Joanna Schroeder thinks education should include more talk about sexuality, but wonders if some of these courses take things a bit too far.
The website Online College Courses recently released a list of the 10 Most Controversial College Courses On Human Sexuality and it’s really making me wonder if I should’ve waited a decade or more to attend University.
That’s not to say my education was prudish. Before transferring to UCLA, I attended Hampshire College as a fight-the-system feminist straight out of high school, a college known for students calling profs by their first name, female topless football games in the quad (complete with hairy armpits and patchouli), and unusual courses such as Woman On Top?, From Tags to Murals, and Politics of Abortion Debate.
Some of the courses on the Online College Course’s list sound amazing, like this one at UC Santa Barbara:
Dubbed simply “Porn 101,” the controversial film studies class taught by one of Rolling Stone’s eight most dangerous minds, Constance Penley has found itself on the receiving end of ire from the likes of Santa Barbara County Citizens Against Pornography and Pat Robertson. Penly considers adult films a legitimate genre, one which undoubtedly left (and continues to leave) a significant mark on American culture. Critics of the class paint it as a celebration of porn even though the professor says she genuinely wishes to challenge students to ponder porno’s overall sociological and artistic impact.
Others, like this one at Western Nevada College simply sound like an excuse for some weirdo to perv out on young people’s sexual experiences, though apparently they investigated and learned that he never actually read the students’ journals:
Professor Tom Kubisant’s human sexuality class at Western Nevada College asked participants to maintain journals about their own personal sexual activities and growth during the semester, including masturbation rituals. Those weirded out by the idea could take on an alternative assignment reflecting on why they found discussing their private life uncomfortable with no negative impact on their grade whatsoever.
Ultimately, I think it’s cool that we’re talking about sex, pornography, and gender in college. I firmly believe that our society’s fear of sexuality creates a dangerous environment where women feel oppressed and afraid and both men and women are damaged by that fear, and by the antiquated notions that sexual abuse and violence only happen to women. We desperately need to change up our dialogue around sex, and maybe these college courses can help.
The course I think every single college should be teaching? The Ins and Outs of Enthusiastic Consent or How Sex Can Be More Fun For Everyone—and I elect our own Emily Heist Moss and Julie Gillis to design the curriculum!
Photo Courtesy of Ambuj Saxena