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English 212
2002 Second Paper
On Serendip

Sex Education Curriculum for Sex-Positive Feminist Lesbians

Kathryn McMahon

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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