November 11, 2005

Cohler talks about the birds and the bees

Campus advocacy group Sex Education Activists hosted a brown bag lunch and discussion with eminent social sciences professor and self-described “gay psychoanalyst” Bert Cohler on Thursday afternoon in the Reynolds Club South Lounge.

Cohler attacked the entire concept of sex education, calling it a “terrible term” and claiming that teachers and parents should treat the topic of sex from a more positive angle.

“We should be more aware of our own desire and subjectivity,” he said. “Sexuality has long been presented as a danger in contrast with a discourse of desire.”

Most of the discussion focused on students’ own personal experiences with elementary and secondary school sex ed. Students told stories of being required to sign an abstinence pledge and learning to put condoms on a variety of gourds.

Cohler, a two-time winner of the Quantrell Award for excellence in undergraduate teaching, also spoke out against the “heteronormative paradigm” and in favor of greater exposure to alternative sexualities in students’ formative years. “Foucault says sexuality is a field of knowledge. We need to learn about the ways in which we constitute ourselves as sexual subjects or objects.”