Monday, February 16, 2015

Down The Sexology Rabbit Hole

Posted By on Mon, Feb 16, 2015 at 10:54 AM

click to enlarge An old school bullet. You'll find this and more inside the Sexology Institute - BRYAN RINDFUSS
  • Bryan Rindfuss
  • An old school bullet. You'll find this and more inside the Sexology Institute

When I first pitched the idea of a story on a Southtown's latest shop, The Sexology Institute, I figured it would be a fun way for me to use a few X-rated puns and share the news of high-end playthings in Southtown.

But that would be too easy (insert "hard" pun here). Instead the story took a turn while trying to verify owner, sex educator and coach, Melissa Jones' Ph.D.

Cue the clinky Serial theme music. 

You can read about Jones' educational background in this week's lead article. Long story short, she's dropped mentions of said degree from her title and is actively trying to sort things out on her end.

[Slideshow: A Peek Inside Southtown’s New Sexology Institute (NSFW)]

This made us wonder what exactly being a sexologist means. Several emails with sexuality professors later, I had a quick chat with Amanda Morgan, DHS (Doctorate of Human Sexuality), MPH (Masters in Public Health)a fascinating assistant professor in-residence since for the Social and Behavioral Health Unit, in the School of Community Health Sciences at UNLV. 

Sexology is, in essence, the scientific study of sex, and a sexologist can mean someone who's research area draws most of its focus on the matter. Most sexologists go either one of two routes: Some pick a relevant academic degree program (like sociology, psychology, women's studies, public health, etc) and then take various sexuality-focused continuing education workshops through various sexuality organizations, like the American Association for Sexuality Educators, Counselors and Therapists or The Society for the Scientific Study of Sex. There are only a handful of schools in the country (and one in Canada) that specialize in sexuality – Widener University's Center for Human Sexuality Studies, there's San Francisco's Institute For Advanced Study of Sexuality to name a few – along with a few certificate programs in Michigan and Columbia.

The other route? Life experience.

For Morgan who has a bit of "life experience" along with plenty of school work backing her, the caveat is how you end up certified as a sexologist. Several boards or associations, such as the American Association for Sexuality Educators, Counselors and Therapists, which has a roughly year-long certification process, require proof of research and a certain number of continuing education hours earned through conferences and such. Sexologists certified through AASECT follow a code of ethics, should have a core knowledge base and must renew their certification (of which there are several types to obtain).

Other boards aren't so strenuous. If someone is lacking proper training, they could do a lot more hurt than help. According to Morgan, we all have scars, and it takes a trained individual to handle situations that could have adverse psychological or physiological consequences.  

Even without a Ph.D., Jones is still considered a sexuality educator/coach, Morgan agrees.

"There's value in people who open up the conversation about sex, and give people permission to be sexual," Morgan says. "We're highly sexualized, but are still shamed. Shops like these offer something that's great for the community as a resource."

Cue clinky Serial outro. 

What The Sexology Institute (727 S. Alamo) has going for it, is its bright and cozy space. There's nothing intimidating about the store, let alone anything that would cause huge discomfort. Packaging is far from lewd and shoppers can spend hours perusing the selection. Get some quick facts about genitalia out of it, along with some advice on lubes to try and you're out the door. Wham, bam, thank you, ma'am. 

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