AASECT-Certified Sex Therapist Supervisor
Writing is a fluid process and one that I enjoy immensely. I am always either writing or reading.
The San Antonio Express-News ran a relationship and sexuality column which I authored for four years. I have included some of the columns on the site. I welcome opportunities to write for other publications, online or in print.
My Sex Education. Copyright, The Hearst Corporation, May 21, 2005.
What was your sex education like?
When I was about 10, I had my first taste of sexual ignorance. A 7th grader that I didn’t know came up to me and asked, “Do you believe in sex education in public schools?” I shrugged. “Do you know what f--- means?” I did not. Then he asked me if I knew what two choice vernacular terms for the human genitals meant. No dice. Exasperated, he stormed off, waving his hand at me dismissively.
The following Sunday, I provided my parents with a teachable moment and possibly a stroke. We were almost finished eating Sunday dinner when I blurted out in my 5th grade innocence, “What does f--- mean?” My mother instantly picked up her plate and went into the kitchen. I didn’t see her for the rest of the day. My sister obviously had no idea. My brother had both hands over his mouth trying to stifle his laughter. He did not succeed and subsequently slid down his chair and under the table, dissolving into hysterical tears. My father, to his credit, asked me where I had heard that term. I told him the story of the 7th grader. Dad explained very calmly that the f-word was a slang term for sex and it was not something that people said in polite company. He also explained the other words in similar terms.
That was the extent of my direct sex education within my family system.
I left for college at the age of 17. At the age of 19, a friend suggested I go to the local Planned Parenthood where for the first time I got comprehensive, factual information and medical care in a non-judgmental setting.
My mother has since told me that her sex education consisted of a book that her mother left on her bedside table.
So like millions of other children, my siblings and I were left to flounder through the hormonal muck. I learned to be too trusting. I quickly discovered that the moniker of Christian does not mean that a person is worthy of trust. I found that people were sexual opportunists, exploiting others in their darker moments while maintaining a superficial layer of piety. I realized that power was often synonymous with sexual exploitation. I gradually began to listen to my intuition when it came to choosing friends or potential lovers. But most of all, I lamented that an enormous part of my education about how to navigate relationships had been overlooked by my well-meaning but equally deprived parents.
Nobody is perfect but we all have something to teach the children in our lives. Even if your version of sex education is, here is what worked for me or here is what I believe – that is better than awkward silence. No one expects you to know all the answers. If a child asks something that you don’t know, then look it up together. Just don’t leave the young people you love out there flapping in the wind; help them build a sail by which they can navigate.
Circumcision. Published May 17, 2003. Copyright The Hearst Corporation.
Q: Dear Cay, why in the world are men circumcised? Mr. Turtleneck
A: Dear Mr. Turtleneck,
Good question! Circumcision involves surgical removal of the foreskin, which normally covers the glans, or head of the penis. Circumcising a male is comparable to surgical removal of the clitoral hood in the female, which is called Female Genital Mutilation. According to Dr. Terry Hamilton in Skin Flutes and Velvet Gloves, circumcision removes more than 3 feet of veins, arteries, and capillaries, 240 feet of nerves; and more than 20,000 nerve endings. The average size of a removed foreskin is about 15 square inches or roughly the size of a 3 x 5-index card. All of this is done without the boy's permission; usually he is too young to protest.
Over time, however, a medical purpose has evolved for this 'unnecessary' tissue. Foreskins are the primary source of skin grafts for burn victims and the tissue plays a role in the generation of insulin. Could it be possible that the practice of circumcision continues partially because infant foreskin has become a medical commodity?
The origins of circumcision are decidedly cultural or religious. Artistic depictions of circumcision date back to the Egyptians in 2400 BC. In Circumcision: A History of the World's Most Controversial Surgery, David L. Gollaher says that the ritual "must have presented an opportunity for a youth, on the threshold of manhood, to demonstrate his mastery over bodily pain." Still other historians claim that removal of the foreskin was at one time a fertility rite, offering part of the body to the earth in exchange for abundant crops.
Circumcision did not become routine among American doctors until the late 19th century. Around that time, a prominent orthopedic surgeon, Lewis A. Sayre, began promoting male circumcision as a way to heal muscular ailments. He claimed that relieving the "imprisoned glans penis" restored the patient to health. Although the surgery failed to improve the muscular ailments of many patients, other doctors adapted the practice because they believed it would be more sanitary and might curb masturbation. This focus on cleanliness and suppressed sexuality appealed to many Victorians thus perpetuating the practice.
In 1971, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) Committee on the Fetus and Newborn declared that "there was no valid medical indication for circumcision in the neonatal period." From that declaration arose a movement against circumcision. In the mid-1970's, 4 of every 5 males in theU.S.
were circumcised. Today, the circumcision rate has fallen to 61%. In 1999, the AAP stated that the procedure should not be routinely done on all boys and proposed for the first time, that anesthesia should be used for the procedure.
There is little research exploring the impact that circumcision has on a male's sexual satisfaction. However, men who were circumcised as adults consistently report a reduction in sexual satisfaction following the surgery. A 1999 study of women indicated more sexual satisfaction with intact rather than cut partners.
After all, a trombone can play more notes than a bugle. For more information, check out www.circumstitions.com.