I attended a sex education training, meant for people who work with you in sex education settings. Since it’s something that I hope to actually do some day, I thought it would educational to attend. Overall, it was a well put-together training and the facilitators were awesome.
Being in an open relationship, though, definitely gave me some extra food for thought during the training. On the evaluations, for example, I wrote that it would be positive to me to hear about how to address relationship diversity in sex education. It was so interesting because the next day, one of the facilitators reviewing the evaluations from the day before said “Oh yes, well we will be discussing that today.” But what she thought of when she read “relationship diversity” on my evaluation was LGBTQ relationships. So I clarified my point again on the second day’s evaluation. Hopefully they understood the second time when I mentioned I meant it in relation to monogamous and nonmonogamous relationships. Just doing my part to spread awareness. One sex ed training evaluation at a time.
Another interesting point during the training was a discussion about sexualization. We completed an activity where we identified behaviors or ideas with the so-called five parts of sexuality (sexual identity-composed of sexual orientation, gender identity, and gender role; sexualization; sexual and reproductive health; sensuality; and intimacy… I don’t particularly like this model because it doesn’t mention relationship orientation and because it seems a little too simplistic to me… like it doesn’t mention at all other factors that might make up your overall sense of sexuality such as religious, political, and family influences or past experiences of sexuality). The behaviors and ideas and things that people pinned to sexualization were things like strip clubs and porn- things that I could tell the group thought were inherently degrading or bad in some way. I myself had associated one behavior with sexualization, but didn’t see it as bad- fantasizing about someone you know. There is no harm, to me, in doing this. Sexualizing something or someone is not morally bad. It’s a normal behavior, and I know I sexualize a lot of thins and people I encounter every day (and I’m pretty sure I’m normal?!). Talking to J made me realize that the difference is really between sexualization and objectification. Sexualization can have both positive and negative consequences. It can be integrated into masturbation or sex with partner(s). It’s also a normal desire to want to be sexualized by partner(s) or others. To me, sexualization is related to the feeling of desire and feeling desired. Objectification has terrible consequences for everyone, reducing whole people to body parts and influences sexual violence. Word. The question then becomes: do things like strip clubs and porn sexualize or objectify? I think the answer truly depends on the environment and other factors at play. It’s complicated, yeah?