New Gender and Sexuality Studies Course Sparks Interesting Dialogues

Editor’s note: This article was initially published in The Daily Gazette, Swarthmore’s online, daily newspaper founded in Fall 1996. As of Fall 2018, the DG has merged with The Phoenix. See the about page to read more about the DG.

This semester’s Current Topics in Gender and Sexuality Studies course, subtitled “Theories and Representations of Orgasms,” has attracted many diverse students, including freshmen as well as Gender and Sexuality Studies special majors. Taught by visiting professor Anna Ward, the course is a discussion and writing-based course that offers historical, biological, political, and social perspectives on the orgasm.

According to Ward, more people signed up for this course than she originally anticipated. This number includes a fair amount of freshmen, for most of whom this is their first experience in Gender and Sexuality Studies. When asked why she registered for the course, Danielle Charette ’14, said, “It was mostly to appall my parents.”

Daniela Kucz ’14, from Poland, agreed with this. She explained, “I also wanted to take this course because sexuality was not something that was easily discussed where I’m from, and I thought taking a course like this would give me a certain independence and freedom of thought.”

Both Charette and Kucz agreed that the class has not been at all awkward because of the considerate and light hearted way in which Ward chooses to approach the topic, realizing that there may be people of all backgrounds, values, and opinions. In fact, Charette elaborated that she was more comfortable in this class than in certain other ones purely because of the angle from which the professor teaches this class.

According to Kucz, Ward opened the first class by saying, “Don’t be afraid to laugh, because sex is funny.”

Ward later explained that although she wanted the students to be thoughtful about the topic of orgasms, she realizes that “sex can be hilarious and ridiculous” and that “nobody should leave their personalities at the door.” According to Ward, the classroom should be a comfortable space where everybody can voice their opinions and come to their own conclusions.

Both Charette and Kucz agreed that the topic of orgasms is more a springboard for delving further into Gender and Sexuality Studies. Kucz said she wanted to end the course with a better perspective of issues pertaining gender and sexuality as well as have her own, independent ideas on the topic of sexuality.

According to Ward, the subject of sexuality—and orgasms in particular—is rather sensitive. Because of this, she wants the course to make the ideas of gender and sexuality more easily accessible and approachable.

Ward also said that she hopes students will gain an appreciation for interdisciplinary majors, and hopes that what she teaches within the course will be applied by students in different classes and majors over the course of their education.

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