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There’s a Joe DeGeorge quotation going around the internet, “Tonight we feast on the labor of centuries.” Hank Green used it in a vlogbrothers episode and Risa Risarodil made it into artwork. For me, it describes how I feel about Sexplanations’ third anniversary! The reason we get to celebrate is because countless others were curious and brave and resilient. The seven I discuss in this episode are heroes.

Heroes refuse status quo. They become the can we need. They go into battle without any intention of turning back. And not even for themselves. They do this for others. So that others in faced with unjust circumstances have access to much better outcomes.

Havelock Ellis

Betty Dodson

Joycelyn Elders

Alfred Kinsey

Margaret Sanger

Ellen DeGeneres
[insert all the things]

Katie Koestner

Dr Doe: Today we're celebrating 3 years of Sexplanations! 186 videos, 227,800 subscribers across 222 countries, with 69.8 million minutes watched! 1,211 patrons who support us existing, and all these messages about how we've changed peoples lives! 

To celebrate I thought I'd tell you about some of the people who have changed my life: seven of my Sex Heroes! 

-- Intro Cut Scene --

To me a sex hero is someone who has advanced my field in a profoundly positive way - usually someone who's had to fight for sexual freedom. They are people who put the planet before themselves, risking their jobs, going to jail, facing incredible ridicule and hatred to attain the greatest good.

Let's start with Havelock Ellis, my favorite sexologist. I like him so much our 6th episode of Sexplanations is about Havelock Ellis's story, re-enacted by Hank Green. In short, Havelock grew up in the Victorian era. He was told his wet dreams were a symptom of gonorrhea and that he was going to die. But he didn't - at least not for another 67 years. I consider Havelock a sex hero because he devoted the remainder of his life to studying and teaching sexuality so that we wouldn't have to face the same traumatic misinformation that the medical field gave him.

Next, former Surgeon General, Joycelyn Elders. I learned about her in grad school when I was writing a paper about masturbation. She was appointed by President Bill Clinton as Surgeon General in 1993 and did what I believe was a brilliant job of addressing public health issues for the federal government. But not everyone felt this way. Elder's stances on education, contraception, abortion and finally masturbation, led to her losing her job. Here's how it went down: at the 1994 United Nations conference on AIDS, Elders was asked if we should teach about masturbation in schools as a safer sex HIV prevention tactic. To which my hero responded "I think that it is a part of human sexuality, and perhaps it should be taught." My favorite part is that when asked years later about the experience, and whether or not she regretted it, Elders responded "If I had to do it all over again, I would do it the same way.... I felt I did it right the first time." Hi-five, Dr. Elders!

Betty Dodson is another badass lady in her eighties with so much to admire. I love that she began as an artist, went through a sexual self-discovery, then made it her mission to aid women in becoming orgasmic or discovering their independent pleasure. Dodson's the one who leads workshops where women sit naked in a circle, everyone on their own mat, looking at their own unique vulva and learning to come. That's bold and helpful! Plus, she has so many books with her artwork, and a YouTube channel on pleasure! 

Number four - the very controversial Alfred Kinsey. From what I've learned, Kinsey was teaching biology at Indiana University, and students would come to him with questions about sex that he was surprised they didn't already have the answers to. He arranged the first ever human sexuality course, then proceeded to collect the sex histories of 12,000 people, so we would have the data to teach! And because he went all out, research went from here to here - he gave sexology a huge boost. Don't worry, I'll give an entire episode to him in the future, like this one I did for my fifth sex hero, Margaret Sanger.

Sanger lived during the same time period as Kinsey, but while he was more of a researcher, she was more of an activist. Sanger is the main reason many of you have access to birth control, and education about it, while you're not in jail for using condoms, or having to flee the country to watch Sexplanations. You know Planned Parenthood? Sanger founded it, and "the pill"? Sanger funded it. Please watch this. Sanger is a sex superhero who once, you know, tried to prank call Hitler.

Number six on my list - Ellen DeGeneres. I know there are thousands of other LGBTIAQ role models and trailblazers. But I have this memory of my parents insisting I watch the "coming out" episode on her sitcom Ellen, to see LGBTIAQ history made. Even though she was playing a fictional character, it cemented Ellen DeGeneres in my mind as a very significant role model. Maybe this makes my parents the heroes. Either way, we're talking about people who are kind to others, compassionate, generous, loving to their partners, and really fun to be around. I can get behind that.

The last hero on my list, I just recently found out about - Katie Koestner. Her story is intense. This is my rape warning. In an article for the BBC, Katie explained that when she was in college people thought rape could only be perpetrated by strangers. She went on a date with a guy she was really attracted to, he came back to her place, she didn't want to have sex, he did, and by all definitions we have today, she was raped. Katie sought help. Hadn't he committed a crime? The health center gave her sleeping pills. The Dean told her that she and the perpetrator made such a nice couple they should get back together, and Katie's dad victim-blamed her, saying it happened because she let him into her room. It's the same hair-pulling bullshit that people hear today, but we have entire communities and networks of resources fighting for us, she didn't. Her peers shamed her, the media doubted her, two-thousand students signed a petition saying she lied even though the date/perpetrator stated in the seven hour court hearing that she had said "no" more than a dozen times. A link to Katie Koestner's article is in the description, I highly recommend it. It is absolutely a hero story.

I need stories like Koestner's, and Havelock's, and Elder's, and Dodson's, and Kinsey's, and Sanger's, and Ellen's - they inspire me to be brave, to face adversity and to strive for a better planet, even when society pushes against me. When I worry about discussing taboo topics or taking an unpopular stance, it's these heroes who remind me that it's worth the fight. They build an incredible foundation for me and this channel, so I'm freaking  grateful for them! Happy 3rd birthday, Sexplanauts! 

Stay Curious!

Let us know in the comments who your sex heroes are and we'll celebrate the heck out of them too. And if you want to give us a birthday present, and get one for yourself, Sexplanations has a Patreon page and merch over here.

Happy Birthday to us!