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Syllabus

The Gender, Power, and Sexuality Workshop (GPS) is a 10-week, discussion-based workshop that aims to destigmatize marginalized genders and sexualities by providing comprehensive sex education and facilitating honest dialogue. Peer facilitators and participants collaborate to create a non-judgmental, accessible, and anti-oppressive environment where people from all backgrounds and identities can share information and resources, support and challenge each other, and learn and grow individually and collectively. GPS works to raise consciousness about how oppression functions while promoting and providing tools for informed decision-making, self-advocacy, and non-violent communication. Topics discussed in GPS range from reproductive justice, colonialism, and capitalism to masturbation, sex toys, and relationship models. GPS meets for two hours, twice a week on Brown University’s campus and is not for course credit.  We welcome participants of all genders, sexualities, ages, and backgrounds from Providence.

Introduction & Sexuality

Welcome to GPS! We will come together as a group for the first time, review the nitty gritty details of workshop procedures, and create our own workshop contract. Participants’ goals, fears, and hopes for the workshop will be discussed. We will define sexuality and what it means to each participant to ground GPS.

Power, Language & Identity 

This meeting will explore identity, power, and privilege as we discuss how participation in various communities & the claiming of certain identities forms our individual life experiences. We will explore the way the different identities we hold might be in conflict with one another politically and personally. We will discuss in detail how power dynamics might affect and will affect the group space and how we will work to use non-violent communication within the space. 

ACTIVE DESIRES 

During this section we will discuss what it means to think critically about and approach desire proactively. We perceive desire to often be conflated with sex, so our workshop will define desires as not just sexual but also non-sexual (i.e. desiring certain communication or a desire to not have sex and more). We will discuss and envision decolonial love and desire. Analyzing the way desires are taught to us and thinking proactively about how we might unlearn certain desires and/or beauty standards will be a central theme of this section.

CAPITALIST CULTURES

For this section we will attempt to define capitalist cultures and envision new conditions and cultures of care. We will discuss elements of Western imperialism and American exceptionalism as they pertain to the social, political, and economic elements of our society and as they pertain to sexuality and desire. We will discuss the way these concepts have been built on the backs of black and brown people of the world, and the way the European Transatlantic Slave Trade built the modern-day U.S. economy.

CLASS CONVERSATIONS

In this meeting, we will stress honest and transparent communication around class and socioeconomic status. Participants will gain a better understanding of their class background, their class standing, what informs or determines one’s class standing, the difference between finances/financial income and class status, the way class identifications might change for people over time, and more. We hope to leave section with a better understanding of how we might facilitate interclass communication and support in our everyday lives. 

SEX TOYS

In this section we will present various sex toys and accessories, including vibrators, cock rings, dildos, butt plugs, anal beads, strap-ons, nipple clamps, floggers, lubricants, various stimulators, and more. Offer information around the price of various sex toys, guidelines for choosing safer sex toys and lubricants, and information to ensure a lubricant-toy combination is safe for the body. We will focus on our individual experiences and impressions of the advantages and disadvantages of sex toys, as well as potential stigmas and barriers to access.

Reproductive Justice 

In this meeting, we will collaboratively define reproductive justice and what it means to us. We will have readings by Dorothy Roberts and Loretta Ross to provide a foundation for the rest of the workshop’s curriculum. We will discuss reproductive justice versus reproductive rights, learn why GPS attempts to operate under this framework, and familiarize ourselves with the history of reproductive justice in the United States.

MENTAL HEALTH

 We want to provide a space for participants to reflect on and discuss, if they so chose, their experiences with mental health. We want to open conversation around the way mental health moves differently through various communities  and think more in depth about the relationship between capitalist modes of production and ableism.

Disability justice

Description Coming Soon

Colorism

Description Coming Soon

COMMUNICATION & CONSENT

GPS believes in consent-based interactions beyond the understanding of consent solely in sexual interactions. We will discuss relationship boundaries, how we define consent and nonconsent, methods of communication both verbal and nonverbal, the relationship between consent, desire, and boundaries, and the goals of effective communication in any type of relationship.

GENDER IDENTITY

Why might someone choose to embrace traditional gender roles? In our gender section we will discuss different experiences with transitioning and different definitions of transitioning.  We will provide information around dysphoria and non-dysphoria and reflect on the way one’s gender might move and change through time and space. GPS prioritizes expanding trans* narratives beyond cis-hegemony. As such, there will be space to discuss the way cisnormative standards shape trans* experiences even for folx who identify as nonbinary. For those who do not identify as trans* or gnc, this section will be a space for cis individuals to think critically about how to personally support trans* people in their lives and communities.

SAFER SEX & STI'S

We will examine the uses and misuses of various safer sex devices and explore options of what safer sex materials are available and how they can be incorporated into our lives. We will discuss our definitions of “safer” sex, as well as the risks, symptoms, and treatments of various sexually transmitted infections. Focus will be on communication regarding sexual activity, protection, and contraception with partners. Our discussions in this section will work to destigmatize STIs and unpack the way these stigmas are heavily racialized and informed by classist, cissexist, and heterosexist mentalities.

BODY REFLECTIONS

This meeting will allow each participant to present a body image project as a jumping-off point from which to share and explore personal experiences with our bodies. We hope to think about how it feels to be inside of our own bodies and how our feelings regarding this change. Other topics we will discuss will include how people gender and sex different bodies, how processes of gendering and sexing are different and similar, what is self-image and how it is shaped, how bodies are used as an excuse for marginalization within marginalized communities, what words do we use to refer to our own bodies and body parts, and more.

Access to Healthcare 

In this section we will discuss and demystify US health care and its place in the medical industrial complex. We will talk about insurance, access to insurance through private and public systems, vocabulary used in processes of obtaining insurance and filing claims, different forms of coverage (i.e. are gender transitions covered and to what extent?), how to get coverage, and how to approach health care without insurance. We will also discuss forms of DIY medicine and healthcare. A presentation will be given on access to abortions and the procedures involved in seeking and receiving one.

HEALTH & ANATOMY 

In this meeting, we will discuss stereotypes and myths about sexual anatomy, as well as previous experiences with sexual health education. We will hear an in-depth presentation about anatomy (anus, perineum, penis, pubococcygeus (PC) muscles, vulva, testicles, intersex, inguinal canals). We will discuss the way cis narratives shape the way we think about, label, and use sexual anatomy and queer our understanding of these things.

politics of desire

Description coming soon.

EROTIC MEDIA

In this section, we will discuss both our personal experience with erotic media and the relationship between sex work and our politics, desires, and sexualities. We will talk about our roles as consumers (or non-consumers) of sexual media, our own relationships and experiences with pornographic mediums, what ethical porn is, and how we might want to incorporate erotic media into our lives.

relationships & Family

In this section we will discuss our relationships whether romantic, familial, or platonic, and how these influence our perception of our own sexualities. 

Building, Healing & REstoring

Here we will discuss violence as a barrier to solidarity and question what communities are to us, how violence affects our own communities, and how we might move forward to heal our own relationships. We will think more deeply about historical trauma and how we might begin to heal our communities affected by these deep strains of violence, even under conditions of care. We hope to incorporate conversations around organizing for political and/or institutional change and why building, restoring, and healing might be important processes for such organizing.

Final Projects & Final Class

In this meeting, each participant will present their final project, a chance to either reflect on personal experiences of GPS or further explore a topic discussed throughout the semester. In the past, some of these projects have taken the form of visual art, video, poetry, exploring a new source/form of pleasure, dance, and much more. We will reflect on and critique the workshop and think of how to move forward in our lives, relationships, and communities with the information we have accumulated.