Feb 272014
 

Mark your calendars:

I”ll be on Tristan Taormino‘s Sex Out Loud radio THIS Friday the 28th at 8pmET/5pmPT (6pm MST) talking about Your Pleasure Map, sex & disability, and why sex ed should be more accessible, as well as some other fun and fabulous topics.

Click here to listen to the hour long podcast/online radio show.

Don’t worry – if you miss it, you can download it on iTunes and listen to me forever!

More info:

http://tristantaormino.com/2014/02/26/feb-28-shanna-katz-on-passion-for-queer-sex-open-source-sex-education-and-the-intersections-of-sex-disability/

Mar 162011
 

As I’ve said before, the anus is the great equalizer — everyone has an anus (I feel like this should be an Avenue Q song somehow…you know, “Everyone One Has an Anus…everyone has a butt!). Whether you personally like to put things in it or not is up to you, but it’s a fact that everyone HAS an anus, meaning that anyone who wants to CAN experiment with anal sex/anal stimulation, whether on their own, with a partner, etc. That said, we don’t really talk much about butt sex and back door action, which means that some people may not know how to get started, or may have some beginner’s knowledge, but want to know more about the anatomy of the butt and how rear revelry can increase pleasure in certain people’s lives, etc, or maybe they are wonderful about the health, wellness and safer sex side of things.

Ultimate Guide to Anal Sex for Men

I’d like to to suggest that before you head out and get a bevy of sex toys to stick up your butt (making sure, of course, that they have a flanged base–meaning that the bottom is wider than the rest of the toy to prevent them from getting stuck in your butt), you check out these two books written by the queen of anal education herself, Tristan Taormino. She has two books out (well, more, but I was sent these two in exchange for an honest review); the Ultimate Guide to Anal Sex for Women and the Ultimate Guide to Anal Sex for Men.

Now, I usually talk about body parts are body parts, regardless of the gender of the person; nipples can be played with the same on everyone, necks can be kissed the same on everyone, etc. However, because of the presence of the prostate gland in those assigned male at birth, I understand why the books are written as such. That said, a lot of the information is the same, so if you’re in a couple with both someone with and someone without a prostate, I’d suggest getting the Ultimate Guide to Anal Sex for Men, as it has more info on the prostate and prostate specific stimulation, but most of the info can also be used for people who don’t have prostates.

Ultimate Guide to Anal Sex for Women

Both books cover great info about the spectrum of anal sex, but don’t get too technical or academic, so they’re good for people both beginning butt sex as well as educators and those with more experience with the technical terms and anatomy of the back door. Some of the info isn’t going to be relevant to everyone, but I don’t think it is meant for everyone to read it through from beginning to end — it’s good to check out the sections that interest you most, to share them with your partner(s) if you’re interested in playing together.

All in all, I’d say these are two of the best books on anal sex currently available, and are great educational butt sex resources for both newbies and anal sex lovers, and those that enjoy collecting sex books for a little bit more pizazz on their bookshelf.

Click here to get the Ultimate Guide to Anal for Women. Click here to get the Ultimate Guide to Anal for Men.

-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

Jan 192011
 

Being a sex educator is hard. I’ve spoken to this before; there is the choice about how you answer the “what do you do” question, there are stalkers and creepers who follow you workshop to workshop or won’t stop calling/emailing, there is the fact that the education I do is not considered “real education” (even sometimes by the professional sexuality organizations to who I belong), there are very few degree programs in the country, jobs can be tough to get and freelancing doesn’t always pay the bills, the list goes on. However, one thing that has always kept me going is people who lead the field, like Jamye Waxman, Midori and Tristan Taormino. These three incredibly strong women have been sex educators for years, and have figured out how to approach the masses in a way that they are more accepted (even if sometimes protested), through books, movies, educational films, workshops, college lectures, performance pieces and more.

However, this morning, I woke to this in my inbox. The great Tristan Taormino, sex educator extraordinaire, has been uninvited by Oregon State University, after they had asked her to speak AND asked her to buy her plane tickets with the promise of reimbursement. Not only did they un-extend their invitation, but they are now refusing to pay for the plane tickets she has already purchased at their behest. I’m surprised, but not shocked. One of my favorite gender activists was censored at a local college after some conservative students claimed her used of the words “tranny” and “fuck” were detrimental to their mental well being.

I love what I do. Almost every moment of every day. However, the fact that it is not only hard to book events, but now sex educators (who are far more well known and published than I am) are being uninvited? It’s ridiculous. According to them, it was due to her website and resume…which hasn’t changed since the booking. Because she shoots feminist/ethical pornography, they are turning her down.  Yet other schools bring in anti-gay speakers for “their side of the story” and porn legends like Ron Jeremy (who does not identify as being in the feminist porn or ethical porn genres).  Thank goodness for schools like Brown University, Hofstra, University of Arizona, Colorado College, SUNY–Purchase and more that have welcomed me (as well as other sex educators), as we are, with the understanding that lectures and workshops about healthy sexuality do nothing more than provide information to students, and can only serve to help improve their lives.

I say shame on OSU, and on other schools that are capitulating to conservative legislatures and mores. Education is about gaining knowledge and opening students eyes to the world, not about censoring based on social constructions of what is “appropriate.” It would be one thing if you chose to ignore her letter of interest; I sent out about 200-300 a year, and rarely hear back from a dozen schools; it’s part of being a sex educator. But to invite her, and then change your mind after telling her to buy her tickets, and now choose not to reimburse her? That is low, OSU, and it shows a lack of class, a lack of educational and open-minded spirit, and I am quite disappointed. I assumed a school in a place like Oregon would be a little more forward thinking.

With that said, I am currently booking schools and universities for fall 2011/spring 2012. I am sure other educators are as well.  If you (whether student, staff or faculty) are interested in learning more about sexuality, sex and disability, ethical pornography, kink, LGBTQA issues, communication, safer sex and more, please contact me. Fascinations has agreed to pay my airfare to college/university gigs starting in May, so I can be more affordable and accessible to schools with smaller budgets. I’d love to show OSU what immense good a sex educator can do on campuses.

-Shanna

SEX EDUCATOR AND SPEAKER TRISTAN TAORMINO, SET TO GIVE CONFERENCE KEYNOTE, UNINVITED BY OREGON STATE UNIVERSITY BECAUSE OF HER ‘RESUME AND WEBSITE’

January 19, 2011

Contact:
Tristan Taormino
tristan@puckerup.com

Award-winning author, columnist, sex educator, and filmmaker Tristan Taormino was set to be the keynote speaker at Oregon State University’s Modern Sex conference, scheduled for February 15-16, 2011. Yesterday, she was uninvited by a university representative, who cited her resume and website as the reason.

On October 28, 2010, organizers of the OSU Modern Sex conference booked Taormino to give the keynote talk; they confirmed the date and agreed to fees, and Tristan’s management received a first draft of the contract on November 1. That contract was incomplete and sent back to OSU for revisions. As with many negotiations, the contract was pending as all the paperwork got done, but in late December, OSU again confirmed Tristan’s appearance and conference organizers told her manager to purchase airline tickets, for which OSU would be reimburse her.

On Tuesday, January 18, 2011, Steven Leider, Director of the Office of LGBT Outreach and Services contacted Colten Tognazzini, Tristan Taormino’s manager, to say that the conference had come up short on funding. Tognazzini told him that since the travel was booked and the time reserved, they could work with whatever budget they did have. Leider said that would not be possible: “We have to cancel Ms. Taormino’s appearance due to a lack of funding. It has been decided that OSU cannot pay Ms. Taormino with general fee dollars, because of the content of her resume and website.” At OSU, ‘general fee dollars’ include taxpayer dollars given to the University by the Oregon State Legislature to defray various costs. They differ from ‘student activity dollars,’ which are part of every student’s tuition and help fund student groups and activities.

Taormino’s resume includes her seven books on sex and relationships, the 18 anthologies she has edited, numerous television appearances from CNN to The Discovery Channel, and her award-winning adult films. She was a columnist for The Village Voice for nearly ten years and has given more than 75 lectures at top colleges and universities including Yale, Princeton, Cornell, Brown, NYU and Columbia. Her website, puckerup.com , includes sex education information, advice, and information about the films she directs for Vivid Entertainment, one of the largest adult companies in the country.

“In my ten years of booking Tristan at colleges and universities, of course there has been some controversy. But I have never had a university cancel like this last minute,” says Colten Tognazzini, Taormino’s manager. “It’s not unusual for contract negotiations to drag on. Once they confirmed we should book her travel, I felt comfortable the event was a done deal. I continued to work with them in good faith that a signed contract would be forthcoming. I believe that the conference organizers’ hands are tied, and this decision came from much higher up. They have cancelled with less than a month’s notice during Tristan’s busiest season. She gave up other opportunities to go to Oregon. Without a signed contract, we may have no recourse, and were told we will not be reimbursed for her travel.”

Tognazzini spoke to a source at OSU who speculated that the University feared that when it went before the legislature in regards to future funding, legislators would use OSU’s funding of a “pornographer” on campus as ammunition to further cut budgets. This source, who wishes to remain anonymous, told Tognazzini, “I think they’re uninviting Tristan because they don’t want to have to defend her appearance to conservative legislators.”

“I’m extremely disappointed that OSU has decided to cancel my appearance. I’ve been protested before, but never uninvited. I have never misrepresented who I am or what I do. I am proud of all the work I do, including the sex education films and feminist pornography I make,” says Taormino. “The talk I planned to give at this conference, titled “Claiming Your Sexual Power” has nothing to do with porn, but the porn is such an easy target for anti-sex conservatives and censors. I find it ironic that one of the missions of the conference is to understand diverse perspectives of sexuality. Apparently, my perspective—one of educating and empowering people around their sexuality—isn’t welcome at OSU.”

If OSU students and others still want to hear Taormino speak, she will be teaching two workshops at She Bop in Portland on February 13 and 14. “She Bop supports a healthy perspective on sex and sexuality and we are proud to have Tristan Taormino present two years in a row at our shop in Portland. Tristan is a leading educator paving the way for others to help break down the stigma around sex in this country. It is part of our mission as a female friendly adult shop to support sexual empowerment and growth,” say co-owners Jeneen Doumitt and Evy Cowan.

Nov 222010
 

Question: I am in a long distance relationship and my girlfriend wants to sleep with other people with no emotional attachment. Is it more likely than not that if we tried this, our relationship would tank?

Answer: I’m not going to put a probability on it. Why? Because I don’t know how well you communicate, how your relationship is right now, how long you’ve been long distance, or how you personally feel about consensual non-monogamy. All of these are factors that can and will contribute to how well this will work out.

Step one: Get a copy of Opening Up by Tristan Taormino. You can click the link to buy it, but lots and lots of libraries have it to check out, or one of your friends may have it to borrow. Make sure both of you read it, especially the parts about “is non-monogamy right for you” and the sections about jealousy. Not everyone is suited for non-monogamy, and even those that are may not be ready for it now, or know how to make it fit with their current partner.

Once you’ve read this, think about how it makes you feel when your girlfriend talks about this. Happy that she’s getting more physical needs met? Sad that you can’t do it for her? Angry that she’d consider this? Jealous that she wants to do it? There are tons and tons of emotions that center around non-monogamy; there are no right are wrong ones, but you need to recognize that they are there. Also, look online. Lots of bloggers write about polyamory/non-monogamy — there is even a Poly Podcast. Check out these resources, and continue to talk and communicate with your girlfriend.

You may decide to have her give it a try, and realize it doesn’t work. Then you communicate again, and go from there. You may decide not to try it…but you still need to communicate with your partner. Non-monogamy or monogamy will not break you up or keep you together, but lack of communication most certainly will.

-Shanna

Jun 222010
 

4 years ago, I emailed Audacia Ray and Jamye Waxman.  I’m sure the letter was slightly more eloquently written, but each of them boiled down to:

“Hi. You are a sex-positive feminist who works with adults, sex workers, people in the adult industry, and more. I want to grow up to be like you — how do I do it?”

I’d never met them or contacted them before; however, I’d seen their movies they’d directed, read their blogs, and I knew that I wanted to go that direction. Now, it helped that I was already working on my Master’s of Human Sexuality Education and was working at HotMoviesForHer.com. However, I wanted more. I wanted to help people, to change lives, to educate adults outside of the traditional setting.

And not only did they write back, but they agreed to have dinner with me when Dacia was in Philly for a book reading. They are now people I count as my friends. Both have given me countless pieces of advice, both have put me in contact with amazing people, and both are just sweet, kind hearted people themselves.

Last fall, Tristan Taromino met with me in Phoenix for dinner with her partner (and mine), and we chatted. Again, more advice, more inspiration, more support. But even more, she introduced me to the marketing director of Fascinations, who is now my boss at my full time dream job, being a sexuality educator almost 24-7. A reference from Tristan is worth its weight in gold.

Of course, there is my favorite North-Easterner, Megan Andelloux, another fierce and sassy sexuality educator who I’ve gotten to know more and more the past few months, and who dispenses advice and support to me right and left.

And Always Aroused Girl, who designed this whole site for me, graphics and all.

Why mention them? Well, first and foremost, to thank them for helping me figure out who I am, what I should do, and supporting me in following my dreams. But also, as an example of our responsibility to our community.

I get letters weekly from college students and bloggers (and others) wanting to become sex educators. To each person, I take the time to find out their background, their education, their passions, their dreams, and I write long letters back and forth with them, supporting them how I can.  At Fascinations, I fly out sex educators to Denver, Arizona and Portland, having never even heard many of them talk, but in hopes of providing them a leg up while also providing sexuality education to the masses. I’ve helped people with marketing their blogs, their small indie companies, writing press releases and more.

Why? Because this community grows upon itself. We must help each other. Foster new educators, new bloggers, new authors, as well as support each other as established ones. Without this support, the community becomes weaker, more diluted.  Often times, I think we get nervous; if I help someone else, what if they become more famous than me? What if they take my classes/my places I present?

To this, I say that I would much rather have more sexuality educators who are strong and care about each other, than few who are snippy and angry, and unable to work with others. I’d rather lose a little traffic to help out a new blogger who may have amazing things to say that we haven’t heard yet.

Our responsibility as we learn and grow is to continue to give back. I thank those from whom I’ve received support, and I hope to continue to give it back as much as I can.

-Shanna