Gender Studies Symposium Panel presents flaws in education about sex and gender

By Althea Billings /// Features Editor

How We Learn About Sex and Gender, Thursday’s Gender Studies Symposium panel moderated by Jenny Bornstein offered three presentations and an open discussion about the shortcomings of education about sex and gender in the modern era.

The first presentation was given by Katie Steen, a senior gender studies major at Whitman College. Titled Performativity and Pornography: Possibility for Feminist Porn Futures, Steen’s presentation delved into the differences between mainstream pornography and the lesser known genre of feminist pornography, and the implications of these differences. Steen took the audio and audible noises as a case study in the films she analyzed, noting that in the mainstream film, sounds of female pleasure took the place of a soundtrack, becoming the background even when the female wasn’t in frame or herself being pleasured, something not seen in a similar feminist film.

LC senior Clare Upton ’16 presented “Finding Pleasure in Sex Education,” detailing the Health Equity Youth Advocates (HEYA) program run by some local Planned Parenthood education departments. Upton also spoke of problems in sex education, as well as what aspects, such as the emotional, are not getting through to young adults.

“I’m thinking of a four letter word that has to do with sex and it ends with a K…” Upton said. “I’m thinking of ‘talk’.”

The final presentation was from LC seniors Mariah Brooks ’16, Hannah Fritz ’16 and Anna Soloniuk ’16, who presented their A-Z book detailing different gender and sexual identities. The book is intended for an elementary school-aged audience and is accompanied by a reading guide for adults. Brooks, Fritz, and Soloniuk advocate for its use as a resource for all ages and are hoping to have it published.

All three talks provoked interesting questions about the nature of sex education in the U.S. and how we as individuals can improve at educating ourselves and others.

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