Tuesday, June 22, 2004

kinsey questions

i have been shocked over the last week by the lack of sexual diversity knowledge of sexuality professionals.

first, at the society for the scientific study of sexuality conference, i attend the sexual attitude reassessment. now, traditionally, a sar is two days of very intense hard-core extreme pornography that challenges you and expands your awareness of the breadth of human sexuality. however, this time, it has been reformatted for the medical students who were getting offended. now its a two day sexual diversity workshop driving home the basics of the separation of gender identity, sexual orientation, and sexual behavior, and yes, old, fat, and differently-abled people have sex. i was not impressed or challenged, the only shocking thing was the resistance several sexual therapists and educators/researchers in the room had towards some of these very basic concepts ("but if a man is having sex with both men and women, then he is bisexual!"). then, during one of the plenaries on living transgender in america, someone actually raised their hand and commented "but none of you are talking about sexual orientation as if gender and sexual orientation were two separate things".

but the biggest shock of the conference came when i was talking with a older returning student. we were comparing our sar experiences (he had taken a sar a decade prior). we were debating the purpose of a sar and i was explaining that especially professionals who worked one-on-one with clients needed to be aware of sexual diversity so the first time a client says, "oh i like scat play" "what's that?" "you know, i like to play with my partners shit" they don't go "ewww" or run screaming or even grimace because so much as a stiffening of body language can compromise the safe space of the client-professional relationship and trust.
"so, what do you do?"
*amongst other things, i teach sex ed with gmhc.
"gmhc, what's that?"
*gay mens health crisis.
"but why would they have a woman teaching gay men?!?"
*(a little shocked at this point but take a breath and go into the shpeal about serving men, women, and children of all sexual identities) plus i do community education so i'm going out into the city as a rep of gmhc teaching hiv 101, safer sex, and sexual diversity.
"sexual diversity? wait, but you're not GAY, are you?!?!"

jesus christ. now, i'm prepared for this at every other time and moment of my life, but these conferences are a chance to relax among other sex people who (i assume) have a certain knowledge, tact, and openness with sexuality. so did a little education.

*yes, i am a dyke.
"but you really turn me on"
"was it wrong of me to ask?"
*well, you can ask, but the are different techniques of asking that might have been more appropriate. for example, the kinsey technique assumes the positive. he asks "how many times a week do you masturbate?" not "you don't MASTURBATE, do you?". so it might of been more appropriate to ask "how do you identify?".

he paused and really seemed to be thinking.
"oh, i guess that did come off like a bad thing."
and he thanked me for my time and for talking with him. great, but exhausting.

then, at a health fair on saturday, i got a free hiv test. i was excited because it was the first time i had ever taken a rapid test (negative, wa hoo). but the outreach worker (who wasn't a nurse or anything and you can give rapid tests with some basic training so i'm totally going to get certified) needed to be schooled in the kinsey technique as well. she gave me a big folder of papers, some of which i was supposed to fill out with her, others to fill out myself. got a little confused and filled one of the share forms out myself. so, we were going over it and her eyes got really big.
"dear, you have checked male and female partners here. you do realize we mean sexual partners?"
"sweetie, you've checked multiple partners here. do you know what that means? well how many partners have you had in the last three months? (um, i don't know, maybe 12 or 15) well..."
"dear, you've checked commercial sex work here. do you know what that means? uh huh, so why don't you tell me what it is."
"you don't do any drugs, right."
"and we can mark that there's no chance of pregnancy" etc etc.
i was shocked. i might begin doing outreach with their organization, if anything to provide a little training and perspective for their other outreach workers.

so god bless kinsey, and goodnight.