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 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.

Mar 122012
 

Out Front Colorado is having a write in contest for all of the best things in Denver. They seemed to have left out the Best Local Sexuality Educator.

If you’d be so kind to click here and vote in the last write in box (where you can write in anything you want) and vote for Best Sexuality Educator: Shanna Katz, I’d really appreciate it!

Much love,

Shanna

Link to outstanding award nominations: http://outfrontcolorado.com/ofcblog/outstanding-award-nomination/

Sep 152011
 

One of my favorite things to do is speak on college and university campus about sexuality. Whether it is a talk about safer sex, communication, anatomy, intersections of identities, inclusivity, kink 101, or a class on sexual activity, college students are some of my favorite learners to have in front of me.

However, sometimes it can be difficult for college students to figure out how to bring a sex educator to campus. Between working with various groups, communicating with the sex educator, and promotions/advertising, it can sometimes seem overwhelming for the one or two students, or even student groups looking to bring someone to speak.

Luckily, one of my awesome interns has put together an easy guide chock full of tips on how to bring a sex educator (such as myself) to your campus.  As always, you can contact me if you’re interested in working together!

-Shanna

One of the things I get asked the most as a sex-educator-in-training and student organizer is,“how can we get someone like that to come to our school?” Luckily,I’ve done my share of organizing before (and have made enough mistakes!) and I can give you some general steps to getting that super awesome sex educator to your campus!

Start early (and ensure you get good seating)

When it comes to creating an event on campus,I’d say,the number one beginner’s mistake is not starting early enough. Unlike private events,or even organizational ones,university bureaucracy has a glacial pace – which will be worse if you are a state school,as you will have to jump through even more hoops in order to work with state regulations. Starting early ensures you will get the most help from your administration,and it also puts you in the best possible position for funding,which (at least at my school) is pretty freed up the first week of the semester and gobbled up not long after.

But we can’t limit this to just funding. You can be in an awesome position funding-wise,and it will not mean anything if you don’t have a good space to work with. The good meeting spaces tend to be reserved early,and you don’t want to get yourself stuck in that awkward classroom on the edge of campus just because that was the only place open. Having a central location will also help with passive advertising. What does that mean? An example:at my university,we had a couple of sex educators come to the student union,which gets tons of traffic that has nothing to do with specific events. People were able to see the posters about upcoming events,to be sure,but what captured a lot of attention was all the people lining up outside,and the groups tabling outside the event’s room. Because of this,we were able to attract a lot of people who were just wandering by.

Click here to read the entire page on bringing a sex educator to your campus….

Sep 062011
 

Have you heard of Kink Academy




or their sister site, PassionateU.com?

They are amazing education sites for folks around the world to get accessible and affordable education around sexuality. Kink Academy is more focused on kinky fun, while Passionate U talks about sexuality from a more mainstream light, but both are incredible. They feature clips from educators around the world, teaching their sexuality classes to you, regardless of whether you’re near by a hopping dungeon or rocking sex positive space. Wanna learn how to throw a single tail? Done. Wanna get some blow job basic? Done. Interested in gender 101 or the intersection of sex and disability? That is there too! Over a hundred educators (myself included) are excited to help you explore the spectrum that is sexuality.

Why am I pumping this up? Well, first of all, they are an awesome set of sites, and I’m happy to promote them. And second of all, I’m giving a FREE month of membership away to one of these two sites (winner’s choice) at the end of this contest.

How do you enter?

Must be 18 plus. Comment before by September 20th, 2011 (with a valid email please, so I can get ahold of the winner) with why YOU think it is important to have accessible sex education. It can be a sentence, a paragraph, a poem, a picture, but tell us why sex education is important to you, your community, etc.  Winner will get ONE MONTH FREE on their choice of either PassionateU or Kink Academy.

Time to try and win!

-Shanna

Jul 082011
 

This is another piece written by Intern Katie Davis about some of the lessons she has learned in her experience of becoming a sex educator. It follows along with Lessons Learned from A Sex Educator: Part 1, as published last week.

One of the major maxims repeated to me over the course of my trainings to
become a sex educator went something along the lines of “Expect that your students will
have a diversity of opinions on sensitive topics. Be sure not to alienate any of them.”
Now, that’s pretty sound advice: as I’ve already mentioned in my previous post, one
surefire way of alienating students is to ignore the variety of ways in which their thoughts
and experiences differ from one’s own. If I went into a classroom with the expectation
that students shared my perspective of the world, I’d be doing considerable damage to the
safety of the space and to my class’s potential for learning.

But there are times when showing sensitivity to a diversity of opinions isn’t
easy, when the line between mindfulness and moral relativism isn’t clearly drawn.
The sex education courses I teach cover (though not nearly comprehensively enough)
LGBTQ issues/identities. When we reach this segment of the curriculum, invariably
at least one of the students balks. Common negative responses to our LGBTQI unit
(which emphasizes anti-bullying as well as differences between gender identity, sex, and
sexuality) include:

“That’s nasty!”
“I go to church, and my church says that gay people are just plain wrong.”
“I don’t care if someone’s gay, just don’t go around flaunting it.”
“I’d never say something bad to a gay guy if he was just doing his own thing,
but if he comes up and tries to talk to me or something, I’m going to punch him.
Because he probably wanted to hit on me.”

These are moments when I’m forced to pause and consider how to answer
in a way that doesn’t shut down the conversation but also doesn’t give a free pass to
prejudice. The right of LGBTQI folks (myself included!) to live happy, complete,
governmentally-recognized lives free of harassment, fear, and discrimination is not up for
debate in my mind. Yet, it seems that if I ever want to make progress with students who
know only homophobia, I must patiently engage in that debate. This brings me to lesson

#3.  There is such a thing as productive discomfort.

I’ve met some educators who believe that, on supposed “matters of opinion,”
it’s wrong to question one’s students. I’m not of that mind. I think that, as a teacher/
facilitator/mentor, my job is to challenge my students to understand the origins of their
opinions and to constantly re-examine their belief systems through the lens of new
information and experiences. I tend to answer homophobic remarks, for example, with
more questions:

“Why is this kind of sexual activity nasty to you? Do you think the fact that you
find something nasty means that other people shouldn’t be able to enjoy it if they want to?”
“Different religions have all kinds of different opinions on homosexuality,
bisexuality, etc. There are some churches that claim that homosexuality is
wrong, while there are others that have gay and lesbian leaders. If someone who
identified as a member of the LGBTQI community attended your church, how do
you think they would feel? Do you think they’d be welcomed in?”
“What does it mean to flaunt one’s sexuality? Like going to prom with one’s
partner of choice? Like dancing at that prom? Would you say that heterosexual
people flaunt their sexuality? What’s the difference between ‘flaunting’
and ‘expressing’?”
“Do you think that every gay man who talks to other men is actually trying to
make a move? Are you trying to make a move on every girl you speak to?”

I don’t know that any of these answers are the right ones, but they’ve at least
allowed the conversation to continue. But encouraging students to think critically should
never mean silencing them. If I get the feeling that my student isn’t responding well to
my questions, I need to back off and move on to something new. Because:

3. Sometimes making progress means making concessions.

I never want a student to feel attacked, either by myself or by others. I’ve had
male students vocally oppose abortion, only to be swiftly and angrily silenced by their
female peers. In those moments, it is my job to step in, to validate my student’s right to
an opinion. “You’re not alone in feeling that way. In fact, the media tends to send us
tons of messages that support what you were just saying. Why do you think some of your
classmates might disagree with you?”

It’s a difficult and often deeply frustrating process, remaining true to one’s values
while leaving room in the classroom for the expression of others. But, at the end of
the day, when I doubt myself and feel as though nothing I said was effective, I have to
remember that my goal is not to win a debate. In fact, winning the debate, when it means
compromising the safety of the space, isn’t a win at all. Rather:

4. My goal is just to plant the seed of an idea.

And nothing, ideas included, grows without time, nourishment, and an open
environment.

Jul 012011
 

This post is from one of my fabulous sexuality summer interns, Katie Davis, about some of her experiences learned as a sexuality educator.

-Shanna

I spent the past year volunteering as a sex educator in the public school system
near my college, facilitating discussions on topics ranging from anatomy and physiology
to contraception to healthy communication. One day, while beginning a class on
fertilization with a group of middle school young women, a student raised her hand and
asked my co-facilitators and myself: “Do any of you have kids?”

The question made me pause. At 20, I was one of the older facilitators in our
group of four, but it hardly felt like the sort of question usually directed at me. The
thought of having children had only vaguely entered my consciousness as something I
might one day sort of maybe kind of want to do if I felt emotionally and financially ready
to do so. Furthermore, I’ve always looked young for my age–– it wasn’t until I cut my
hair off last year that I stopped being offered the kids’ menu at restaurants. So the
thought that someone might perceive me as a parent made my head spin.

I apparently wasn’t the only one who was surprised by the question. My co-
facilitators and I looked around at each other for a moment before one began to laugh.
She then replied to the student “No, none of us are parents! None of us are even 21 yet!”
The class stared back at us silently.

And like that we had lost them. We would eventually regain their trust and
respect, but it would take a while, and the rest of that fifty minute period was a wash,
with the students more or less ignoring us. We taught in a district with high teen
pregnancy rates: hence the administration’s desire to run an intensive sex ed workshop
for female students. Likely a significant portion of the young women in our classroom
that day had friends or close relatives who were teen mothers. And instead of responding
in a way that acknowledged their experiences, we made our students feel insulted,
ignored, and misunderstood.

I’m still traveling down the sex education path, and I still sometimes say the
wrong thing, but I’m learning. Above all, I’ve learned the importance of mindfulness, of
self-awareness. Recognizing my own positionality–– as a wealthy, white, cis-gender,
able-bodied queer woman–– has been awkward at times, but it’s undoubtedly made me a
better educator as well as a better student, partner, friend, etc. That’s why the #1 most
important lesson for educators is, for me:

1. Know the limits of your own knowledge.

It would be pretty amazing if everyone adhered to this rule, but it’s one that is
particularly important for educators/mentors to follow. Certainly, when a student asks
me a question to which I don’t know the answer off the top of my head, I’m honest about
my ignorance and I offer a well-researched answer the next time we meet. But it’s much
harder for me to recognize and accept that there are answers I will never know, answers
that are inaccessible to me. The very term “teen pregnancy,” for example, will likely

mean something radically different from what it means for a student whose older sister
dropped out of high school to raise a child. Knowing the limits of my knowledge means
recognizing that I will never fully grasp that latter, personal meaning. I simply don’t
have the same background, life experiences, etc. The best I can do is to challenge and
encourage my students to think critically and define the world for themselves. Which
brings me to lesson #2:

2. People are experts of their own experiences.

Learning is not strictly an in-class activity, and there is no possible way for me to
know what kind of education my students receive in their day to day lives. Great
educators know better than to challenge their students’ experiences of the world.
Rather, they provide students with a new lens through which to examine and understand
experience. Slowly, I am learning to do just this.

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 062011
 

Hey folks!

This coming Thursday is special. Not only is it my half birthday (hurray to me!), but I’m also putting on a FREE Strap On 101 workshop at the Aurora, CO Fascinations store. It’s at 7pm at Fascinations 2680 S. Havana St, Aurora, CO, and is open to EVERYONE 18+. Strap On Sex can be enjoyed by people of all genders, orientations, sexes, ability levels, etc. Plus, free snacks, and a raffle for gift cards and toys at the end. The first 10 people to attend each get a $10 gift card.

Come learn all about the joys and pleasures of strapping it on. Discuss the pros and cons of different kinds of harnesses (ever wonder what the difference is between a g-string and a dual strap?), learn how to properly inset cocks and dildos into the rings, and contemplate a plethora of positions. This class is open to singles, couples and more-somes of all sexes and genders (we’ll cover pegging too, as well as using harnesses for cuckolding). 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 if they so choose. Come ready to play!

See you there!

Shanna

 

 

May 092011
 

Surprisingly, there are some trends that I tend to notice in sex educators, particularly those of us that do alternative/non-traditional education. Many of us identify as women (cis and trans). Many of us have red hair. Many of us are queer (and many of those queer educators are fierce queer femmes). There are quite a few who are Jewish (religiously or culturally). Quite a few have curly hair. A bunch of us majored in either sociology or women/feminist and gender studies. Obviously, this doesn’t apply to everyone, but to many of us.

Another trend I’ve noticed is that many sex educators are also suffering from chronic pain. Some of us also have other disabilities (such as me and my patella femoral osteoarthritis and debilitating migraines), and some of us are more open about it than others. However, a LOT of a us have it, and given the nature of this field, this can present more problems than one might think.

When I am booked, I don’t always have transit from the airport to the location, or the hotel. I’m not asking for every place I go to rent me a car, but to tell me (politely, of course) that there is great public transit in your city, and it will only take me 45 minutes (or sometimes up to two hours) by train/bus/lightrail/metro/walking/etc doesn’t always take into account the fact that my body is often screaming in pain by the time I get to the airport, deal with my luggage, go through security, take the underground train, wait in airport seats, squish into airline seats, carry my carry ons through the airport, struggle to get my luggage off the carousel, and make it to the curb. Some days I take a wheelchair through the airport just to be able to save my spoons. Some days I don’t, but that often means I don’t have the energy or pain tolerance to then cart my luggage (while walking with a cane), through public transit through a city that I don’t know, and argue with people for a seat because I don’t look “disabled enough” to need one, particularly as a younger person. A hotel with a shuttle is great, but often, because many toy stores and dungeons don’t cover accommodations, I am stay with a friend, or at a cheap motel that doesn’t offer this service. Asking me if I need a ride from the airport to the store/dungeon/center/hotel would be incredibly appreciated, and you’d get a much better presentation from me, as I won’t have to struggle between taking my pain meds, or pushing through the pain to do my workshop.

Another thing frequently happens on college campuses. Students are often used to traversing college campuses as the bird flies; up and down stairs, across grassy and/or gravely quads, etc. When I have to do this, frequently while carrying a suitcase of sex toys, handouts, stuffed vulvas, etc, it is completely draining, and I feel guilty when I have to ask them to slow down, take ramps (especially given that I am not in a wheelchair, and don’t usually feel like explaining my medical situation to some 20 year old I’ve just met). The same goes for booking me in a historic building with lots of stairs and no elevator, or one with an elevator, but just assuming that I can take the stairs.

I love what I do. I’m ok with not being met with a limo at the airport. I’m fine with not staying in 5 star hotels — if my hosts can put me up on their couch or spare bedroom to make it more affordable, I’m happy to do that. However, the little things, like getting place to place, are what frustrate me. My last trip to San Francisco, I paid more using cabs to get to/from the places I was speaking than I actually made speaking at them. The idea that everyone is traditionally able bodies, full of energy, and doesn’t have any issues like disability or chronic pain making it more difficult to hop on public transit is an ableist concept. A wonderful sexuality educator recently experienced this on an international trip, where after 24 hours of air travel and airport waiting, she was then told to take another 2 hours on public transit to get to the city…for a workshop she was doing for free. I’ve been in similar (although not international…yet) circumstances, and I have to make the choice between breaking down in tears at the epic journey in front of me, or sucking it up and paying money for a cab or a shuttle, even though I often am in the red from presenting in general.

So please, if you’re someone booking an educator (or really, anyone), please think before you suggest. It’s ok to say something like “are you comfortable taking public transit?” to feel them out. But know that when you ask, you might hear no (for a plethora of reasons), and if you hear a no, that’s when it’s time to figure out another way. Ask your staff, ask your fellow students, use your resources, but figure out a way to get them from place A (usually an airport or train station) to place B (usually your store/college/center/dungeon/etc or maybe a hotel) that doesn’t involve an arduous journey that may end in exhaustion, frustration, and/or tears.

-Shanna