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English 212

2002 Third Paper

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Praxis Introduction Abstract and Preliminary Praxis Biblio

H. E.

I am working at a facility for recovering drug and alcohol addicts - "a private, non profit, rehabilitation facility for women. A supportive environment where women recovering from chemical dependency find help in maintaining sobriety and coping with recovery problems. The therapeutic atmosphere offers women the opportunity to reenter the community while living a sober, productive and responsible life. Each resident becomes a member of a "family" while participating in the five month program. The facility has nine residents in a home environment, close to AA and NA support groups" (according to a pamphlet). The facility houses ten women at once and the program ranges from four and a half months to six months. These women form a pseudo-family and have similar dynamics to the more traditional idea of a family. They share daily life management activities and tasks and they also participate in group therapy sessions (alongside personal sessions of course). All women are mothers, recovering addicts, mothers, and victims of domestic or sexual assault, abuse, harassment. They range in age, race, educational background, drug of choice, sexual attitude, sexual orientation, personality, and to a lesser extent, socio-economic background. Each of these women is unique and special in her own way - they all bring things to the group that no one else can. I am quickly becoming an active and invested member of this community and I will learn much from each of these women. It is pleasure to watch them grow and take their lives back into their own hands.

Before I go on to introduce my initial ideas concerning a sexual education curriculum, I would like to introduce the clients - the women - I will be working with. Because there are so few, only ten clients, I have a wonderful opportunity to carefully personalize and tailor this program to individual women's interests, desires, and needs. An introduction to each of these women as individuals will help you, Anne in understanding my choice for materials and references to specific personal considerations. Maggie and I have been and will be working quite closely during our time at the site and for the final curriculum structure. We will share sources, frameworks, and ideas although our final papers may differ. At this point there is still some variety and difference between her bibliography and mine, but I want to emphasize that we are communicating and sharing feelings and ideas throughout this process. So, welcome to the Garden Center!

I have searched for books that are accessible to individuals with a lower literacy and educational background. I hope to simultaneously use these sources to educate myself as well as to give to these women. In other words, I consider myself a student within this classroom who is merely facilitating and making available information. The focus of this 'course' is not solely sex and sexuality because these women are at a point of turnaround in their lives - they may need educating in other aspects of life in order to help create and maintain a healthy and positive control over their sexuality. Some (but not limited to at this point) of the topics that we hope to discuss are: the effects of drug on sex and sexuality, body image, sexual and domestic violence, abuse, and harassment, masturbation, diverse sexuality. In order to do this we have chosen some sources that these women can refer to on their on (at appropriate literacy levels), and we have given special attention to individual requests and interests for information.

1. Cunt by Inga Muscia is a book that aims at reclaiming women's sexuality via the reclaiming of the word cunt. It is also written as if the author was speaking to the reader in a friendly intimate conversation. I hope this will reinforce positive attitudes towards women and our sexuality.

2. The Whole Lesbian Sex Book by Felice Newman is an easy read for women who are flexually considering bi- or homo- sexuality. There are some chapters that may apply to all of these women - namely a chapter of tips on masturbation. A positive and healthy self-sex image can start with knowing, exploring, and loving one's body starting with masturbation.

3. The Vagina Monologues by Eve Ensler. We will be offering this text in three different forms: book, CD, and movie. We hope that these women will draw strength from hearing other women's stories about their sexual experiences and to create a solidarity with women by emphasizing that women suffer no matter who, what, where, when, why. However, this anthology stands out because it is empowering, whereas other anthologies can be depressing.

4. Sexual Anorexia by Patrick Carnes is a book that asserts that sexual anorexia (sexual aversion) is very similar to sexual addiction. The lines between are not clear and it very easy to slip from one end of the spectrum to the other. This is an issue for these women as many of them express distaste and disgust at the thought of sex. This may be problematic after they leave the facility as they will be faced with encounters (sexual or otherwise) and they will not have a safe space in which to retreat and find haven.

5. A Sex Toy Tea (Demonstration) from The Mood similar to the one that was held on campus last year. Although this may not be feasible, we are still dreaming at this point. We hope that this would reinforce the positive sexual experiences a woman can have all by herself. This will assert optimism, independence, and self love through the discovery of new ways in which women can have sexual pleasure independently of men.

6. A source that explains the various sexual side effects that drugs (recreational or otherwise) have. We are having trouble finding a source that does this concisely and in a language that is accessible to the educational level of these women. One article seemed helpful, Not tonight dear, I'm feeling better: The drugs that relieve depression also sap the libido by Kristin Jenkins. Hopefully we will find more sources that are more general, concise, and legible for the women we are working with.

7. A source that deals with domestic violence. We hope to find, again, a source that is concise and legible for these women, and this has also been difficult. We also do not feel that a detailed explanation of the sociological factors involved in abuse would benefit these women. A guide on how to avoid abusive situations would be much more useful. You Can be Free: An Easy to Read Handbook for Abused Women by Ginny NiCarthy and Sue Davidson should be helpful in this task.

8. We wanted to give some attention to parenting because several women have expressed remorse and deep affectation after the death of a parent. All of these women are also mothers - mostly mothers who have dispersed their children amongst various fathers, family members, and institutions - who are not in touch with their children. This is one of the first ways in which the sociological cycle is repeated and not broken. We though that Reviving Ophelia by Mary Pipher would help these women understand parent child relations and dynamics (in a literarily accessible way) both for themselves as daughters and mothers.

9.) In order to address body image we plan to hold a workshop of some sort. We have not given much thought to the sources we will use. I attended a meeting about Exercise and Mental Health on Wednesday evening (October 30) and I collected some materials that may be helpful. These materials emphasize the physical and mental health benefits from regular exercise and contain helpful hints on how to exercise without going to the gym (for example parking one's car far away from an entrance, going up and down all the aisles in the supermarket, taking the stairs instead of the elevator, etc.).

10.) We wanted to offer a movie for these women to watch, mostly to cater to the different learning preferences or styles. Books may be a very daunting and intimidating thing to these women - some of whom have trouble reading their daily dinner prayers. A movie might help to lighten the feeling of somewhat heavy course materials. The Vagina Monologues would be wonderful here and we also chose another movie entitled The Loss of Sexual Innocence about

"weaving together four stories of love, regret, and redemption, the loss of sexual innocence is an eye-opening look at the power of sex to shape--or shatter--our lives."

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