Oct. 17, 2012 - Issue #887: Dedfest
Calling out the “sexpert”
Sex educator and TV personality, Sue Johanson, behind the times
I went to hear a talk by Sue Johanson here in Edmonton on October 4. I'm sure you are familiar with Sue. Her radio show the Sunday Night Sex Show, which started in 1984, became hugely famous and developed into a TV show, books and loads of TV appearances. Her website describes her as Canada's foremost sexual educator and counsellor as she is widely considered to be a sex expert.
But as I sat listening to her presentation, I began to wonder about the term sex expert. The dictionary defines an expert as one with a special skill or knowledge representing mastery of a particular subject. Sue Johanson's talk was certainly entertaining, but it was apparent to me that this 'expert' does not have a mastery over the subject of sex.
Johanson claimed that every woman can have a G-spot orgasm and that all G-spot orgasms result in gushing ejaculations. This has never been borne out by research, and only a few of the women I've talked to have had this experience. She spoke about the importance of using condoms to prevent the spread of HPV, but neglected to mention that condoms do not fully protect against HPV because it is spread by skin to skin contact.
When asked whether there are any new fun condoms available for someone who doesn't like to use condoms, Johanson simply said that condoms are not meant to be fun. She did not discuss the great advancements that have been made in the types, shapes, sizes, thicknesses and even materials used to make condoms, nor did she offer any tips to this person on how to make condoms feel better and how to incorporate them into sex play. When asked what causes a fetish she said that we don't know what causes a fetish and we don't know how to treat it, as if fetishes are a mental illness or some sort of disease.
She recommended anal beads made of jelly rubber (a porous rubber that absorbs bacteria and off-gasses chemicals) as the best anal toy she's ever seen. All of her descriptions of anatomy and sex techniques acknowledged only people who have sex with the opposite sex and there was no mention or inclusion of anyone who identifies as transgendered or doesn't relate to a gender binary.
After reading a question from a woman who had been diagnosed with herpes and wanted to know what to do, she simply said, "There is no treatment for herpes, I'm sorry." This is not the case; there are antiviral drugs that suppress the virus and greatly reduce the frequency and severity of outbreaks. People also use nutritional and stress management techniques to deal with herpes. There is information and support available both from people who treat the disease and people who live with it that would have really helped this woman understand that her life is not over; she simply has a disease that she will need to learn how to manage.
The people who asked those questions were looking for information to help them with real problems that are affecting their lives. This is what we turn to experts for. But this presentation made it ever more clear to me that even the most famous of experts may not have the most current and accurate information. We can't always trust that the answers we are getting from the "sex experts" are the right answers—or the right answers for us. We need to listen with a critical ear and be willing to question and double-check what the experts are telling us. It never hurts to get a second opinion.
Brenda Kerber is a sexual health educator who has worked with local not-for-profits since 1995. She is the owner of the Edmonton-based, sex-positive adult toy boutique the Traveling Tickle Trunk.
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