EDFD 2644 MSU Postmodern Feminist Approach Article Summary Paper

User Generated



EDFD 2644

Montclair State University



This page contains links to texts, podcasts, websites and films.  Each item is a separate Optional Assignment. For each item you should write words in which you summarize of the content, explain what it added to your understanding of the issue, and mention what questions you had about the piece (things you found hard to understand or disagreements you had).

Unformatted Attachment Preview

A Postmodern Feminist Approach to Teaching Human Sexuality Author(s): Kristine M. Baber and Colleen I. Murray Source: Family Relations, Vol. 50, No. 1 (Jan., 2001), pp. 23-33 Published by: National Council on Family Relations Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/585771 . Accessed: 07/09/2011 18:53 Your use of the JSTOR archive indicates your acceptance of the Terms & Conditions of Use, available at . http://www.jstor.org/page/info/about/policies/terms.jsp JSTOR is a not-for-profit service that helps scholars, researchers, and students discover, use, and build upon a wide range of content in a trusted digital archive. We use information technology and tools to increase productivity and facilitate new forms of scholarship. For more information about JSTOR, please contact support@jstor.org. National Council on Family Relations is collaborating with JSTOR to digitize, preserve and extend access to Family Relations. http://www.jstor.org A PostmodernFeminist Approachto Teaching Human Sexuality Kristine M. Baber* and Colleen I. Murray Postmodernfeminist theoryprovides a valuableperspectivefor designingand teachinghumansexualitycourses. The utilityof this approach is explainedand strategiesfor helping studentsunderstanda constructivistframeworkpresented.The theory is put into to a strengthsapproach,(b) provideinformation action,and thefollowing coursegoals are addressed:(a) shiftfrom a problem-oriented and skills that are relevantand useful,(c) expandstudents'thinkingaboutdiversity,and (d) help studentsmaximizetheir own sexual healthand minimizeexploitationof themselvesand others.Thearticleconcludeswitha discussionof pedagogicaland ethicalchallenges of teachingfrom a postmodernfeministperspective. eaching a course in human sexuality can be exciting and gratifying, not only because such a course provides students with knowledge and skills they may use in working with others professionally, but also because it gives them information they can use in their personal lives. In addition, it provides an opportunityto help students develop critical thinking skills. The subject matter is inherently interesting to students, and they are generally eager to gain new knowledge and to correct misinformation.Teachinghuman sexuality also presentseducators with unique personal and professional challenges. Many issues are controversial or potentially traumaticfor certain students, students' comfort level with sexual materialmay be low, and research on critical topics may be nonexistent or may take a problem-orientedapproachthat ignores pleasure and desire. According to a recent assessment by the Social Science Research Council, sexuality researchis fragmented,and much of it "focuses on sexuality as representedby risk behaviors . . . sexuality is negatively viewed as the source of problemsand disease ratherthan an integral part of human development and health" (di Mauro, 1997, p. 3). In addition, our understandingof human sexuality lacks a strong, useful theoreticalfoundation,and there are conflicting views aboutwhat should be taughtand how topics should be addressed. Weis (1998), writing in a special issue of The Journal of Sex Research devoted to theory in sexuality research, noted the need "to reduce the disengagement" (p. 110) between theory and sexuality education as well. In this article, we suggest a postmodern feminist approach to teaching about human sexuality thatis theory driven,challenges existing knowledge about normal sexuality, acknowledges the role of power and privilege in sexual experiences, and encourages an activist approach. We take the position that groundingourselves in an explicit theoretical frameworkas we teach about sexuality will result in a more effective experience for students. When our teaching is clearly guided by theory, we are more likely to think about what we are doing, why we are doing it, and the best way to accomplish our goals. The feminist approachwe presentincludes selfT *Address correspondenceto: Kristine M. Baber,Departmentof Family Studies, Universityof New Hampshire,PetteeHall, Durham,NH 03824; e-mail:kmbaber@christa.unh.edu Key Words: ethical issues, human sexuality, pedagogy (Family Relations, 2001, 50, 23-33) 2001, Vol. 50, No. 1 theory, postmodern feminism. reflexivity-the examinationof one's own attitudes,beliefs, and practices-as a critical component and encourages careful considerationof course process as well as outcomes. In this article, we first discuss the postmodernfeminist perspective we use and present strategies for exposing students to a constructivistframeworkfor thinkingabout sexuality. We then suggest ways to put the theory into action and addressour goals for the course, which include: (a) developing a strengths approach that challenges the dominant problem-orientedteaching of sexuality, (b) providinginformationand skills that arerelevant and useful, (c) demonstratingthe diversity among people in their sexual experiences, and (d) helping studentstake action to maximize their own sexual health and satisfaction and minimize the sexual exploitation of themselves and others. We conclude the article by exploring some of the pedagogical challenges and ethical issues involved in teaching human sexuality from a feminist perspective, including providing a safe learning environment, dealing with resistance, and the use of self and self-disclosure. Specific suggestions for classroom practice are integrated throughout the text, and the appendix provides detailed information about several activities that demonstrateour theoretical approach. Our Postmodern Feminist Perspective We present a postmodern feminist perspective as a useful frameworkfor structuringsexuality courses and informing pedagogical practice. Such an approachencourages a careful consideration of taken-for-grantedinformation;helps students understandtheir experiences, even if they are contradictoryor incoherent (Weedon, 1987); and is committed to providing information that will be personally and professionally useful to students.Although there are differentconceptualizationsof postmodern feminism, there are common underlying assumptions. Postmoderntheorists take the position that all theory is socially constructedand reject the claim of moderniststhat only rational, abstract thought and scientific methodology can lead to valid knowledge (Hekman, 1990; White & Mason, 1999). Postmodernistspropose that there are many ways of knowing, and knowledge claims are seen as partial, fragmented, and incomplete (Flax, 1990). A postmodernapproachstresses the importanceof historical context, variationsamong people, and the expectation of change over time. Postmodernism provides a sophisticated and persuasive critique of essentialism-rejecting the reduction23 0Z 0 - 0 ism and naive dualismthatresultin dichotomous,either-orthinking and embracingambivalence,paradox,and heterogeneity(Baber & Allen, 1992; Fraser & Nicholson, 1990). Feminism, with its focus on gender and attentionto power, adds to a postmodern perspectivethe social critiqueand the imperativefor action. Such a strategy seeks to address the invisibility and distortion of knowledge about oppressed groups and attemptsto produce information that frees individuals to move toward their potential (Lather, 1991). The blending of postmodernism and feminism results in a richer, more layered analysis of social experiences and institutionsthat informs strategiesfor action (Fraser& Nicholson, 1990). A postmodernfeminist approachto sexuality conceptualizes it as complex and fluid. Unitary,monolithic theories of sexuality are rejected, and contradictory representationsof experiences and desire are accommodated(Ussher, 1994). Ratherthan seeing sexuality as a purely naturalphenomenoncharacterizedby fixed, inherentdrives that are essentially differentfor men and women, sexuality is seen to be constructed in relation to, and in interaction with, historically and culturally variable social practices like religion, education, and medicine (J. Harding, 1998). Conceptualizationsof sexuality are believed to reflect social relations regardinggender, ethnicity, and class and to be culturallymanaged throughthe ways we talk, think, and practice. As a result, some sexual experiences, beliefs, and practices are legitimized and others are denigratedor remain hidden (J. Harding, 1998). The postmodernfeminist push to acknowledge within-groupdiversity and to consider the experiences of those whose sexuality has been ignored or misrepresentedleads us to seek out more inclusive informationand to bring in the voices of those in marginal groups whenever possible. This attention to diversity and acknowledgment of the multiplicity of experiences and understandings leads us to use the concept of sexualities ratherthan "sexuality" (Baber & Allen, 1992; Daniluk, 1998). A pluralist approachdoes not mean total relativism, however. We are not advocating taking a value-free position, where anythinggoes and where all sexual experiences and activities are acceptable. A frequent criticism of postmodern theories is that such approaches risk sliding into a relativism that accepts all claims to truthas having equal validity. We take the position that all truthclaims do not carry the same justificatoryforce (Baber & Allen, 1992) and assert that we can use critical reflectionand rational argumentto illuminate problems in social relations and identify inaccuracies in opposing perspectives (Hawkesworth, 1989). For example, although we may take a position that acknowledges pluralism, we would oppose adults' having sexual contact with childreneven if children "consent." Those teaching human sexuality courses can refer back to some of their own underlyingbeliefs about sexuality to facilitate a discussion about how we can avoid a slide into relativism when we adopt the pluralismof a postmodernstance. Our intention is to provide students with a repertoire of skills and informationto assist them in constructinga dynamic understandingof human sexualities that can benefit themselves, their partners,and those with whom they work professionally. We hope to sensitize students to the ways in which power relationships and prevailing societal discourses regarding sexuality continue to oppress women and some men. We also want to encourage optimism so that students can feel confident developing strategiesand taking action to maximize sexual health and pleasure while minimizing risk. We are not proposing that the frameworkpresentedhere is the only way to achieve these goals, 24 nor do we believe that a postmodern feminist perspective has any particularclaim to the pedagogical strategies we use. We present our ideas as a cohesive, theory-basedapproachto teaching human sexuality. By exposing students to a constructivist approach that assumes sexuality is shaped through the values, beliefs, and politics of our culture (Gannon, 1994), we believe we can help them to develop a frameworkfor organizing their thinking and integratingthe material they will consider during the semester. Using a Constructivist Approach Our postmodern feminism is a constructivist perspective. This means that we reject essentialist assumptionsaboutthe naturalness of sexuality; rather, we see sexuality as constructed through a complex scripting process influenced by various historically and culturallydeterminedfactors (Gagnon, 1990; Gagnon & Simon, 1973; Laumann& Gagnon, 1995; Laws, 1980). There is a physiology of sexuality and arousal,but the meaning associated with aspects such as desire, objects of desire, and the interpretationof sexual experiences is substantially shaped by culture (Dworkin, 1987; Gagnon, 1990; MacKinnon,1987a) and experience. Such an approach defines sexuality beyond intercourse and involves elements of biology, individual characteristics, and social influences. For example, when teaching sexualities from a feminist constructivistperspective, one would introduce Masters and Johnson's (1966) work, which identified similar patternsof sexual arousal for men and women, but one might use their work merely as a springboardto questions about whether "objective" measures of arousal, such as vaginal lubrication, are more accuratethan self-reports(MacKinnon,1987b). Class discussion might entail questions such as "Could experience result in women disidentifying with their bodies' conditioned responses?" From this constructivistperspective, sexuality is viewed as a process, episodic ratherthan continuous,and profoundlyinfluenced by the currentenvironmentand social prescriptions.Thus, sexualities cannot be understoodwithout contextual grounding, and relationshipscannot change without an analysis of the current environmentin which they occur,including an investigation of the effects of prevailing power dynamics. A constructivist approachdoes not assume uniformity and thereforecan accommodate complexity within a culture, across cultures, and over time (DeLamater& Hyde, 1998). Postmodernism is also deconstructive. The deconstructive aspect of a postmodernapproachserves as a tool to examine the way language operates to create oppositions and hierarchies (Hare-Mustin& Marecek, 1990). Deconstructinginvolves a critical analysis of concepts, categories, and metaphors;the process includes challenging taken-for-grantedassumptions, examining how power functions as a regulatorymechanism, and considering what is included in traditionalpresentationsof information as well as what is left out (J. Harding, 1998; Tiefer, 1995). Deconstruction can be more challenging for students to grasp than the constructivistaspect of postmoderntheory, but it is a very powerful tool once its utility is accepted. The concepts of sex, sexual consent, and sexual orientationprovide examples for facilitating students' understandingof deconstruction.Most students come into class with the unexamined assumptionthat there are two sexes, female and male, and an implicit belief that men are, at least in some ways, superior.Introducingthe concept of transgenderthroughreadings (e.g., Feinberg, 1996; Mackenzie, 1994; Rothblatt, 1995) or guest speakerswho are transgenFamily Relations dered or transsexualpushes studentsto deconstructthe concepts sex and gender and helps them to understandthe ways in which prevailing categories of knowledge are socially constructed.Students also often assume that there is a general understandingof the concept of sexual consent. Readings such as Muehlenhard (1996) on the complexities of sexual consent and Gavey (1993) on the effects of heterosexual coercion can help studentsto deconstructcommon assumptions. Similarly, students are now used to thinking about sexual orientation as including three options-heterosexual, homosexual, or bisexual. The introduction of Klein's (1990) grid approach, which takes into consideration sexual attraction,sexual fantasies, emotional preference, social preference, self-identification, and lifestyle as well as sexual behavior,encourages students to deconstruct concepts such as sexual orientation and challenges simplistic, unexamined assumptions about their own and others' sexuality. The Klein model is particularlyuseful in this regard because it also includes a time component, which introducesthe possibility of change in sexual orientation-a notion that studentsmay not have formally considered,but one that appearsto be consistent with many individuals' lived experiences. This example also provides an opportunityto deconstruct constructivism through a consideration of how Klein's model continues to rely on dualism. It can be arguedthat this model is merely composed of multiple variables, each with its own dichotomy and with no allowance for asexual behavior,autoerotic behavior, desire primarily with a transgenderedperson (which may not be adequately addressed by "my gender" or "other gender"), desire that is primarilyexperienced in relationshipto a range of objects or animals, or desire that is of a spiritual nature. More advanced students can be exposed to challenging deconstructivist articles like Linda Nicholson's (1995) "Interpreting Gender," Steven Seidman's (1995) "DeconstructingQueer Theory; or, the Under-theorizationof the Social and the Ethical," or Deborah Steams's (1995) "GenderedSexuality:The Privileging of Sex and Gender in Sexual Orientation."Nicholson suggests that a feminist deconstructiveanalysis of gender does not necessarily mean abandoningthe idea of gender, but ratherdetermining the historical baggage the term carries with it and redeploying the concept. She urges readers to see the "meaning given to the body and how this meaning is related to the male/ female distinction as historically variable" (Nicholson, 1995, p. 11). Just as Nicholson examines the male-female opposition, Seidman focuses on the heterosexual-homosexualdistinction. Seidman takes the position that queer theory and politics mobilize against all normalizedhierarchiesand challenge the notion of any unitary, common sexual identity among either homosexuals or heterosexuals. His article deconstructsthe heterosexualhomosexual opposition that supports a heteronormativityand urges a rethinking of heterosexuality-homosexualityas master categories of desire, identity, and social life. Steams goes even further,questioning why sex and gender are assumed to be the most importantcategories for understandingsexual orientation and pushing readersto reconsiderhow we constructour thinking about sexual orientations. Postmodern feminism, therefore, is a perspective that can provide a framework for helping students explore and critique informationthat has been seen as fundamentalto an understanding of sexuality in contemporarysociety. Concepts such as sexual scriptsprovide an easily accessible way for studentsto grasp some of the basic ideas about constructivism and to begin to 2001, Vol. 50, No. 1 understandhow one might think about sexualities as socially constructed. Sexual scripts. The term sexual scripts refers to the "repertoire of acts and statusesthat are recognized by a social group, together with the rules, expectations, and sanctions governing these acts and sanctions" (Laws & Schwartz, 1977, p. 2). As part of a lifelong process, individuals develop a frameworkthat guides their sexual beliefs, desires, and behaviors (Laumann& Gagnon, 1995). This frameworkis constructedas an individual reflects upon sexual instructionsembedded in culturaldiscourse and his or her own sexual interests and experiences. The resulting script is a meaningful system of ideas that prescribes with whom one should have sexual activity, when and where sexual activity should occur, what types of activities are appropriate, and acceptablereasons for participating(or not participating)in such activity. Sexual scripts include a subtext about the process of sexual activity-who should initiate, what is appropriatecommunication around sexual activity, and how power can be used. Opportunity,socialization, and interpretationcontributeto one's sexual self-construction(Blumstein & Schwartz, 1990), and like sexualities, the content of sexual scripts may evolve in relation to context and experience. Sexual scripts are not only the intrapsychic cognitive constructionsof the individual; they also organize the mutually shared conventions that allow two or more individuals to participatein complex acts, such as sexual activities, that requiremutual dependence (Gagnon, 1990; Gagnon & Simon, 1973). There are normative sexual scripts that guide the ways men and women are socialized in regard to sexuality, but each individual also develops a personal sexual script as the result of particularexperiences, education, and exposures that is a variation of the more general social script. Students have little difficulty using the concept of sexual scripts to help organize their thinking about how messages from parents, teachers, media, friends, partners,and social institutionshave influenced the way they have come to think about themselves as sexual beings and to make choices about partnersand sexual practices. A classroom exercise that identifies the prevailing sexual scripts for women and men demonstratesexplicit differencesbetween the two and allows for discussion of variationsthat occur as individuals construct their personal sexual scripts. For example, two women may sharemany characteristicsregardingthe who, when, where, and why of sexual activity, but they may have very differentpreferencesregardingthe sexual practicesin which they would participate.Studentshave also alluded to regional differences in the "socially appropriate"orderingof sexual behaviors.For example, the intimacy level accordedto oralgenital sexual activity may differ by geographic region, as reflected in its expected order in relation to timing of sexual intercourse.Sexual scripts may also vary in response to the social messages received by those of different ethnicities or different sexual orientations. Rust's (1996) cross-culturalresearch with Latina, Asian American, and African American lesbians and bisexual women provides a useful example. Once students see the possibility of deconstructingsexual scripts (including their own) and reconstructingthem in a manner that more closely reflects their life experiences and desires, the dynamic power of these concepts becomes clear.A constructivist approachassumes that there are a variety of forces shaping sexualities in our society and that they do not operate in a random manner.Perhapseven more important,a constructivistapproach accepts that change is possible and that sexual scripts, 25 for example, can be rewritten. This postmodem perspective opens the door to a system of possibilities (Hare-Mustin& Marecek, 1990) whereby, througha rethinkingof values, social influences, and behaviors, students can, to some extent, become creators of their own sexuality. This understandingcan provide the foundation for the work that will be done in the class and the rationalefor the assignments, activities, and choice of readings. Examples of activities that can be used to help students think about the construction,deconstruction,and reconstruction of sexual scripts are included in the Appendix. Social discourse and sexual scripts. Sexual scripts are constructedin response to, and in interactionwith, social discourse about sexuality. Discourse refers to an interrelatedsystem of statements, terms, categories, and beliefs that cohere around common meanings and values (Gavey, 1993; Scott, 1994). So although most people have the capability to gain pleasure throughphysical contact, their experiences and interpretationsof sexuality are constrainedby available sexual discourse (Choi & Nicolson, 1994). For example, women (and men) develop an understandingof how women are supposed to act, think, and feel about sexuality through informationthey receive from parents, friends, partners,teachers, the media, religion, and public policies. The dominantdiscourse is historicallyand socially constructed in response to prevailing power and practices and is expressed in social institutions, laws, and modes of thought in such a way as to serve the interestsof those with the most power. Discourse analysis in class and throughcourse assignments can be used to sensitize students to the ways in which sexual scripts are shapedby social messages. (See example of discourse analysis activity in the Appendix.) Discourse analysis involves investigating the ways in which ideas, beliefs, and knowledge are socially constructedand includes a considerationof what gets said and who says it (J. Harding, 1998). The classic article by Michelle Fine (1988) on prevailing discourses of female sexuality provides an easily accessible introductionto this material. In this article, Fine identifies four prevailing discourses about women's sexuality: sexuality as violence, sexuality as victimization, sexuality as individualmorality,and a discourseof desire. Research articles that analyze the ways popular magazines, advertisements,and romance novels depict cultural scriptsregarding sexuality (e.g., Carpenter,1998; Christian-Smith,1998) provide other foundations for activities to encourage students' deconstructionof culturaldiscourse. Through class discussion, students can explore how sexual discoursereflects and reinforcesexisting social arrangementsthat become institutionalizedand thereforeseem normal and natural, whereas alternativescriptsare denied and devaluedin an attempt to keep them from being perceived as options (Laws & Schwartz, 1977). Ideas can be generatedabouthow we can challenge the prevailing discourses, address oppression, and correct the invisibility and distortionof the experiences of marginalized groups (Lather,1991). Studentsin privileged groupsmay be sensitized to the destructive effects power inequities and exploitation can have on desire and intimacy. It is important,however, to balance this type of informationwith an approachthat is positive and that encourages students to be optimistic and hopeful about their ability to have satisfying sexual relationships. Developing a Strengths Approach One of the challenges we face in teaching human sexuality is developing ways to avoid a problem-orientedapproach.This is not an easy task because the prevailing discourse on sexuality, 26 particularlyabout female and adolescent sexuality, is dominated by problems-unplanned pregnancies, sexually transmittedinfections, sexual dysfunction, sexual exploitation, the HIV epidemic, and the decline of sexual interest and activity with aging (di Mauro, 1997; Murray& Leigh, 1995). Sexual pleasure and desire receive limited attention in most human sexuality texts and journal articles (Fine, 1988; Tolman, 1991, 1994). This phenomenon is undoubtedly a by-product of societal ambivalence about our sexuality and of a heritagethat equates sexual pleasure with illicit and unspeakable(in that we feel as though we cannot talk about them) activities. In addition, there are few forums where sexuality can be discussed and factual, timely information shared in a context that values nonexploitative sexuality as a pleasurableaspect of being human. A college-level human sexuality course offers such a forum to students,often for the first time in their lives. Studentseasily relate to the lack of positive informationabout sexuality and are generally enthusiastic about countering a problems approach with discussion of pleasure, desire, and knowledge that can help them and their partnershave more satisfying sexual experiences. In addition, such a course accommodates emerging values and experiences, such as the increasedpopularityof celibacy by students who view it as "smart" and divorce it from a moral position. As is the case with all courses, human sexuality classes can be structuredso that they silence studentsand precludequestions or so that they encourage discussion, contradiction,challenge, and interaction.Feminist approachesto class process are characterizedby four analytic themes that supportsuch experiences: mastery, voice, authority,and positionality (Maher & Tetreault, 1994). These themes are woven throughoutour courses and influence our thinkingabout effective ways to teach sexuality.Materials and information are used in feminist classrooms to encourage studentsto make increasinglycomplex connections and interpretationsof discourse, not to silence and master students or to push them to seek definitive conclusions. Voice refers to an awakening of a student'sown responses and utilizes relevant personal experience to foster a narrativeof the student'semerging self. There is acceptanceof students'own stories within context, without the assumption of universality.The theme of authority refers to the teacher's authorityused to make choices in relation to knowledge ratherthan to representknowledge. The focus is on studentquestions, and insights are motivatednot only by rational curiosity, but also by other states of mind. Positionality reflects the acceptance of various types of knowledge as valid when the knower's specific position (i.e., gender, race, class, and other socially significant constructs) is contextually considered. Learningin feminist classrooms proceeds partiallyfrom informationpresented,but also from the questions of the students themselves and from the everyday experiences of other ordinary people. This approachencourages studentsto gain an education relevant to their concerns, to create meaning, and to find their own voices in relationto the material(Litner,Rossiter,& Taylor, 1992; Maher & Tetreault,1994). As such, the course integrates student contributionsinto the subject matter,and the end result differs for each course dependingupon the studentsin the class. Therefore,knowledge in a feminist classroom is constructedout of the coming togetherof differentperspectives,ratherthanfrom a single theory, truth,or way of thinking. Family Relations A keystone of a feminist postmodernperspective is the rejection of a unitary truth or knowledge. Such an assumption encourages us to promote actively a pluralistapproachto human sexuality. We reject the ideas, for example, of "a" female sexuality or of a single, common homosexual identity. Our goal is to help students deconstructsuch categories and become aware of the tremendous differences among individuals, for example, differences in women's sexual interests and experiences or variations between and among lesbians and gay men in their desires and relationships. (See the Appendix for suggestions regarding panels.) A focus on diversity can also effectively orient studentsto issues and informationabout groups, such as those with disabilities or the elderly, who are sometimes overlooked in human sexuality courses. In addition to broadening students' grasp of sexuality as a body of knowledge, focusing on diversity also helps preparethose who may work with special populations.Articles such as Patti's (1995) on sexual expression in those with mental retardationor Kupper's (1995) on sexuality education with youth who are disabled can stimulatediscussion about sexual rights, consent, legal issues, and a strengths-basedapproach to sexuality for individuals with special needs. Readings about older adults and sexuality address misconceptions and support the idea of sexual scripting as a dynamic process that continues over the life span for many individuals.The importanceof looking at within-groupvariabilitycan be stressed with articles such as Call, Sprecher,and Schwartz's (1995) on the incidence and frequency of maritalsexual activity, which underscoresthe problem of using mean levels of activities to understandsexuality among older adults. A feminist classroom achieves interactive participation "throughthe principles of openness, promotionof equality,trust building, and respect for differences" (Currie, 1992, p. 343). If such an environmentis achieved, it should reduce the alienation of students whose values or experiences differ from those of other class members. Ironically, a human sexuality course groundedin a postmodernfeminist approachmay be better suited than other teaching styles to prepare students who come to class presenting conservative religious values. An environment of trust-buildingand respect for differences can provide these students with a sense of security that encourages them to voice their beliefs rather than feeling silenced or ostracized, as they might in a classroom operating more hierarchically.A climate of equality may lessen the need to rely on references to higher powers or authority. Another group of students who often seek the opportunity to gain an educationrelevant to their life experiences are returning or nontraditional-agestudents. Returning students often indicate that they are grapplingwith their own children'ssexuality issues. These students may initially be seeking factual material to take home but may later find that they have benefited from the pedagogical style and have used it to enhance interaction with their children in discussion of sensitive topics. Information is made available about local resources, such as those providing routine reproductivehealth care, sexually transmitted disease and HIV testing and counseling, and sexually related support groups, as well as national resources such as the Society for the Scientific Study of Sexuality, SIECUS, and the Kinsey Institute. Activities that encourage students to evaluate different types of contraceptives, purchase condoms, examine their genitals, or talk with a partnerabout sexual issues help them to constructnew understandingsabout themselves as sexual beings and to achieve greater confidence in their own decisionmaking and negotiation skills. Although its effectiveness has been well documentedin sexuality education with younger students (Kirby, 1992/1993), the practice of providing modeling and rehearsals of sexual communicationand negotiation skills in college-level courses is rare. (See the Appendix for a sample rehearsal-modelingactivity.) Studentsoften reporta gap between knowledge and action; they report having the information,but not having the confidence to put it to use. The course can provide an opportunityfor students to share strategies and techniques with one another.A woman who narratesher successful negotiation to get her partnerto use protection against sexually transmittedinfections reinforcesherself as an active constructorof her own sexual experiences, but she also acts as a model for her peers. The usefulness of rehearsals and modeling activities depends upon their approximation to actual situations and the contexts within which they occur. It is important,however, to ensure that students are not asked to participatein an activity that might cause them to relive traumaticexperiences. A classroom climate that supportsconversationand discussion also allows the presentationof a variety of perspectives on any topic. A period of time each week can be allocated to discussions of students' observations about sexuality from the media and from their day-to-daylife. Studentscan be asked to voice their opinions either verbally or anonymouslythroughan activity such as free-writes. (See the Appendix for a sample activity.) This approachprovides the opportunityfor students to hear diverse perspectiveseven within their own class and gives students another forum for analyzing how deconstruction-reconstruction as well as sexual discourse (including their own) operates. Consistent with a feminist pedagogy, our course preparations involve conscious planning for the inclusion of relationship, personalnarrative,and induction(Carter& Spitzack, 1990; Maher & Tetreault,1994). This approachis not to be confused with "doing therapy," with a resulting onslaught of appointments with upset students. On the contrary,the opportunityfor personalnarrativesshifts the boundariesof what counts as learning and frees the instructorfrom numerousinteractionswith students who have no place to process materialand make sense of their lives (Litner et al., 1992). Consistent with this approach, journals can be requiredin which attentionis given to responses to a variety of materials, discussion of dynamics of classroom interaction,and awarenessof shifts in the students' attitudesand behaviors. Studentscan also use journal writing to explore ways of putting their knowledge into action. Providing Useful Information and Skills The Importance of Action Our courses also provide pragmaticinformationthat can be immediatelyuseful to students.For example, insteadof just reading and talking about emergency contraception,we make sure that studentshave the toll-free numberto call (800-584-9911) to get names and numbersof providersof this service in their area. Central to most feminist perspectives is a commitment to action to address societal problems, reduce inequities, minimize exploitation, and maximize health and well-being. The importance of action is woven into all aspects of this course. Empowering studentsmeans not only encouragingthem to perceive op- Stressing Diversity 2001, Vol. 50, No. 1 27 tions and fostering an understandingof the forces that shape the context of their lives (Lather, 1991), but also providing them with information and abilities to make choices that maximize sexual health and enjoymentin their relationships.On one level, teachingthe course itself is taking action by providingthis forum where people can get information,ask questions, explore ideas, and share experiences in a relatively safe and supportiveenvironment. Informationprovided in class is selected for its usefulness to students in their own lives and in working with their future clients. A commitment to action is also evident in class assignmentsthat are designed to have consequences beyond just exposing studentsto new ideas and analytical methods, as most libraryresearchpapers do. Another action component that comes into play is the experience the professor has in the community as an active agent of change. Being involved with agencies, programs,research,or movements relevantto course materialenrichesthe contributions the professor brings as a professional into the classroom. In addition to an action orientation'sbeing consistent with our theoretical perspective, researchindicates that studentsare more engaged with course content and learn more effectively when there are clearly demonstratedconnections between course material and their everyday life (McMillan & Forsyth, 1991; Svinicki, 1991). Action projects. A particularlyeffective assignmentused by one of us is the action project. (See the Appendix for a detailed description of this assignment.) These projects can be designed to be a majorfocus of students'work over the semester.Students are encouraged to identify actual community needs and collaborate with others in class to maximize the effectiveness of the project. Examples of action projects completed by students are the following: visiting all the childbirthcenters in the area and preparingwritten evaluations for distribution,planning and implementing a bisexual support group for college-aged women, planning and implementing (with a sexuality educator) a foursession series on sexuality issues for students at an alternative school, preparingbrochureson sexuality issues for a local clinic, and developing a networkamong high school counselors to support young women who have had abortions.Studentsreportthat these action projects are the most meaningful work they do in the class, both because they are doing work about which they are passionate and because they are putting their knowledge and skills to use. Professors as change agents. Students appear to take the action approachmore seriously when the professormodels being a change agent and sharesher or his own experiences. This may involve major action like research projects or taking leadership positions in professional groups or in local communities. The action might be as simple as placing a symbol of acceptanceof sexual diversity in one's office or talking to a local pharmacist about the placement of condoms in a store. Other examples might include writing letters to the editor,contributinga column for the local newspaper,or evaluating children's books on sexuality for the local library system. The presentation of the concept of change agent and the professor's talking about her or his own activities early in the semester provide the basis for continued discussions throughout the course about how individualscan be active agents of change. As topics are explored, studentscan consider ways in which they can act as change agents, even if in minor ways, in their everyday lives. Class discussion can include students' sharingactions they take as the result of informationand skills they have gained 28 in class. Talking about these personal action projects reinforces the idea that students are able to influence not only their own sexual scripts,but also the societal variablesthat affect how sexualities are constructedin our day-to-day life. Pedagogical Challenges of Teaching Human Sexuality Teaching sexuality courses can present challenges for faculty, regardless of the theoretical grounding of the course. Instructorsusing a postmodernfeminist perspectiveface additional challenges, and each campus presents its own demands (Maher & Tetreault,1994). Some environmentsmay encouragefeminist content but not feminist curriculumtransformation.Others support contentbut do not rewardor encouragefeministpedagogical innovations.Rust (1994) indicatedthat decisions about sexuality course content and structureneed to consider multiple factors such as the political climate of the classroom; presentationof self and managementof student-instructorrelationships;and relationships with colleagues, administrators,parents, and other students. The pedagogical challenges of teaching about sexualities are numerousand include such issues as creatingand maintaininga safe and comfortablelearning environment;the use of self and self-disclosure; resistance; and, paradoxically, diversity of the students in sexuality classes. An average class will include students with a wide range of experience and knowledge. Some will have had some sexuality education in high school, but students often acknowledgethatthey learnedlittle from these courses because of their brevity, structuralconstraints,or the obvious discomfortof those teaching. A few studentswill have extensive knowledge, often the result of courses offered througha religious institution. Some concurrentlyare dealing with learning course material and presenting sexuality education to their own children. Many students' knowledge is primarily experiential, and some have extensive sexual experience. Individuals who have suffered sexually related traumaalso may elect to take a human sexuality course as part of their search for understandingand healing, especially if the course and instructorhave the reputation of providing a relatively safe environment. These courses tend to operate on both personal and professional levels and often do so simultaneously. In teaching the course, one is not just providing informationand preparingpeople to use this knowledge in theirprofessionallives. One student involved in a discussion of condom usage may be processing the materialfrom the perspectiveof a professionalworkingwith teens, but the person next to her may be ruminatingon the fact that last night she or he participatedin risky sexual activity without a condom. To complicate the process, our experience has been that in every group of students, there are those who have been sexually assaulted, are struggling with sexual orientation issues, are dealing with feelings about terminatingpregnancies, or are concerned about other sexual issues. This makes it especially importantthat students feel the classroom is a safe and supportiveenvironmentwithin which to learn and explore their experiences and to deconstructand reconstructtheir understanding of the materialand perspectives provided. Providing a Safe Learning Environment We take the position that, even in a collaborativelearning environment,it is ultimatelythe professor'sresponsibilityto ensure that the class functions as productively as possible, maxiFamily Relations mizing the amount of learning that occurs and protecting students from harmwheneverpossible. Although a professor'scomfort level and demeanor set the tone in any class, attention to these factors is especially importantin a course such as human sexuality, where many of the issues addressedare highly charged and where students' own comfort level may be low. The more comfortablethe professoris talking about all aspects of sexuality and admittingto not knowing the answer to some questions, the more comfortable students will probably be. The development of ground rules early in the semester is anotherway to improve the functioning of the class. If studentsdevelop the groundrules themselves, it is much easier to invoke them as needed during the semester. Among the most useful are guidelines related to respectful listening and speaking, refraining from judgmental comments and body language, one person speaking at a time, and confidentiality. Even though students may agree to confidentiality, it is importantthat everyone understandsthat there is no way to guaranteeconfidentiality,so that any disclosures students make can be made as knowledgeably as possible. Other issues related to comfort in the classroom are humor and the use of sexually explicit material.Differences in students' individual experiences and sexual scripts will mean that considerable attention needs to be given to these areas. Regional differences exist in styles of humor,and faculty need to be sensitive to such differences. Although humor can be used effectively in lessening tension relatedto sexual issues, it also has the potential for personalization,boundarybreachment,and increasing alienation of class members. Likewise, the use of sexually explicit materialcan embarrassand alienate students,particularlyif their exposure to depictions of nudity, intercourse, or same-sex intimacy has been limited. Of course, one would want to avoid focusing on only one group or one activity when using either humor or sexually explicit material. Definitions of both humor and what is sexually explicit themselves are socially constructed and thereforeoffer excellent opportunitiesfor deconstructionand discourse analysis. In addition to the course's providing a forum for discussing sexual information,it also often acts as a catalyst for studentsto feel more comfortablediscussing sexual issues outside the classroom. We talk throughout the semester about communicating about sexuality and check from time to time on whetherstudents' comfort levels are changing and with whom they are talking. Students reporttalking with partners,children, siblings, parents, friends, coworkers, relatives, and classmates-often for the first time about sexual issues. Talking about a topic in class provides an opportunityfor studentsto raise issues with partners,friends, or family about which they have difficulty initiating discussion. In addition, students may feel more confident using knowledge developed in the classroom to try to bring about change. In general, students' comfort in discussing sexual topics increases in direct relationship to the number and quality of opportunitiesprovided for discussion (Barbour,1989). The nature of large courses (often with 200 to 300 students) may make discussion, both with the instructorand with otherstudents,more difficult. However, some studentshave indicateda preferencefor the anonymity provided by the large group. A balance can be sought throughthe use of free-writes (without the classwide redistribution approach mentioned in the Appendix), discussion groups, small-groupactivities, and the types of questions posed by the instructorin a large class-questions designed to encourage individual introspectionor to stimulate informal discussion with those seated in close proximity. 2001, Vol. 50, No. 1 Resistance Students frequently respond with resistance and anger to feminist content and pedagogy, particularlyif the classroom is a site where experience and theoreticalinformationclash (Currie, 1992). A postmodern feminist approach to human sexuality is likely to evoke resistance-ranging from philosophicalresistance to anger with the potential for violence-from some students, because it throws into question basic concepts such as gender and sexual orientationand challenges prevailingpower relations. Students may be asked to deconstructgender positions within the hierarchies of culture, such as examining women's experiences within patriarchallydefined domains of physical appearance, sexual performance,and interpersonalrelationships(Carter & Spitzack, 1990). Course materials that place women in the center of inquiry emphasize that women's sexualities are competent and valuable in their own right. Such revaluing of women's sexualitiesreveals thatothers,particularlyeconomically successful White men, have been in a position to define reality and competent sexuality. Our observations of studentresistance parallelthose reported by Carter and Spitzack (1990) and indicate that resistance takes various forms. These include blaming and marginalizing women, defending men, expressing anger at the instructorand other students, and rejecting information that might cause students to question their own relationships. Through the course, some studentsmay develop the ability to use informationto critique images and standardsbut may still have difficulty examining or changing their own relationships.Some women students may feel caught in a double bind, wanting to speak but needing to remain silent so as not to alienate and angerpartners,potential partners,or other men (Lewis, 1990). Students' anger may turn to hopelessness or depressionwith the acceptanceof the multiple forms of oppression that complicate women's lives. However, anger may be an importantsource of energy for personal and social change and may be used to move studentsfrom a passive stance to one of activism (Culley, 1985). The challenge for the instructoris to help studentsunderstandthe largersociohistorical context and to provide them with skills they can use to bring about change. Resistance often results from looking at life as a series of dichotomies. Our approachseeks to expand awarenessof a range of perspectives on sexualities and tries to help students see beyond dualities by taking their concerns seriously and emphasizing that valuing women's experiences and sexual behavior does not necessarily mean devaluing those of men. We attempt to incorporateactivities that encourage students to decenter from their own viewpoints and recognize the values and limitations of other perspectives in the context of sexual interactions.We try to work constructively with differences among women, including acknowledging that women's sexual relationships with men may range from being a source of pain and potentialdanger to being sites of mutuality, pleasure, and joy (Thorne, Warren, & Geller, 1994). We believe it is importantto provide information and strategiesfor women who seek to speak to men in their lives about issues of domination and change (hooks, 1989) and for men who want to have more egalitarian,loving relationships with women. In addition, it is important to acknowledge the complexity of power in sexual interactions, including ways women use power in relationships(Weis, 1998). Providing this informationinvolves other challenges, specifically the use of self and self-disclosure. 29 Use of Self and Self-Disclosure Self-disclosure, authenticity,and the use of one's own life experiences are important aspects of feminist practice (Allen, 1995; Allen & Baber, 1992). However, little research exists on the effects of self-disclosure by either professors or students in the classroom. Therefore,individual teachers struggle with how much personal informationto reveal, how to make those disclosures, and how much disclosure to expect from students (Allen & Baber, 1992). Allen's article on disclosing about sexual orientation provides a case study demonstratinghow content and strategy can be combined to use self-disclosure as a teaching tool. Just as there is growing attentionto self-disclosurein feminist therapy(Simi & Mahalik, 1997), considerationneeds to be given to issues related to disclosure in feminist pedagogy such as the content, frequency, and purposes of the disclosures. In addition,it is importantfor feminist teachers,as they are making decisions about self-disclosure, to reflect upon their status in the institution, the subject matter about which they are teaching, their personal boundaries,and their knowledge and understanding of their students (Allen & Baber, 1992). Conclusions Teaching human sexuality courses from a postmodernfeminist perspective offers tremendousopportunities,but also considerablechallenges. The feminist pedagogy we use in the classroom is based upon thinking that brings together subjective and objective dimensions of knowing. Yet, this may heighten rather than diminish contradictionfaced by feminist instructors(Currie, 1992). If informationis presented as subjective, studentparticipation may be hindered by the belief that no universal knowledge is possible. In addition, such an emphasis on the particular rather than the universal contradicts much of the pedagogy to which studentshave been exposed. Studentsmay view this as a rejection of objectivity that leaves them with no universal truths for guiding their daily experiences. S. Harding (1991) has suggested that ratherthan rejecting objectivity outright,we should broaden our understandingto that of "strong objectivity," in which scientific inquiry includes an examination of beliefs behind "objective" informationand the relationshipsthat give rise to and sustain those beliefs. For example, if objective information indicates that most people are heterosexual, it is important that we examine the social constructionof heterosexuality.We are also encouraged to begin our inquiry from the perspective of the devalued and the neglected. A constructivist approach also encourages us to critically examine our own views. Much of what has been writtenrecently about sexuality is constructionist, from Jeffreys (1989), who views sexual objects and desires as conscious political choices, to others, who see sexual identity and desire as productsof social and historical forces. Yet strict constructionismhas been criticized as too rationalof a model, one that has resultedin another dualism in its reactivity against biological determinismwith regardto sexual identities and desires (Assiter, 1996). For example, the idea that individuals are subject to manipulationby social forces has been criticized for providinga negative view of sources of erotic fantasy, such as pornography.Thus, a constructivist approachto sexuality has also been criticized for providing the illusion that rape is due to molding by sexual imagery, with the assumptionthat if pornographywere eliminated,rape would disappear.In contrast,Assiter has refrainedthis dualism,combining aspects of constructivismand biological determinism.Insteadof 30 sexual desires and identities (whetherresultingfrom social forces or biology) being the source of problems, the focus has been shifted in line with works of Weeks (1986) and Foucault(1979). Thus, social problems related to sexuality are believed to be constructed through certain social forces and discourses (like psychiatry, Catholicism, and medicine) that legitimize discrimination against particulargroups of people. These social forces are deemed problematic, not the desires and identities themselves. The ways in which we address these social forces and the challenges posed by teaching from a postmodernfeminist perspective are critical to our ability to facilitate students' ability to use the knowledge and experiences providedin class. This highlights the importance of reflexivity-the process of reflecting upon, examining critically, and exploring analyticallyall aspects of our practice (Fonow & Cook, 1991). It is an intentionaland metatheoreticalprocess aimed at improving our work through critical analyses and corrective measures (Hare-Mustin& Marecek, 1990). Reflexivity is a way to construct and evaluate knowledge that assumes multiple truthclaims and that recognizes an explicit connection between the knower and the known (Allen & Farnsworth,1993). This means we attemptto be aware of and sensitive to connections among students,connectionsbetween studentsand ourselves, and connectionsbetween students and knowledge (MacDermid, Jurich, Myers-Walls, & Peol, 1992). Not only is reflexivity importantfor those teaching about sexualities, but also studentscan be encouragedto develop greater reflexivity themselves. Allen and Farnsworthsuggest using journal writing, guided discussion of study questions, in-class writing, and making use of the situationat hand to promotecritical reflection. Reflexivity also implies critical reflection on our selves. We need to critically observe ourselves as teachers and to be aware of our relationshipto our students as well as to the information about which we teach. We need to come to terms with our own identities and membershipsin privileged groups before we can help students challenge the conditions of their own lives. We also need to acknowledge our position as professor as one of power and to use that power proactively and with great care. Although feminists attemptto deliberatelydeconstructrigid hierarchyin the classroom, the goal is to share authoritywith students, not to relinquishit (Allen & Farnsworth,1993) and to use our position of power to liberate, ratherthan subjugate,others (Lewis, 1990). References Allen, K. A. (1995). Opening the classroom closet: Sexual orientationand selfdisclosure. Familv Relations, 44, 136-141. Allen, K. A., & Baber, K. M. (1992). Ethical and epistemological tensions in applying a postmodernperspectiveto feminist research.PsYchologyof Women Quarterly, 16, 1-15. Allen, K. A., & Farnsworth,E. B. (1993). Reflexivity in teaching aboutfamilies. Familv Relations, 42, 351-356. Assiter, A. (1996). Enlightened women: Modernistfeminism in a postmodern age. London: Routledge. Baber,K. M., & Allen, K. A. (1992). Womenandfamilies: Feminist reconstructions. New York:Guilford Press. Barbour,J. R. (1989). Teaching a course in human relationshipsand sexuality: A model for personalizinglarge group instruction.Family Relations,38, 142148. Blumstein, P., & Schwartz, P. (1990). Intimaterelationshipsand the creation of sexuality. In D. P. McWhirter,S. A. Sanders, & J. M. Reinisch (Eds.), Homosexuality/Heterosexuality(pp. 307-320). New York: Oxford University Press. Call, V., Sprecher,S., & Schwartz, P. (1995). The incidence and frequency of Family Relations marital sex in a national sample. Journal of Marriage and the Family, 57, 639-652. Carpenter,L. M. (1998). From girls into women: Scripts for sexuality and romance in Seventeen magazine. Journal of Sex Research, 35, 158-168. Carter,K., & Spitzack, C. (1990). Transformationand empowermentin gender and communicationcourses. Women'sStudies in Communication,13, 92-111. Choi, P. Y. L., & Nicolson, P (1994). Female sexuality: Psychology, biology, and social context. New York: Harvester/Wheatsheaf. Christian-Smith,L. K. (1998). Young women and their dream lovers: Sexuality in adolescent fiction. In R. Weitz (Ed.), The politics of women's bodies: Sexualitv, appearance, and behavior (pp. 100-111). New York: Oxford University Press. Culley, M. (1985). Anger and authorityin the introductorywomen's studiesclassroom. In M. Culley & C. Portuges(Eds.), Genderedsubjects: The dynamicsof feminist teaching (pp. 209-218). London:Routledgeand Kegan Paul. Currie,D. H. (1992). Subject-ivity in the classroom: Feminism meets academe. Canadian Journal of Education, 17, 341-364. Daniluk, J. C. (1998). Women's sexuality across the life span: Challenging myths, creating meanings. New York:Guilford Press. DeLamater,J. D. & Hyde, J. S. (1998). Essentialism vs. social constructionism in the study of human sexuality. Journal of Sex Research, 35, 10-18. di Mauro,D. (1997). Sexuality researchin the United States. In J. Bancroft(Ed.), Researching sexual behavior: Methodological issues (pp. 3-8). Bloomington: Indiana University Press. Dworkin, A. (1987). Intercourse.New York:Free Press. Feinberg, L. (1996). Transgenderwarriors: Making historyfrom Joan of Arc to RuPaul. Boston: Beacon. Fine, M. (1988). Sexuality, schooling, and adolescent females: The missing discourse of desire. Harvard Educational Review, 58, 29-53. Flax, J. (1990). Postmodemism and gender relations in feminist theory. In L. J. Nicholson (Ed.), Feminism/Postmodernism (pp. 39-61). New York:Routledge. Fonow, M. M., & Cook, J. A. (1991). Beyond methodology:Feministscholarship as lived research. Bloomington: IndianaUniversity Press. Foucault, M. (1979). The historv of sexuality: Vol. 1. New York: Allen Lane, Oxford University Press. Fraser,N., & Nicholson, L. J. (1990). Social criticism without philosophy: An encounterbetween feminism and postmodernism.In L. Nicholson (Ed.), Feminism/Postmodernismn (pp. 19-38). New York:Routledge. Gagnon, J. (1990). The explicit and implicit use of the scripting perspective in sex research.AninualReview of Sex Research, 1, 1-43. Gagnon, J. H., & Simon, W. (1973). Sexual conduct. Chicago: Aldine. Gannon, L. (1994). Sexuality and menopause. In P Y. L. Choi & P Nicolson (Eds.), Female sexuality (pp. 100-124). New York: Harvester/Wheatsheaf. Gavey, N. (1993). Technologies and effects of heterosexualcoercion. In S. Wilkinson & C. Kitzinger (Eds.), Heterosexuality (pp. 93-119). Newbury Park, CA: Sage. Harding, J. (1998). Sex acts: Practices offemininity and masclulinity. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage. Harding,S. (1991). Whose science? Whoseknowledge? Thinkingfrom women's lives. Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press. Hare-Mustin,R. T., & Marecek,J. (1990). Making a difference: Psychology and the constructionof gender. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press. Hawkesworth, M. E. (1989). Knowers, knowing, known: Feminist theory and claims of truth.Signs, 14, 533-557. Hekman, S. J. (1990). Gender and knowledge. Boston: NortheasternUniversity Press. hooks, b. (1989). The challenge of feminist pedagogy. Queen's Quarterly, 96, 117-130. Jeffreys, S. (1989). Anticlimax.London: Women's Free Press. Kirby, D. (1992/1993). Sexuality education: It can reduce unprotected intercourse. SIECUS Report, 21, 19-25. Klein, F (1990). The need to view sexual orientationas a multivariabledynamic process: A theoretical perspective. In D. P McWhirter,S. A. Sanders, & J. M. Reinisch (Eds.), Homosexuality/Heterosexuality(pp. 277-282). New York: Oxford University Press. Kupper,L. (1995). Comprehensive sexuality education for children and youth with disabilities. SIECUS Report, 23, 3-8. Lather,P A. (1991). Getting smart: Feminist research and pedagogy with/in the postmodern. New York: Routledge. Laumann.E. O., & Gagnon, J. H. (1995). A sociological perspective on sexual action. In R. G. Parker & J. H. Gagnon (Eds.), Conceiving sexuality: Approaches to sex research in a postmodern world (pp. 183-213). New York: Routledge. Laws, J. L. (1980). Female sexuality throughthe life span. In P B. Baltes & 0. G. Brim, Jr. (Eds.), Life-span development and behavior: Vol. 3 (pp. 207252). New York: Academic Press. 200 1, Vol. 50, No. 1 Laws, J. L., & Schwartz, P. (1977). Sexual scripts: The social construction of female sexuality. Hillsdale, NJ: Erlbaum. Lewis, M. (1990). Interruptingpatriarchy:Politics, resistance,and transformation in the feminist classroom. Harvard Educational Review, 60, 467-488. Litner,B., Rossiter, A., & Taylor,M. (1992). The equitable inclusion of women in higher education: Some consequences for teaching. Canadian Journal of Education, 17, 286-302. MacDermid,S. M., Jurich,J. A., Myers-Walls,J. A., & Peol, A. (1992). Feminist teaching, effective teaching. Family Relations, 41, 31-38. Mackenzie, G. 0. (1994). Transgendernation. Bowling Green, OH: Bowling Green University State PopularPress. MacKinnon,C. (1987a). Feminismunmodified:Discourse on life and love. Cambridge, MA: HarvardUniversity Press. MacKinnon, C. (1987b). A feminist/political approach: "Pleasure under patriarchy." In J. H. Geer & W. T O'Donohue (Eds.), Theoriesof humansexuality. New York:Plenum Press. Maher,F A., & Tetreault,M. K. T. (1994). Thefeminist classroom. New York: Basic Books. Masters, W., & Johnson, V. (1966). Human sexual response. Boston: Little, Brown. McMillan, J., & Forsyth, D. (1991). Practicalproposals for motivating students. New Directionsfor Teaching and Learning, 45, 53-65. Muehlenhard,C. L. (1996). The complexities of sexual consent. SIECUSReport, 24, 4-7. Murray,C. I., & Leigh, G. K. (1995). Families and sexuality. In R. D. Day, K. R. Gilbert, B. H. Settles, & W. R. Burr (Eds.), Research and theory in family science (pp. 186-204). Pacific Grove, CA: Brooks/Cole. Nicholson, L. (1995). Interpretinggender.In L. Nicholson & S. Seidman (Eds.), Social postmodernism:Beyond identitypolitics (pp. 39-67). New York:Cambridge University Press. Nicholson, L. & Seidman, S. (1995). Introduction.In L. Nicholson & S. Seidman (Eds.), Social postmodernism:Beyond identitypolitics (pp. 1-35). New York: CambridgeUniveristy Press. Patti, P. J. (1995). Sexuality and sexual expression in persons with mental retardation. SIECUS Report, 23, 17-20. Rothblatt,M. (1995). The apartheid of sex: A manifesto on the freedom of gender. New York:Crown. Rust, P C. (1994). Designing a course on sexuality: Issues, problems, and parameters.Critical Sociology, 20, 155-168. Rust, P. C. (1996). Managingmultiple identities:Diversity among bisexual women and men. In B. A. Firestein (Ed.), Bisexuality: Thepsychology and politics of an invisible minority(pp. 53-83). Newbury Park, CA: Sage. Scott, J. W. (1994). Deconstructing equality-versus-difference;or, the uses of poststructuralisttheory for feminism. In S. Seidman (Ed.), The postmodern turn:New perspectives on social theory (pp. 282-298). New York:Cambridge University Press. Seidman, S. (1995). Deconstructingqueer theory; or, the under-theorizationof the social and the ethical. In L. Nicholson & S. Seidman (Eds.), Social postmodernisni: Beyond identity politics (pp. 117-141). New York: Cambridge University Press. Simi, N. L., & Mahalik, J. R. (1997). Comparison of feminist versus psychoanalytic/dynamicand othertherapistson self-disclosure.Psychology of Women Quarterly,21, 465-483. Stearns, D. C. (1995). Genderedsexuality: The privileging of sex and gender in sexual orientation.NWSAJournal, 7, 8-25. Svinicki, M. (1991). Practicalimplicationsof cognitive theories. New Directions for Teaching and Learning, 45, 27-37. Thorne, B., Warren,C., & Geller, L. (1994). A feminist regroundingof sexuality and intimacy.American Behavioral Scientist, 37, 1042-1057. Tiefer, L. (1995). Sex is not a natural act and other essays. Boulder,CO: West- 0 -' view. Tolman,D. L. (1991). Adolescent girls, women and sexuality:Discerning dilemmas of desire. In C. Gilligan, A. G. Rogers, & D. Tolman (Eds.), Women, girls, and psychotherapy:Reframingresistance (pp. 55-69). Binghamton,NY: Haworth. Tolman, D. L. (1994). Doing desire: Adolescent girls' struggles for/with sexuality. Gender and Society, 8, 324-342. Ussher, J. M. (1994). Theorizing female sexuality: Social constructionistand post-structuralistaccounts. In P. Y L. Choi & P Nicolson (Eds.), Female sexuality (pp. 100-124). New York: Harvester/Wheatsheaf. Weedon, C. (1987). Feminist practice and poststructuraltheory. Oxford, U.K.: Basil Blackwell. Weeks, J. (1986). Sexuality. London: Routledge. Weis, D. L. (1998). Conclusion: The state of sexual theory. Journal of Sex Research, 35, 100-114. 31 0 White, J. M., & L. K. Mason. (1999). Postpositivismand positivism: A dialogue. Family Science Review, 12, 1-21. Appendix Sample Classroom Activities These activities are presented to demonstratehow a postmodernfeminist perspective can guide practice in the classroom. The sexual scripts, discourse analysis, and free-writing activities are particularlyuseful in helping students grasp the concepts of construction,deconstruction,and reconstructionin regard to sexuality. Promptsand any of the questions below can also be used as journal assignments.Before using any of these classroom activities, groundrules for the discussion environmentshould be clarified, modeled by the instructor,and practiced by the students. Sexual Scripts Activity 5-Minute Free-writes As an introductionto a topic, ask studentsto write for 5 minutes on a given prompt.Have studentscrumplethe paper on which their response is writtenand throw it into a basket. Students then draw responses out of the basket to read. After all students have read a response, use follow-up questions such as those suggested to encourage discussion. Prompt. Discuss the pubertalchange that was most memorableto you. Follow-up questions. What values or messages from the broadersociety do these reflect? Why have these messages evolved in this society? Whose interests are being served? How do these messages constrainthe individual?What are the effects on society? What would you suggest in order to reconstruct this, pubertal change experience into one that would be positive and health promoting for a young person today? Begin by reviewing the concept of sexual scripts as ideas we integrateinto our thinking about how, when, where, why, and with whom we participatein sexual activity. Ask students to generate ideas about the normative scripts for men and women today. In the process, students often ask questions that can act as springboardsfor discussion, such as "What age male are we talking about?" but usually they are easily able to identify two fairly discrete scripts about which a series of questions can be asked, such as: How did you come to know this information?What social forces operateto try to ensure that people follow these scripts? Whose interests are served by people's following, or attemptingto follow, these scripts?What are the risks involved for people who believe they must adhere to these scripts? What are some ways that people are deconstructingor writing alternatescripts?What happens when people act on these scripts?What do you see as being importantaspects of a positive sexual script?What are some ways we can encourage people to feel more comfortable rewritingtheir sexual scripts when they so desire? Why might sports analogies be used in discussing sexual activity? What do the analogies appearto have in common? What does this use of language tell us about societal values, beliefs, and expectations? What might be some new analogies you would offer that would remove sexual discourse from the sports domain and would be less goal oriented? Discourse Analysis Prompt. This activity can be completed using advertising, popular music, jokes, texts, stories in newspapers or magazines, television shows, movies, or some combination of these. Ask students to bring examples to class or to take notes about sexual content, including what was said, by whom, and in what context. Students can begin processing the information in small groups first, and then each group can share its observations with the rest of the class. Among the questions for consideration are: What is the message? What power does the message carry? How might these ideas shape the way people think or act regarding their own sexuality? What informationis missing from these depictions of sexuality? Are depictions inclusive, or are certainpeople consistentlymissing? Whose interests are being served by these depictions? What are some alternate ways that you might use to talk about or depict sexuality? Prompt. What analogies to sports are parts of the language used in discussions of sexuality? Follow-up questions. From what you have heard, observed, or encountered,what are the experiences of menopause like for heterosexualand lesbian women (or midlife changes for men)? Follow-up questions. What overall picture or pictures emerges from the responses you have heard? In what ways do these reflectproblemsor loss? Changes and opportunities? How might these images affect your midlife experiences? What would realistic and healthy images of midlife sexuality look like? What might we do to make that image more visible and prominent in society today? Panel Presentations Action Projects Panels of four to five members are useful in examining topics such as religious perspectives, sexual orientation, prostitution, or aging and sexuality. Multiple members of any one group should be included so that no single image is presented. A clergy panel may include a priest, a rabbi, a Protestantminister, and a Buddhist. A panel on aging should include diversity in gender, ethnicity, and sexual orientation.To move the usefulness of panels beyond desensitization, students can be asked to write or talk about their expectations before the panel comes and then reflect on these expectations after the panel experience. Encouragestudents to work in groups on a semester project that will "put their knowledge into action." Examples of projects-such as making a video, developing a brochure, running a discussion group, creating and presenting a program in a dorm, and designing classroom activities for children-can help students identify projects that are of interest and importanceto them. Encouraging studentsto talk with programsin the community about their actual needs often results in powerful projects, because students see their work being put to immediate use. Rehearsals-Modeling Require a proposal that includes informationabout who is in the group, the rationale for the action project, what will be done, identified resources for completing the project (including skills and community contacts), and a statement of what the group hopes to accomplish. Each proposal requires approval before the group begins work so that ethical issues can be addressed and the project can be realistically planned to meet the time constraintsof the semester. At the class before this activity will be used, ask studentsto write down a brief description, including the context, of a time they were confronted with a sexual issue that challenged them or one they are anticipatingand would like to rehearse.Select several situationsand type them before using them in class. This allows for screening the situations and protects students' identities. Ask for volunteersto participatein demonstratingone way such a situationmight be handled using informationfrom the course. Switch volunteers and ask the new participants to demonstrateanother way the situation might be addressed.Discussion can include consideration of why such a situation might be challenging, the advantages of the different approaches, and the usefulness of the information included. Allowing students small-group discussion and preparationtime will improve the qulalityof the rehearsals-modeleing. 32 During the semester, allocate time to discuss action projects, link them to class discussion, and problem-solve using the knowledge and resources of students in the class. Students acting as one another's consultants contributeto greaterinvestmentby all studentsin the various action projects. Plan time at the end of the semester for studentsto presenthighlights of their projects,including how they used course information and the outcomes of their projects. Have students submit a brief, written,final reporton their action projectsthat includes discussion of what they did, why they did it, how it worked out, and their Family Relations observations and conclusions about the project. This allows studentsto identify a lot of the invisible work involved in these projects and helps them to reflect on what they have accomplished. Encourage students to participatein the evaluation of one another'sclass presentationsof their projects using the same criteriafor evaluation used by the professor. Suggested evaluation criteria include creativity, relevance to course content, congruence between rationale and action, integration of course information, and quality of presentation.Studentscomplete an anonymousevaluation form for each action project.The packet of evaluationsis returnedto each group with the professor's evaluation of the project. (Sample forms for each step in the action project process are available from the first author.) Kristine M. Baber is an Associate Professor in the Department of Family Studies at the University of New Hampshire,Durham, NH. Colleen I. Murrayis an Associate Professor in the Department of HumanDevelopment and Family Studies at the University of Nevada-Reno, Reno, NV. Received 5/19/99 Revised & Resubmitted7/14/00 Accepted 7/26/00 MONTCLAIR UNIVERSITYOF MINNESOTA Family Social Science Graduate Program STATE UNIVERSITY * M.A. and Ph.D. degrees are offered. * Graduate faculty numbers 17; all have a Ph.D. in their field of expertise. * Program is nationally rated by family scholars in educating family theorists, researchers, family life educators, and marriage and family therapists. Family policy is also a focus. * Marriage and family therapy specialization is offered at the Ph.D. level only and is AAMFT accredited. * Competitive scholarships and fellowships; teaching and research assistantships available. * Deadline for applications is December 15. College of Education and Human Services - Fall 2001 Departmentof Human Ecology Assistant Professor(V-9). Family/ChildStLudies/Early Childhood and Elementary Teacher Education Teach undergradLiate and graduate courses for Early Childhood/ Elementary Educationi studentsin Family Studies with an emphasisin Faniily Dynamics, InterpersonalRelations and Life Span Development. Conduct research; participate in departmental, college and university activities,and supervisestudentinterns.Advice stLidents in Famnily/ ChildStLidies. DoctorateRequired.EarlyChildhood/Elementary EdLIcatioin,HLinian Developnientor Family Studies. College/Universityteaching and evidence or research and publications preferred. Evidence of commnitnienit to edLIcationfor social justice, democratic practice, criticalthinkinganda diversesociety. For more information, see our Web page: http://fsos.che.umn.edu/graduate/ or contact: Graduate Admissions, Department of Family Social Science, 290 McNeal Hall, 1985 Buford Avenue, St. Paul, MN 55108; (612) 625-3116 or 1900. Send letter and resume to: Leslie E. Jenkins;Assistant Dean, Montclair State University; Box C316 (NCFR), V-9; Upper Montclair,NJ 07043. (IncludeV# and department)Searchopen Linti'I position filled. Foundedin 1908, MontclairState Universityserves about 10,000 undergraduateand 3,500 graduatestudents with a distinguished facultydedicatedto excellencein teaching,researchandprofessional achievenient. "Preparing Family Scholars for 30 Years" 1970-2000 A/IEqual Oppol-iiiiiti/4f/I/fl-cativeActioniInistitiutio,, 18AI 2001, Vol. 50, No. 1 33
Purchase answer to see full attachment
Explanation & Answer:
400 words
User generated content is uploaded by users for the purposes of learning and should be used following Studypool's honor code & terms of service.

Explanation & Answer




Gender and Sex Education
Postmodern Feminist Approach Article Summary
Teaching human sexuality is a serial challenge in many institutions. This is because
instructors omit or ignore essential information that is helpful to students. This article gives an
insightful approach that is used to teach human sexuality. The Postmodern Feminist Approach is
a theory-based technique that critically allows the students to analyze and consider their own
beliefs, attitudes, and practices (Baber & Murray, 2001). The process of high value because its
sexuality e...

Really useful study material!


Similar Content

Related Tags