California is burning again and I am in Atlantic City at the National Sex Ed Conference. It is always a breath of fresh air to be around other people like myself who commit our days to having difficult conversations and helping people with their sexuality.
I got to meet Dr. Joycelyn Elders today, the former surgeon general of the United States under President Clinton.
In case you don’t remember her, when she recommended masturbation as a safe practice that could help stem the tide of HIV/AIDS during the height of the epidemic in the 90s, she was promptly FIRED for daring to mention the word.
It was appalling. I was in graduate school at the time, and ended up doing my Master’s thesis on masturbation, just to stick it to em, you know?
She was right and because we were still steeped in so much sexual shame, she was asked to step down. Disgraceful. Meanwhile look at what a sexual mess our government is in now. What an honor to meet a woman who dared.
This evening, another sexuality legend, Dr. Ruth, did a fireside chat and it’s inspiring and beautiful to listen to a 90-year-old pioneering sex educator who has affected so many people in her disarming 4’11” frame and ability to speak openly about sex. That sexual disarmament is so important for this work.
When someone asked her what she thinks about BDSM and polyamory, she said that it’s the same way she feels when people ask her about homosexuality. “I don’t know. I’ve given the same answer for years. It hasn’t changed. I just don’t know.”
Thunk. Heart sink.
Then she was asked about Israeli forced sterilization of black people. Again, “I don’t know, maybe the UN would have an answer for you.”
I don’t know. I don’t know. I don’t know.
On one hand, it’s humble. On the other it’s a cop out.
Why would it be the same answer of “I don’t know” for so many years? There are books. There are other educators. There are researchers. There are many people she could learn from and many ways she could have evolved her perspective. To sit in a room of 700+ sex educators and say something so ignorant about gay people and identity is beyond me. That says to me, “I don’t want to evolve my perspective or shift my view.” I could be wrong, but that’s what it sounds like.
Sexuality is itself one of the most dynamic things there is. It is a fascinating and evolving part of who we are. What you want when you are 25 is not the same thing you will want at 35 or 45 or 55 or 75…your sexuality is evolutionary, just like your humanity.
As a sexuality educator, it’s essential that I include these many dynamic aspects of sexuality. That’s why I wrote Woman On Fire the way I did. Empowerment is an evolution. For some sex educators, it might be more about body parts and functions and mechanics and techniques. I sometimes teach those things and they are a part of the whole. AND there is so much more to sexuality and it is a major part of who we are.
And we each have our contribution to make. I can accept that my mission and Dr. Ruth’s mission are different. And I also think people excuse these answers because she is 90, but I have a mentor who is 88, her peer, who would never say such a thing.
I so appreciate Dr. Ruth’s complex path. She shows great respect for other sex educators. And it is a reminder that we all have more to learn, always.
In other news, Senator Franken and U.S. Representatives Franks and Conyers stepped down from their congressional posts amid the mounting pressure around sexual harassment claims against them.
My question is: if they are being asked to step down, why is Ray Moore still running and why is our current President still in office?
I hope this represents a tide that must turn across the board. How women and people of all genders with less power are sexually manipulated and controlled matters, and we have to take a strong stand against all people who abuse their power. What do you think needs to happen now? I’d love to hear from you. Just hit reply.
Please send positive energy that these fires are contained and that no one else loses their home, business, animals or livelihood.
Love from the chilly east coast,
P.S. We are taking applications for our sexual empowerment and training programs for 2020 now. Please apply if you know this is your year. I’ve met too many people who waited decades before they got what they needed to live fully realized sexual lives. Don’t go that route. There is almost always some regret about that.
Life is happening now, and the support is here.
If you’re ready, even if you’re a little scared, we want you in our community.
For the Fire Woman Virtual Program, apply here.
For my live intensive deep-dive retreats, apply here.
For my Cervix Warriors Professional Training, apply here.
Not sure, but want to talk and figure it out together? That’s totally fine, just click here.