Sex Educator Shame

by Reid on September 28, 2016

shameAre you tired of being shamed for being a sex educator? Both for teaching things that scare people, or for “being easy” (since you must want to be sexual with everyone!)? What can you do?

With Reid Mihalko from and Cathy Vartuli from

Reid: Sex educator shame, what is it? Hi. This is Cathy Vartuli from

Cathy: And this is Reid Mihalko from

Reid: I’m holding the mic here to see if it sounds better.

Cathy: He’s good with that motion. So someone wrote in … Would you like to actually talk about the sex educator shame?

Reid: Yes, okay. I’m serious now.

Cathy: This is what I deal with all the time. So there are a lot of external pressures and society does deem that a lot of the work that people do in the sex ed field is kind of unacceptable. How do you deal with that shame?

Reid: Well there’s the shame of, “Oh my God.  You do what?” And people kind of like slut shaming you for talking about sex or, “How dare you. You’re being a bad role model for our children.” There is all the shame that comes at you.

Cathy: “How dare you teach people how to use their bodies.”

Reid: Yeah. And that’s more I think just people’s fears. Marty Klein actually wrote a really great book called War on Sex in America. That talks a lot about fears that people have around sex education, so if you’re a geek read that book. The other thing that happens as well is now because your a sex educator you must be easy. Now we all know that I am easy and that is true. Easy like Sunday morning.

Cathy: How come you don’t have a T-shirt that says I’m easy?

Reid: I’m working on it.

Cathy: Okay.

Reid: But that doesn’t mean just because you talk about sex and you know how to help people find a clitoris and how to stimulate it …

Cathy: That you want to do it with everybody.

Reid: Yeah.  That you’re automatically open for sex with every person that you talk to. So there’s the also kind of burden of people thinking that you’re available for sex because you are a sex educator. A lot can be coming at you all at once.

Cathy: I think just knowing first of all that it does exist and kind of acknowledging it … Taking a deep breath and getting support.  Being part of a community where people understand you and get you, and can say, “Hey, that must really suck. How can I support you in that?” That alone is going to make it a lot easier to be part of continuing the work that you want to do.

Reid: Yeah, community. In the same way that other communities … There are pressures and what not that are happening and your family and your friends may really want to support you.  Getting witnessed by a peer is very different than your brother or your sister being like, “Wow, that must be tough,” than another sex educator being like, “Oh my Lord, I totally get that, and this is what it’s like for me.”  Getting community support can help a lot.

Getting savvy at handling people’s fears … So people like, “How dare you teach children?” This is where Marty’s book is really good because you can say, “Hey, I think we actually have similar goals. We want our children to be healthy. We want our children to have healthy relationships and if they don’t understand their bodies they won’t be able to communicate to their partners how to make them feel good and back and forth. Studies have shown that healthy sexuality in relationships makes for healthier relationships, makes for healthier children in those relationships growing up because they see the parents, parental figures being affectionate and healthy. You can start to dissolve their concerns because you understand why they’re afraid.

The other situation where people are coming at you thinking that you sleep with everybody just because you talk about sex … Again, it can be difficult for people to speak up, but for us to basically tell those people, “That’s not true and I’m not interested in sexual advances from you certainly. Thank you so much for your interest and bye bye.”

Cathy: The work you’re doing is really important and it is stressful. Just like a heart surgeon might need to do certain things to decompress from the stress of having someone’s life literally in his hands, there might be some things you can learn that will support you. Community is one, but are you taking care of your needs. Whenever our tanks are low and we’re feeling like we’re not getting our needs met it’s going to hit us harder. It’s not easy at any point to be shamed about this stuff, but if your tanks are low it’s just going to hurt more. Figure out what your needs are so that you can feel filled up, and if someone comes and says, “Well, why don’t you sleep with me,” you can be a lot more calm.  When you answer you’re not going to be like, “You fucking asshole,” which they may deserve at times but it’s not always effective.

Reid: Just because somebody’s a plumber do you expect them to be up for doing plumbing all the time? No. I’m a human being. I have a personal life and I have a social life and you just misunderstand that sex educators somehow are nymphomaniacs. That’s not true.

If you’re interested in community as a sex educator or aspiring sex education go check out, link below. Leave us your comments about your experiences as being a sex educator and how the world views you. Bye.

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