Opinion: Clarion Call

N.C. colleges keep up with national trend toward sexualizing courses, events

Clarion Call No. 146
A class at the University of California at Berkeley came under fire in February when the public learned participants received college credit for a course that involved, among other things, visiting strip clubs, watching an instructor engage in sexual intercourse, and engaging in orgies at an instructor’s house.

Although it went to extreme lengths, the course is indicative of the hyper-sexualized atmosphere on campuses everywhere, including North Carolina.

This trend has been discussed in many places, including in Young America’s Foundation’s annual survey “Comedy and Tragedy: College Course Descriptions and What They Tell Us About Higher Education Today.” In the 2001-02 edition, YAF remarks “There is no limit to the sexual tastes that college courses dwell upon. Sexual studies now comprise a major portion of the curriculum at many colleges.”

North Carolina has not been left behind in this trend, either. Courses and campus events focused on sexuality can be found statewide. Most campuses have courses on “Human Sexuality,” for instance, often offered in sociology departments. The University of North Carolina at Charlotte’s is typical; Sociology 4261 looks at “ Human sexuality research; teenage pregnancy; birth control; sex education; sexual fantasy; pornography; homosexuality and bisexuality; sexual communication; heterosexual alternatives.”

North Carolina State University’s is offered through its physical education department (PEH 213), and it covers “physiological and psychosocial aspects of human sexuality” such as “health-related topics of birth control, pregnancy, childbirth, abortion and sexually-transmitted diseases.” It also, however, teaches “Concepts of gender acquisition, sexual values, and sexual morality discussed as related to the promotion of healthy lifestyles within contemporary American culture.”

In the latter respect, it is more akin to UNC-Asheville’s Philosophy 302 course, “Philosophy of Sex and Gender,” which examines “problems of sex and gender, such as the link between sex and gender, ethics of sexuality, ‘naturalness’ of sex and gender roles, feminism as it relates to issues in sexual and gender role assignment.”

At N.C. State, students can also study Sociology 407, “Sociology of Sexualities,” and Multi-Disciplinary Studies 328, “Sexuality and Values.”

Meanwhile, students at UNC-Chapel Hill can study sex and gender in society (Sociology 24) and in “antiquity” (Classical Studies 42). Or they could take “The Politics of Sexuality” (Political Science 73 for undergraduates and Political Science 342 for graduates).

At Duke University, students can take “X-Rated Bible: Sex and Violence in Scripture” (Women’s Studies 150S.05), “Regulating Sex: U.S. Women and Sexual Politics (Women’s Studies 150S.03), “Sex and Money” (Cultural Art 180.01), “Generation XXX: Sex in Contemporary Fiction” (Literature 20S.04), and “Romantic Pain” (English 26S.02).

If students still aren’t satisfied, they can attend one of the many showings of “The Vagina Monologues” and hear the stories of many different women’s vaginas. Advertisements for “The Vagina Monologues” urge students to “Spread the word,” and at last year’s performance at N.C. State, the Women’s Center on campus did just that by selling chocolate suckers shaped like vaginas. Or they can attend other shows, such as David Hare’s “The Blue Room,” that showed at UNC-CH’s Kenan Theater, in which a two-member cast portrays 10 different couples in 10 different sexual encounters.

Along those lines, UNCA will soon host the second annual “F-Word Film Festival: A Celebration of Images By and About Women.” Among the featured documentary videos screened will be “Shinjuku Boys,” about three Japanese transsexual sex workers, and “No Means No,” a “stylish and imaginative exploration of date rape.”