SFU courses explore sexuality

Image Credit: Phoebe Lim

SFU is bringing sexual issues to the forefront and into the classroom.

This semester, SFU offered two courses on human sexuality in the psychology department and in the political science department.

Sex, Love, and Politics from Classical Greece to Contemporary Times taught by Genevieve Fuji Johnson, and Psychological Perspectives on Human Sexuality taught by Rebecca Cobb both explore the nature of human sexuality.

Political Science 419, Sex, Love and Politics from Classical Greece to Contemporary Times, explores aspects of sex from a political perspective. Some of the topics in the course include defining and demarcating citizenship with regards to sex, its regulation for productive and reproductive purposes, and the exploitative and violent aspects of sex.

Despite the sensitive subject matter of the course, Fuji Johnson says the course sees a high enrolment. “I think because there’s ‘sex’ in the title of the course it’s very popular. It’s usually oversubscribed. This means that the students who enroll typically have high GPAs and are in the fourth year or beyond. So, the class discussions are always really thoughtful and informed.”

She continued, “Students are always very respectful. We do discuss a wide range of topics that many find quite personal, but I can’t say that it’s ever been awkward, at least not for me.”

The course also focuses on patriarchy, same-sex marriages, gender identity/expression, polygamy, pornography, and prostitution.    

The Peak asked Fuji Johnson if there was one particularly important aspect of the course she hoped students would take away from the class. “I really want students to consider how very fundamentally personal issues are political,” she responded. “I want them to think about how their personal lives are socially constructed and to be critical of the role of norms, policies, and laws in this construction.”

I think because there’s “sex” in the title of the course it’s very popular.”

Genevieve Fuji Johnson,

SFU professor of political science

Psychology 367, Psychological Perspectives on Human Sexuality, examines research on sexual topics such as gender differences in sexuality, sexual orientation, and sexual arousal. The objective of the course is for students to be able to critically evaluate claims about sexuality through empirical research.

Cobb commented on how students typically respond to the topics and content of the course: “At first, students are sometimes reluctant to ask questions or to respond to questions during lecture, but after a few small group discussions, they quickly become more comfortable.”

She continued, “I have had students comment that this was the first time they said words like ‘porn’ or ‘orgasm’ out loud during class in front of a hundred other students. They seemed almost shocked that they were able to muster the confidence to do so.”

The course will also dive into the history of sex research, attitudes about sex, sexual orientation, communication about sex, sex motives, sexual fantasy, and pornography.

Cobb expressed her aspirations for the students taking her class: “I hope students will build on what they have learned to have effective conversations with their partner about sexual issues. Start talking about sex early and often in your intimate relationships, but it is never too late to start.”