Sep 222013
 

podcast

Want to hear me talk about everything from anatomy to sex & disability, sex education to how I ended up doing what I do? You’re in luck – check out my quick and dirty, 30-minute or so podcast with the absolutely fabulous sexologist Dr. Gloria Brame on the Gloria Brame show.

Click here to hear the podcast. It also is (or will be) on iTunes for download, for those of you who like to listen to sexual discussion while on the training, at your kids’ soccer practice, or while doing cardio at the gym (or any other time).

Enjoy!

-Shanna

Sep 132013
 

New Mexico Supreme Court sides with Pornotopia Film Festival and Free Speech

Albuquerque, NM (September 12, 2013) – Pornotopia Film Festival won. The NM State Supreme Court decided in a 4-1 decision that The Guild Cinema & Self Serve Sexuality Resource Center have a right to host Pornotopia Film Festival. The court was clear: hosting one erotic film festival, on one weekend of the year does not make the Guild an “adult amusement establishment,” just like a club that plays jazz music once a year would not become a “jazz club.” This ruling guarantees that Self Serve and The Guild Cinema can carry out their festival without fearing that free speech will be abridged. Self Serve is already planning the next PORNOTOPIA UNCENSORED festival for November 1st, 2013.

The Pornotopia Film Festival was a well-attended film festival in Albuquerque from 2007 to 2009. As Director & Self Serve Co-Owner Matie Fricker explains, “Despite its controversy, Pornotopia has received overwhelming community support for being a festival whose aim is to change the way people see sexuality portrayed in film.” She adds, “Much like the environment at our shop Self Serve, Pornotopia featured films promoting a positive, educational and empowering erotic experience.”

In 2008, the Guild Cinema was cited with a zoning violation for showing an erotic film. Today the state’s highest court reversed that citation. In overturning the lower courts’ ruling, the Supreme Court concluded, “Because the Guild engaged in only occasional showings of adult films, the Guild is not an adult amusement establishment as defined in the Albuquerque Code of Ordinances…”

Self Serve thanks to the ACLU of New Mexico, the Guild Cinema, supportive Nob Hill neighbors and all the volunteers who helped create Pornotopia Film Festival. About Self Serve: Self Serve is a woman-owned sexuality resource center & boutique. In a culture where sex is sensationalized and unrealistically represented in the media, we offer a space that is frank, honest and friendly. Our compassionate and non-judgemental sex educators give you the space to ask the questions that make other people blush. Self Serve offers bodysafe toys, intimate lubricants, natural skin care, locally made gifts, books, dvds, classes and private events.

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Contact: Molly Adler

Self Serve: 505-265-5815

molly@selfservetoys.com

Aug 262013
 

This is a post by one of my Summer 2013 interns, Kelsey. Find more posts from her and other current and former interns under the Intern Corner section. – Shanna

Safe sex information is an essential component of health. Expanding the definition of safe sex to include more than just condoms is one of my biggest goals in life. I put a condom on banana for the very first time last month when I was performing in a health education theatre troupe in front of 500 college freshman.

When I think back to my high school health class, the only thing I can really remember is to always use a condom. And okay, yes, condoms are important, they greatly reduce the risk of pregnancy, and protect against some STIs…that is if you are having sex that involves a penis inside you.  My point is, the type of sex education I learned in high school never applied to me.  I was on my own to become empowered and informed and so are a lot of other people.

The problem is, if the only take home message from a health class is to wear a condom, many important topics are missing. For example:

Where is the empowerment?

If you feel empowered during intimacy, you can advocate for yourself with confidence.  One way to feel empowered is being informed and feeling comfortable with your own body.

What is body positivity?

Body positivity means feeling comfortable in your own skin.  It means honoring your body and making healthy choices that fit your needs.

What are other forms of contraception?

There are many different types of contraception. Some examples are birth control pills, the depo provera shot, a diaphragm or intra-uterine devices. What’s important is knowing how to access them, what questions to ask your doctor, what they’re used for, and what to expect.

What is consent?

Sexual Consent is voluntary, sober, wanted, informed and mutual verbal agreement to be sexually intimate. It’s a no until it’s a yes when it comes to sex or being intimate.

Are there other types of intimacy besides penetration?

Yes! There’s kissing, touching, holding hands, talking dirty and so much more.

What exactly is a condom?

Condoms are sheaths of thin latex or plastic that are worn on the erect penis during penetrative vaginal, anal or oral sex. They protect couples from sharing most sexually transmitted infections and prevent 98% of pregnancies if used correctly. (editor’s note; this refers to “male” condoms — they also make “female” condoms that are worn inside the vagina or anus. Either type can be used by folks of any sex or gender)  You can access condoms at drug stores, grocery stores, some vending machines, doctor’s offices or health clinics like Planned Parenthood.

Sex toys? What?

A great way to spice up intimacy, experiment with different fantasies, and achieve the desired level of stimulation.  I recommend going to a local body positive and sex positive shop or doing some online research. You never know until you try! Editor’s Note: Keep in mind that if a toy is not made of a sterilizable material  like silicone, glass, metal, ceramic or corian, you will want to use a condom on it when sharing!

 

What if I am woman having sex with another woman?

That’s great! If both partners are a female-bodied vagina owners, you won’t need a condom (unless to for sex toys, especially non-sterilizable ones), but dental dams prevent sharing most sexually transmitted infections during oral sex.  Some people use latex or nitrile gloves, or finger cots for added protection.

These are just some of the topics I would include if I could teach a high school sex education class now. It is impossible to mention everything in a single post, but I assure you there will be more to come. It’s very important stuff.

 

 

 

Aug 212013
 

This is a post by one of my Summer 2013 interns. Find more posts from her and other current and former interns under the Intern Corner section. – Shanna

When we think of intimate bonds experienced by the self and others, it’s hard not to insinuate a sexual context or a soon-to-be sexual context in which these bonds grow. This notion has prospered excellently in much of the mass media we tend to follow, as intimacy depicted in film is almost always followed by physical attraction. I understand that sexual motivations carries a narrative with great strength (both on and off screen), but it fails to demonstrate that they’re other ways to enjoy intimacy that doesn’t involve a passionate kiss at the end of it.

Here’s the idea: if intimacy happened to be presented to strictly within the context of sex, then it conditions one to seek intimacy exclusively in sex. This could lead to a pattern of thought where sex is seen as the ultimate end goal, with intimacy maybe served as a side. However, it’s important to stress that intimacy proliferates in many different environments, and it’s healthy to acknowledge notions of intimacy that you have that doesn’t necessarily end in a situation where you’re not wearing pants. Furthermore, understanding and appreciating intimacy one can experience outside of a sexual context might also help you within one too. With that said, it’s not my place to detract against the idea of the different kinds of sex people choose to have (both encompassing and void of intimacy), but rather to demonstrate a point that the two could be just as mutually exclusive as they could be intrinsically related.

Speaking of which, what exactly is the difference between enjoying say an incredible meal or an incredible production or an incredible blow job? Physiologically, very little. All three undergo a similar neuronal trajectory in the reward circuit system that promotes a positive self-perception, which in turn releases the same neurotransmitters (more specifically, oxytocin and dopamine). Of course the evolutionary implication behind the motivations driving sexual behavior obviously holds much more weight than artistic behavior, but it’s still kind of cool to think about why these innate mechanisms exist. If it were not an adaptive behavior, the rewarding sensations found in relation to intimacy would’ve been a trait left behind with our ancestors. Intimacy serves a purpose to bring people together as a social unit, so that collectively, we may up our chances of survival and mental well-being. It is single-handedly responsible for the enormous growth in cortical mass, as it is also the reason why we are apt to interpreting and understanding emotion and why our language happens to be so varied and densely knit. We carry these skills not because they simply existed, but because our innate desire to be interconnected willed our species to form it. What I find to be particularly poignant about this theory that when you classify intimacy as the over-arching umbrella term, sex follows suit as a subgenre of intimacy, and not the other way around.

For example, there are plenty of people on this planet who live happily with little to no sexual activity in their lives. Does this make them incapable of understanding and appreciating intimacy? Certainly not. However, popular opinion is still tempted to imply this stereotype. We see it in how one might treat a friend or family member as being ‘perpetually single’. Are they lonely? Maybe, but it certainly would be presumptuous to assume. Are they incapable of sharing a deep bond with other individuals? Certainly not. People choose to be single based on a multitude of reasons, the large majority of which do not revolve around the disinterest or incompetence of being sexually intimate.

The most spectacular thing about intimacy beyond sex, is it’s unmitigated sweetness can be experienced anywhere at any moment between anyone. One thing that is important to keep in mind is that though the company of others most often creates intimacy, it is ultimately the individual that perceives and internalizes it. I appreciate the moment one has when you find yourself sharing a smile with a stranger in a public place, but the space that’s created between myself and this stranger is largely in part due to the space I have allowed myself to experience in my mind. This should not automatically equate to a “what-a-shame-you-let-the-moment-pass” conundrum if I felt the person did not need to be approached. It should be sufficient enough to allow the thrill to ride its course without having to imply anything else. Having a frank conversation about an interesting topic with a stranger at a gathering does not mean that a shade of romanticism is owed, especially if this person is “someone I could see myself being attracted to”. By accepting it’s existence at face value, you could spend less time tripping over ill-fated attempts to justify an emotion that might not be understood in mainstream opinion. Intimacy helps keep you in check with your own personal relationship, it allows you the opportunity to practice humility and curiosity that other spaces in life might not. It is possible to feel connected and involved without submitting to the social prescription of asking yourself how it’s function should be carried.

For more thoughts, I invite you to read this interesting article :

Aug 192013
 

It’s that time of month again…no, not Shark Week. It’s time for a giveaway!

What can you win? A Deluxe Bath & Beauty Product and Sample Spice Box by Spicy Subscriptions, which includes both full size and sample items that are body friendly.

Shanna Katz Spicy Subscriptions

 

How do you enter?

Step One: Like Spicy Subscriptions on FB (required)

Step Two: Comment here with your favorite things about bath or shower time (required)

Step Three: Sit back and wait to win (you can also pass the time reading, showering, having sex, etc)

Simple as can be. Must enter by August 31st. Shipping to the US only, must be 18+ to win.

In case you don’t win, or want your own subscription of sexuality products coming to your mailbox every month, you can get 5% off by entering the code SHANNAKATZ at www.spicysubscriptions.com.

 

Shanna Katz Spicy Subscriptions Discount

Enjoy!

Shanna

Aug 152013
 

This is a post by one of my Summer 2013 interns, Kelsey. Find more posts from her and other current and former interns under the Intern Corner section. – Shanna

With over 24 million people in the United States suffering from anorexia, bulimia or binge eating disorders, and thousands more on restrictive diets, body positive organizations like HAES (Health at Every Size) are revolutionary in the fight for health and positive body image. HAES stands behind the principle that skinny does not equal healthy.

The phrase “I can’t… I’m on a diet” is usually harmful for the entire body. When you are on a diet, you are depriving your body of valuable nutrients – things your body needs to function properly and feel healthy. In fact, most people who diet and lose more than the recommended one-pound per week gain the weight back within 6 months to make up for diet induced starvation.

Before you start a diet it is important to ask yourself WHY.

• Are you trying to lose weight to look a certain way?

• Are you channeling emotional control issues into controlling the food that you eat?

• How much weight are you trying to lose?

• Who will be an emotional support system and educational resource during your weight loss

journey?

• Are you exercising and are you eating enough to do so?

According to HAES, the best way to improve health is to honor your body. Some ways to honor your body are to accept and respect the natural diversity in body types, eat in a flexible manner, and appreciate the natural movement of the body, like finding movements, stretches and exercises that you enjoy. Approach health from an individualized holistic perspective.

People who honor their body (no matter what their size) are more comfortable sexually.

• Sexuality expression is a reflection of the inner self, physical self, emotional self

• Sexuality is largely dependent on how we see our selves and how we interact with others.

• Love your body, honor your body, and actively challenge the idea the skinny means healthy.

The bottom line is that every body is different and health truly does look and feel different for everyone. What felt good yesterday, may not feel good two months from now. It is important to take time to learn what feels best and always remember to leave room for change and growth.

Important language from the World Health Organization:

Eating Disorder: Eating disorders are a group of serious conditions in which you’re so preoccupied with food and weight that you can often focus on little else.

Anorexia nervosa: Anorexia is an eating disorder that causes people to obsess about their weight and the food they eat. People with anorexia attempt to maintain a weight that’s far below normal for their age and height. To prevent weight gain or to continue losing weight, people with anorexia nervosa may starve themselves or exercise excessively.

Bulimia nervosa: People with bulimia may secretly binge — eating large amounts of food — and then purge, trying to get rid of the extra calories in an unhealthy way. For example, someone with bulimia may force vomiting or do excessive exercise.

Binge Eating Disorder: Binge-eating disorder is a serious eating disorder in which you frequently consume unusually large amounts of food. But for some people, overeating crosses the line to binge-eating disorder and it becomes a regular occurrence, usually done in secret. When you have binge-eating disorder, you may be deeply embarrassed about gorging and vow to stop. But you feel such a compulsion that you can’t resist the urges and continue binge eating.

Diet: Intentional reduction in calories, restriction of foods with the goal of weight loss.

Holistic Health: Includes all aspects of health such as mental, physical, emotional, spiritual and financial wellbeing.

Aug 122013
 

Ducky Doolittle is a sex educator from New York City. She says her work brings her pure happiness and she has enjoyed doing something she is extremely passionate about for the past 25 years.

Ducky Doolittle

Quick Facts:

• In her free time, Ducky enjoys making art, cooking, and enjoying movies and books. She also likes tickling her dog and playing Plants vs. Zombies.

• Ducky’s favorite part about being a sex educator is learning from the people she meets at workshops and online. She says, “They teach me to be more compassionate, open minded and present.”

• Ducky is a Sexual Assault & Violence Intervention Counselor.

Sexuality is easily simplified and used as a commodity; authenticity is key, Ducky says. She believes that the world can use as many great sex educators as possible, and offered some advice for individuals who are embarking on their journey to become one. She says it’s necessary to define what makes you unique. Then, seek other sex educators as mentors and try to define what their unique intentions and talents are.

Learn more about Ducky on her website here.

This piece is part of a series on sex positive and/or feminist identified sex educators in the field. Click here to see all of the featured sex educators.

Aug 082013
 

This is a post by one of my Summer 2013 interns. Find more posts from her and other current and former interns under the Intern Corner section.Shanna

It is nearly impossible to peel socio-cognitive development from exposure to media. It’s relevance echoes from our early infancy, where developmental researchers have found that children rely on these cues given by their caregivers to guide them on how and when act in ambiguous situations. The technical term for this is called anchoring, and it is a skill can be generalized well throughout the lifespan, as we are always subconsciously taking in information from our surroundings, and integrating it into our social network.  We pick up on these cues from the community we are affiliated with, the newspapers we choose to read and with the media we are exposed to. The lessons we learn from media echos in our daily interactions all the time. It tells us that if we keep a beer in our hand, we could be conditioned to feeling less nervous. It tells us what kind of clean crisp shirt is appropriate for a job interview. It also tells us it’s inappropriate to shout in art galleries and grocery stores, but not concerts and birthday parties.

With that said, pornography is no exception to this phenomenon. Even an individual who is exposed to a resourceful sexual education cannot magically neglect the information one takes in while watching pornography. Can you blame us? Human beings are physiologically inclined to perceive and internalize visual stimuli more strongly than other senses, so it’s no surprise that sex we see on screen is something that ‘sticks’ with us. Pornography has now become the norm for youth, with 87% of boys and 31% of girls reported being exposed to it at one point.

More and more, I’m finding the underlying message of how porn is talked about in regards to sex education is it emphasizes the importance of segregating porn as ‘fantasy’ and sex as ‘real’. With that said, it is very tempting emphasize the degradation and objectification found in mainstream pornography, or perhaps has dismissed it as being “for entertainment purposes only”. The idea is peppered in any intro level social psych or gender studies class, and fuels a few of the spicier Tedtalks. I have two main problems with this well-educated (and, let’s face it, slightly presumptuous) attitude:

(1) If research tells us that we are learning from porn, but education tells us we shouldn’t, then what are we supposed to do?
This sounds like a mixed message that could definitely leave the audience confused. If we feel like we are learning a skill by using a resource that has been told is unreliable, then it leaves room for guilt and shame to creep in, which really doesn’t help open up a dialogue. Information comes from all walks of life, and oftentimes not all of it comes from academia and research. It’s important to embrace the lessons we learn, and provide a space where people can talk openly and share these experiences with one another.

(2) It tends to generalize all styles of pornography and lump it into one type.

Of course we know this is not true and that there are in fact, a plethora of pornography that exists, each carrying it’s own brand and message.

Nina Hartley* is an incredible example of this. Both a porn star and a registered nurse, she has always been a strong voice advocating the importance of creating sex-positive pornography that strengthens and educates us about sexuality. This is a powerful message, as not only does it create an accepting environment as a consumer of porn, but also it celebrates that multi-faceted understanding of sexuality as a whole.

Keeping to this theme, Blue Artichoke Films** is a production company that also aims to make films more sex-positive, and focuses more on the intimacy and emotional unfolding of the interactions. This quality is seen down to the nitty gritty real-time editing, in an attempt to captive the heat of the moment.

However, it should be noted that I’m not in the belief that pornography is a substitute for sex education all together, but I do believe the subject could be incorporated in the curriculum with a little more warmth. Sometimes I feel like porn is a subject that is not sure how to be dealt with within the sex education curriculum because of it’s artistic elements of fantasy, but it is not to say that it’s relevance should be dismissed entirely.

With that said, we are slowly coming to the small space where fantasy and reality meet. The trends in media are working towards finding ways to make it more interactive with the audience. We see it in how we watch sports, how we take in news, and how we interact with our friends and family online. This is a really exciting time for us, because now more than ever, it is so easy to gain knowledge, and create a message that can be heard. By generalizing and dismissing pornography, it leaves very little room to make it constructive, and certainly does not leave any room for change in the industry.  Pornography is an industry just like any other, and akin to other industries, it changes and shifts based on our demands as a consumer. This leaves us with an incredible opportunity for us to support and direct it to a healthier outlet. This allows ample initiative as a consumer to educate oneself about what kinds of messages we want to see in pornography, and where we can go to support those who give this message.

*For more information on Nina Hartley: http://www.nina.com/

** For more information of Blue Artichoke Films:  http://blueartichokefilms.com/

For one of Shanna’s posts on Feminist and Ethical Pornography (including what it is, companies making it, etc), check this out: http://shannakatz.com/2011/02/21/what-is-ethicalfeminist-pornography/

Aug 052013
 

Dr. Jenni Skyler

Dr. Jenni Skyler of Boulder, Colorado is a sex therapist and sex educator because she has a passion for helping people reclaim their sexuality, have a healthy and affirming understanding of sexuality and giving people the permission of pleasure.

Quick Facts:

• Jenni loves hiking, biking, meditating, swimming and sitting on the back deck with her husband eating dinner and watching the sunset.

• Jenni’s favorite part about being a sex therapist and sex educator is having audiences light up with “ah-ha moments”, and walk away with a whole new way of thinking about sex.

• The most difficult part is accessing difficult audiences, either because they won’t come to talks or workshops out of fear, or they come but won’t allow themselves to be open to new models of thinking about sexuality.

Jenni’s journey of becoming a sex therapist and sex educator started out in high school. She says her friends would love over with questions and want to get answers. Together, they would look up the answers in The Joy of Sex by Alex Comfort. Years later, her journey continued. She initially set out to help women; her mother is an incest survivor, and has never been able to enjoy her body or her sexuality. Jenni became an educator when she started doing therapy and found herself educating clients one-on-one. She then started to branch out and do more public talks, workshops and conferences all with the larger intention of helping women heal and reclaim their bodies and their sexuality in a healthy, safe and affirming manner. She expanded to helping people of all genders when she got her PhD in Sexology.

Jenni does not set out to change people’s belief systems, but rather invite them to expand the way they think about sexuality.

Learn more or contact Dr. Jenni here.

This piece is part of a series on sex positive and/or feminist identified sex educators in the field. Click here to see all of the featured sex educators.

Jul 262013
 

This is a post by one of my Summer 2013 interns, Kelsey. Find more posts from her and other current and former interns under the Intern Corner section.Shanna

According to recent research, 41% to 72% of queer (Iincluding LGBTAIAA) people never come out to their health care provider (McManus, Hunter & Renn). However, the majority of individuals who chose to come out experienced increased satisfaction with their care afterwards. What a relief! But, coming out to a provider is easier said than done. Queer individuals encounter compounding oppressions, and often challenge the norms for gender expression and sexual preferences. Coming out to a provider can be especially complicated, stressful, and your identity may just be hard to explain. Not to mention it’s exhausting having to constantly be teaching, when few are willing to seek the information on their own. However, with the right provider, healthcare can be completely individualized.

So, how can you come out to your health care provider? The first thing to remember is the provider is there to help YOU. Listening is crucial. There is no space for assumptions in the doctor’s office, especially on their behalf. The provider must refrain from determining your needs before you open your mouth. In order to do this, providers must deconstruct their assumptions about gender and gender expression. But still, sometimes as the patient you have to explain things more than once. For example, many health care providers assume that their patients are heterosexual so, continuing to advocating against this assumption is an uphill climb but very necessary! You can be honest and explain your needs.

For example, a transgender individual who has just decided to start hormone therapy may have a well-established relationship with their provider. But, this trusted provider does not understand the needs of a transgender person. To overcome this barrier, the patient can start the conversation by asking questions like, “do you know what my needs are and do you understand them?” If the answer is no, the patient can say “are you willing and able to become educated on my needs?” If the answer is still no, than the patient can ask their provider to refer them to someone who can help. Wouldn’t it be great if more doctors had experience with transgender individuals?

You may also need to explain that a certain identity, just like a certain appearance, does not equate to a certain set of needs. Honest conversations can turn a dreaded trip to the doctor into an empowering experience that ensures continued self-care. For example, providers may not understand that you may be considering birth control this year, even though at your last appointment your partner was female, and you have ovaries and a uterus. Another example is that you need to be able to trust that your provider will believe you if you say you are in an abusive relationship, even though your partner does not fit the stereotypical abuser profile.

Gender and sexuality are fluid and no identity is simple. Unfortunately in our society, doctors are less versed in the needs of queer individuals. But this does not mean you deserve to have your needs met and your concerns validated any less.

Tips for Patients:
• Take your time finding an accepting and supportive health care provider

• Tell your provider your preferred pronouns

• Bring a trusted friend with you to your appointment

• Ask questions

• Explain your health concerns

• Be a self-advocate

• Report discriminatory or dismissive behavior