Syllabus for Spring 2015
(Fall 2016 syllabus coming soon!)
Welcome to GenSexNYC! We will come together as a group for the first time, review the details of workshop procedures, and negotiate our own safe space contract and terms of language. We will discuss participants’ goals, fears, and hopes for the workshop. Finally, we will discuss the concepts of identity, power, and privilege and think about how we can deconstruct stereotypes and generalizations by exploring our personal experiences.
This meeting will allow each participant to present a body project as a jumping-off point from which to share and explore personal experiences with our bodies: how it feels to be inside our bodies, the different ways we view ourselves and each other, what shapes our self-image, and how this may affect our lives. In the second half of this meeting we will delve into how our own families, communities, cultures, aesthetics and desires influence our concepts of beauty and health, and how this affects self-image. We will respond to the experience of sharing our body projects and continue to explore more deeply how we construct our feelings towards bodies.
How do the terms ‘gender’, ‘biological sex’, and ‘sexuality’ relate (or not)? How does ‘performance’ relate to gender, if at all? How is gender constructed, and how do these processes interact with systems of power and privilege? In this section we will work to understand our gender identities by examining the various ways that we experience them in our daily lives and have experienced them in the past.
As an extension of the previous workshop, we will expand our discussion to include our own sexuality. How have our concepts of sexual identity been shaped by our backgrounds and experiences? What does it mean to be "sexual," and what does this activity entail? What is the role of intimacy in sexuality? Correspondingly, what is the role of sexuality in intimacy, if any?
In this section we will share our personal experiences with our bodies' activities over time. In the past, topics have included: hormonal changes, puberty, menstruation, aging, and arousal.
SEX, SEXUAL EXPRESSION & INTIMACY
Here, we will discuss our personal definitions of “sex” and examine how social, cultural, political, and economic factors can shape our personal definitions of and attitudes about sex. We will examine our own desires, fantasies, and experiences, and will begin to discuss consent and how to communicate more effectively about consensual sexual activity. We will discuss the ways in which we perform our sexualities and explore various models of sexual behavior. We’ll investigate what we have learned to be “normal” sexuality as we discuss pleasure, kink, desire, and intimacy. We will discuss some of the ways in which we experience, discover, seek out or share different kinds of pleasure and talk more about the ways (both explicitly and implicitly) power operates in sex.
MASTURBATION, PLEASURE, EROTIC MEDIA, ORGASM, & SEX TOYS
We will discuss masturbation, sharing personal narratives of experiences with or responses to masturbation. We will examine the links between masturbation and self love, as well as masturbation and orgasm, particularly exploring how culture, biology and childhood/adolescent development of sexuality are involved in the understanding and experience of orgasm. Our speaker will present various sex toys and accessories, and will also offer guidelines for choosing safer sex toys. Following the presentation, we will focus on our individual experiences and impressions as well as potential stigmas and barriers to access.
VIOLATION OF BOUNDARIES
In this class, we will each share a personal story about our experiences with a physical, emotional, verbal, and/or institutional violation. The storytelling will not be limited by time, so this class may run over the 3-hour time slot.
COMMUNICATION & CONSENT
We will discuss sexual boundaries, how we define consent and non-consent, methods of communicating both verbally and non-verbally, the relation between consent, desire and boundaries, some of the difficulties surrounding communication, and the goals of effective communication.
SEXUAL HEALTH & REPRODUCTIVE CHOICES
We will examine the uses and misuses of various safer sex devices and explore options of what safer sex materials are available. We'll discuss the notion of “safer” sex, as well as the risks, symptoms, and stages associated with various sexually transmitted infections. Focus will be on communication regarding sexual activity, protection, and contraception with partners. Several speakers who work in the field of reproductive health will visit to discuss abortion, pregnancy, home and hospital births, adoption, surrogacy, sperm/egg donation, artificial insemination, and more. Discussion will involve the cultural, ethnic, social, religious, and political factors that affect individuals’ reproductive choices. We will delve deeper into personal choices we have made and might want to make with respect to reproduction. We will talk about the factors involved in our choices, be they cultural, ethnic, social, religious, economic or political.
FAMILY & RELATIONSHIP MODELS, INSTITUTIONAL & WORK DYNAMICS
In this section, we will discuss a variety of relationship models, including monogamy, polyamory, multiple fidelity, friendships and many more, as well as the different types and levels as intimacy that we might attribute to different partners/people in our lives. We will continue to discuss trust, communication, and consent as related to relationship models. Participants will be encouraged to consider what is important to them in whatever kinds of relationships they may wish to have. We will later discuss the role of emotions in different relationships, the idea of intimate trade/exchage, and the ways in which larger cultural forces/institutions shape how we think of these topics.
What does it mean to be empowered? What are the various sources of our personal empowerment? We will discuss community building and support, self-esteem, and confidence building, as well as the ways in which our different identities can serve as sources of inspiration and meaning.
In this meeting, each participant will present their final project, a chance to either reflect on personal experiences within the workshop or further explore a topic discussed throughout the season, as well as to grow through creative work. In the past, some of these projects have taken the form of visual art, video, poetry, exploring a new source/form of pleasure, facilitating a difficult conversation, and much, much more! We’ll reflect on the workshop: what have you gotten out of it? Where do you wish to go from here, within your own life and within your communities? We'll fill out workshop evaluations, and participate in some fun final class activities.