Tag Archives: sex education

Review: The Submissive Playground

For a change from all the book reviews in the Sex & Relationships section here at Queer & Now, I decided last year that I wanted to find more of a sexual experience to review for you lovely readers, something that’s offered regularly and available for you to try yourselves. Since most kink events don’t welcome press coverage, I had to do some digging, but I eventually stumbled upon something called the Submissive Playground, facilitated by writer and educator Sinclair Sexsmith. Having worked with Sinclair previously at a queer erotic bodywork workshop, I thought this would be an awesome opportunity, and so I participated in the Playground for an eight-week course in the summer of 2014.  If this review interests you, the course is running again right now, but stay tuned to the website for the next round, and in the meantime dominant folks have a couple of weeks left to register for Mastering Dominance, a half-day online workshop from Sinclair that takes place on February 22nd. If it’s anything like my experience in the Submissive Playground, I’d highly recommend it!

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Sex-Negative Education and the Spectre of Rape

Another story to add to the chorus of voices on why abstinence-only policies promote rape.

Here’s my take: when you teach adults and children sex-negative messages, sex becomes an undifferentiated mass of “wrong.”  If all sex is wrong, then why try to tease out good from bad, pleasurable from painful?  When students are taught not to think about sex, they aren’t going to spend any time determining what they do and don’t want, or what they might be interested in.  Of course, they’re going to have sex eventually, but when it happens will they be able to communicate at all through the veil of guilt, shame, and self-loathing that sex negativity encourage?

Sex-negative messages don’t keep people from having sex.  They keep people from having good sex.  They keep people from having pride in their sexuality, from sexual self-awareness.  They keep people from asking questions about sex, and communicating with their partners.  They discourage experimentation.  They blur the lines between consensual sex and rape by framing all sex as an undifferentiated mass of “bad.”  They combine victim-blaming with generalized guilt about sex, so that perpetrator and survivor are equally culpable.  Basically, they take logic and reason out of the equation.

Sex doesn’t “lead to assault.”  Sex is not the culprit.  Silence is the culprit.  Shame is the culprit.  Educational institutions should teach young people how to communicate, how to express their desires and listen to what a potential sex partner is saying.  If young people have no language to communicate about sex, if sex is a furtive, secret, scary thing, then some of those young people are going to assault their peers because it is the only way they know to respond to their physical desires.  However, if young people are taught to speak clearly and honestly about sex, and to respect one another, then the sex that does take place will more likely be consensual.  It may not be possible to eliminate rape entirely, but the answer is not to put sex back in the closet.

This post was originally published on the blog Sex Positive Activism, which has now merged to become the sex & relationships section of Queer & Now.

Coming Out Kinky

Recently on Fearless Press, Viola wrote a post called Pissing on the Oyster about the idea that kinky people should come out as kinky to increase acceptance of kinky sexualities.  Viola does a great job in that post of covering the legal and lifestyle ramifications of coming out as kinky, and I wanted to add a voice to the chorus and talk a little bit about why I have a problem with the idea of “coming out” in the first place.

Coming out can be an empowering experience.  I know many queer people for whom coming out was a blessing, a way to find community, and a way to feel more comfortable in their own skin.  Throughout my own teenage years and early twenties, I found coming out (as bisexual, then as lesbian, as feminist, as queer) to be important because my gender and sexuality were huge parts of how I identified as well as huge parts of my activism.

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Meta Thoughts on Sex Education

One of the things I would absolutely love to happen in my life is to become a sex educator in a full-time, professional capacity.

I mentioned this to a coworker the other day and she responded “oh!  me too.”  Another coworker agreed.  When I asked what they were interested in, specifically, Coworker A mentioned AIDS prevention, and Coworker B talked about reproductive rights in the developing world.  Both valid career paths, both related to sex education, but once they said that I felt a little nervous, since of course my interest in sex education has to do with de-stigmatizing sexuality and talking, point-blank and down and dirty, about sex.

When we talk about “sex education,” a lot of the time we are talking about things like disease prevention.  This is a valid goal, but I have to wholeheartedly agree with Cara Kulwicki’s conception of real sex education. In that formulation, any discussion of sex education is incomplete without acknowledging sexual pleasure.

Thinking about sex education, and what I’d like to achieve as a sex educator, and what I get out of the sex education provided by others, I came up with three rough categories of sex education.  These are based more on the demands of the audience than what’s being supplied, and so one form of education can easily meet multiple demands, but it’s one way of thinking about what’s out there.

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Sex Education for Adults

So I’ve long been fantasizing about making a living as a sex educator, with a number of possible projects from a sex education “textbook” for adults to a non-profit organization. But one thing I want to recommend, for adults who are need of some continuing sexuality education, is scarleteen.com. I know a lot of adults recommend this to young people as a sex education resource, but it turns out, it’s a damn good website even for grownups (especially those of us who were victims of abstinence-only!) I was doing some hand mirror explorations this weekend of my (somewhat rare in a few ways) anatomy and I found Scarleteen to be an excellent resource.

This post was originally published on the blog Sex Positive Activism, which has now merged to become the sex & relationships section of Queer & Now.