Mar 102011
 

Sorry about the web silence folks! I’ve been in the process of moving from Phoenix, AZ to Denver, CO, and haven’t really had much internet, and definitely haven’t had much in the way of time.

But never fear; I’m back! And right now, I’m in the wonderful state of Rhode Island, and I have not one, not two, but THREE classes here over the next few days.

Tonight, I’m teaching I Know It When I See It: Feminist and Ethical Pornography. We’ll talk about what ethical pornography is (and what it is NOT), who is making it, what it entails, and some issues that still remain, like being more inclusive for trans women, people of color, people with disabilities and more, as well as ways individuals can get involved if it is of interest to them. That’s at the Center for Sexual Pleasure and Health tonight (March 10th) at 250 Main Street, Pawtucket, RI, starting at 7pm.

On March 13th (Sunday), I’ll be at Brown University at 5pm talking all about body autonomy and positivity as sexual freedom:

If You Can’t Love Yourself…How the Heck Can You Love Anyone Else? List Art Building, Room 110 (64 College St.)

In today’s blitz of media and judgment surrounding our bodies, it can be incredibly hard to love yourself. From rules surrounding pubic hair to epic retouching with Photoshop, how are we to know what beautiful bodies really are? We’ll talk about body autonomy and body positivity, inclusive of size diversity, ability levels and much more, as well as discuss how we as a community can create a supportive and more body lovin’ space for everyone!

And then, if that wasn’t enough for all your fabulous folks on Rhode Island, I’ll also be co-presenting with the wonderful Megan Andelloux on Monday the 13th at Noon at Brown on being a sex educator in the real world:

All Roads Leading to Pleasure: Sex Educators in the Real World

Salomon Center, Room 203 (Main Green, between George and Waterman Streets)

Ever want to know what it’s like to be sex educator in today’ society? Interested in going into the field of sex education? Or maybe you don’t really know what a sex educator does. Come listen in as Shanna Katz and Megan Andelloux share their very different journeys in the world of sex-ed, discussing how and why they entered the field, what the spaces they occupy, and the wide variety of ways in which sex educators can make a living.

 

I hope to get to see some of you at some of these classes!

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

Sep 042010
 

There are a number of articles out there now that are discussing how “awful” college sex weeks are, how sex education is “infecting” college campuses, how Yale giving out 14,000 condoms is a travesty. I’m not going to do them the service of linking to these ridiculous articles, as some of them take some pot shots at other sex educators, at student groups putting on sexuality education workshop, etc. However, in my humble opinion, most of these articles are poorly researched and full of hooey.

Now, it’s true. I am a sex educator, more particularly, a sex educator who presents on college campuses, so defending sex education at colleges and universities is obviously in my best interest. So let it be said that you should take what I say with a grain of salt.

However, I chose this field because it is incredibly important. In 2003, I met an 18 year old college student who had never learned how to use a condom, despite 6 of her friends from high school having had children. In 2007, I met college students who told me that the withdrawal method “must work” because they’d used it for a year and never gotten pregnant (despite some of their cohorts leaving school/take a leave of absence due to their pregnancies). I’ve met numerous students who didn’t know how to balance their identities, many of which they hadn’t taken pride in until they got to college. I’ve met dozens of depressed students who were scared to come out to their roommates/college friends/hall mates/RAs/professors because of the overall view of LGBTQ identities on campus. All of these people were helped in some way by sexuality education, whether it was through me, through a school sponsored event, through a school group providing sex ed.

Sex education is helpful to people of all ages, but is crucial to people in their teens and early twenties, when they are developing their identities, making decisions about sexual activity. Getting sex education does NOT encourage anyone to be sexually active. In fact, many people who get comprehensive sexuality education in high school and middle school have better self image, are more comfortable in setting boundaries, know ow to say know, choose not to be sexually active as early, and/or choose not to be sexually active while under the influence of other substances. Almost everyone will have the ability to make healthier choices regarding safer sex, pregnancy prevention, and more.

Most sex weeks (as well as other sexuality education workshop) on college and university campuses are put together by students. Student who want information about sexuality; about anatomy, about identity, about safer sex, about pleasure, about communication, about relationships, and more. Clearly, there is a need for this education, because if it doesn’t come from sexuality educators, it comes from word of mouth (which can often provide incorrect information), or from the internet, or from trial and error. They are going to get this information from somewhere — I’d rather they get it from a trained sexuality educator (whether myself or someone else) who is trained in correct information, in counseling students, in talking about such a fraught topic, etc.

For the most part, sexuality education supports all choices, including abstinence as a choice. I know that all of my classes welcome people of all genders, orientations, backgrounds, etc, regardless of whether students are sexually active. I’m sorry, but given that about 99.9% of society features on the mainstream and the majority (white, straight/heterosexual, cisgender, traditionally able bodied, vanilla relationships), I feel it is completely valid for colleges and universities to bring in classes that talk about sexual minorities, as well as other workshops (like intersecting identities and relationship communication discussions) that appeal to people of ALL identities. Very few students need to know what sexuality looks like for a traditionally able bodied person; how many have been asked to think about people with disabilities, and how their sexuality looks and occurs, and how to make all of their campus accessible, more than just physically.

Denying that college age students are thinking about their sexuality (whether or not they are sexually active) is like an ostrich sticking its head in its the sand. Let’s please support them in their desire for knowledge and to learn more about their sexual identities, and how to make healthy choices, rather than just pretend that its not happening. And let’s also not throw negativity at the schools that are in fact fulfilling their promise to support students’ ENTIRE education, and at the educators who are helping these knowledge hungry students to learn more about themselves. It’s just rude.

That’s what I’ve got to say on this issue.

However, Dr. Charlie Glickman, a respected sex educator, also has something to say about this, more specifically about Margaret Brooks’ anti Brown Sex Week article (in interest of full disclosure, I spoke at Brown’s Sex Week, including on Sexuality and Disability, and on Relationships and Communication). His post is much less based on emotional than mine, and takes on her article bit by bit. I highly suggest reading it.

For anyone still interesting in bringing sexuality education to their campus, I’m still booking for 2010-2011. I’d love to come help college students learn and grow.

Shanna

Mar 202010
 

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