Dr. Ted McIlvenna’s Statement to CA Senate Appropriations Committee

Check out Dr. Ted McIlvenna’s statement to the CA Senate Appropriations Committee here on Facebook (the IASHS page).

 

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Then please assist us by signing our petition to amend SB 1247. IASHS is not the only small school jeopardized by the language in this bill. Thank you!

Help Save the Institute for Advanced Study of Human Sexuality and Other Small, Niche Schools Too!

 

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Please sign this petition to amend CA SB 1247 and help save our school! I urgently make this request!

CA SB 1247 is a bill submitted to re-establish the Calfiornia Bureau of Private Postsecondary Education, and while we think this is a good thing, the current bill is making the mistake of requiring small institutions (many of which have delivered educational programs for decades) to have the same kind of accreditation that the much larger institutions have.

There’s a catch-22 here, in that the accrediting agencies are not interested in, and are not set up to serve, the smaller schools. They simply don’t care – and when a school delivers graduate level programs in human sexuality – they don’t even want to touch it!

This petition asks the State of California to instead allow a peer-review process, with supervision by the State oversight agency, as an alternative to the large regional and national accreditation BUSINESSES which do not wish to serve the smaller, niche-education schools.

So please, please, please do sign this petition. It’s so very important to so very many adult students in CA, not just those studying at IASHS! Thank you!

 

 

 

My New Job: Dean of Students, IASHS

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I am so pleased to announce my new position as Dean of Students for the Institute for Advanced Study of Human Sexuality in San Francisco, as of August 5th. I’m very excited to have this opportunity to work at this very unique graduate school for sexologists, and with people who have given me so much in the way of opportunity and support over the last eight years.

I’m also looking forward to working with present and future students of IASHS.

My schedule is flexible enough that I will be able to maintain my private practice as a clinical sexologist, so I really have the best of all possible worlds. I’m feeling so lucky!

New Name for STD Alert App – Healthvana

 

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It is with intense relief and gratitude that I pass along the announcement that the app formerly named after a treasured, sacred dance form is now officially christened Healthvana.

Though I was very hard on CEO Ramin Bastani and his advisors during the controversy, which was especially heated during most of this year’s spring, I am impressed with the fact that he not only listened – but also responded! It was not easy for him and his company to take on a third new name and all the branding and tech tasks that go along with this – but CEO Bastani did it.

By golly, he kept his word and he did it! I’m giving him every credit for this. Not many corporate and start-up folks would have taken the outrage of Hawaiians this seriously, but he did. And we can all breathe a real sigh of relief as a result.

I also look forward to the day when the remnants of “hula-as-an-STD-alert-app” are completely gone from the internet, replaced by Healthvana and the good work it can do.

Kumu Hina Documentary – It’s Stunning!!!

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Ever since viewing the documentary, Ke Kulana He Mahu – Remembering a Sense of Placea few years ago, I’ve been an appreciative “fan” of Hinaleimoana Wong-Kalu, a kumu hula (hula teacher) and cultural/community activist from O’ahu. And so I’ve eagerly awaited the San Francisco Frameline Film Festival screening of the new documentary, Kumu Hina. Here’s the trailer:

The film screened yesterday in SF, and will be shown in Berkeley tonight. I was lucky to go yesterday with one of my hanai sisters, Therese Wonnacott aka Aunty Anita, who is herself a mahuwahine community and cultural activist. Among other things, she runs and promotes the California Panache pageant (a topic which deserves its own separate blog!). (And have to give a shout-out to Danielle Castro, my adopted niece!)

It was thrilling and emotionally moving to sit in the Castro Theater and hear the voice of San Francisco hula luminary, Kumu Patrick Makuakane, as he welcomed Kumu Hina with a chant, and to hear her voice ring out as she answered in kind. (After the film, some members of the audience stood up and offered I Ku Mau Mau, a chant often used to express solidarity.)

The film itself was glorious. Personally, I was in heaven as it combined two of my top passions – Hawaiian culture (and activism) and support for gender variant people. And, as the mother of two, including a recent college graduate who just happens to be a trans guy, the portrayal of Ho’onani, one of Kumu Hina’s young students, was very meaningful. The fact that this kid was able to take her “place in the middle” with the full support of her teacher (and perhaps the somewhat more cautious permission of her family) was outstanding. Honestly, this is so rare in the world! Ho’onani is not the only “in the middle” kid Kumu Hina has taught, but her story and presence was especially compelling.

Of course, opportunities for examination of all kinds of intersectionality abound in this film. And though this blog is not meant to be a film review as much as it is a tale of my experiencing of the film, I can’t avoid mentioning some of them. For one thing, though my heart was wide open, I was watching with non-Hawaiian eyes. And I had many lenses over these eyes: sexologist lens, parent of a trans person lens, former hula student lens, Hawaiian independence ally lens, partner of an elder Hawaiian independence activist and cultural practitioner lens, hapless citizen of the country occupying Hawai’i lens, younger partner of somewhat older person lens, feminist lens, settler-colonist of Turtle Island lens, and so on. Different parts of the film resonated with me on different levels and in different ways, while at other times I was aware of how profoundly different my life is from the experiences of the people in the film.

When Ho’onani opened up her voice and spirit and chanted, I was remembering how my oldest kid, as an eleven-year-old hula student, also used to chant with an intense spirit and voice. Watching the footage of rural Kaua’i, I hearken back to a certain off-grid plot of land in Waimea on Hawai’i island, where wild pigs, sheep, and dogs sometimes have roamed together. I also commiserated with the difficulties of long-distance relationships.

And when I came home late last night from the reception which followed the screening, I found a large pile of dishes in the sink – left for me to clean. So I recalled scenes from the film where Kumu Hina, an accomplished professional woman, copes at the end of the day with dinner and cleaning while her husband watches television. Her remarks about Polynesian men hit home too – and I responded to them as someone who has sometimes clashed with my (long-distance) Polynesian partner over issues which seem crystal clear to me as a white, feminist, urban Californian, but are far deeper and much more complex when taking so many other issues – and a whole other human being with a different genealogy and culture – into account.

Cultural clashes, intersections, and complexities are inevitable and not all binary, in spite of how I have written them here. In the Kumu Hina film there are many opportunities to explore elements which are either explicit or  implicit (or both!) and which rub up against each other in various ways, causing sensations of pleasure, confusion, inspiration, or pain: in front of the camera/behind the camera; love/struggle; male/female; rural/urban; American/Hawaiian; gender conforming/gender variant; colonizer/colonized; compliant/resistant; commodified/authentic; educated/less educated; younger/older; professional/working class; this island/that island; student/teacher; parent/child; conservative/progressive; and so on.

And yet the main message of this film – kept real by Hinaleimoana Wong-Kalu’s honesty, integrity, and groundedness – was not just the explicit message of aloha (the deeper kind, not the touristy interpretation), but also an implicit one of teachability. The film seemed to trust that most of us who watched it (as well as those who were involved in the making and living of it) could and would experience many layers of learning through the film  – learning which would lead us with more hopeful certainty to the possibility of understanding and experiencing aloha.

I am happy that Bay Area folks in LGBTQI etc, ally, Hawaiian, Pacific Islander, and Hawaiian music communities (often overlapping) combined to give Kumu Hina a welcome and a reception that was warm, loving, appreciative, and hospitable. She has many friends and sisters here, and they came out in force for her, cooked for her, played and sang for her, fetched more teriyaki sauce, and admired her copper colored sandals…

The rest of us who only knew of her, rather than knowing her personally, joined the standing ovations she and the film deserved. And I’m hoping some of us at least will also give to the film’s Kickstarter campaign (they’re trying to raise $10,000 and are about $7,000 short) and to Hinaleimoana Wong-Kalu’s OHA election campaign fund. OHA stands for “Office of Hawaiian Affairs” and she is running for election as a trustee.

I am also hoping that Halau Lokahi, the Hawaiian charter school where Kumu Hina teaches, will survive its current troubles. You can sign a petition supporting the school here and donate at the above link. These schools are super important for Kanaka Maoli (Native Hawaiian) kids, and deserve our support.

13 Reasons Why I’ve Started an Online “Sissy Maid” Course

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1. Because I support gender identity and behavior variance, from hither to yon.

2. Because, as I look back on almost sixty years of an unconventional life, I am now particularly in the mood to celebrate (once again) creative manifestations of outlaw femininity – including (but not limited to) sissies, burlesque dancers, and fem dommes.

3. Because I can. As an online sex educator, why not? And I know I can do it well.

4. Because Julia Serrano said, “In a culture in which femaleness and femininity are on the receiving end of a seemingly endless smear campaign, there is no act more brave – especially for someone assigned a male sex at birth – than embracing one’s femme self” (Whipping Girl – A Transsexual Woman on Sexism and the Scapegoating of Femininity. 2007. Berkeley: Seal Press. p. 278).

And I do see the bravery of sissies.

5. Because I have a vision of facilitating “empowered feminization” – for those who want it.

6. Because I am fascinated by people who actually want to do housework.

7. Because I want to unleash my inner “Headmistress.”

8. Because I can enjoy vicarious frills.

9. Because sissies and sissy maids don’t seem to get much respect or attention, and don’t seem to be taken seriously in the broader discussions of gender and gender variance. As a sexologist and educator, I’d like to help change that.

10. Because service is a gift.

11. Because good training is a gift.

12. Because I am fascinated by British afternoon tea and kinky tea protocol and etiquette.

13. Because it’s been fun to create this class, and I am almost certain to enjoy teaching it. I can’t wait to meet my students!

So you see, there are many good reasons for creating this fun, new course!

For more information about SADA, or to enroll, go to this link: Service Academy of Domestic Arts, at Creative Sexuality Education Corp. We have a tuition special, at $100 for all fifteen classes, if you enroll by June 30th.

The online classes meet every two weeks, from May 30th until December 12th. If you start late and miss a few live webinars, you can always access the taped classes to catch up.

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Sexologists Spoke Out About “Hula” STD Alert App

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On May 6, Qpid.me CEO Ramin Bastani announced that he would be changing the name of his controversial “hula” STD alert app in the next month or so, even though a new name has not yet been selected. By making this preliminary announcement, he began to bring closure and healing to a very painful chapter in Native Hawaiian affairs. The app name was strenuously protested in an online petition which reached 4,488 signatures. Approximately 500 other people signed paper petitions during the Merrie Monarch Festival in Hilo, thanks to the actions of two particularly hard-working women. Though Bastani undoubtedly endured a painful learning curve, we are all so grateful that we can now begin to put the matter behind us.

A sexology colleague, Dr. Heather Howard, may be the last person to sign the online petition. Hers is the last signature as of May 7th, 6:50 AM PST. Dr. Howard wrote in the comments section, “As a sexual health educator, I am interested in promoting well-being for all individuals. I have a responsibility, first and foremost, to ‘do no harm.’ Therefore, I cannot condone an application which undermines the well-being of a people.”

Exactly. This has been my point all along. From my first knowledge of this controversy I’ve been concerned as an ally to Native Hawaiian causes and as a former hula student, but also – quite importantly – as a sexologist who understands the importance of multicultural competence in clinical practice.

One of my first actions was to contact Dr. Cirecie West-Olatunji, president of the American Counseling Association (ACA), to ask for their help. Dr. West-Olatunji put me in touch with Dr. Yegan Pillay, chair of  the organization’s Human Rights Committee (HRC). At that point, Clarence Kukauakahi Ching, a Native Hawaiian elder and former trustee of the Office of Hawaiian Affairs, and I co-authored a hasty “white paper” to submit to the HRC. The committee began to consider the issue. On Monday, May 5th, I heard from Dr. Pillay that the HRC members had reached consensus, they were “fully supportive” of our concerns, and had drafted a letter to send to Mr. Bastani and his advisory board “strongly condemning and recommending the discontinuation of using the term ‘hula’ in the STD app” (Dr. Pillay, emails May 5 and 7).

Dr. Michael Ra Bouchard, a resident of Hawai’i, was another sexology colleague who spoke out. He too sent a letter to the ACA HRC, expressing similar concerns about the effect of this app name on Native Hawaiians. And buried within the roster of 4,488 petition signatures, another sixteen sexologists expressed their support.

It’s been a difficult spring. During this last five and a half weeks I have signed and donated to the petition, blogged, made a video, worked the social media and online groups, commented on news articles, written endless emails, bought a protest t-shirt, and have been privileged to interact with a wonderful ad hoc group of Native Hawaiian activists. I am also proud of the sexologists I know who cared enough to consider the issue and make their professional opinions known. I thank them all.

I won’t be completely at ease until the name is actually changed. And though I have taken down most of my blogs on this topic, there is definitely need for a “post-mortem” (such as this one), reflection, and acknowledgment, as well as some retention of this history of the grassroots activism so that no other entrepreneur can be tempted to make the same branding and marketing mistake.