Jul 152011
 

This week, my fabulous intern Katie Davis talks about the identity of asexuality, which is often left out of conversations regarding sexuality. She brings up some great points, as well as resources for those interested in learning more!

The oft-repeated mantra amongst sex educators is that sexuality is a spectrum.
People can identify as gay, straight, and everything in between, including bisexual, queer,
and questioning.” In the classes I’ve taught, this has been my mantra, my way of
explaining the rich diversity of human experience.

But recently, after stumbling across Asexuality.org, the homepage of the Asexual
Visibility and Education Network (AVEN), I came to realize that this framework is not
nearly as inclusive as it needs to be. AVEN, which was founded in 2001, focuses on
fostering a sense of community amongst asexual people and creating acceptance and
discussion of asexuality in the public sphere. In addition to acting as the central hub for
asexuality-related research, news coverage, and personal accounts, AVEN also offers
discussion forums, a newsletter, and an online store stocked with t-shirts
reading “Asexy” and “Asexuality: It’s not just for amoebas anymore!”

Although, as with anything else, AVEN members possess a variety of different
opinions and experiences, the feeling of being socially silenced appears to be widely
shared across the asexual community. The site’s FAQ section, for example, addresses
some of the difficulties of “living in a society where everyone is assumed to be sexual
and where the media, especially soaps and advertising, portray everyone as sexual and
constantly tempted by sex.” In his personal blog, Love From the Asexual Underground,
AVEN founder David Jay writes eloquently about the daily challenges of translating
sexual language into something true to his identity and experiences. For Jay and other
asexual-identified people, my sexuality spectrum is hardly a liberating identificatory
framework, as it leaves off an entire negative region.

It’s an important criticism, one that’s forced me to radically reconsider how I
should understand and teach sexuality. For sex educators/activists who are forced to
confront the myriad ways in which sexuality is stifled and policed, it may be tempting
to portray things like desire, attraction, and libido as universal experiences. In a country
that still frequently treats sex education as a non-necessity, many of us find ourselves
almost shouting about the importance of sexuality in all aspects of society. I certainly
know that in my own teaching efforts, I’ve attempted to combat societal shaming by
characterizing sexuality as a normal, even key component of the human condition. And,
of course, for many people it is. However, as long as there are people who identify
as asexual–– and, according to AVEN, the numbers of people taking on said title are
steadily growing–– we have to be vigilante about assuming sexuality in our students.

How can we teach about sexuality in a way that is also inclusive of asexuality?
How can we better educate ourselves about asexuality and the diversity of asexual
experiences? And how can we assist the asexual community in its continued struggle for
visibility and acceptance? These are not easy questions, but they’re absolutely topics that
sex educators and all other folks dedicated to sexual (or asexual, for that matter) equality
need to begin to address.

For more information about asexuality, go to AVEN’s website or check out David
Jay’s Love From the Asexual Underground.

Jun 132011
 

Shanna-

You’re always telling people about lubricant and its importance in sex. I think I know the different between silicone lube and water based lube, but what if I want a tasty lube for oral sex (both blow jobs and eating out), that is also safe for vaginal intercourse? I know some flavored lubes contain sugar. What do I do?

Tentative and Taste Challenged

Hey T n’ T!

Great question. A good deal of cheap flavored lubes contain sugar — it’s my advice to stay far far away from those. Now, there are a lot of pretty decent flavored lubes that are sugar free, but contain glycerin. I always suggest people try to avoid glycerin, as it is derived from glucose, which is a type of sugar — many people have sensitivities to it, and it can cause irritation or yeast infections in some people who use it. However, if you have no issues with glycerin, System Jo makes a whole bunch of flavors (think Watermelon, Strawberry, Raspberry Sorbet, Lemon and Chocolate) ; I like to mix and match them to make new tastes. If you’re looking for a tasty glycerin free lube, Sliquid makes a variety of yummy flavors (like Blue Raspberry, Green Apple, Pink Lemonade, and Cherry Vanilla) and Wet Naturals has a glycerin free, natural Strawberry lube that is actually pretty good.

Otherwise, you can always use one lube for blow jobs, and wipe it off or hop in the shower and switch to another.

Best of luck!

-Shanna

Jun 072011
 

Are you not yet signed up for the Katz Meow, my monthly sex education newsletter? If not, then you are missing out on reviews (this month was of the Better Than Chocolate vibrator), relationship and sex tips, upcoming events and more. If you didn’t happen to get the newsletter this month, you can click here and fancy a read.

For future months, you can sign up to get my once a month newsletter (no more than that — promise) sent to YOUR inbox for fun reads — easy as pie. Just head on over here and sign yourself up!

Enjoy!

-Shanna

May 302011
 

As some of you know, I’m incredibly nerdy, and incredibly weird. And incredibly happy to have completed my stuffed STI collection from GiantMicrobes.com.

Stuffed Chlamydia, HPV, Syphilis, and Herpes (in clockwise order)

Stuffed HIV, Hepititis and Gonorrhea

Yep. I own lots of weird teaching tools, and these are my latest additions. Little things make me oh so happy!

May 242011
 

If you’re in Denver and are Womyn/Woman/Girl/Grrl, etc identified, you should stop by the Womyn’s Circle tonight, at the Denver GLBT Center for a free workshop and Q & A session with me at 6:30pm.

The Womyn’s Circle is a safe space for those who identify as women, womyn, girls, grrls, etc (particularly for LGBTQ folks). The theme of the 24th will be Shanna Katz, M.Ed, ACS talking about maintaining and re-building intimacy in relationships, as well as answering everyone’s questions (anonymity is completely allowed) on everything from picking up partners outside of the bar scene, female ejaculation, safer sex, non-monogamy, and more more.

See you there!

Shanna

Apr 222011
 

I am often asked how I wound up in this field. To be honest, when I was little, I wanted to be a Marine Biologist (thanks Reading Rainbow), and then an Archaeologist (thanks Indian Jones), and eventually settled on being a psychologist for gifted children. Yep, by the time I was 8 or so, I was sure that was what I wanted to be. In high school, I spent most of my time in the theatre, but wound up being a Peer Health Advocate through Jefferson County.

When I got to college at 16, I had everything all planned out, or so I thought. I was going to double major in Psychology and Theatre, and minor in German, all the better to be said psychologist for gifted kids, while performing in community theatre, and going to graduate school in Germany. That was all find and dandy until I took my first psych class — it involved dissecting human brains…and dissection was a big hard limit for me (I’d made it through HS without ever cutting up anything, and hell if I was about to start then), so I started re-thinking my plan.

When my Acting I class was full, I wound up signing up for Human Sexual Behavior, which was mostly empty. It was the first time I’d heard about the concept of transgender folks, intersex folks, etc. I remember this class pretty clearly, because it started right after I had been sexually assaulted, and it was incredibly influential in helping me work through my feelings around it. I remember talking about kink, and realizing how that *fit* me perfectly, and I remember the Planned Parenthood educator placing a condom over her entire hand, and saying “and if someone comes at you with a penis THIS big? RUN!” and everyone laughing (obviously, this was before I had discovered the concept of fisting). The fact that people could be learning about safer sexuality, and still be enjoying themselves was a new concept to me, and I started questioning the original career path I had chosen.

Then I wound up in a sociology class called The Nature of Sexual Inequality. We talked Title IX, we talked intersexuality, we talked unequal pay, we talked about gay male sexuality vs lesbian female sexuality, etc. It was amazing — I felt completely at home, and I declared my major as sociology that Block. I talked with the theatre department, and realized I was a better fit DOING theatre (both through the dept and the student run Theatre Workshop), rather than majoring in it (there was no minor). I started directing shows that included sexuality as an element (like Beyond Therapy), and I continued to act (I was Bilbo Baggins in the Hobbit – talk about gender performance on stage), and costume and tech, and take theatrical classes, but focuses most of my academic side on Sociology with an emphasis on sexuality. I took lots of other sexuality classes too from different departments; Woman and the Body (about body politics), the Biology of Sexuality (the most science-y class I took in all four years), etc. I joined the sexual assault prevention team and hotline, and did presentations about consent, and responded to calls, and put on Take Back the Night.

Once I turned 18 in December of my Sophomore year, I started being the educated-ish perv that everyone came to with questions. I’d been on Scarleteen for years at that point, and now I could drive up to stores in Denver and buy books about sex and sexuality, and sex toys even. I became the go-to girl for women looking to purchase their first vibrator. We’d drive up in hordes to Denver, I’d help them pick out their first toy, and every trip, I made it habit to buy a book. Soon, I had a little mini library of how-to and history of books regarding the spectrum of sexuality. I also was the RA (and friend) with buckets of condoms and lube, and who taught people how to use them, and wound up putting on my first ever sex ed workshop “Sex in the Dark,” where dorm residents could ask anonymous questions and have them answered, my sophomore year and then again my junior year. When I lived in German (the minor with German still happened), I was so impressed at their open look at sexuality, and started researching grad schools centering around sex and sexuality.

Finally, my senior year, I did my thesis (qualitative, 75 pages without transcripts) on sex education in middle school and high school, and how it affect how college aged women viewed their bodies. I applied to both Widener and San Francisco State University, and decided I wanted a graduate degree, and to work for Planned Parenthood doing education. I signed up for the History of Sexuality, but the professor told me I would be bored, and so I ended up in Contested Masculinity instead, enjoying more looks at gender as a facet of sexuality. Widener accepted me, and I was off to PA a few months after graduation.

As I went through grad school, I realized that so much sex education was centered around dysfunction or around youth, and there was little talk about positive sexuality for those over 18. Couple that with the job I got at feminist porn provider HotMoviesForHer, and I started working in adult education more specifically. I was often that black sheep in my program, talking about how there could be ethically made pornography, talking about how maybe anal sex and kink didn’t belong in the sexual dysfunction class, and how it was polite and respectful to ask for people’s pronoun preference. Realizing that these were still issues within the field of sexuality education, I decided that it was my goal to educate lay people (ie, those who didn’t go to grad school for human sexuality) about sexual pleasure, sexual anatomy, gender diversity, sex and disability, safer sex, etc. It might not seem like a big deal to most people, but to those who have never found their G-spot, or who are constantly assumed to be a gender that doesn’t match their identity, or to those whose doctors’ have never mentioned sex in regards to their disabilities, it can mean the world.

And that’s how I ended up where I am. I’m also working on a post for those wanting to become sex educators/sexologists/sex therapist, because I get asked that on a regular basis, so expect that in the near future.

-Shanna

Feb 162011
 

Since it IS “Hump Day,” I thought I’d post another video of my anal sex 101 workshop, called What’s Up with the Butt. I have a video of one of my classes already up (click here to view the anal sex class video), but I did this class after I got my two butt puppets; Andi the Anus and Riley the Rectum. Ergo, I thought I’d give it another taping, so you can enjoy more intro to anal fun, and of course, check out my anal puppets. This is a great video (as is the other) to watch if you’re scared of anal sex, wanting to try anal sex, or have tried it and found that it hurt, as well as if you are a lover of butt sex, and just looking for some more fun ideas to try. Class was taught in January 2011 at Fascinations in Arizona.

Enjoy!

-Shanna

Feb 072011
 

For those who do not know, many sex educators, myself included, were recently attacked in a post/report that claimed that our education on the Brown University campus was a direct correlation of the recent four new cases of HIV within the student population. It stated that people such as myself (a “sex toy representative”) did not have the education to provide sex ed to students, to handle the emotional side of things, etc (of course, they neglected to mention my Master’s in Human Sexuality Education, which provided me with exactly those aforementioned skills). It also insinuated that I was a prostitute, that other educators are connected with obscenity charges and that some educators are contributing to STI transmission by discussion topics such as polyamory (multiple loves) and anal sex, despite our conversations about barrier methods, testing, and intimacy without exchanging bodily fluids.

I have always had a strong commitment to educating individuals and groups about safer sex, including but not limited to STI prevention, pregnancy prevention, consensual activities and emotional safety. As I continue to educate people about the spectrum of sexuality, I will keep including discussions about safer sex practices (including barriers and transmission prevention) for people of all genders and orientations, and also continue my commitment to distribute dams and gloves in addition to the more traditional condoms and lube freebies often provided. Please read and re-post/forward/desseminate the below press release if you believe the positive aspects of sex education, and refuse to condone the slanderous accusations put forth towards us.

-Shanna Katz, M.Ed

For Immediate Release
Sexuality educators set the record straight: “Talking about sexuality does not increase sexually transmitted infections” despite what non-experts report.

Contact: ?Megan Andelloux
HiOhMegan@gmail.com
401-345-8685

Contact: Aida Manduley
Aida_manduley@brown.edu
787-233-0025

In yet another attempt to shut down access to quality sex education, South-Eastern New England conservative advocates hit the sex panic button in a multi-state, email and phone campaign to colleges all over New England last week.

On February 3rd and 4th , certified sexuality educator and sexologist Megan Andelloux (AASECT, ACS) received word that numerous colleges and university faculty received a document stating that colleges who brought sex educators such as Ms. Andelloux onto their campuses were linked to the increasing rate of transmission of HIV in RI. Furthermore, among other misleading “facts” that were “cited,” the author of this bulletin claimed that Brown University was facing an HIV crisis, which is false.

Citizens Against Trafficking, the face behind the fear-mongering, spammed numerous local institutions from a University of Rhode Island account with its latest malicious missive that targeted specific individuals as well as Brown University. The author of the letter, Margaret Brooks, an Economics Professor at Bridgewater State, suggested that colleges and universities that host sexuality speakers, including those who are professionally accredited, are partly to blame for the four new cases of HIV which have been diagnosed amongst RI college students this year.

Ms. Andelloux states: “My heart goes out to those students who have recently tested positive for HIV. However, there is no evidence of any link between campus presentations on sexual issues and the spike in HIV cases. Rather, I would suggest that this demonstrates a need for more high-quality sex education to college students.“ It is unclear why people at URI or Citizens Against Trafficking, a coalition to combat all forms of human trafficking, is attempting to stop adults from accessing sexual information from qualified, trained educators. What is certain however, is that this Professor of Economics miscalculated her suggestion that a correlation exists between increased HIV rates in Rhode Island and the type of sex education these speakers provided at Brown University: one that emphasized accurate information, risk-reduction, pleasure, and health.

Barrier methods have been shown by the CDC to reduce the transmission of HIV and other STIs (Sexually Transmitted Infections). Research has shown that when individuals have access to medically accurate information, are aware of sexual risk reduction methods, and have access to learn about sexual health, the number of infections and transmission of STIs decreases, pain during sex decreases, and condom use increases. The CAT circulated bulletin is blatantly misleading about many issues, and often omits information that is crucial to understanding the full picture of sex education at Brown and in Rhode Island.

When individuals who do not hold any background in sexuality education speak out in opposition because of their fear or prejudice, society becomes rooted in outdated beliefs and pseudo-science that do injustice to people everywhere. Furthermore, when those individuals personally and publicly attack those devoted to providing sex education with false and misinformed accusations, it not only hurts those who are defamed, but also the community at large.

We ask for an immediate retraction of the vilifying and inaccurate statements made by Ms. Margaret Brooks and Citizens Against Trafficking in their latest newsletter. We also ask that esteemed local universities such as URI and Bridgewater State continue to hold their employees to ethical standards of normal scientific inquiry and require that their faculty hold some modicum of expertise in a field of education before raising the public level of panic over it.

Megan Andelloux is available to answer any questions the press, Margaret Brooks, University of Rhode Island or Citizens Against Trafficking holds. Aida Manduley, the Chair of Brown University’s Sexual Health Education and Empowerment Council and Brown University’s is available to discuss the upcoming Sex Week and sexuality workshops held at Brown University.

Signed,
Megan Andelloux, AASECT, ACS
Shanna Katz, M.Ed
Reid Mihalko
Aida Manduley

Feb 062011
 

Question:

I’m a pretty strict vegan, but also all about the sexy times. I’ve heard horror stories about companies saying lubes are vegan, and then retracting their statements when questioned. What lubes are ACTUALLY vegan?

Answer:

Great question. First of all, check out Furry Girl’s list lubes on her all vegan sex toy site The Sensual Vegan. Basically, Yes is vegan, ALL Sliquid lubes (including some of their delicious flavors – look for the Swirl line) are Vegan, Hathor Lubes are vegan, Blossom Organics are vegan. Good Clean Love once claimed to be vegan, but now states that are are not vegan, only “mostly” vegan.  There are also vegan condoms and vegan dams available, so know that you can protect yourself and your partner(s), and still remain true to your vegan lifestyle!

-Shanna

Have a question you want answered (anonymously)? Contact me and I’ll post the answer!

Feb 032011
 

This afternoon, I’m super excited to have one of my favorite dommes in the entire world on my Let’s Talk Sex Radio show at 4pm MST. Who could it possibly be?

Why, it’s Mistress Saskia, the headmistress of Pavlovia Denver, owner of the RACK Room, and all around awesome-sauce person!

Mistress Saskia Pavlovia Denver

Mistress Saskia of Pavlovia Denver (Photo Credit: Bizarre Mag)

We’re going to talk kink, BDSM, ropes, role play and oh so much more, for the most novice bondage beginner to those who have lived in the lifestyle. Plus, as always, toy reviews, lots of giveaways, the Position of the Day game, and lots more fun.

Just listen to 1100AM KFNX in the Phoenix area, or head over to the Let’s Talk Sex Radio Show webpage to stream it live on your computer. Tune in, turn on, and have fun!

-Shanna