Sep 102010
 

I am in a field where life is always hard. Now, this is true for most people; people in the service industry are on their feet all day and deal with rude people, teachers deal with puffed up parents and out of control students, etc.

However, a few thoughts about the field of sexuality and sex education:

There are no other fields I can think of where educators/consultants are hired, told that they won’t have any of their travel expenses (food, flight, accommodations) covered, and that the educator/consultant may or may not actually make money, depending on how many people (if any) show. This is the norm for the sex education industry. Certainly, if you’re lucky enough to get to speak at colleges, many will at the least guarantee a speaker’s fee, but even still, few cover travel, or if they do, reimburse you for sometimes very large expenses MONTHS after your speaking engagement. I have paid literally thousands of dollars over the past four years to travel to places to speak. Sometimes, I break even, but most times, I’m in the red. I’ve had classes canceled because no one registered, and sat in rooms waiting for 1 person so I could at least do my presentation. I’ve sat in other rooms, filled with 50-60 people, and made enough to cover my motel, or maybe food and taxi, but definitely never airfare. I cannot see most motivational speakers, political consultants, or IT tech specialists doing that or putting up with it, but it is the norm in this field.

Secondly, this is a field where people are constantly trying to undermine you. For example, the drama with Margaret Brooks (who has NO sexuality background what so ever) calling out Megan Andelloux, May May, and other, saying horrible and slanderous things about them…not because they were bad at what they did, or did anything wrong, but SOLELY because they believe in sex education. While I was not name, I found myself targeted in many of her tirades because I spoke at Brown University during Sex Week 2010. Even my class on sexuality and disability was consider an aberration. People hate on sex educators not because of their amount of education, or professionalism, or skills (or lack there of); no no, we are constantly coming under attack just because we have a passion for educating others on the important issue of sexuality.

How about the concept of “finding someone out?” Many sex educators, bloggers, etc use pen names/work names. Sometimes, it’s their first name and middle name, leaving out the last name. Other times, it’s a completely new name. Why? For protection. Sometimes from people who like what we have to say a little too much, and other times from the anti-sex positivity people. It’s scary. I choose to work under my real name, as I got my Master’s in Human Sexuality Education under it, and I am proud of this. In doing so, I am opening myself up to stalkers, to never being able to work a traditional job without people knowing who I “really” am, etc. My partner has been scared about this numerous times.

Most recently, I was trying to switch my twitter name to ShannaKatz. Why? Because I would be easier to find (it’s currently under my old pen name/roller derby name). I want it to be more professional. I want to be more accessible as “me.” I posted about doing this, and before I could claim @ShannaKatz, someone else did. And created a fake, impersonating/rude and inflammatory profile. I don’t see that happen to Prof1234 who tries to switch to MrJones, or sewerrat89 who wants to be JaneSmith. Because I work in the field of sexuality, I am opening myself up to this. (Note: I would HIGHLY suggest that anyone in the field of sexuality; writers/educators/bloggers/etc, who is on twitter under a pen name, register for your “real name” account as well, and just park it, so that you never have to deal with this. Despite literally HUNDREDS of people marking it as spam, and me reporting it to twitter as impersonation, it’s still up).

It is 2010, and we are still terrified of being open and accepting about sexuality. We still say hateful things, we use the term whore in a derogatory manner, we call out porn stars as bad people while we secretly watch porn at home. We ask sex educators when they’re going to get a “REAL” job, or on the other end of things, assume that because we’re educators in the field of sexuality, that we’re open to be sexual with anyone, or at the very least, we want to share our own sexual experiences whenever we’re asked.

I wouldn’t change my career. I spent four months last summer making twice of what I make now, working in an international company’s corporate office. I was bored out of my mind (having done all the work in record time, as I’m used to being my own self, my own marketer/PR, my own personal assistant, my own travel agent, etc, I somehow got all of the work done in half the time allotted to me). I love what I do; I love educating people, and continuing to learn things myself. I love travel. I love seeing people’s faces light up when they finally “get” something, and seeing people cry with joy when they have their identities validated. I love helping people. And this all makes it worth it.

Despite this, however, I feel like I’m on the front lines of a battle. I have to fight not only to have my voice heard, but also to keep myself from being dragged through the mud…not because of anything I did, or even who I am, but only because I believe in people’s right to be educated on sexuality. I’m constantly defending myself, pulling myself over hurdles, dragging myself out of holes, dodging bullets, tip toeing carefully for fear of setting off a mine.

At least it is never boring.

-Shanna

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

Aug 302010
 

Here is a video of one of my classes at Fascinations back in the beginning of August in Scottsdale, AZ, talking about G-spot play, female ejaculation, vulvar anatomy, and much more. From my vulva puppet Vivianne, to fabulous sex toys, to lots of laughing (both me and the students), this is a fun and educational video about the G-spot and all that it entails. Even if you know lots about g-spot play, female ejacuation and the anatomy of a vulva, I think that everyone can always learn SOMETHING from every workshop.

I hope you enjoy it!

-Shanna

Aug 202010
 

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.

-Shanna

Hi!

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.

As a certified sexologist and sexuality educator, I know how difficult it can be to locate sex positive information and so, for the 2nd year in a row, The CSPH will gather the sex-positive community together again for a few hours to promote sexual health, pleasure and advocacy issues.

Titled “Talking About the Taboo: Discussing Difficult Issues in Human Sexuality” The CSPH hopes to highlight the current day challenges, achievements and hot topics that the sex positive world works with.  This annual event finds the commonalities between the different communities and services all of the invited guests provide.  It seeks to bring the different fields of sexuality together in hopes of supporting one another while educating the public.

The CSPH is dedicated to empowering and educating individuals about sexual health and pleasure.  With a brick and mortar location created for individuals to access reliable and relevant resources regarding sexual issues, The CSPH offers sexual health resources, counseling, lesson plans, and education materials, creating an environment where community members can come together to advocate for sexual health, pleasure and education. There is no other group on the East coast that combines advocacy, education, and healthcare all under one roof.

The 2nd Annual Conference will be held in The Grant Building (where the CSPH resides) located in historic downtown Pawtucket.  http://www.thegrantat250.com.  The event itself is scheduled to take place on Sunday, October 10th, from 1:00-5:00pm.  Our plenary speakers include: Dr. Charlie Glickman, Dr. Logan Levkoff, Dr. Anita Wagner, Princess Kali and Sinclair Sexsmith.

Last year we had over 250 people attend and had thirty organizations present.   Health care providers and medical schools set up booths providing medical information and sex toy companies showed off their wares.   This year we have new professional organizations dealing with aging, gender, sexual exploration, addiction, sexuality journals, and sexual assault prevention to add to our roster.

Should you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to contact The Center for Sexual Pleasure and Health at the number below.  This event is open to both the community and professionals for it’s not often we can gather the many different components of sexuality issues together,  so we hope that you will join us!

To help ease in your attendance there is plenty of free ample parking,  and a silent auction will take place ensuring that participants who would like to go home with some goodies will be pleasantly excited.

Please feel free to pass this information along and we hope to see you there.

Sincerely,

Megan Andelloux

Sexuality Educator, AASECT
Board Certified Sexologist, ACS

The Center for Sexual Pleasure and Health
250 Main Street, Box 11, Pawtucket, RI 02860

www.TheCsph.org
TheCSPH@gmail.com

Aug 182010
 

I’ve decided to go the trendy way, and have a fancy schmancy monthly newsletter. Want to sign up for it? (I promise not to send it more than monthly, not to spam you, sell your info, etc) You can either click here to register for it, or put your email address into the oh so cool widget at the top of the right column.

Either way you sign up for my Shanna Katz Sex Educator Newsletter, you’ll get info on classes/workshops/discussions/conferences/etc that are coming up, new sex toys and sex toy reviews, porn reviews, important news, sex tips, sales/coupons for toy sites, and much more!

Thanks in advance for signing up!

Shanna

Jun 252010
 

I wish I was lucky enough to be putting this on, but it seems like an incredibly interesting series for people with disabilities (or however they may identify) and their partners. Wish I lived in the area to attend…sadly, I do not. Would highly encourage those living in CA to check it out!

-Shanna

Sexuality and Disability Educational Series

For all Disabilities and Sexual Orientations
June 30 – September 22
Wednesdays, 6:30 – 8:30PM
Center for Independent Living, Berkeley, CA
Suggested Donation: $25 per class
Sexuality and intimate loving relationships are a fundamental part of everyone’s life. This 12-week series is designed for individuals who are living with a disability as well as his or her friends, families, partners and attendants.

You will gain ways to improve:

• Self-Esteem and Body Image
• Healthy Relationships
• Delicacies of Kissing and Touch
• Chronic Pain and Sexuality
• Sexual Health
• Practical Tips and Tools for Enhanced Sexuality
• Solo Sex & Partnered Sex

Our philosophy:
• Participants will have a chance to experience the support of peers and have an increased sense of community
• Attendees can experience a sense of empowerment, hopefulness, improved self-esteem and self-confidence
• Learn new skills and resources to expand knowledge regarding one’s sexuality, sexual health and intimate relationships in a nonjudgmental environment
• Workshop goals to be achieved through presentation of topics, facilitated sharing and experiential exercises

Limited Space Available. To reserve your place please email Dr. Biggs at rebiggs@mac.com

For more information go to www.somaevolution.org

Jun 132010
 

I was lucky enough to get to be interview for AccessRX’s podcast.  Click here to listen to my interview, where I cover everything from “what is romance” to “how to reinvigorate your sex life” and much more. It’s about 15 minutes, but worth listening to. He asked some great questions about sexuality, relationships, sex, romance, communication and much more!

May 062010
 

Next week, I have a FREE class coming up in Scottsdale, Arizona next Thursday May 13th. It’s basically a combo of my relationships and communication class, and my Relationship Mapping: Poly 101 class. It’s at the luxury store up at Raintree and Northsight.  It’s free, all attending get a $10 gift card and the chance to enter a free raffle for higher value gift cards, plus free food and drink. It’ll be a great interactive class, and I really hope to see you there!

-Shanna

Let’s Talk Sex: Navigation Love — Relationship Mapping in Scottsdale


Fascinations

May 13, 2010

7pm-9pm

14747 N Northsight Blvd

Scottsdale, AZ

Phone:(480) 921-8006

Cost: FREE

A basic training with Fascinations’ resident sexuality educator Shanna Katz, M.Ed on the basic types of relationships that people have (primary, secondary and tertiary) in their lives, how we can map them, patterns to look for, and what we can get out of these maps when we try to balance life, love, friends, work and more. Also, we’ll talk about polyamory/non-monogamy – its various facets, how to get into it, whether or not it is for you, and most importantly, how we can make it work when there are more than two people involved.

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

Mar 092010
 

As many of you know, I’ve been working with Fascinations for the last few months, and in February, presented my first workshop for the Let’s Talk Sex series called What’s in Your Toybox.  Because many people don’t live near our stores, or couldn’t make it out for a variety of reasons, we’re going to try and post many of these workshop recordings online so that they are visible to everyone.  Please enjoy!

-Shanna

(Thank you to Michael and Matt at  Fascinations for doing an awesome job with the video stuff-ish-ness)