Every Wednesday The CSPH highlights a Sexuality Professional you should keep your eye on. Their backgrounds are very diverse in order to bring attention to the wide variety of amazing people working in the field. This week we bring you Lanae St. John!
1. What do you do in the field of sexuality?
I am a sexologist, sex educator, and mother who writes as The MamaSutra. Initially, I started out as a blogger for Good Vibration’s Magazine (The Buzz) but, as my education progressed and more opportunities came my way, I branched out to do more things Sex Ed related. I have presented in small groups, at universities, and for state and national conferences. In March, I will be presenting on a panel of sex-positive parenting experts at CatalystCon East. I have also been featured as a sex-positive parenting expert in SSEX BBOX – a web series documentary featuring people and experts from four cities around the world, as well as the feature length documentary “Revolutionary Sex” (in production) by NuReality Productions. Other than that, much of my work as been web-based (see below).
2. Where are you based out of?
I live in the San Francisco Area but travel quite a bit to Los Angeles and throughout the West Coast.
3. What is your focus? What do you do?
My focus is to help adults understand Sex for Real People for Real Life. Adults need tools to be able to talk to their children about sex, but that goes hand in hand with being able to speak with their own partners about sex. All of this is more than just talking about penises and vaginas and various sex acts; I want to make sure we consider the very important non-sexual components of sex education as well. The goal is for this education to trickle down to our children as well so everyone can develop a Healthy Sexuality.
4. What are your particular goals and passions in the field?
My goal is to shift the collective mindset about sex education. I want to see us move away from limited- or fear-based information sharing and toward thinking about sexual discourse as a process of Enlightenment – Sex education that results in understanding and the spread of knowledge. That’s what I hope to share as The MamaSutra.
5. Why did you choose to work in this field?
I knew I wanted to work in this field since I was in college. My first human sexuality class with Professor Janet Hyde was fascinating and inspiring, but considering I had not yet had my own sexual debut at that point EVERYTHING about sex was fascinating. It wasn’t until I became a mother that I realized the importance of raising children who are sex-positive in an informed, honest, and loving environment. I knew this was where my skills, knowledge, and abilities combined with my education and training could help others. I think everything in my life so far has brought me to this career.
6. Where did you go for school/training?
I received a Bachelor of Science in Psychology and a certificate in Women’s Studies from the University of Wisconsin – Madison. I’ve earned a Masters in Human Sexuality from the Institute for the Advanced Study of Human Sexuality. My current goal is to continue my studies for a PhD in Human Sexuality. It goes without saying my experience as a mother has been invaluable and given me a lot of perspective and insight into childhood sexuality – the type of experience that cannot be taught in any institution.
As a Board Certified Sexologist (American College of Sexologists, A.C.S.), I am also a member of the Society for the Scientific Study of Sexuality (S.S.S.S), The American Association of Sex Educators, Counselors, and Therapists (A.A.S.E.C.T.) and the International Society for the Study of Women’s Sexual Health (I.S.S.W.S.H.)
7. Do you have any literature out (websites, articles)?
I feel like I’ve got a little bit of work in a lot of different places. Initially I was a Sexy Mamas Blogger, “The MamaSutra”, on Good Vibrations’ website. If your web browser cannot access this site because of the explicit content there, my archive can also be found on my site www.themamasutra.net. I am co-founding a site NotSoSecret.com which seeks to empower women to discover and enjoy their own sexuality. I am a Sex & Relationship Panelist for the popular site Dick-n-Jane.com and I’m also an expert on gasm.org, a website combining sex educators and medical professionals together to talk about the female orgasm. I also co-host a show called Sexxx Talk Radio on the Progressive Radio Network – the podcast can be found on iTunes. I am also pleased to join the amazing team of sex educators over on WhatTheyAreAsking.com.
I have been quoted in a couple of articles on Jezebel.com and iVillage.com; have provided book endorsements for industry colleagues; and have received honors and mentions from websites and bloggers recognizing my work.
Some of the work still in progress (but coming soon): I have been asked to join the faculty of Sex Coach U lecturing about Child & Adolescent Sexuality and also am also a Love Coach All-Star with Loveology University. I have a free e-book coming out Q1 2013 as well as two other e-books in 2013. Check my website for details on those.
8. What would you recommend to future professionals attempting to get into the field?
My advice to anyone who wants to get into the field of human sexuality is this: go through a full Sexual Attitude Restructuring (SAR) program. A 2-day SAR with media is great but an 8-day SAR is a rare and amazing experience. If you want to work with the sexuality of others make sure you have an opportunity to closely examine and understand the wide range of human sexual behaviors (including your own) first.
9. What is the most challenging aspect for you working in this career?
My most challenging aspect so far has been to make money. I feel like so many of the educators doing work in this field do so out of pure love and a real desire to help others (at least this is why I am still here); This is truly sacred work.
10. One must read-what would you recommend? Why?
Ok this question is the hardest so far! There are so many amazing books in this field by people I really admire. I would say the books best suited to give the average traditional or “vanilla” minded person an opportunity to expand their thinking without going to “sex school” would be these:
The Ethical Slutby Dossie Easton (to think about communicating with your partner).
I Love My Petalsby Nick Karras and Sayaka Adachi OR I’ll Show You Mine by Wrenna Robertson (to challenge yourself and view the vulva as a beautiful thing – it might take a few attempts for someone really apprehensive to the idea of looking at a vulva, but trust me: there is beauty. Imagine if women all saw our bodies as beautiful the way they are).
It really is difficult to select one book. I am blessed to work in a field where there are some amazing authors who have incredible messages that need to be heard.
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