Greetings to my dear readers,
You’ve probably noticed some serious posting silence over here. Or maybe you’re just noticing it now as I drag your attention towards it. First, my apologies. I know how frustrating it can be when you find something you like on the internet and the content remains stagnant.
This is not due to a lack of content inside my own head; to the contrary, my little brain is bursting with ideas. Money is the main thing holding me back right now and I decided that unless the ad revenue on this page is filling my bank account then dealing with comment moderation is not worth it. Also, I want to expand this site to become more interactive and full of easy to navigate information. I got a side job to start saving up and paying to build up the site.
What I’ve been up to
Mostly reorienting what I’m doing with sex education. When I finished graduate school my career path was clear to me: work with youth. I saw adolescent sex education as one of the most important issues and someplace where I could make a difference. Unfortunately, when I accepted Cambridge’s invitation to speak in favor of pornography I didn’t realize how this would impact me being able to work with youth. I touched the porn monster and now I am tainted by that controversial association. (Don’t worry: I regret nothing).
I spent a few months grappling with this new reality and wondering if I should continue with sex education at all. I wondered if I was really making a difference and if the walls I sought to break down would yield to my meddling.
Regardless of what I was feeling inside, I kept trudging and trying to create new content. I kept giving workshops, teaching and speaking. But I wasn’t feeling it. And the stigma of being a female speaking about sex was wearing me down. I had nights where I wanted to set my diploma on fire and have a normal job.
Trinity College Porn Debate
I got another invitation to speak about porn, this time at Trinity College in Dublin. When I accepted I did so mostly because I wanted a vacation and nothing sounded better than visiting my friends in Europe. (I’m currently in Madrid and, aside from my stuffed sinuses, everything is awesome). The organizer also mentioned opportunities for other speaking engagements and I wanted time to speak on something other than porn. I wanted time to address what I think are the real issues impacting sexuality: restrictive ideologies, sexism, anxiety, shame and willful misinformation.
My visit to Dublin was a bit of a game changer. The night before the debate, I delivered a lecture on the human body as a source of pleasure and masturbation as a source of empowerment. Living in the Bay Area I forget what revolutionary concepts these can be. I could see little lights going off in students heads. After the lecture someone asked me, “What is your agenda?”
I thought about it for a moment and responded, “I grew up in a world where pleasure wasn’t something I thought I could have. My body was shameful and not really meant for me. When I was able to change my frame of reference and identify my own desires, I felt empowered. Being able to enjoy my own body changed everything I thought I knew about the world. I want to help people do that in whatever capacity works for them. I want to lift the social weights that preclude them from that experience.”
Where I’m going
I have loads of projects waiting in the wings right now. The rest of the video footage we shot in June is still in editing purgatory. I have a bucket of articles waiting to be written. I have so many ideas for classes and lectures that my brain feels weighted.
Most of what I do is bootstrapped together on one struggling little laptop with the help of my friends in their spare time. I want things to go faster so I’m doing admin work on the side to bankroll these projects.
The good news is that you’ll see much more from me in the coming year. The bad news is it’ll be slow going.
So, dear reader, I want to thank you for your patience and thank you for all the times you’ve read or commented or passed something along to someone else. Changing the cultural conversation about sex is not an easy task. We’re up against deeply entrenched misconceptions and asking a person to change their worldview is akin to blatantly requesting their mental discomfort. I can only hope that the work I continue to do in the future will have some sort of lasting impact.
Thanks for your time, it’s worth more than you know. When this blog is ready to switch to a private server I’ll be writing here again and will be sure to send a notification that it’s back online. Until then, you can get all up in my Twitter.
Teach It, Write It, Do It,
For some reason I thought the Cambridge Union Society didn’t plan on making the video of the debate available for the public.
I am so happy to be wrong.
Cambridge Union Society
I begin at the 22 minute mark if you feel like skipping ahead to my speech. For extra fun, here is the account I wrote after the debate in Februrary.
Those of you who follow my Twitter feed (@thesexademic) may have seen that I spent last weekend shooting some sex advice shorts. I’m working on more post-production right now and will be releasing one new video every week for the next month and a half.
Here’s a little video about why you should measure your johnson and sheath it accordingly…
For behind the scenes pics check out my Facebook fan page here!
In 2008, the Mayo Clinic published a case study of treating compulsive sexual behaviors with pharmaceuticals:
A male patient first presented to a psychiatrist (J.M.B.) at age 24, with the explanation, “I’m here for sexual addiction. It has consumed my entire life.” He feared losing both marriage and job if he could not contain his burgeoning preoccupation with Internet pornography. He was spending many hours each day chatting online, engaging in extended masturbation sessions, and occasionally meeting cyber-contacts in person for spontaneous, typically unprotected, sex.
The story is a familiar one. A young man seeking sexual activities outside of his marriage or relationship experiences guilt because of his compulsive behaviors. He feels he cannot stop and is at a loss for solutions. He wants to be good, by whatever measure his culture dictates, but feels he can’t.
The term “sex addiction” is the new darling of sensational media. The narrative of an addict is a compelling one, their struggle with external forces in the world leaves much room for pity. After all, this isn’t their fault but the fault of the pesky stimulus hijacking their tender neurological reward circuitry. Right?
Not really. The picture of compulsive sexual behaviors is far more complicated than (male) brain + (non-monogamous) sexual stimulation = addiction. Dopamine may indeed play a role in all compulsive behaviors but the narrative of porn as an external factor that takes over your system is a false (and overwhelmingly Christian) explanation that fails to recognize sexual histories and user conceptions of sexuality.
As a burgeoning sexuality student I had a mild obsession with the human implications of bonobo sexual behaviors. They were like this unshared secret of zoology, hidden from sight on nature channels because of apparent prurience and I wondered if we could locate some inherent sexual truth about humanity by looking at bonobos. But doing that means locating the same truths in chimpanzee behavior. Human predilection towards rape, war, and infanticide would be just as valid as promiscuity, cooperation and sex for the fun of it.
In evaluating and understanding our own, often confounding, sexual behaviors I think it’s a mistake to hold any other animal up as an ideal or try to identify immutable parts of our sexual behavior by observing them.