Psychological Aspects of Human Sexuality, Class Reflection

by feyruhan
Sexuality confusion

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I expected a woman.  As a professor, that is, for my Psychological Aspects of Human Sexuality class.  My friend, who had taken the class at another college, a large university in fact, had told me exciting tales of learning and enlightenment and surprise, in which the professor was a grandmother who brought the text’s author’s twelve-year-old daughter to class once as part of an oral presentation.

I expected a proud, upfront, female professor who would tell us that we were about to embark on a wonderful journey that some of us may not be interested in, because we were studying the psychological aspects of human sexuality–not anatomy, nor the Kama Sutra.  A few students would leave, and we’d get going.

To be excessively blunt, I expected a white woman—a white woman would have had the socially-granted lee-way to explore and express a curiosity and openness about human sexuality that, I thought, a non-Caucasian woman, or moreover, a non-Caucasian man, would (unfortunately) not be so easily granted.  As it turns out, socially-granted permission be damned.  This professor may actually feel strongly enough about his beliefs about the importance of understanding the psychological aspects of human sexuality to openly explore, express, and teach about it—regardless of or in deliberate opposition to rules and guidelines that (I assume, possibly incorrectly, based on his skin tone and accent) he was raised to follow.  I think I’m going to like this professor.

My professor chose to open class by being fifteen minutes late, no doubt to give us time to think, to speculate, to get (un)comfortable.  Then he came in, closed the door, and sat down on his desk.  He sipped at his bottle of water several times, looking at us intently, and for a while I wasn’t sure if he had a plan. Looking around the room, I saw young men and women in various shades of casual hetero-conformative sex appeal, taking note in particular of the woman with the cowboy boots and cut-off denim skirt two seats to my left.  I reminded myself, I’m taking a psychosexual class at a small community college.  When I looked at the other students, I saw various degrees of blank curiosity, careless sex-appeal-attire, and one older adult (a student) who was probably terrified out of his mind.  I thought to myself, There’s a chance I’m the most sophisticated student in the room.  That discouraged me, for two reasons: I will have no one to sophisti-queer-bond with, and I am not as sophisticated as I would like to be.

After five or ten minutes of silence and staring, the professor gives us The Talk: Welcome to Uncomfortability.  Sexuality is a Beautiful Thing, and Society forces us to Stifle it.  When I stepped into this room, I became a Professor and therefore stopped being a Sexual Being, and you, likewise, became Students and ceased to be Sexual Beings.  Except, we still are.

He goes into this schpiel where, For some of you, your values will be hurt or offended.  For some of you, your morals will be offended.  He didn’t even get to the part about how sometimes sex isn’t about sex–specifically when sex is rape and is actually about power–and already he’s throwing in words like ‘morals’ and ‘values’?  When I hear the word ‘values’ I think of people defending homophobia with the excuse that “It is against God’s law (because the Pope said so)” and people who relate same-sex relationships to mixed-sex relationships in that one must be “the woman” in the relationship and the other must be “the man”.  What I hear, when I hear people use the word “values” and “morals”, is not the differentiation between malevolent and benign—which is my definition of morals and values—but a differentiation between socially acceptable and socially unacceptable to a select group of people, who feel their preference for or dependence on the missionary position constitutes the ruler by which to measure humane morality.  What I hear is, “People in the BDSM community are emotionally disturbed and have freakish personalities,” and “Lesbians hate men, and gays are women,” and “Transgendered people are wrong because God gave them the body they have and changing it is going against Him” (because, let’s face it, when was the last time you bumped into a homophobe who considered God might not be male?).  The people who believe those things, who spread that fear, that hate, that ignorance—those are the people he is talking to, at least that’s how it sounds to me.

My morals, my values, are offended by malicious, informed, premeditated actions such as rape, murder, abuse, neglect, betrayal, and the spreading of bigotry.  I am a bisexual, BDSM-curios, feminist, spiritual, humane, moral person–and I don’t feel that any of those adjectives contradict or negate each other.  I do not steal when I can pay, and I’m not interested in things I can’t pay for; I don’t lie; I don’t cheat; I don’t hurt people on purpose or carelessly, unless if it is by expressing my beliefs, because these are not (just) ‘opinions’.

I believe missionaries are wrong, because I can’t understand the pride of believing one’s religion is so superior as to justify wiping out an aspect of another culture.  I refuse to understand the difference between voting for Prop 8 or its equivalents and promoting the repeal of Roe vs. Wade, because the ability for each of us to live as we choose fit should be protected by law.  As Whoopi Goldberg said (on The View; find the clip on youtube.com), “If you don’t believe in gay marriage, then don’t marry a gay person.”

I ranted to my friend, the one who took a similar class, for about ten minutes straight about the first class: the professor’s choice of terminology—because if this is his chosen field, he has a wide array of terms for all of the things he was saying—how I would’ve used different terms; why (I think) he chose the terms he used; whose sensibilities (I think) he is catering to when he uses the terms that he does; the visible cues as to the sexual (read: sexual orientation and gender orientation) demographics of the class; what kind of semester I expect this to be based on my biased judgment (read: biased assessment) of all of the above.  But it’s been almost a week, and I’ve lost the momentum to write it down with the amount of depth that I used last week.

What I will say is this:  I signed up to learn more about the different aspects of human sexuality than I currently know of.  I signed up to be surprised, and shocked, and occasionally offended by the discovery of some new practice (read: genre of sexuality) that I can’t see myself participating in or have a hard time relating to.  I signed up to have my assumptions challenged. I signed up to meet a few like-minded people—open, curious, inquisitive people—to bond with over the acquiring of new knowledge on a topic we find difficult to properly explore in public (read: the vastness of the spectrum on which human sexuality exists).

In short, I know what I signed up for.  Looking around at the other students, I can’t say with certainty that they do.

3 Comments to “Psychological Aspects of Human Sexuality, Class Reflection”

  1. This is an excellent post about your expectations and biases as much as anything else. I hope this class is what you hoped for. It’s possible that the professor is approaching it in this way because of HIS expectations. If this isn’t the kind of class where you get to speak up much you should definitely try to talk to him one on one. He may be absolutely delighted to discover that he has a student who really does want all of that and who has come into his class with a decent body of knowledge.

    I hope you’ll update us as the semester continues! *misses school*

  2. I agree with D on this one! Considering this is a small community college it’s no wonder that he used the terminology that he did, but one must also consider that was the first day and the first week. The people who signed up for the class with you might not be as aware of themselves and of what they signed up for as you are, that much is probably true. His expectations of the class as a whole may have been what motivated that particular terminology. I am sure that he will be delighted to find out that he has at least one student who is like you and wants all of the things out of the class that you do and whom thinks for herself and is so aware of herself.

    I hope that you get all that you wanted out of this class, and I definitely hope that you will continue to update on this particular class as things progress.

    And, like D, I also miss school. 😦 So, I am being a little selfish with this, as I hope to live vicariously through you for a bit via these posts! :p

    Good job, Fey!

  3. That professor had better watch out for you; you are going to be such a thorn in his side! This is not just a reflection to your class, though. This goes way broader. Great job on this piece!

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