When at the Society for the Scientific Study of Sexuality Conference in Vegas, my good friend and fellow sex educator Megan Andelloux and I got the chance to tour the Erotic Heritage Museum in Las Vegas, NV. It was my second trip, but Megan’s first. We had a blast, and just before heading out, shot this photo. Can you see what makes it erotic? Hint: It’s NOT two women in one bed!
I feel like I may need to start a series of posts on “this does not equal that,” the first one being my post on how sex and gender are two different things.
This week is about how activity and orientation are completely different.
One of the post common questions I get asked (and gets asked of most sexuality educators, having seen many of them present) is asked by cisgender men and/or their partners. It is either asked as “if I like to receive anal sex/enjoy prostate play, does that make me gay?” or “is my boyfriend/partner/husband gay because he enjoys anal play on his own ass?” Sometimes it is asked with different wording, but it boils down to “does enjoying anal play make a guy gay?”
Answer is simple: NO. Period.
However, we can certainly explain it more. It doesn’t make you gay, just like cisgender men enjoying vaginas doesn’t make them straight. Whatever sexual activity you like, all the means is that you like that activity. Who you like is your orientation. Now, if you only like men sexually, that may or may not mean that you’re gay, but it has nothing to do with who is putting what in which orifice, or even with sexual activity at all.
As a side note, gay males (studies show) participate more in giving/receiving fellatio (oral sex on the penis) more than anal sex (oral/anal or penetrative). The idea that all gay men love butt sex is a misnomer and a stereotype…and you almost never hear people say “I like getting head…does that mean I’m gay?” (Oh Megan suggests asking that as a response to “does enjoy prostate stimulation make me/you gay?”).
Just like performing cunnilingus or vaginal visiting doesn’t make anyone a lesbian, no activities make anyone a new orientation. Take a moment and think about who you are sexually oriented to; is it based on sex? On gender? On height? On hair color? On shape? On wit? On commitment to social justice (that’s me!)? THAT can help you figure out your orientation…but what you enjoy as far as sexual activity has nothing to do with it.
Below is a letter from one of my absolutely favorite people, and one of the best and brightest sex educators in the field, the lovely and talented Megan Andelloux. In addition to traveling the country providing sexuality education to colleges, medical schools, toy stores and more, she is also the founder and operator of the Center for Sexual Pleasure and Health in Rhode Island. This year, the Center will be putting on its 2nd Annual conference in October, and if you at all have the means to do so, I highly suggest to mark your calendars and head there on October 10th for an educational experience that just cannot be missed.
I’m writing in hopes that you will be able to attend The 2nd Annual Conference held at The Center for Sexual Pleasure and Health on October 10th, 2010.
This is cross posted from my other blog, but I feel that it is incredibly important for people every where to read things like this, and to stand up against hate, against stigmatism, against the ridiculous accusations and name call that is loaded onto us by people who claim to be “academics.” It is high time that we stand up against this, that we stand together as a sex positive, inclusive, caring community, and show them that their taunts, their accusations, their hate mongering and their anger have no place here.
One of our “own,” a fierce warrior of sex positivity and transparency, has been attacked by Donna M. Hughes and Margaret Brooks. Maymay, a sex blogger/educator/geek/rockstar/podcaster/etc has come under fire from two people who have also attached Kink for All Providence, the lovely Oh Megan, and many more. I will not link to their original bulletin (which they sent forth to hundreds if not thousands of people), but you can read what Maymay said about the attack here, and about furthering dialogue instead of just throwing stones and insults at each other.
We must stand up for ourselves, and for each other every single day. I lovingly and jokingly (sometimes) refer to myself as a professional pervert, but while I have reclaimed that word, many of us (people who work towards sex positivity; bloggers, educators, authors, etc) have it hurled at us in a negative context on a very regular basis. Whether we teach online, at Planned Parenthood, in a public school, a private school, workshops, through hosing unconferences, etc, we have to fight for the right to be seen as true educators, people teaching a needed or even just “legit” subject.
So when one of us is attacked, whether it is online or in real life, whether we’re being called a pervert or a pedophile or a whore or the anti-christ, we are all being attacked. We are being told that sexuality education is harmful, that we are wrong to want people to be educated and open and have happy sex lives (whether vanilla or kinky, monogamous or not). We are ALL being attacked.
Ergo, I stand up for sexuality education, I stand up for sex positivity, I stand up for the free discussion of sexuality amoungst all people. I am not a pedophile or the anti-christ. I am just someone that believes in equal rights and understanding and education regarding healthy sexuality for ALL people. I stand against the creepy pervert stigma. I stand here, wearing my leopard print and polka dots, taking sexuality OUT of the dark, OUT for the closet, putting it forth for people to see, discuss, talk about, question, understand and more.
I stand in solidarity with Maymay, and with all the other sex positive people who have been stigmatize, and persecuted, and hated on just for wanted to bring open-ness and discussion regarding healthy sexuality to all people.
Stand up against stigma. Speak out. The more we bring forth sexuality in a positive light, and stand together in solidarity, the less slander, libel, hated, threats, name calling and more can affect us.
My name is Shanna Katz. I am a proptent of sex positivity and accessible sexuality education for all. Do not think to shame me. I support others like me, and those I disagree with as well. I support the freedom of speech and the freedom of sex educaton. I stand up for sexuality.
Also, Viviane wrote an excellent post on this as well over at the Sex Carnival. Aida Manduley, the student at Brown who was instrumental in organizing Kink for All Providence also wrote a piece here about the event and speaking up for herself and sexuality.
Last week, I was lucky enough to be invited to Brown University for Sex Week 2010. I put on four workshops/classes; Strap On 101, SexAbility; The Intersections between Sexuality and Disability, Making it Work Outside the Box; Relationships and Communication, and Feminist & Sex-Positive Pornography. All in all, I reached a good number of students, had a lot of fun, got some great questions and statements, and had a blast. Other exciting educators that I know and love who spoke/will be speaking include Oh Megan and Sarah Sloane.
I got back, and a day or two later, found this “article” or press release posted about “kinky sex at Brown University.” Yeah. Out of all of the amazing and good things that are happening, they decided to take a decidedly sex-negative bent. Goddess forbid college students, staff and faculty learn about sexual pleasure outside of “safer sex and sexual assault,” which were the only two things that this organization wanted people to learn about. Everything else should be kept in the privacy of dorm rooms (never mind that I answered one students question letting them know that it would be easy to start a porn company or at least webcam out of their dorm room…).
My luncheon on feminist/sex-positive pornography was amazing. We talked about ethics, about the problem with naming something “sex for women,” about what feminism looked like from a sexuality angle, and what sex-positive really meant. One of the best classes/lectures I’ve ever presented…and clearly, it is stirring up drama.
Good. It’s time we talked about why so many places only count safer sex and prevent sexual assault as their “comprehensive sexuality education.” Sex and sexuality encompasses so much more than condoms and “just say no” and while these things are important, not providing education to discuss, nourish and represent other parts of sexuality and identites does all of our communities a huge service.
I’m actually quite proud that they are upset in their post. I only wish that they had linked here to get a little bit of my reasoning behind why I do what I do. Congrats to Aida and the entire Sex Week at Brown for getting people to talk in a postive light about full spectrum sexuality
What do you get when you cross myself, Oh Megan, Sarah Sloane and more? A plethora of fantabulous sex educators all coming together at Brown University for Sex Week 2010! I’ll be speaking tomorrow and Tuesday, and the others throughout the week.
Interested in what I’ll be doing classes/workshops on? Want to come out and get some learnin’?
Monday, March 15th
Strap-On 101 w/ Shanna Katz
Time/Location: 12:00pm @ Sarah Doyle Women’s Center lounge (26 Benevolent St.)
Come learn all about the joys and pleasures of strapping it on. Who said harnesses were just for girl-on-girl action? In this workshop, we’ll discuss double-penetration, “pegging,” using harnesses for cuckolding, “femmecock,” and so much more! Ever wonder what the difference is between a g-string and a dual strap? We’ll cover that too! You’ll learn how to properly work a strap-on, contemplate a plethora of positions, and learn about the pros/cons of different types of toys. This class is open to singles, couples and moresomes of all sexes and genders. Never used a harness before? That’s fine – we’ll start with the basics. Plus, everyone will get to try on harnesses with toys to get a feel for the different styles, as well as figure out what works best for them.
SexAbility w/ Shanna Katz (and potentially Marlene Chait, a Brown Post-Doc Research Fellow whose doctoral dissertation is ‘An Exploratory Study About Women with Physical Disabilities: Survey of Their Views on Personal Assistance Services (PAS), Sexuality Education, and Sexual Expression’)
Time/Location: 5:30pm @ Salomon 202
People of all ability levels are sexual beings. Sex is hard enough to navigate and negotiate when one fits in with society’s notions of what a sexual being is, but once you add in the concept of ability, it can become quite challenge. This workshop is discussion-based, and covers issues such as coming out to your partner(s), how to discuss ability levels, new things to try, correct terminology, negotiating sex play (including kink/BDSM play), and much more. Participants are encouraged to share suggestions, trade ideas, etc. Great for people of all ability levels (and their partners) who want to recognize themselves as sexual beings. This workshop hopes to challenge people’s viewpoints, foster discussion and conversation, and open doors towards a shift in the social constructions surrounding sexuality and disability.
Make it Work Outside the Box: Relationship-Mapping & Communication w/ Shanna Katz
Time/Location: 8:30pm @ List 120 (64 College St.)
Description: Communication is key, but how DO we communicate? More importantly, how does communication change (or not) once we break the boundaries of what are considered “traditional relationships”? In this workshop we’ll talk about the different styles of communication, the languages of love, types of non-verbal communication, why communcation is so important, and how to adapt all of this for kinky AND vanilla relationships. We’ll gain an understanding about the basic types of relationships that people have in their lives, how we can map them, patterns to look for, and what we can get out of these maps. Finally, we’ll talk about polyamory/non-monogamy – its various facets, how to get into it, and most importantly, how we can make it work when there are more than two people involved. Bring paper, pen, and an open mind. We will be raffling off two Tantus toys at this event, so make sure you arrive early and get a seat!
Tuesday, March 16th
Feminist Pornography (Out For Lunch) w/ Shanna Katz
Time/Location: 12:00pm @ LGBTQ Resource Center (3rd floor Hillel, at 80 Angell St.)
Are you one of those who has wondered exactly what it is that makes porn “feminist” or “sex positive?” Join us as we talk about definitions of pornography and obscenity, and how sexual pleasure can be recording in a feminist and sex positive way. We’ll discuss current companies who identify as sex positive, and what separates them (or not!) from current, mainstream pornographic productions. By the end of this talk, everyone will still have formed different opinons, but will be more educated as to what this sex positive porn movement is.