1. How do you see yourself as a catalyst for change?
My mission as a sexuality educator has been simple: to equip people with the information, skills and tools they need to make their own decisions, within their own value system, about sexuality-related matters. A major message I try to convey is that to be sexual is healthy and natural – something so many in our society still don’t grasp or support. I stand on the shoulders of giants in the field of comprehensive sexuality education, continuing their work to change the way we handle sexuality in our society, e.g., making it less taboo and shameful. This has included taking on efforts that others wouldn’t dare touch, like penning a sex column for Foxnews.com and getting behind my own line of sexual enhancement products.
2. Who or what was a catalyst for you?
When I moved to the States (from Iceland) at 10-years-old, I recognized the mishandling of sexuality matters almost immediately. As the first girl in my class hit puberty, I received lots of unwanted attention and felt scrutinized by peers’ parents, fearful that their child was next. In 6th grade, I was given the opportunity, for a class project, to give a 5-minute presentation on the female reproductive system, conception and menstruation. As I spoke, using a model of the female reproductive system made out of junk, my classmates’ eyes were the size of saucers. I realized that I was comfortable with something many aren’t. Never having heard of Dr. Ruth or the field of sexuality education, I knew that teaching others about sex was something I had to do more of as an adult.
3. What do you feel are some of the biggest challenges or concerns facing us in the field of sexuality right now?
In a nutshell: Far Right conservatives are still enemy #1 when it comes to any sex ed and sexual and reproductive health efforts, including funding for such. What we saw take place last election year highlights the fact that women are still considered second class citizens in this country, which is very related to a lot of the issues that sexuality educators take on daily.
4. What do you feel are some of the most important/valuable positive changes that have been made in the world of sexuality in the past year?
Sexual wellness products have become less taboo in the marketplace, with more stores recognizing that they need to carry certain products in enabling customers to take care of their sexual and reproductive health. The sexual wellness industry is booming more than ever, and will only get bigger, enabling us to educate more people, who otherwise wouldn’t get information, about healthy sexuality.
5. Why do you feel it is important to bring this topic The Hijacking of Healthy Sexuality to CatalystCon East?
I pitched the “Hijacking of Healthy Sexuality” topic because I’ve been concerned about who has had the mic (in the media) in steering conversations around sexuality. Often, there’s a personal agenda, e.g., self-promotion, or a business one, e.g., the pharmaceutical and porn industries standing to make tons of money, with the information that’s disseminated often misguided, based on personal values vs. facts, and/or incomplete. While people have greater access to sexuality resources than ever, a number of those resources are problematic, e.g., people with zero creds in sex ed. People, especially parents, need better guidance when it comes to scrutinizing their resources and learning how to communicate their values about healthy sexuality to their families.
6. Share one unknown (or little known) fact about yourself.
For as public as I’ve been in my sexuality education efforts, I’m a very private person (it’s the Icelander in me).
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