Scientific censorship

Do you like knowing the weather forecast? Do you live in an earthquake-prone area and want to know when your house might start shaking? Do you buy and eat food grown by or raised on agricultural farms? Do you go swimming in a body of water and want to know when it’s unhealthy to do so because of bacterial, pollution, or other contaminant levels? Does your loved one have cancer and you’re trying to find information on the latest treatment options for them? Too bad for you, because this new order means that information is suddenly not allowed to be communicated to the US public.

This act of censorship includes the Department of Health and Human Services, and therefore the Centers for Disease Control and the National Institutes of Health.  While not overtly tied to anything sexuality-specific, this order does affect research and dissemination of information about sexuality and sexual health, given that sexuality research can receive grants from agencies with in the Department of Health and Human Services.

See the following article for more information:

WHAT WE ACTUALLY LOSE WHEN THE USDA AND EPA CAN’T TALK TO THE PUBLIC

View of the a rocky landscape (perhaps the badlands) in one of the National Parks

 

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Captain America says it better than I can at the moment

Captain America quote

Doesn’t matter what the press says.  Doesn’t matter what the politicians or the mobs say.  Doesn’t matter if the whole country decides something wrong is something right.

This nation was founded on one principle above all else:  the requirement that we stand up for what we believe, no matter the odds or consequences.

When the mob and the press and the whole world tell you to move, your job is to plant yourself like a tree beside the river of truth, and the the whole world

–“No, YOU move.”

-Captain America

Study on bisexual individuals in mixed orientation relationships

If you’re a bisexual individual in a mixed orientation relation living in or near the Minneapolis/St Paul area of Minnesota, consider participating in this research study!

Program in Human Sexuality at the University of Minnesota Medical School is seeking 18+ year old bisexual individuals for a study on mixed orientation relationships.

The study will include completing questionnaires of a personal nature and attending a small group discussion about relationships, sexuality, and health. Group discussions will be held in the Minneapolis/St. Paul area of Minnesota. To participate you must be age 18 or older, identify as bisexual, and currently be in a romantic/sexual relationship with someone who does not also identify as bisexual. You will receive a $20 gift card for participating when attending the focus group.

For additional information, or if you are interested in participating, please email BIMOR@umn.edu or contact Heidi at (612) 626-3608. This research is being conducted by Dr. Jennifer Vencill & Dr. Alex Iantaffi and has been approved by the UMN Institutional Review Board (study ‪#‎1502P62333‬).

UMN Program in Human Sexuality logo

AASECT 2015 conference registration is open!

Registration for the American Association of Sexuality Educators, Counselors, and Therapists (AASECT) 2015 conference is open!  The conference will take place June 3-7 in Minneapolis, MN.  I’m extremely excited about the location, since I grew up in the Twin Cities and love going back to visit.  And don’t worry, all the snow should have melted by June so you won’t need to bring your parka and long underwear.

 

Check out this link to learn more about the conference program, or go here to learn more about AASECT itself.

Last call for research study participants!

Still looking for research participants!  Please share with your friends and networks too.  Many thanks if you have already participated.

Green road sign that says

The Sexological Worldview Development Inventory (SWDI) has been developed as a way to measure a person’s response to individuals whose perspective on sexuality is different than one’s own.  The SWDI is currently in a second pilot study phase to determine its validity as a measurement tool.  We would like your help!

If you are over the age of 18 and have 20-30 minutes of free time, please go to this link: https://www.surveymonkey.com/s/DHTML9Y and take our survey.  If you know other people who also might be interested, please pass this information on to them!  For questions, you may contact the primary investigator at jasitron@widener.edu, or Widener University’s Institutional Review Board at 610-499-4110.

Thank you in advance for your time and consideration!

Justin A. Sitron, PhD
Associate Professor
Widener University
Center for Human Sexuality Studies

“Grapegate,” and the general dismissal of a population

You may have seen the New York Times article that came out Tuesday, describing Thanksgiving dishes evocative of each state.  Some of them make sense based on a state’s traditional culinary dishes – Idaho was assigned “Hasselback potatoes with garlic/paprika oil” and Maine got “lobster mac and cheese.  Other states were assigned some generic Thanksgiving dish – Oklahoma got green bean casserole, despite, as NPR writer Linda Holmes notes, that people in basically every state eat green bean casserole.

“Grapegate”

My home state of Minnesota, on the other hand, was assigned “grape salad,” which is apparently composed of sour cream, grapes, and brown sugar all heated up, then chilled and sprinkled with (optional) pecans.  Having grown up in Minnesota and lived there for over two decades along with my Minnesota-born, hotdish-eating extended family, I can safely say that I had never even heard of such a dish, much less one that is traditional holiday fare.  Judging by posts and comments on my Facebook feed and various tweets, posts, and articles elsewhere on the internet (google “Grapegate”), neither have most other Minnesotans.  I agree with Holmes assertion that the NYT must have given up, shrugged, and put down the first thing they found that seemed vaguely “Minnesota.”

But that’s the problem, and Holmes gets to it in the last paragraph of her article:

“A little advice for anyone making a 50-state map that touches on regional culture: Read every entry you have and think to yourself, “Am I basing this on actual information, or am I basing this on something droll I read in The New Yorker?” Because, yes, Minnesotans eat hotdish (not casserole, please), and there are church picnics, and we can say things like that about ourselves. But it already often feels like the entire middle of the country is swept aside as little more than a collection of Readers Digest anecdotes. Please don’t accuse us of being best represented by a tradition (?) of heating up grapes for Thanksgiving.”

"Grape salad" in a bowl

Swept aside

Since moving from Minnesota to the East Coast, I’ve become sadly familiar with this phenomenon, particularly in respect to the field of sexuality.  The Midwest is swept aside in an offhand phrase, usually related to close-minded or conservative attitudes, while the Coasts are praised:  “You’d expect such close-minded attitudes in the Midwest, but not out here on the East coast or somewhere liberal like San Francisco.

The thing is, the US is not homogenous in that manner.  Liberal attitudes and open-mindedness are not limited to the east and west, and conservative attitudes and close-mindedness are not limited to the middle of the country.  There are liberal cities and states in the Midwest.  From a sexuality-specific focus, Iowa was the third state to legalize gay marriage (Massachusetts and Connecticut were the first and second, respectively), and Minneapolis and St. Paul, Minnesota both fall in the top ten most LGBT-friendly cities in the US.  Only one of those ten cities lies on the East coast.  Numerous states throughout the entire US do not require that sex education be taught in schools; New Jersey has a long history regarding the fight to include sex education in schools.

It’s not just a salad

“Grape salad” is relatively unimportant in the grand scheme of things, and it would be easy to laugh about it, shrug it off, and move on.  It’s a pretty harmless stereotype.  But laughing off or ignoring this grape-salad-eating stereotype fails to acknowledge that it is one of many stereotypes held about the Midwest, not all of which are as harmless as an odd recipe that you probably won’t ever have to eat.  Assuming that everyone in the Midwest is conservative, close-minded about sexuality, and “uncultured” fails to acknowledge those who flocked to Iowa to get married in 2009, the thousands of people of all orientations and genders who turn out for Pride every summer, and those who are hard at work trying to make sexual health care affordable and available to everyone.  It also implies that the coasts are somehow full of sexually open-minded and affirming individuals individuals, which, given a glance at articles on anti-LGBT hate crimes in NYC, is not the case.

Failure to accurately research and portray a population in question, and to dismiss that population as weird or insignificant because of the food they supposedly eat or some other characteristic only perpetuates negative or wrong stereotypes.  “Grape salad” isn’t just a salad; it’s all the other negative, weird, or inaccurate stereotypes that are told about the Midwest, or any population in general.  One anecdote from an anonymous individual gets written into a national publication and suddenly the country thinks that Minnesotans eat warm grapes and sour cream…or that [insert population of your choice] think/believe/do [insert weird idea/belief/activity].  So, before you stereotype or generalize about a particular population or community or region, take a moment to think about where you’re getting your information about those individuals, and if that information is reliable and accurate, and if your statement is beneficial or if it simply sweeps that population aside.

Seeking participants for Sexological Worldview Development Inventory research study

Please check out this research study I’m involved in and take a few moments to participate!

Research participants wanted

Seeking Participants for Research Study

The Sexological Worldview Development Inventory (SWDI) has been developed as a way to measure a person’s response to individuals whose perspective on sexuality is different than one’s own. The SWDI is currently in a second pilot study phase to determine its validity as a measurement tool. We would like your help!

If you are over the age of 18 and have 20-30 minutes of free time, please go to this link: https://www.surveymonkey.com/s/DHTML9Y and take our survey. If you know other people who also might be interested, please pass this information on to them! For questions, you may contact the primary investigator at jasitron@widener.edu, or Widener University’s Institutional Review Board at 610-499-4110.

Thank you in advance for your time and consideration!

Justin A. Sitron, PhD
Associate Professor
Widener University
Center for Human Sexuality Studies