All Posts Tagged With: "sexuality"
There’s no shame in not having sex
Virginity seems to be one of the only taboos left on sexually liberated university campuses.
For many students, it’s long gone—that thing that they made a big deal of in grade school and can now barely remember why. For others, it is still very much a part of life and affects how they they feel about themselves, and unfortunately, how others feel about them. These outliers (and I do not mean to be derogatory) choose to hold on to it. As we move into the upper years of university, their number dwindles. The pressure is on.
There is ever-present pressure to have sex at university. We chat with friends about it, overhear people talk about ‘walks-of-shame’ at the library on Sunday mornings and see couples leaving the bars. Some of the pressure comes from friends. Some of it comes from the media. Eighteen year-old Dakota Fanning just did her first nude scene. MTV has a show called Losing It where people tell stories of their first time. Some of it comes from the person we dance with at the bar.
What students are talking about today (February 8th)
1. The Gazette student newspaper at Western University published an editorial this week on a new Harry Potter course that will be offered this fall. They came to the conclusion that it will not be a bird course. “Some may say authors such as Shakespeare, Hemingway and Joyce provide the reader with a much deeper, denser text…. while Harry Potter’s journey through Hogwarts is just too simplistic.” But they added, “Who’s to say there is not deeper meaning in Harry Potter? With adult themes such as challenging authority, self-sacrifice, tolerance and genocide, these books following the Boy who Lived should not be pushed aside as ‘just for children.’” However, proving that many students still need to improve their basic reading skills, the paper faced a backlash from those who took the headline “Harry Potter and the Bird Course?” to mean “Harry Potter is a bird course.” Editor Gloria Dickie responded with a second editorial reiterating that the editorial board does not see it as a bird course.
Human sexuality professor sued over explicit homework
Human sexuality classes are bound to make some students uncomfortable. There’s nothing wrong with that. But did this U.S. professor go too far?
Student Karen Royce, 60, certainly thinks so. She is suing instructor Tom Kubistant, Western Nevada College, and certain college officials after she dropped Kubistant’s course midway through. She says she was forced to drop because her instructor required students to masturbate or fail.
Royce says the problems began when Kubistant told students “that he will increase [the students'] sexual urges to such a height that they won’t be able to think about anything other than sex.” Continue reading I was told to “masturbate or fail”
Simon Fraser students debate gender-exclusive spaces
Keenan Midgley played basketball, soccer, baseball and football. But it isn’t his athletic skill that has made him well-known on campus in Burnaby, B.C. It’s the budget he’s written as treasurer of the Simon Fraser Student Society.
The fifth-year accounting student added funding that will carve out a special space on campus for guys. The men’s centre, assuming the budget passes a final vote, will get $30,000 next year. That’s the same amount that the women’s centre, started in 1974, will receive.
The pending creation of the men-only space is the source of much discussion at Simon Fraser University. Since the news broke in April, many students have questioned whether the men deserve funding. Along with that, a debate has emerged over whether women—who make up 55 per cent of undergraduate students at SFU—still need their own women-only space.
Why am I the only one made uncomfortable by this?
I haven’t had many lectures where terms like necrophilia or bestiality came up. That’s why, among all the classes I’ve taken over the past four years, the sociology course I’m taking this semester, Sexuality and the Law, stand outs.
It wasn’t until the second class that the professor really delved into the ‘makes you feel uncomfortable and avoid eye contact with the other students’ material. Penis rings, polygamy, chastity belts, the Kama Sutra, and the lack of a female counterpart to Viagra were all discussed, in no particular order of uncomfortableness.
Minister allegedly said she “spooked” the governor general
Northwest Territories’ Finance Minister Michael Miltenberger is facing a human rights complaint for allegedly telling a transsexual student at Aurora College that she should leave the school because she had “spooked the Governor General.”
Gabrielle Landrie told CBC News that she was standing near a computer lab with a friend on Dec. 9, wearing a dress, when Minister Miltenberger made the comment and asked her to leave. She says she was later told that the Governor General’s route had been changed to avoid her.
Although she had initially agreed to leave, she says she decided against it as she had homework left to complete. She was asked to leave again by Miltenberger.
The case for more open sexuality at universities
A study suggests that students are more likely to suspect an openly gay professor of bias than one who is straight.
Studies like this remind us how far we have to go when it comes to prejudice against gay men and women, and they make it easy to see why gay professors would want to keep their sexuality to themselves, or, at least, keep it off campus. Indeed, where I work, there are a number of professors who speak guardedly or not at all about their personal lives for just this reason, and indeed, so far as I know, only one professor — just one — makes a point of letting people know that she is gay.
Now my university, located as it is in staid, conservative, rural Cape Breton, is, perhaps, an extreme case, but in cannot be unique. And while I respect the right of each person to their privacy and would never deliberately violate it, it has always seemed to me that gay professors should be more open about this aspect of their lives.
For one reason, concealment breeds concealment. If a gay prof gets hired into a school where she senses that others are keeping secrets, she may just assume there are good reasons for doing so. So she stays quiet, leading the next gay prof to do likewise. Conversely, openness breeds openness. A few profs set examples, and others can follow.
Similarly, openly gay professors provide strong role models to the young people they encounter. In a place like Cape Breton, where sexualities are often concealed for fear of backlash at work or church, such role models are especially valuable. Young adults may already identify as gay but may not have a good sense of what it would look like to live as a successful, openly gay adult because they don’t know any openly gay adults. And while I don’t suggest that professors serve as a life coaches for their students, profs can inspire simply by being themselves: out, and proud, and successful, and accepted by peers — all at once.
Of course, the acceptance part is tricky. But universities — even relatively parochial ones like mine — are more accepting than average. For one thing, universities have strong human rights policies which protect people from harassment. For another, universities tend to be cosmopolitan, drawing faculty and students from around the world and from a variety of circumstances. Finally, professors, generally better educated and travelled than the ordinary person, are more likely to celebrate diversity. Indeed, research suggests that those most tolerant of gays and lesbians are younger and better educated. What workplace features a greater abundance of young and well-educated people than a university?
But what about those students who assumed bias on the part of their gay profs? Well, the same research cited just above says that people are more likely to be tolerant when they have had personal contact with gay people. Students who have a class with Professor Orlando may be suspicious at first, but then learn that gay professors are no worse or better than straight professors. They have the same range of strengths and weaknesses that all people have. They just happen to be gay.
So coming out on campus has that additional benefit — gay professors can change the attitudes of their straight students too.
It is no longer just about the women’s movement
Princeton University is taking the right approach when it comes to revamping their women’s studies department. The program, previously known as Study of Women and Gender, will now be called Gender and Sexuality Studies after a unanimous vote of the department’s faculty.
The latter half of 2009 saw many similar moves by Canadian universities. Queen’s University renamed their program Gender Studies, while Simon Fraser University’s program is now called Gender, Sexuality and Women’s Studies. Catherine Murray, SFU’s program chair, hit the nail on the head regarding the titular change movement:
“We’re not abandoning women’s studies, or saying the women’s movement is dead. We’re saying things are changing. It’s about moving forward, staying ahead of the game and recognizing the need to include broader discussions surrounding gender,” she told the National Post in late January.
The National Post found itself in hot water a day later when their editorial board tried to claim that “these angry, divisive and dubious programs are simply being renamed to make them appear less controversial.” The national response only proved that discussions around gender are still necessary.
Women’s studies are important, and the firestorm that surrounded the Post in January proved just that. But there’s also room for other discussions that surround gender and sexuality to be addressed as well. Princeton’s latest move is showing us that it has no intention of reducing its focus on women; they are simply including more voices. The department is keeping most of its original course names, but adding some new ones to address a wider scope of gender issues that are part of modern discussions.
It’s about evolution.
“The newly renamed Program in Gender and Sexuality Studies at Princeton will continue to address each phase of the field’s development, maintaining its historical commitment to the specificity of women’s experience while offering feminist analytic tools across disciplines,” program director Jill Dolan told the Daily Princetonian.
Women’s studies programs first came on the scene over 40 years ago — the first at San Diego State University in 1970 — to address many of the same concerns that are facing other areas of the gender discussion now — gay, lesbian and transgender people are just some examples of the groups whose voices now need to be heard. At first, it was the result of pressure from women’s liberation movements to include female perspectives in education. Modern discussions around “Don’t ask, don’t tell” and “It gets better” are proof that gender discussions are still an important part of our daily lives.
“The first women’s studies programs were created as scholars attempted to re-examine history, literature, anthropology, psychology and other subjects, and to explore the missing perspective,” explains an article on About.com. And today, it’s more missing perspectives that are propelling the expansion of gender programs at universities.
Margaret, a Maclean’s commenter, sums it up beautifully: “I would love to see the day come when women’s contributions (and the contributions of people of colour, alternative sexualities, etc etc) are given the same airtime as the contributions of white men. Until that day comes, we need programs such as women’s studies and first nations studies to bring other perspectives to higher education.”
And while detractors like the National Post’s editorial board will always be around to try and stop those perspectives, universities are right in rising above their ignorance and trying to lend a hand to bring them along for the ride.