The last question on the final exam in my class was “What’s one important thing you learned in this class?” I let them know they got the points no matter what they said, as long as they answered the question.
There were four big themes in their responses, and I’ll talk about all of them eventually, but I want to show you what students said about the single most prevalent theme. It illustrates, in my mind, the overmastering importance of a scientific approach to sex. With gratitude and acknowledgment to my students, here’s what they said:
I am normal.
I am normal.
I AM NORMAL
I am normal!
I am normal!
I learned I’m normal
That I am normal. Thanks.
I am normal!
One really important thing I learned from this class is that I am normal!
I am normal!
That I am normal!
Yes, I am normal!
I AM NORMAL! YAY!
That I’m normal, so stop worrying about it
My desires and body are “normal”!
I’m normal. My sexuality is normal.
I’m normal! And so is everyone else.
I am normal and so are you no matter what we want, need or enjoy in terms of sex.
I am normal! And so is any sexual act as long as it can be done!
That everything I think and feel in terms of my own sexuality is normal and okay.
I learned that I am normal! And I learned that some people have spontaneous desire and others have responsive desire and this fact helped me really understand my personal life.
I am normal! There isn’t a word that can describe my sexuality or who I am besides my name. I am who I am!
Asking “am I normal” should always/will now always be answered with YES!
Everything is normal
Everyone is normal.
That everything is normal.
Everything is normal, everything varies.
Everything is normal and social constructions are useless.
What’s normal? EVERYTHING IS NORMAL
Everything and everyone is normal (regarding sexuality, sexual response, and practices)
How everything is normal.
There is no such thing as “normal.”
There is no such thing as “normal.” Society tries to say that there is a “norm” but almost no one fits in the category, therefore actually making it an abnormal category so to speak.
Everything is normal. Bringing joy and confidence to sex
I learned that everything is NORMAL, making it possible to go through the rest of my life with confidence and joy.
That we are all normal and have the right and freedom to experiment however we want sexually as long as it is safe and consensual.
I learned that all sexual behaviors are normal. I think that’s really important because it’s easy to subscribe to popularized, stereotyped ideas of how sex “should” be.
There are an infinite amount of sexualities and it’s okay if mine is different from everyone else’s
Normal encompasses a lot more than people would like you to believe in the world of sex.
That there is no real “normal” thing about women/sex/reproduction. Me = less of a freak than I thought.
“Normal” is not limited to the society’s definition of “normal.” It is different for each individual.
Women vary, and pretty much everything is normal.
Women vary! And just because I do not experience my sexuality in the same way as many other women, that does not make me abnormal
That women’s sexual desire, arousal, response etc., is incredibly varied.
The one thing I can count on regarding sexuality is that people vary, a lot
I learned that women are beautiful and diverse, which means most things are healthy and normal (even if popular culture says they’re not). Vaginas, for instance, vary tremendously, and that’s fantastic – nothing to be embarrassed of.
I learned that it is okay to sexually desire certain acts, people, etc. Everything is “normal,” I am “normal,” and we shouldn’t judge ourselves on a scale of normal/abnormal anyway.
What is normal? Everything – as long as there is consent and no distress.
That there’s no such thing as normal.
We are all normal & we are all okay.
That it is okay to be different than others when it comes to sexual pleasure.
I learned that each person’s concept of what is “normal” or “weird” is different.
Sexuality is massively different in all different people, so as long as you’re being considerate of your partner and not hurting them, you are ok. You’re not weird and you aren’t “not normal.” Not only that but you can even change your feelings or what you like throughout your life, and that’s ok too!!
To be more open and understanding of other’s sexual desires, identities, and behaviors. I learned the value of not yucking someone else’s yum.
The phrase “Don’t yuck my yum!” Also that no one is sexually abnormal. We’re all different, and that’s cool. (Which Judith Butler put a lot better than me…)
No yucking – your yuck could be someone else’s yum. I think acceptance is a big part of being sex-positive.
When presented with occasionally graphic images, I learned about the importance of quietly and respectfully accepting the sexual preferences of others if they do not exactly match mine – specifically I mean “not yucking anyone’s yum.” In fact, I learned to keep an open mind about it because, who knows, it might be something I decide to try! I attribute this in part to the class size – you know that of all those people, it may apply to someone.
I learned that “normal” is really a social construct, its precise classification varying with place and time. People attach the label “normal” when variance from the common or accepted/expected behavior frightens them.
Throughout this class I learned how what is “normal” is so tied up with culture and society, and this can have significant effects on the individual and their identity.
The we are all normal! There is so much variance (good!) that the rigid labels and standards in our culture is a bunch of hooey.
The ability to think about so many different components of sexuality in a new, more fully developed way. Oh, and that everything is normal.
I learned that no matter whether non-normative sexualities or genders were selected for or are products of cultural upbringing, they are normal, diverse, and completely OKAY.
There is no such thing as “normal” and we should love ourselves, always.
Everything is normal (as long as it is between consenting adults and it doesn’t cause personal suffering).
Nothing, or everything, in terms of sexuality is normal!
The point of sex is to create diverse, dependent offspring. NO TWO ALIKE!
That everyone is different and everything is normal; no two alike
No two alike!
Diverse & Dependent Offspring. No 2 alike.
The most important thing I am taking away from this class is the notion that as long as it is safe and consensual, every type of sex, gender, expression, or sexual act is totally normal. I feel that this class has freed me from the constraints of social and sexual norms and allowed me to explore my own sexuality more extensively.
(And my favorite…)
Pretty much the lot of it, but particularly sex positivity. It was amazing to learn about sexuality from someone who is not a nun or an abstinence-only teacher! Science FTW!