A Day in the Life of a Sexologist

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No offense, but clitorises are offensive

Add “die cut sticker printers” to the long list of businesses over the years who have refused to do business with me because my business is in normalizing human sexuality, which in itself speaks to why my business needs to exist in the first place. Also on that list are banks, credit card processing companies, realtors, lawyers, graphic designers, and a ton of different advertisers (groupon, clipper magazine, the list goes on and on).

Here’s the back story.

For my Female Orgasm 101 college workshop and in-home party, I created an activity called “pin the clit on the vulva”. It’s always been extremely popular because it’s fun and silly (I make people close their eyes, spin around and everything). Pedagogically, it’s a wonderful way to introduce the different parts of the vulva, what they’re called, and where they are. It’s an excellent lesson plan to fulfill my stated learning objective of participants appreciating the nuance of the vulva, and understanding how erasure of the different parts from popular vernacular and the reduction of the entire external genitals to a “vagina” is harmful and oppressive. It’s a strong ice breaker activity, as people who moments before were sitting in the audience nervous, suddenly are shouting out “to the left! to the left!” as their friend or classmate is feeling their way around the wall with their eyes closed and a larger than life labia majora or clitoral hood in their hands.

But there has been a problem as far as the logistics. Years ago I used an 8 1/2 by 11 laminated paper as the back drop, and smaller laminated parts for the vulva which participants taped on, and it worked perfectly. But as the Female Orgasm 101 got more popular and elicited bigger audiences, it was hard to see all the way at the front of an auditorium, and so I made another laminated version, this time 12x16. It’s easier to see for sure, but because it’s bigger, it’s heavier, and it always falls off the wall no matter how much blue painters tape I use. So I started brainstorming ways to make this work.

How about felt? Make a felt board like the ones in kindergarten classrooms, and the little felt clitoris and urethra and such will stick to the other felt and it would be great. But the problem would be getting the felt board on the wall. It wouldn’t stay upright. I couldn’t figure out a way to hang it without damaging someone’s living room wall, or prop it up without having to carry a heavy and cumbersome easel with me every time I teach. Not practical.

So I thought about removable vinyl. It could stick right to someone’s wall, and be removed for the next class. But apparently die cut vinyl in the size I would need would be almost $1,000?!? No.

Which brought me to stickers. If I could custom make a sticker sheet with all the different parts, and simply tape a piece of paper to the wall, which will be lighter not laminated, and have participants place the stickers on the paper, very much like kid’s “pin the tail on the donkey” games. It’s not reusable, but I figured it’d be cheap enough to be able to use a new sticker sheet for each event, and then I could also give away the finished “artwork” they make to someone in the audience. Win. I found a company that makes custom die cut sticker sheets and emailed them for a price quote.

I got this email in response:

It’s a shame I have to, but whenever I do inquires like this I’m sure to emphasize the EDUCATIONAL use. And it’s ridiculous and the whole reason I do clitoris education in the first place; it’s bullshit pleasure isn’t a valid enough reason to exist. We can include vaginas in “polite” conversation, textbooks, sex ed lesson plans, news reports, whatever, because they have “valid” health functions with reproduction and the like. But a clitoris’ only function is pleasurable sensations, and that’s not acceptable, so boom, clitorises get erased and excluded. It’s the same thing with creating vulva and clitoris stickers. If I wanted to make vulva and clitoris stickers because i wanted to cover my room in vulvas because I think they’re awesome and I like to look at them, or because they arouse me, or whatever, that’s not acceptable. So I have to capitulate by saying they are for TEACHING and HEALTH awareness and other “valid” and “acceptable” reasons a clitoris’ existence could possibly be acknowledged.

But it didn’t work this time. Emphasizing my position as a sexuality education teacher needing help with printing a lesson plan did nothing to lessen the sex-phobic, and ultimately misogynist, knee-jerk reaction to silence and suppress anything related to clitorises.

Clitorises are not offensive anymore than earlobes, fingernails, shoulder blades, or any other body part is offensive. What is offensive is that this part of my body is considered offensive. In this email, this is what I hear:

"There is a part of your body that is repulsive. Not my body, your body. It’s repulsive because if you figure out how to use it, you might not want or need a penis, and then my body kind might not be able to rule over your body kind anymore. This part of your body is so repulsive that a cartoon rendering of it will offend my staff who will have to see it. Losing your money is worth being spared from having to participate, however remotely, in this indecency that you possess. But no offense."

Welp. It’s material for the book I’m currently writing which is all about clitorises, why they’re fucking awesome, and why no one wants to talk about them.

Oct 9
Third night in a row presenting a sexuality workshop at a college. Who wants their school to be next? #busysexologist

Third night in a row presenting a sexuality workshop at a college. Who wants their school to be next? #busysexologist

Oct 7
Sometimes I step back and think about how I get to travel the country and encourage people to think critically about sexuality, and I smile. It is incredibly fun, powerful, life-affirming work to have an engaged group of 350 young people want to open their minds with you about millennia worth of sexual oppression and be eager to be the agents of change in the next generation. And people pay me to do this. I am feeling so fortunate, and inspired by the #UniversityofDelaware students tonight! #ilovemyjob #travelingsexologist #VirginsandSluts #slutshaming #rapeculture #violencepreventionprogram #virginwhoredichotomy

Sometimes I step back and think about how I get to travel the country and encourage people to think critically about sexuality, and I smile. It is incredibly fun, powerful, life-affirming work to have an engaged group of 350 young people want to open their minds with you about millennia worth of sexual oppression and be eager to be the agents of change in the next generation. And people pay me to do this. I am feeling so fortunate, and inspired by the #UniversityofDelaware students tonight! #ilovemyjob #travelingsexologist #VirginsandSluts #slutshaming #rapeculture #violencepreventionprogram #virginwhoredichotomy

Oct 6
81 days until I move to San Diego! East coast folks: let’s have an in-home sex ed party before I go! West coast folks: let’s line one up for January and be one of my first customers in my new home! Email jill@thesexologist.org to set it up! 🌴☀️👙🌊 #relocatingsmallbusiness #sandiegosexologist #sexedparty #sexedforgrownups #fellatio101 #femaleorgasm101 #sextoys101

81 days until I move to San Diego! East coast folks: let’s have an in-home sex ed party before I go! West coast folks: let’s line one up for January and be one of my first customers in my new home! Email jill@thesexologist.org to set it up! 🌴☀️👙🌊 #relocatingsmallbusiness #sandiegosexologist #sexedparty #sexedforgrownups #fellatio101 #femaleorgasm101 #sextoys101

Oct 6
Students putting out flyers on campus for my #VirginsandSluts workshop tomorrow at the #UniversityofDelaware have a sense of humor! 😂 #regram from @martaaa8xx

Students putting out flyers on campus for my #VirginsandSluts workshop tomorrow at the #UniversityofDelaware have a sense of humor! 😂 #regram from @martaaa8xx

Oct 5
In the ever entertaining task of going through my possessions as I downsize and pack for my move to California, I found a 70s porno mag. Holy mustache. Holy pubic hair. #70sporn #mustache #cleaningoutmycloset #howdidiacquirethis?

In the ever entertaining task of going through my possessions as I downsize and pack for my move to California, I found a 70s porno mag. Holy mustache. Holy pubic hair. #70sporn #mustache #cleaningoutmycloset #howdidiacquirethis?

Oct 3
San Diego Jill has pink hair 💕💞💗👙 Go to sexologist.tumblr.com for the full story on my move to California! #movingtocalifornia #relocating #newlife #newme #pinkhair #pinktips #splathairdye

San Diego Jill has pink hair 💕💞💗👙 Go to sexologist.tumblr.com for the full story on my move to California! #movingtocalifornia #relocating #newlife #newme #pinkhair #pinktips #splathairdye

Oct 3

Big News: I’m relocating to California!

This is the big one! I am moving my sexuality education business and my life to San Diego, California! This move will be taking place during the week between Christmas and New Year’s, and I will be starting my new adventure in southern California on January 1, 2015!

Why? Two words: sunshine and sex-positivity. Or is that three words? More on why I’m moving in a bit, but first, some logistics:

East coast folks: Let’s fit in a college workshop or in-home party before I go! I know there are so many of you that have been wanting to for years but never actually scheduled one for whatever reason. We have two months to make it happen! Regular clients, let’s squeeze one more in!

West coast folks: I’m so excited to finally be able to bring sex ed to you on the regular after so many years of asking if/when I’ll ever do a talk on the west coast. Now is the time! You can help make this major personal and professional life transition smoother by lining up a college workshop or in-home party now for January or February, and being one of my first clients in my new home! Email jill@thesexologist.org! Also if any west coast, specifically San Diego journalists read this blog, I’d be super happy to do an interview about making SD the new home base for my sex-positive, social justice focused sexuality education efforts.

Middle of the country folks: I’ll be driving cross country, again, on my move to Cali and can do parties along the way if we can line it up right. Inquire via email if interested.

So here’s more on why.

Sunshine:

As I get older and ponder the existential quandaries of my mortality, I realize that I’ve been doing a poor job of following my own advice for this one opportunity at life that could be gone tomorrow. For a person who advocates seeking pleasure unapologetically for a living, I haven’t been seeking much pleasure, and when I do, I’ve been very apologetic about it.

I love the sun. It fills me with so much joy physically and emotionally. I am literally a better person when the sun is shining. So why, to borrow from a meme circling last winter during the polar vortex, am I living where the air hurts my face? Most of the year the sky is cloudy, dreary, overcast. The snow is muddy and wet. Everything is dead and abysmal. It’s freaking cold. During the short summer, it’s humid and rainy, but when it’s sunny and nice I spend as much time as possible outside, have weekday “pool days” and drive to the beach several times. And I feel guilty about this. I feel like I’m “wasting time” or “being lazy”. Fuck that. I’m done depriving myself of the bliss I feel from enjoying a warm sunny day because I’ve been taught to believe that suffering builds character.

I currently have a light therapy lamp to deal with my Seasonal Affective Disorder sitting on my kitchen table so I don’t fall into a horrible clinical depression like I did last winter when it was -3 degrees for weeks on end. I’m not going to be depressed and miserable 8-10 months out of the year (which is 66-83% of my life) anymore. Moving to southern California will be my boldest act of self-care to date.

Exhibit A of why I need to move: The weather this week at home, and in San Diego. Chilly and overcast vs warm and sunny. Some people might like east coast weather, but I do not, so I am going to go where the weather makes me happy.image

Exhibit B of why I need to move: Last winter I took a picture of the street I live on. It was grey, and snowy, and just… ugh I get anxiety even looking at it. I searched Instagram that day for #sandiegoliving to take my mind off of it and found the picture on the right, taken the same day by someone who lives there. I want that to be my day when it’s snowing in Pennsylvania. I want that to be my day everyday. image

Exhibit C of why I need to move: As these car selfies demonstrate, sunshine brings me a positive cycle of I look good because I feel good, and I feel good because I look good. Sunshine means less clothes, and I HATE clothes. I hate coats, I hate pants, I hate sweaters, and I especially hate socks. I feel whole when my skin is bare. If I could get away with wearing a bikini 24/7 for the rest of my days, I would. Sunshine also means blonde hair and freckles, which makes me look and feel amazing. (left, winter- boo!, right, summer-yay!)

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Sex-Positivity:

I think southern California will be an ideal place to do my work. It’s far from perfect in terms of sex-positivity, and sexuality related social justice, which is good, because I don’t want to live somewhere where I’d be uselessly preaching to the choir. But there is at least a certain level of backbreaking work that’s already been done in SoCal by others before me, and I don’t foresee me having to spend time, legal fees, and emotional bandwidth on fighting about whether or not a heart is pubic hair. It’s a good balance.

Exhibit D of why I need to move: How my governor and California’s governor have different attitudes on sexual violence. One just signed groundbreaking affirmative sexual consent legislation into law. The other is still defending and protecting a powerful millionaire who knew about 10 year olds being raped in the facility he oversees and did nothing to stop it. I will be able to get so much more  done and help make so many changes with this kind of attitudinal infrastructure. image

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In the last few years I’ve done a bit of traveling. The idea had been building for awhile and when I returned from my European honeymoon I said, “that’s it”. I’m moving.” It’s a great big world out there with all kinds of people, experiences, and climates that would give me life. I’m extremely fortunate in that I have the means and life circumstances that I could choose to live literally anywhere in the world- a Greek island, Australia, Hawaii, wherever! I’m child-free and self-employed with 100% control over my choices and yet I choose to live in a provincial Pennsylvania town where I’m cold and uninspired. Why? That ends December 26, when I’ll take only the possessions I can fit in my car, drive to San Diego, and start a new life.

Oct 2

What I learned during Sex Ed Road Trip

I’ve been back from my fall 2014 Sex Ed Road Trip for a little while, but still recuperating.

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It started out fine. On the first day I drove about 16 straight hours to Alabama, rocking out to Jagged Little Pill on repeat. I haven’t listened to that album since I was 11 years old. Listening to it at 29 years old while on a cross country road trip teaching hundreds of people about clitorises was like, “OMG I get it! The feminist angst. The anger. I get it!” in a way that was completely over my head as a kid.

One of the highlights was eating local food. I had sausage gravy and biscuits in Oklahoma, enchiladas and a margarita in Tucson, BBQ ribs and cornbread in Texas, and gumbo and jambalaya in New Orleans. So good.image

Speaking of New Orleans; YES. I’m so going back there on my next vacation. I was dog tired with a pounding headache from all the driving, and I was alone, which sucked, but I dragged my sorry as to a jazz club and sat there by myself listening to live music. I didn’t even know I liked jazz music until I heard it live in New Orleans, and that’s what I love about getting to travel for work, is learning things I didn’t know I didn’t know.

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I also got to visit my dad in Tucson and spend some time with him which was nice. I went to the Grand Canyon. And on days when I was neither driving nor speaking, I laid by the hotel pool and read about clits in preparation for writing my forthcoming book about clits. It was so great to do sex ed for folks all over the country. One group made vulva cupcakes, which was fun. I had one of the best student audiences ever during my stop at Hobard and William Smith Colleges.

Also the tour was lucrative. Since this is my full-time job, that’s important.

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Those were the good things. There were other things that were… less than ideal. We will call them learning opportunities. Things I learned:

1. It takes more than 2 months to plan an event of this size. I didn’t have as many speaking engagements as I wanted, so there were large gaps. This was bad because it meant too much driving in between, days away from home with nothing to do, and paying for extra hotel rooms. The next Sex Ed Road Trip is planned for April, giving me 7 months to market and fill up the dates. Lesson learned.

2. Four weeks is way too long. WAY too long. Two weeks is my limit. It’s my limit for how many days I can go not sleeping in my own bed. It’s my limit for not getting laid. It’s my limit for not being touched in non-sexual ways like having your legs on someone’s lap while you sit on the couch. It’s my limit for having my daily routine thrown off schedule. I don’t like not being able to respond in a timely manner to emails because I’m driving 15 hours a day. I don’t like taking a few days to ship out online orders because I’m in the middle of rural Texas and I have no idea where to find a post office. Two weeks is the limit for now on.

(As such, by the way, my next Sex Ed Road Trip speaking tour is happening along the I-5 corridor from San Diego, CA to Vancouver, BC and back. If you’re along that route and want to bring me to your college or living room for some sex ed, email me at jill@thesexologist.org).

3. Hotels (room door opens to inside corridor) only. No motels (room door opens to the parking lot). Even if it’s 3 times the price. Even if I only plan to rest my head there for a few hours before waking up early and hitting the road again. Long story short, I had a HORRIBLE experience in a motel in rural Oklahoma in which two different men coincidentally and independently of each other banged repeatedly on my door with the side of the fist until I screamed. I ended up fleeing in the middle of the night afraid for my life and drove to Arkansas. One of the men later tracked down my email and emailed me saying he saw my SEX DOC license plate, saw what room I went into, and wanted to “talk”. FML.

4. When speaking at colleges, encourage organizers not to attempt to put butts in seats by requiring fraternities to attend, having professors offer extra credit, and raffling off huge, several hundred dollar cash prizes. That creates a packed audience of people who do not really want to be there and sabotage the experience with all kinds of unpleasant tactics up to an including sexual violence and misogynist jokes in the middle of my presentation. I don’t even want to talk about it. 

5.  Speaking again and again and again on clitoral orgasm during this trip made me realize it’s time to acknowledge the specializations of my skill and interest (namely sex, pleasure, politics, and oppression specifically of the sexual experiences of women). Earlier in my career I thought I had to be able to speak on every single sex topic. Inexperience and financial uncertainty in my young business made it such that I would speak on any sexuality topic anyone asked me to. I thought it would make me seem unqualified if I said no, and I needed the money. But now I know I not only can limit my scope, but that’s it’s best for both me and the students if I do. I’ll enjoy it more. Doing the same workshops I love and am good at over and over will make me better at my craft, which is better for students. Quality over quantity. I feel good about this. The shorter list of topics I now offer for colleges are here.

So that, in a nutshell, was Sex Ed Road Trip. Can’t wait to fix my mistakes and have Sex Ed Road Trip: west coast edition, be even better!

Oct 2
Just a little light reading during lunch to prep for my #birthcoach responsibilities. T minus 26 days! #childbirth #vaginasareAWESOME

Just a little light reading during lunch to prep for my #birthcoach responsibilities. T minus 26 days! #childbirth #vaginasareAWESOME