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September 26, 2013

Sex can be enjoyable and safe, says Friedman

By Hannah Corcoran

Jay Friedman, sex educator and award-winning writer, spoke to Cleveland State students on Wednesday, Sept. 18 in a speech coordinated by the Campus Activities Board.

During the entertaining and informative presentation called the “J-spot”, that took place in the Student Center Ballroom, Friedman talked about the fear of discussing sex in American society and gave advice on how to have enjoyable, safe sex.

“We have a natural desire to learn about sex and enjoy sex,” he said. “Sex is good.”

Friedman covered it all from masturbation to homosexuality and orgasms.

“I’m here to stimulate your minds so you will enjoy happy and healthy sexual lives,” said Friedman.

He stressed that openly discussing and learning about sex will only make us healthier and smarter in the long run.

Friedman criticized American society’s anti-sex outlook, in the areas of media portrayal to education. He called our society one of the most sex negative and sex phobic in the world.

He shared a story from one of his presentations where he asked what a vulva was and student said, “a vulva…my parent’s drive one of those.”

“We are crippled with ignorance,” he said.

The abstinence-only approach in our schools is unrealistic and filled with simplistic phrases and slogans, in Friedman’s opinion.

He also points out the irony of the U.S.’s rank as number one in teen pregnancy rates of any developed country in the world. Rates of teen pregnancy, abortion and sexual assault are significantly lower in the northern European countries of Belgium, the Netherlands, Sweden and Scandinavia, according to Friedman. He said that this is because these countries promote open communication and comprehensive sex education.
Friedman credits his interest in sexuality and sex education to his lack of knowledge about it when he was growing up. His parents and education used the “scare tactic” approach to teaching about sex, he said.

“We watched the movies about diseases where they flashed pictures of genitals covered with herpes,” Friedman said.

He said this lack of information and mystery surrounding sex led him to become interested in learning more about sex.

Before he became a sex educator, he hosted a radio talk show about relationships.

“I get paid to do nothing but talk about sex,” he said. “I love my job because there’s always more to learn.”

However, with the job comes controversy. Opponents of Friedman’s openness regarding sex and his informative, unfiltered sex education speeches call him names such as, “dangerous hippie.” He had a hard time gaining support for his sex-ed program in states such as, North Dakota, South Dakota and Montana.

Friedman currently writes for Seattle Weekly.

He graduated from Cornell University and received his Master’s in education from the University of Vermont.

He also coordinated Cornell’s male sexuality peer education program titled, “How to be a better lover.”