The Sex Dialogues with Sue Johanson

This week Sherry and I headed down to THEMUSEUM (I picked up a new friend along the way) to see Sue Johanson speak as park of The Sex Dialogues, the speaker series that’s part of the new Science of Sex exhibit.

Most of the folks I know were first introduced to Sue back in high school; either she came to speak or you heard her radio show or saw her on Degrassi or what have you. In my case she came to my high school, and as I vaguely recall (it was 20 years ago…) she was more cringe-inducing than knowing chuckle-inducing back then. No wooden dolls this time, either, which, coincidentally, she could have used when someone asked what scissoring was.

She’s definitely aged – she’ll be 84 next month – but still looks mostly the same, and the personality is still there. A bit less energetic, perhaps, but that’s more than fair. Apparently she keeps trying to retire and they keep asking her to come to places and speak. Lordy, people, let the woman rest. We have other sex educators out there now. And you’re sending a senior citizen out in the snow in the dead of winter. Sheesh.

The presentation went on for around two hours, and was all Q&A, with questions submitted on chits of paper before things got started. She had said she was going to talk a bit about the Science of Sex exhibit, but that didn’t happen. She did laud KW for having it, and being progressive, as Toronto wasn’t hosting the exhibit anywhere.

The Q&A went on a bit long, and I got the impression there was a lot of redundancy in the questions, since she skipped a bunch. Overall, people seem to be pretty vanilla and the myths busted were the same ol’, same ol’, far as I was concerned.

What I did notice was that things felt distinctly… dated. As someone on Facebook mentioned, Sue was pretty damned progressive back in the 70s and 80s. But the information in the Q&A seemed really heteronormative, monogamy-centric, and technophobic. (She did say straight out that she’s a technophobe.) Someone asked about keeping the spark in a long-distance relationship, and pretty much all she recommended was talking dirty on the phone. Really? No smutty texts or Snapchats? No Skype or Hangouts? No remote-controlled fun? Oh, Sue.

I think she’s a great resource and introduction to sexuality and being smart about it for young people who are coming from a place of cluelessness (really, schools, we need to do much better). But after a certain point, I think it’s time for Violet Blue (warning: NSFW pictures) and her ilk.

There were even a handful of questions asked that Sue had to ask the audience about. Which made it fairly obvious that she doesn’t do a lot of research these days or spend much time online. That said, I don’t know how much of the average populace is using coconut oil as a lube or contemplating giving a “blumpkin”…

Re. the former: don’t. Like Vaseline or baby oil, etc., it’ll wreck condoms, plus there are bacterial risks and other issues. Hit up Come As You Are or whatever’s local to you and get some decent lube. Re. the latter: why??? Actually, don’t answer that…

Overall, it was great to see Sue, but yeah, let her retire. Let the next generation take over. Coincidentally, I found the exhibit itself to be similar to the presentation – very heteronormative and whatnot. That said, I chatted briefly with David Marskell, THEMUSEUM’s CEO, shortly before we left, and he said they’d approached a number of people in the local LGBT community, and no one had wanted to participate, which was too bad. I don’t know who was approached or what was offered, but the result was the poorer for it. Oh well.

All in all, A good initiative, and important for young people. There’s a lot of ignorance and misinformation out there, and it’s dangerous. As for us old folks who’ve spent way too much time in the past couple decades online… our kids are more the target audience than we are. Though really, being reminded of the basics, or what the baseline of knowledge really is for a lot of people, wasn’t a bad thing. Stay safe out there.

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