Sex Ed in Higher Ed

College instructor teaching human sexuality rants about the dumbing down of America, the lost art of manners, grammar and (the perfect combination of both) the thank you note. Also includes random rants about life, pet peeves, and sometimes raves about favorite things.

Friday, March 24, 2006


I'm conflicted. Very, very conflicted. Why would I be conflicted, you ask. After all, I am now
"officially" on spring break, with partying every night and blogging every day. But believe me, I have reason. Well, at least one reason- and it has to do with (shocking, I know!) inappropriate sister. And mocking her.

Is it wrong (morally, ethically, spiritually, legally, etc.) for me to post my students' inane ramblings for others to mock? Because I have got a PRICELESS one in my hot little hands. Okay, decision made. It's unethical for me to suffer alone. Let me set the stage for you:

One of the main assignments I give my students is "reactionary reviews." I bring in a variety of guest speakers and I also show what I hope are compelling and/or controversial videos at least once a week. Students must "react" in writing to a speaker or video on four different occasions. For every semester I teach, I find one more thing I guess I'm not clear on, and subsequently, every semester my syllabus grows longer and longer. At this moment, my syllabus is five pages with teeny, tiny Arial narrow font (pt. 9) and really itsy bitsy margins. Apparently, still not long enough. I dedicate about, oh, 3/4 of a page explaining the mysterious "reactionary review." In my mind, I could not be any more clear: 3 pages minimum, 5 pages maximum. Times New Roman 12 pt. font. 1" margins all around. Typed (of course) and double-spaced. First page-page and a half should be a summary of the speaker or video. No MORE than a page and a half should be the aforementioned summary. THEN, for the remaining pages, you are to write about your reaction to the speaker or video. Don't know what to write? Here are some questions and/or "talking points" to help you get started:
  • How did speaker/video make you feel?
  • Did you learn anything new from speaker/video?
  • If yes, what did you learn?
  • If no, where had you gained your previous information about this topic?
  • Was the previous information you had about the topic accurate?
  • Were any of your previous thoughts on the topic erroneous?
  • If yes, what was incorrect and what do you now know as "correct?"
  • Did the speaker/video change your opinion on the topic? If so, how was it changed?
  • If you were to describe this speaker/video/rodeo clown to a friend, what would you say about it?
  • Do you think other students in future iterations of this class should see the same speaker, etc.?
  • If yes, why? If no, why not?
Is everybody with me? This seems like a pretty straightforward and realistic assignment to me. But then again, I'm not 19. Last week, I had Dr. L., medical director of the student health center, come speak to the class about birth control. I love Dr. L. and so do the students. He is just fabulous. He knows about all the types of birth control, which companies manufacture them, how much each type costs at the health center, side effects, which ones students like the best, etc., etc., He also does see student patients. This is an important side note to be remembered for later.

That same day, I also showed what I consider to be a fascinating video (then again, my definition of fascinating is probably different than that of your average bird's): The History of the Pill. I saw it on PBS and knew I had to have it. I have watched it dozens of times now and I am still riveted by it.

I told my students that they were certainly welcome to "react" to Dr. L., but it would probably be easier for them to "react" to the pill video, since there was probably more information in it that was new to them. 99.9% of the students who wrote a reaction paper for that day wrote about The Pill. Except. You guessed it. Inappropriate sister.

Her paper started like this: "On Tuesday, the 12th of May (huh? What? Seriously, girl. It was the 14th of March. But I digress), Dr. L. came to our class to discuss birth control. He has been my gynecologist for the past four years and I love him. He's great. In order to demonstrate how great he is, I'm going to tell a story about my first gynecologist, who was not so great." At this point, I'm hoping she'll get sidetracked by a shiny object and I really, really won't have to read about her first visit to the OB/GYN. Don't I suffer enough as it is? Then:

"Because I am a virgin (OF COURSE YOU ARE! EVERYONE KNOWS THAT YOU ARE! THE PEOPLE IN THE CLASSROOM NEXT DOOR KNOW YOU ARE! Ahem. Sorry for shouting), I did not get my first pelvic exam until I was 20. I'm a virgin, hooray for me, yippee, yippee, hooray. Unfortunately, as a virgin, my first pelvic exam was extremely traumatic because of the female doctor I visited." Now, here is where I was conflicted about sharing a student's paper. And then I decided I wasn't conflicted anymore because it's just. too. crazy. to keep to myself: Ready, folks? Here we go. (And thanks in advance for not responding that I deserve to rot in hell) Verbatim:

"This environment scared me even more. She was cold and out of touch with the sensitivity that it takes to earn someone's trust with whom you are entering into such a vulnerable position. This is something I find quite common in the medical field of today because the motivations of people who enter the field are not out of a genuine concern for people but possibly out of a desire for wealth. Being involved in the alternative medicine scene makes this even more obvious. Dr. L. was very good at making me feel comfortable and explaining everything - another thing that many Doctors do not do. This allows one the courtesy of knowing what is going on with her own body. I had a nurse tell me one time not to question their procedures. I cried. I was so angry that someone would treat you as the lowly client who could not possibly understand what "we" do.

It is in this hostile atmosphere that the white witch proceeded to enter a cold hard utensil into my body and hurt me. I told her I was nervous and she showed no sign of trying to work with me nor telling me ahead of time what the procedure was going to feel like, why it was necessary, etc., The way she operated was like her husband had just left her for being a controlling ice queen and her children would no longer talk to her. She went to pull out the large metal fire poker and it had pinched something inside me that she was apparently trying to pull out for her cruelty trophy chamber even though I told her she was hurting me. I was breaking a cold hard hospital sweat trying to clench my legs together while in a dominatrix torture devise known as "stirrups" while at the same time sliding off the chair in fear and pain . . . she relented not."

As I said before: Oy. Yesterday was the second midterm and inappropriate sister was the last person to finish. When she turned in her exam, I handed her back her paper. She looked at me, smiled and asked, "Did you like my story?" What was I supposed to say? "Actually, it scared the shit out of me?" or "Is this your way of crying out for help and trying to tell me you were molested as a child?" or, as a colleague asked me when I showed her the paper, "Are you sure you're not suffering from dissociative disorder?" I lied. I said, "Wow. It sure was, um, creative!"


Blogger Schietto Sister said...

I know I am supposed to used those cute abbreviations about laughing, but I can't. Not that there is anything wrong with them. I can't (mostly because I can never remember anything but LOL.) Also, they're just not me. But. Oh. It hurts. I have spit on my computer screen from laughing (as if I have had two martinis.) My jaw hurts from the shock and craziness of this "reaction" to Dr. L (speaking to your class.) Inappropriate Sister is definitely certifiable (and not a virgin.)

March 24, 2006 2:44 PM  
Blogger Art Nerd Lauren said...

I think that at a certain point I'll realize that not everyone is going to even READ the assignment that I hand out. That no matter how crystal fricking clear the language is, there are some doofuses (doofi?!) who just barrel into the assignment balls to the wall, I'ma just do this! And they will fail. And fail miserably.

Inappropriate sister, does she have many girlfriends? For her virgin self? That don't also hang out with inappropriate brother?

March 24, 2006 3:22 PM  
Blogger ColoradoCastaway said...

ROTFLMAO(how bout that one sis?) I Cannot believe this girl, what a friggin moron!! her mom should be slapped for even allowing her to get to twenty before seeing her ob and slapped again for never telling her what to expect. There are not a lot of women who have conversed with me about their experiences with their gynacologist but those that have mostly tell me they would rather have a woman DR. am I wrong or is she just kind off the deep end with just about everything she does?

March 24, 2006 3:24 PM  
Blogger Teacher lady said...

She AND her mom are off the deep end. Inappropriate sister ALSO wrote in her paper about her horrendous periods and how the white witch suggested the pill to help ease the symptoms (a common prescription) but her mother told her "It's not nice to trick your body." Doesn't that remind you of those old margarine commercials, "It's not nice to fool Mother Nature?" Anyway. Mother said that taking the pill was a way of "tricking" one's body. I guess we shouldn't do that. Hell, if we could, I'd do this: "Body, you're not 5'4', you're 5'10" and 115 pounds, okay?" Body: "What? Okay, I'm tricked."

March 24, 2006 4:48 PM  
Blogger Veronica Mitchell said...

I'm afraid I just thought it was sad. She is trying to use you for a confidant about something that upset her. Yes, it is definitely inappropriate for her to do this in a class paper, and, considering her expressed disapproval of the material you teach, a little inexplicable. But it doesn't sound like she's been taught much about "appropriate." I have certainly been in classes where students suddenly start talking like it's free therapy, and it's exasperating. But if she has trouble with boundaries anyway, I would expect it in a paper, too. In some unforeseen way you have affected her. And she seems to be looking for approval from you.

March 24, 2006 5:30 PM  
Blogger Teacher lady said...

Interesting perspective, Veronica. I hadn't thought about it that way. Based on a conversation we had (in class) last week, though, that I didn't blog about, I think she's trying to "rattle me" or "shock me" (as many students try to do, in some attempt to - I don't know - win some sort of award for being one of the few, the proud, to shock the human sexuality teacher?) more than she's looking for my approval. Because honestly, I think she cannot stand me. She's probably praying for my soul as I type this. But - I am not always right and you certainly could be. I will try to take this into consideration when we get back from break.

March 24, 2006 5:44 PM  
Blogger ColoradoCastaway said...

I guess let her ignorant ass suffer, My Daughter(15) takes the Depo shot because of massive cramps during her Period. Imagine If I told her she shouldn't "trick" her Body, Her Mom's more of a moron that she is, Nice to know she's passing on those traits to her children. My favorite quote from 'Back to the Future'..."He's and Idiot, Parents are probably Idiots too...(it)Comes from upbringing."

March 25, 2006 10:19 AM  
Blogger Schietto Sister said...

Veronica has an interesting point. I wonder if you approached inappropriate sister privately and suggested a particular book or just opened the door for her to talk. I think what stands out for me is that she asked you what you thought of her paper. If she is trying to shock you and not asking for help (inappropriately) then no harm done. But what if you are missing this opportunity to truly educate her? Just a thought. Thanks, Veronica for being brave enough to pose a different perspective.

March 26, 2006 9:36 AM  
Blogger liberalbanana said...

Inappropraite sister sounds like a total nutjob. "The white witch?" Did she just watch The Chronicles of Narnia before she wrote her paper?? Stirrups as dominatrix torture devices? I wonder what the hell she'll think the day she needs to get her first mammogram! And "it's not nice to trick your body?" So...does she not ever take medicine when she's sick either? She just lets her body work its way through the achiness and runny noses and coughing? Well, good for her. Way to be all natural. Ha.

She's either trying to reach out to someone (maybe she feels that she can't talk to her mom is such a frank manner?) or she's just an evil little girl who wants to shock people - and uses this as a way to get around actually following the rules of an assignment. She probably thinks that if she writes shit like this, there's no way you'll cold-heartedly ignore her trauma and simply say "Sorry, you were supposed to respond to the speaker, and you didn't. Try again. By the way, sorry for your bad experience. You should go talk to the school psychologist about that if it bothers you that much."

Hope you're enjoying the first weekdays of your Spring Break! (I wish government jobs had spring break! Ha...)

March 27, 2006 11:25 AM  
Anonymous sweatpantsmom said...


As Veronica mentioned, I also feel sorry for her. She definitely seems to be looking for approval of some sort. I cannot even imagine writing a paper like this and handing it in. I also think her flippant inquiry at the end and referring to it as a 'story' is a little odd.

March 27, 2006 2:12 PM  
Blogger Antique Mommy said...

There should be hazard duty pay for teachers who have to read that kind of stuff. If only Inappropriate Sister had relented and stopped writing. Just stopped.

April 01, 2006 5:22 PM  

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