gotten that impression. Granted, these are not scientifically conducted studies, but with numbers like that it is time to get rid of the sense of guilt that surrounds masturbation.

Menstruation is generally talked about and taught as if it is a dirty, disgusting and secretive thing. Girls are embarrassed when they start their periods, and boys tease us about it for our entire lives. There are hundreds of code names for when we have our periods, and most teenage girls would be mortified to carry a tampon out in the open on their way to the bathroom. This aura of shame and secrecy about our periods should be replaced with a sense of power and strength. No one ever told me that my bleeding was in rhythm with the lunar cycles. No one every taught me about the hundreds of fertility and moon goddesses that represented power in the ability to have children. No one ever explained that all women throughout history have also bled in time with the moon, or that women who live closely together can still sense each other's cycles and we will all bleed at the same time. Young adolescent girls need to feel proud of their bodies, and special because of the differences between women and men. Menarche, or a girl's first menstruation, should be taught as an amazing step in the process of becoming a woman, and something that should be celebrated instead of hidden away.

I was never taught about sexual responses, or told that it was normal and okay to feel them. My sex education consisted entirely of scientific facts about different types of birth control, sexually transmitted diseases, pregnancy and how to avoid lecherous men who wanted to have sex with me. Women's sexual desires were not given a voice in our curriculum, and this probably contributes greatly to women who are not comfortable with their sexuality. I really like ice cream, and that is fine because most people like ice cream. But if no one ever talked about ice cream, or told me that it was okay for me to like it, I might think that I was a little weird. The same goes for sex, except that almost all women are not told that it is okay to like it. Adults are too afraid to tell adolescents, especially girls, that sexual feelings are normal and supposed to feel good, because they think that teenagers will then run out and have unsafe sex. Instead, I think that teaching students about all aspects of sex, not just the potential bad consequences, will make them better prepared to make decisions about sex that are appropriate for them. It will also help to eliminate sexual guilt, by which an overwhelming number of people, both men and women, are affected.

A very important aspect of any type of sexuality education should be the emotional aspect. However, dwelling on how long to wait before having sex is counterproductive, and it is impossible to instruct kids on how to be 'good' at sexual activities. Unfortunately, I think that how to please your partner is one of the main questions that adolescents have about sex. Spending a few weeks on how to be emotionally mature enough to be a good sexual partner would help. Students need to be told that it's okay to be inexperienced or unsure of themselves, and that communication is vital. Open lines of communication and a willingness to talk about difficult topics are the best way to be a good partner.

Most lacking from my sex education was any information on minority sexual preferences. All discussion about sex focused on heterosexual couples having "traditional" sex. This only emphasizes that heterosexual traditional sex is the preferred, most accepted sexual behavior. When such a narrow view of sex is stressed, children who find that their tastes are not in accord with that standard will have a much more difficult time accepting themselves and being accepted by their peers. My high school sex ed classes indicated that the only type of sex people had was traditional heterosexual sex, and usually, the male was the one trying to talk the woman into having sex. This perspective limits any varying sexual act between heterosexual couples, any sex initiated or strongly desired by the woman, and any homosexual activity at all. Not only does this attitude continue to marginalize the people interested in those acts, but it can also instill them with guilt and self-hatred.

These issues are far from a real curriculum that could be instituted in high schools. But I do think that they address some of the concerns that students have, and teach about topics of which every student should be aware. Hopefully, by the time I have children who are ready to have a sexuality education class, the subjects of discussion will be more like what I wish mine had been and less like what it was.

All About Sex. Randall Blackburn, webmaster and original creator of site. Copyright 1997-2002. Accessed October 7, 2002.
Coles, Robert and Geoffrey Stokes. Sex and the American Teenager. New York: Harpers and Row, 1985.
Donovan, Deb and VanMetter, Bob. "Sexual pleasure: Learn to say goodbye to the guilt." from The Women's Network. Copyright iVillage Inc, 1995-2002. Accessed October 9, 2002. 0,10335,239441_112311-1,00.html.
Muscio, Inga. Cunt. New York: Seal Press, 1998. Personal Questions, Professional Answers. "Masturbation." Copyright 2000-2002. Accessed October 9, 2002.

The Co-op Curriculum
Name: Michelle M
Date: 2002-10-20 11:11:33
Link to this Comment: 3281


English 212
2002 Second Paper
On Serendip

I have a unique group to work with in that they are already close and comfortable with each other and with discussing sex. As a result the curriculum will be largely discussion based, which will allow for deeper more rich understandings of the topics we explore. Despite the closeness of the group the first step will be to establish the meeting as a safe, non-judgmental space where confidentiality is guaranteed and things said in the room do not leave it. At the first meeting of the group one of the initial activities would be establishing guidelines for respecting ideas and comfort levels that hold for the duration of our group meetings.

As I see it the group is already very focused on the act of sex especially vaginas and orgasm. We could start by reading a description, if one could call it that, of the vagina by Natalie Angier in her Woman: An Intimate Geography. She uses numerous metaphors for the vagina and vulva, using biological language, ordinary almost practical language, not to mention flowery, romantic language as well. It glorifies the vagina in the way this group often does yet in very different kinds of language. I would like to see this as the jumping off point of a discussion about the way we as a group speak of ourselves and the responses that our language choice evokes in us. Looking at the foundation of our communication through a discussion of language, is a good way for a group to become self aware and come to an understanding of the impact of their speech on how others or themselves react to sex.

Most of the women in this group have sex with women either occasionally or exclusively, yet to the best of my knowledge they have not been properly educated about safer sex practices in lesbian sexual relationships. While many of them have heard of things they ought to do many only have half the story. I found a website that deals specifically with safer lesbian sex ( ) listing sexual acts in order of increasing risk for transfer of STDs. I might also seek out a speaker who can talk more explicitly about ways to approach safer sex with women in addition to ways of bringing the issue up while in "the heat of the moment." Keeping with the theme of discussion, each woman who was willing could discuss her experience or lack thereof with safer lesbian sex and how she has, or perhaps has not dealt with risk reducing practices with women.

At this point we will have explored the language that constitutes our thoughts on sexuality and also some practical issues with the act of sex itself. What has not been discussed are the emotion and passion that can surround sex. This is an aspect of sex that I think many in my group of women my miss for they are able to enjoy sex physically without much of the aforementioned emotional content. I picked up a book by bell hooks called All About Love which deal with a range of issues having to do with love, the emotional half of sex. While I have only skimmed the book I believe that it would be relevant and provoke interesting discussion. It will also introduce feminism into the discussion which will lead into the next lesson.

Most of the women in this group would also consider themselves feminists which I believe at least reflects one's sexuality. In an article called "Consciousness" (which I would have them read) Vivian Gornick writes:

I was on my way to a meeting one night not too long ago, a meeting meant to fashion a coalition group out of the movement's many organizations. I knew exactly what was ahead of me. I knew a woman from NOW would rise and speak abut our "image"; the Third Worlder would announce loudly she didn't give a good goddamn about anybody's orgasms, her women were starving, for chrissake; that a radicalesbian would insist that the woman's movement must face the problem of sexism from within right now; and 10 women f rom the Socialist party would walk out in protest against middle-class "elitist" control in the movement. Radical Feminism: A Documentary Reader, Ed. Barbara Crow, (p. 290)

I want the largely white, middle class, women of the co-op to try to look at their role in feminism critically and also recognize what they can contribute. I found this quotation particularly relevant because of the mention of orgasm as liberation vs. economic and human needs of women across the globe as the place to begin liberation. That is not to say that both cannot exist simultaneously but I would like us to see how they interact, and what are we as social activists missing. What can we contribute?

Finally I want to spend the last session on the notion of Third Wave Feminism that I am not sure that all or any of the women are aware of. There is an idea that young women in their teens and twenties are members of a Third Wave of Feminism that is in many ways opposed to that of the Second Wave Feminism of the 1970s. Two websites that I would have everyone explore are the Third Wave Foundation ( which gives grants and has a few specific campaigns, and a site that contains an interview with the well known authors of Manifesta, a book that articulates this notion of a Third Wave of feminism ( We would discuss if we think there is a distinct third wave and how it's view of sexuality is possibly different than that of second wavers. Are we part of that third wave sexuality? What advantages do we get from this sexuality? Are there disadvantages?

This curriculum takes a group of women who are already rather sexually knowledgeable and expands upon what they know in creative ways. It allows them to think about the language they use to describe sex and fills in gap in basic information that many of them are still missing. Furthermore I have pushed them to think about sex with respect to emotion and to feminism, places that they usually do not place sex as central. I think that my curriculum would create bonding, expand knowledge in new and interesting ways, and explore issues unique perspectives on already developed sexualities and worldviews.

Consider the Pieces
Name: Tran Ngoc
Date: 2002-10-25 16:58:02
Link to this Comment: 3352


English 212
2002 Field Site Sex Education Curriculum
On Serendip

In imagining a curriculum for the youths at the temple, I must first be aware of their identity. These youths are not simply Vietnamese or Vietnamese-American. They are Vietnamese-American-Buddhist. Characterizing themselves as such indicate the importance of their deeply rooted cultures, values, and beliefs. An effective sex education curriculum needs to incorporate languages from all three of these arenas.

Through both observing and dialoguing with the youths, I realize what a great barrier silence, unspoken thoughts, fears and emotions has been and will be in the discourse of sex education. In addition to this bubble of silence, I also notice the lack of tools necessary for communication and understanding. The insistent of molding and allowing the youths to act and to speak only a certain way make it even more difficult to embark on any discussion about sex. Thus, before speculating further details on the future of the sex education curriculum, I believe the curriculum must address these missing elements.

To ensure the permission that students will be able to converse in both English and Vietnamese, the curriculum will be written so that both languages will be used. In both writing and speaking, there is no emphasizes of one language over the other. I will emphasize to the students that the kind of language they use is not important. It is, important, however, that they want to communicate and be able to express their intention with the language they have chosen.

Of course, with the permission, students may now be able to converse at greater ease. Permission alone, however, will be of little effect without an appropriate tool, a common language where all students can use to understand the subject in discussion. This common language can be built by acquiring basic Vietnamese and English vocabulary in the first few lesson of the curriculum. This is similar to the idea that we learn the basic theory before we use them to reach for a different kind of understanding, perspective, and question about the subject. In fact, learning these words will also give them an instant-like validation of their thoughts, feelings, and contributions to the class. With the rise of confidence, the rate of participation will also increase. When these youths' are ready to engage, I am half way in my quest of breaking the silence.

Once discourse begins, what will we be conversing, reading, watching, and questioning. Which part of their identity will we tackle first? The Vietnamese piece? The American piece? The Buddhist piece? As a Vietnamese, how do they feel about sex? Does this Vietnamese perspective conflict with what they learn in school sex education? What does sexuality has to do with religion? How do they interpret the silence about sex at the temple? When they think about sex, which piece of their identity has the executive influence and why?

What about morality? Is sex ever about right and wrong? If they strip themselves of their identity, how would sex be viewed? Why? How do they intend to confront oppositions, if any, from the three perspectives? What is their comfort zone when we talk about sex? How do they mediate their comfort zone with other? What about diversity thoughts, ideals, and beliefs about sexuality? Does it have anything to do with sex? What about marriage and relationship? How will sex play into other aspect of life? Whom will they go for help when they are experiencing difficulty or problems having to do with sex? Where do they place their parents in this puzzle? How involve do they wish the community to be?

These are imperative questions to be asking in the process of compiling a sex education curriculum for these youths. With these questions, I set out searching for sources that will instigate students to think critically about their answers to those questions. My search for sources has been quite rewarding because the things I learn are never ending. In fact, I do not think that my personal knowledgeable is any greater than many of these youths. I, too, am clueless about Buddhism's perspective on sex, sexuality, and gender. Like them, I know very little of sexual attitudes, beliefs, and taboos within the Vietnamese community. I do not know the how immigration changes old ideas and old practices of family and societal interaction. What is gained and what is loss? Can we even calculate? Will it ever be possible for Vietnamese parents to discuss openly about the dangers and the pleasures of sex with their children? Does the difficulty of such discussion means they are not comfortable talking about sex in their own skin?

Readings addressing or having to do with these questions are definitely part of the curriculum. The lesson has to begin with very little word and connotation of sex because it is better to introduce to then force the subject onto the students. We may be able to start a simple story from a Buddha's sutra that talks about family and morality. It will be appropriate, the, to have a reading on Vietnamese cultural attitudes on social codes and interactions. We can have a writing assignment on how these two codes are alike or differ from each other. How does the American system agree or disagree with these two codes? Stories of real life that combines moral issues and sex will be the bridge for the students to cross from the discussion of common morality to questions of sexuality. Students will bare in mind these questions as they learn the basic vocabulary, fact, and theory in preceding lessons. Once students are equipped with knowledge, the discourse will inevitably be more personal, reflective, and meaningful. I am sure, however, of how the classroom will be shaped. Will it be necessary to divide students into groups? Will these groups be gendered so that students may feel more comfortable with their own gender? Will the division of these students be done according to age appropriateness? I will have to take time to speculate on their interactions in the next few weeks.

The Lesbian's Reading Guide to Bryn Mawr
Name: Jill Neust
Date: 2002-11-01 15:37:40
Link to this Comment: 3470


English 212
2002 Second Paper
On Serendip

Women come to Bryn Mawr having already spent their (possibly wasted) time in high school sex-ed. The curriculum that I propose is more of an addition to this knowledge rather than a firm basis for all knowledge of sexual encounters. Bryn Mawrtyrs have already learned the logistics of abstinence, STD's, and pregnancy from their high school gym teachers. The curriculum that they are not taught in school is that of homosexual love, more specifically that of lesbians. Some matriculate with a firm knowledge base from experience, but there is always more to learn, and this is my aim. Lesbian love is not taught in the mainstream. Right now, I do not believe that society is ready for such candidness. However, in situations wherein homosexual love is prevalent, such as single-sex schools, the subject should be taught with the same frankness and sincerity that most find lacking in their high school sex-ed curriculum.
The curriculum that I propose is of light reading, containing both humor and descriptive language, and also contains some valuable resources. The online sources that I have chosen are:
· (The Philadelphia Gay News Online)
The book sources that I find necessary include:
· Rubyfruit Jungle by Rita Mae Brown
· Lesbianism Made Easy by Helen Eisenbach
· Sex and Single Girls: Straight and Queer Women on Sexuality ed. Lee Damsky
I include the SGA Constitution because of its prevalence to the Bryn Mawr experience. This is the governing document for all undergraduate students, and in order to fully understand the intentions of this school, it is necessary to understand the ruling forces in the background. The Constitution defines Bryn Mawr's non-discrimination policy, which is vital in the lesbian experience here. It outlines the college's "official" position on the matter.
The other two websites are to help students become acquainted with the queer population in Philadelphia. The Philadelphia Gay News and Out in Philadelphia tell their readers of activities, resources, and of the general community in the Philadelphia region. These are included so as not to limit the understanding of lesbianism to Bryn Mawr College's borders.
Rubyfruit Jungle is a novel that, since its initial publishing in 1973, has been a staple in the lesbian library, along with The Well of Loneliness by Radclyffe Hall. (This book would be included, in addition to many others, if this exercise were more extensive.) Rubyfruit Jungle helps to simplify the "coming out" process, partly by making it humorous. It is a novel that makes lesbianism approachable through simple language, good descriptions, and also through humor.
Lesbianism Made Easy, at first glance, appears to be a parody. While it is not a book to be read gravely, it is also a book that can be dismissed easily because of its lightness. This is a humor book that has something valuable to say, and an in-depth reading would prove priceless to the receptive reader.
Sex and Single Girls is a re-writing of a sex guide from the 1960's. The editor of this book of short stories was unhappy with the inadequate and nondescript "sex manual" that women were given as a basis for their sexualities. She desired to have a comprehensive manual of the modern woman's experiences of and feelings toward sex. This book touches on everything from cockteasing to transgenderism to STD's. As a full-ranging, and very descriptive book, it touches on all sexualities, and for those that do not identify with the queer community, it would supply a source of either identification or desire for self-improvement.
These sources are all invaluable, and they are by no means the limits of material for such a course, they are merely a beginning. If I were to design a syllabus for this course, I would concentrate more on the print materials, but references would be made to the online sources. (This merely reflects my desire to have my reading material in my hands, rather than "at my fingertips".) Two weeks would be spent on both of the shorter books, and a month on the longer book, with references to the online sources throughout.
This is a very limited outline for what could be a very extensive course. All of the course materials described would be vital to the course, but many additions would have to be made.

Sex Education Curriculum for Sex-Positive Feminist
Name: Kathryn Mc
Date: 2002-11-04 17:08:48
Link to this Comment: 3521


English 212
2002 Second Paper
On Serendip

This program aims to reach self-aware women who are comfortable with their sexuality and their attraction towards other women. It will not be trying to draw anyone out of the closet or make students do things they don't want to do. However, the course will attempt to dispel their fears, reacquaint them with their bodies and desires, encourage each woman to live, love, and lust to her potential, and to be open minded and comfortable with herself, her body, and the body of her lover(s). This program is for lesbians with positive and radical attitudes towards sex and sexuality, specifically their own, with no specific age range in mind. We will not be exclusionary and leave out anyone who identifies as a woman or with women and who is queer. Therefore, we will welcome intersexed individuals, gender neutral students, and transwomen and transmen and bisexual women into the classroom. A primary focus for this class will be the teaching of acceptance, as well as the encouragement of sexual experimentation with a solid grounding in technique and safety. Each student will try to answer for herself what it means for her to be a sexual being and a member of lesbian culture. Instead of separating politics from sex, because lesbian culture would not exist without sex and a pro-women attitude, and visa versa, studying lesbian and queer cultures will therefore be integral to this course.

We will begin with the history of lesbian culture in America and look at different variations on lesbian sexuality and sexual cultures including the history of traditional butch-femme relationships, communes of lesbian separatists, and lesbian polyamory. Women's sexuality as a political issue will be addressed, looking specifically at how lesbianism became a political issue during the second wave of feminism. Similarly, we will look at modern notions of women's sexuality and the current assimilation of lesbians and other members of the queer community into mainstream culture. Then we will see how lesbian culture handles this problem, such as the reclamation of "dyke" and "queer" and these unique, but self-definable identities.

Lesbians exist within other sexual minority groups. We will look at the ways lesbians and queer women practice BDSM (bondage, discipline, domination, submission, sadism, masochism, and role play). The continuum of kink will be a focus for class, with a strong emphasis on consent and egalitarian relationships as the groundwork for personal safety and healthy, successful relationships. Techniques and equipment will be discussed along with the topic of sex toys. Different identities/roles within this community and how they are expressed when they overlap in lesbian culture will be addressed. This will include discussions about vanilla sex in opposition to bottoms, tops, switches, masters, mistresses, slaves, mommies, daddies, bad boys/girls, good boys/girls, etc. and the dynamics of power. Lesbian lifestyles, including monogamy, polyamory, nonmonogamy, "fluid bonding," and top/bottom relationships will also be addressed in this course.

Safety in nonsexual settings will be important in this class. The issue of violence towards women will be raised in conjunction with the topic of hate crimes. We will give self-defense demonstrations. Myths and stereotypes of lesbians and lesbian sexuality will be addressed and debunked. The secret of domestic violence within lesbian culture will be unveiled and emergency and safety information will be supplied.

We will concern ourselves with body image and the many ways lesbians are affected by popular notions of beauty within mainstream culture. We will look at fat dykes and disabled women, and the lesbian community as a model of acceptance, although with many imperfections. Our discussion will then turn to issues of gender and sexual expression, including related topics of gender and gender identity within the queer community. By looking at the social construction of gender, gender appropriation and irony, we will focus on butch and femme identities, drag kings, androgynous women, gender-neutral individuals, and those without categories or labels. We will discuss women-only-spaces and the debate surrounding transsexuals and transgendered people within the community, and the social challenges of living as or loving trannyboys/ transmen, passing women (women who pass as men), and transwomen. Sex change operations will be covered, as will the arguments surrounding butch/transman appropriation of male privilege.

Women's anatomy will be a major topic with emphasis towards the many different shapes, sizes, and colors of women's genitals, as well as genitals of transsexuals and intersexed individuals. Within this discussion we will utilize terms like "cunt," "clit," and "dick." Each woman-identified student will be given The Cunt Coloring Book by Tee Corinne and asked to draw her own vagina, and decorate the picture. We will discuss female ejaculation, Kegel exercises, and the G-Spot. There will be a mandatory reading or screening of Eve Ensler's The Vagina Monologues. We will discuss ways to heighten pleasure and arousal, including everything from physical touch to talking dirty, to multiple sex partners, to BDSM, to public sex, to viewing porn or reading erotica. We will explain the benefits and difficulties of genital, tongue, and nipple piercings. Different sex toys will be modeled and their uses and safety precautions demonstrated for individual or partner play. We will depict and explain in detail various sexual acts, including vaginal and anal fisting, oral sex, breast play, penetration with fingers, penetration with dildos, topping, and bottoming, and many more options. We will discuss STDs, bacterial and yeast infections and the many ways their transmission can be prevented. Enjoying and celebrating oneself through masturbation will be encouraged and techniques demonstrated, and the necessity of knowing what works and what doesn't will be stressed. The necessity of effectively communicating one's sexual desires and needs to one's sexual partners will be emphasized. These will be taught as solutions for maintaining sexual health and combating lesbian bed death. Free breast cancer screening and OBGYN checkups will be offered, as well as medical information and care providers for lesbians with financial constraints and no health care.

Lesbian sexuality is a vast and varied topic. Lesbians themselves frequently discuss everything from sex and relationships to politics in a method affectionately known as "processing." Speaking and being heard are important to lesbians in a conscious, political sense because so often we are silenced or ignored. Learning about sex in the form of discussion is appropriate for this group to maintain a level of comfort and to encourage students to learn from one another. Lesbian sex is a highly politicized act, and because the whole of lesbian culture is steeped in politics and social change, I think it would be a mistake to remove it from the curriculum.

Recommended Reading:

Califa, Pat. "Feminism and Sadomasochism." Feminism and Sexuality: A Reader. Ed. Stevi Jackson, et al. New York: Columbia University Press, 1996. pgs 230-237

Hart, Lynda. Between the Body and the Flesh. New York: Columbia University Press, 1998.

Hollibaugh, Amber L. My Dangerous Desires: A Queer Girl Dreaming Her Way Home. Durham: Duke University Press, 2000.

Newman, Felice. The Whole Lesbian Sex Book: A Passionate Guide for All of Us. San Fransisco: Cleis Press, 1999.

Improving Sex: Advice and Information

Coalition for Positive Sexuality

Pucker Up

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