Blow your mind - Page 2

Soon you can get a Ph.D. in human sexuality in San Francisco

|
(6)

Sex ed was eroded as part of a political backlash. "In the '70s, there began to be a series of moral campaigns — some were directed against abortion ... some were directed against homosexuality," Herdt notes. "When Reagan was elected, it ushered in a whole new social campaign — and for the first time, opposition to sex education and opposition to abortion was joined, and served as a bridge to connect different groups who had previously never been working together: groups that were against gun control, groups that were against abortion rights, and groups that were against homosexuality."

All of which has led to the current state of affairs, and as things stand, "I consider the United States one of the most backward countries when it comes to comprehensive sexual education and positive values regarding sexual behavior," Herdt says. But he's hoping to play a role in changing that.

The Ph.D. program at CIIS seeks to train a new generation of experts in human sexuality with a pair of concentrations. The first centers on clinical practice for contemporary practitioners, marriage and family therapists or psychiatrists. The current training requirement for clinicians on human sexuality is a measly eight hours, which "just shows the disregard that society has for sexual pleasure, and sexual wellbeing and relationship formation, and so on," in Herdt's view.

The second concentration centers on sexual policy leadership. Asked to identify some of the most pressing policy issues of concern to sexologists, the program director said existing gaps in comprehensive sex education is a top priority, and predicted transgender rights would intensify as a major issue. "I also feel that the Republican assault on women's bodies, women's contraceptive and reproductive rights — this is a huge and very dangerous area."

Herdt became involved with CIIS through a conference called Expanding the Circle, which merges the LGBT community with individuals working in higher education from throughout the country. Prior to that, he ran the National Sexuality Resource Center at SF State. Asked why he'd looked to CIIS rather than a major university to house the program, Herdt responded, "these large premier institutions, such as Stanford and Berkeley — you know, they have many, many extremely important programs ... But they do have a more traditional emphasis when it comes to disciplines."

At CIIS, on the other hand, he found openness to the kind of academic program he envisioned. Pepper Schwartz, a professor of sociology at the University of Washington, columnist and author of numerous books on sex, will be a professor there along with Sean Cahill, director of Health Policy Research at The Fenway Institute and co-author of LGBT Youth in America's Schools.

Promoting sexual literacy is just as important of a program goal as influencing policy, Herdt said. "Americans really continue to have very sex-negative attitudes when it comes to the body, the integration of sexuality with all the elements of their lives. So many people feel that sex is fragmented in their lives, and they don't have a holistic sense of wellbeing."

While advancements in neuroscience, psychology and other forms of research have all served to further our understanding of sexuality, Herdt bristles at the idea that it is all hard-wired.

"I'm very much aware that Americans continue to have a view that when it comes to the important things in sexuality, they're all hard-wired in the brain," he says. "I do not agree with that view. I believe that the most important things in human sexuality are the things we learn in society. The values we learn, the ethics, the way we can form relationships. The way we learn to love. Or not to love, to hate. These are such tremendously important issues in human sexuality and human development." He added, "Let's put it in its proper way: It's interactive."

Comments

But you and the SFBG seem to be given the number of articles posted on the subject here.

Posted by Guest on Sep. 24, 2013 @ 3:22 pm

which is natural.

100% of all sex positive people are creepy and weird, their interest in telling you about the ins and outs of their creepy lives is disturbing and weird.

Now make PHD level.

Posted by Matlock on Sep. 24, 2013 @ 4:57 pm

it's hopelessly dated obsession with sex and drugs and rock and roll.

So sixties. So lame. Grow up already.

Posted by Guest on Sep. 24, 2013 @ 5:01 pm

Those three things are probably what keeps the paper afloat so they can ramble about politics.

Posted by Matlock on Sep. 24, 2013 @ 5:23 pm

The PhD program at Widener University, not only focuses on sexuality education, but clinical sexology, as well. As a graduate of the Master of Human Sexuality Education and Master of Social Work programs at Widener University, and a current student in the PhD program in Human Sexuality, I am able to both teach and practice as a clinical social worker, specializing in sexuality; the PhD program has both educational and clinical tracks. Great to hear that another program is starting!

Posted by Amanda on Sep. 30, 2013 @ 12:20 pm

A serious, rigorous research program in human sexuality will make an important contribution to society. It is disappointing that the director of the program has already expressed a bias towards the cultural factors influencing sexuality and against biological processes. Understanding cultural relativism is important is important for putting society's sexual values in perspective, but culture is the tip of the iceberg. The critical mass of human sexual behaviors are non-intuitive from a cultural perspective, and can be understood far better from a biological perspective, in which human behaviors are understood in the context of sexual behaviors not only across cultures but across species.

Posted by Guest on Jan. 18, 2014 @ 10:05 pm

Post new comment

The content of this field is kept private and will not be shown publicly.