Guess I’ll have to add "sociosexually unrestricted" to my OK Cupid profile…

I feel like I’ve been waiting for this article my whole life. 

I can’t count the number of times I’ve been told by friends and strangers (not to mention ALL THE MEDIA) that casual sex is detrimental to my well being and / or psychologically damaging.  That something must be wrong with me for wanting to hook up and never see the person I hooked up with again.  That I have a lot of “emotional growth” to do because most of the time, I prefer casual sex over the idea of engaging in an ongoing relationship.  When someone says to me, “You know, I guess that’s fine for you, but gosh, I could just never do it,” it feels like shaming.

So thank you, Zhana Vrangalova.  You just made my year.  Dr. Zhana also did a great podcast with Sex Nerd Sandra about casual sex recently – give it a listen!  

The Curve

I teach conversation classes to third and fourth year English majors.  They easily have the highest-level English skills of all of the students at my school; they’re engaged, funny, and really dedicated to being the best students they can be and advocating for their own education.  They actually come to my office hours just to chat!  This is why it is so heartbreaking that I’m giving a C+ to students who earned a 90% in my class and a B+ to students who earned a 96%.  The difference between an A and a B student in one of my classes was that one of them came to class late once.   

Most university classes in South Korea are graded on a curve; at my university, only 30% of the students can receive an A — no matter how successful they are or how hard they’ve worked.  They could all bust their asses, come to every class, practice presentations until they’re blue in the face, and still only nine of thirty-two can get an A.  Another 30% must receive a C or lower — for some reason, the computer grading system has decided that although the percentage is the same, nine students can get an A, but ten students must receive a C.

This won’t stop after university.  Most jobs in South Korea have mandatory professional development and evaluations in place that rank employees; raises are partially based on these rankings.  This system of hyper-competition has real life consequences.  If a student has less than a B average at my university, he or she is unable to participate in special programs, like our English intensive course or study abroad.  This means that students are effectively being punished for actually earning As that we’re taking back from them. 

There are those who praise the education system in South Korea for forcing students into high achievement tunnel vision simply because it affects student test scores; however, this model of education is deflating and destructive.  It lowers student and teacher morale. 

The school computers won’t allow grades to be submitted if there is a higher percentage of A grades or B grades than is supposed to be there, and the way we enter grades is by typing in number scores from student work.  What this means is that we have to purposefully enter egregious numbers to lower our students’ scores.  This is not just a practice at my university, but at most private universities in the country.

I’m at a loss for how this is supposed to a good thing in any way for anyone.

UPDATE!  I teach one class that was promoted throughout the department as not having a curve, which is part of the reason students sign up for it; it’s a multi-course program that all of the foreign instructors are part of.  We graded fairly and told the students their grades last week.  Today we got an email telling us that actually, the academic affairs office has decided that only 40% of the students in that class can receive an A… which means that students who think they’re getting an A+ will really be receiving a B.  Way to go, Terrible U! 

Put a condom on that shit!

You know when you’re doing something that you know is wrong, but you just think to yourself in order to justify what you’re doing, “Eh… this can’t be that bad.”  Turns out it can be!  

Semi-recently, I had sex with someone using her sex toy, and we didn’t put a condom on it.  I know better.  In the past, I’ve always put condoms on sex toys that I shared with people.  And I remember thinking at the time, “This is probably a terrible idea.”  I was right.  Here’s why! 

If you don’t want to read the full article, here are a couple of juicy tidbits from it:

  • HPV can live on thermoplastic elastomer for twenty-four hours after use.
  • HPV can live on various materials even after they’re cleaned with a commercial cleaner
  • A shitload of people use sex toys.  Probably lots of people you know and love, like your grandma. 
  • Don’t blame the sex toys!  HPV can be transmitted via skin-to-skin contact, even with a barrier.  However, just like in regular penetrative / oral sex, barriers always help to minimize risk. 

Now go out, get a silicone dildo, and remember to put a rubber on that bad girl.  Safer sex is hot sex! 

If you’re up for more reading on risk potential and barrier use, check out this article from Salon on oral sex.  

Why I’m Glad the Protest Came to Pride

I just got home from Seoul Pride, and it was… memorable.  This was my sixteenth or seventeenth (?) pride; about thirty minutes in, I realized I’d forgotten my camera back at the hostel.  Oh well, I thought – I’d just take the same photos I always take.  Someone waving a rainbow flag; people selling buttons at booths; drag queens being their most fabulous drag queen selves.

It started out as a pretty normal pride; a few church folks with crosses and signs out front, people drinking, dancing, buying memorabilia, playing trivia games, singing Disney ballads on stage.  People holding hands out in the daylight, proud to be with the ones they love.  The number of people there was impressive, but other than that, it seemed like a standard day all around.

And then shit got real, y’all.

The parade was supposed to begin at 4:00pm; 4:15 came and went.  4:30.  The floats finally started moving, and then immediately stopped.  4:45.  We started getting restless, so some of my crew ran up front to see what was happening; apparently, a small group of Christian protesters had lain down in the street in front of and underneath the floats.  From what I’ve heard, at the beginning of this protest, there were only fifteen to twenty protesters; instead of moving them out of the way and allowing them to continue protesting from the sidelines (as they should be allowed to do; free speech is important), the police allowed them to sit in the street, giving them time to call more people from the church to come sit with them.  By the time my friends and I went up to look so we could report back to others, there were at least a hundred of them sitting in the street, arms locked, protected on all sides by a rectangle of police officers (all men, by the way… there were female police officers standing off to the side, presumably ready to act, but kept out of the action).  People were yelling at them to go home, but the shouts were random and unorganized.  We asked one of the event organizers why we couldn’t just go around them and leave the floats behind; he informed us that it was because the city of Seoul had recently rescinded their marching permit, and without the floats, it would be considered an illegal demonstration instead of a parade.  He also said that because public sentiment in Korea is generally intolerant of queeritude and things were juuuust beginning to change, they didn’t want to harm the progress of the movement by creating a bad public image.

Yet as two girls stood in the middle of the protesters before the police could surround them, kissing each other, the protesters hit them with sticks, poured water on them, and yelled that they were going to hell.  Oh, and told them to get the fuck out of Korea and go home because foreigners are bringing the gay to Korea.  Talk about a bad image.

The parade participants were confused and hurt; as time passed and we realized the police weren’t going to do a damn thing about all the people blocking the parade (except separate them from us), we did what any good queers would do; we pumped up the volume, danced in the streets, cheered as loudly as we could, and kept our spirits up to show the protesters that we weren’t going anywhere, either.  I was blown away by the boundless energy of the people on the floats, dressed in leopard print and glitter, who really kept the crowd on their feet

It’s hard to dance forever, though.  As more and more time went by — it was 6:00pm now, the time the parade was supposed to end — my small group went up front to see what the deal was.  We were standing away from the crowd, looking at the now at least two hundred protesters sitting together, listening to a man on a megaphone (who I heard was later arrested, though I doubt any charges were brought against him) yell about how we were all a bunch of no-goodniks, I thought, “This is bullshit.”  I went up to the police to ask them why they weren’t arresting the protesters (who didn’t have a permit and were therefore there illegally).  The police wouldn’t answer me, but a few young people in the crowd told me it was because they were following orders.  One girl suggested that it was because the political party currently in power (Saenuri-dang) is conservative.  We went through series of chants: “Arrest them!  Go home!”  But nothing was organized.  They had a megaphone and a leader; we didn’t.  We had microphones, but no one would use them to interact with (or against) the protesters.

A few minutes in to standing next to the police and in the midst of the anti-protest protest, I realized what the Christian protesters were saying: “Daehanminguk!” which is the name of South Korea in Korean.  They followed that by singing the Korean national anthem, Aegukga.  And this got me super pissed.  How dare they, I thought.  How dare they use the country’s name and anthem as a platform for hate.  What they’re saying by doing this is that homophobia is a matter of national pride for them.  I yelled to the people around me: “How can they claim Korea in the name of hate?  It’s our [sic] country, too!”  I got people on our side to cheer “Daehanminguk!” as well, but it was short-lived.

The young girls around me started saying, “I’m so sorry – we’re really embarrassed about this.  We are ashamed that foreigners have to see this.”  And that got me more upset.  I love this country.  It’s home to me now, and I have come to feel like part of the big Korean family, even if I’m not accepted as such because I’ll always be a foreigner.  I started crying as I told them this.  We stood there shoulder to shoulder for hours, Koreans and foreigners together, chanting and talking in disbelief.  A couple of times the police went into the group of protesters with full riot gear on to try to break them up, but the protesters just pushed the police back, and the police moved back.  I was incredulous that they didn’t use the force they had; had this happened in the States, I definitely imagine tear gas canisters and clubs coming out.

I felt pretty bad for the police officers there, actually; most of them were in their early-mid twenties.  They seemed inexperienced kids who probably just wanted to go home but instead were stuck in between two very loud groups.  At one point, I saw a young man wad up pieces of tissue and hand them to an officer to stuff in his ears

At around 9:30, my friend and I who had been standing there for hours decided we had to get something to eat.  We walked down the street, and my mind was blown again.  I had assumed while standing up by the protesters that everyone else had gone home; to the contrary.  No one had.  The crowd was blocks and blocks long, everyone sitting down in the street, drinking, eating, and chatting, all of us awaiting the eventual resolution of this standoff.  While my friend and I were waiting for our food, a strange and wonderful thing happened; they started turning the floats around.  After the floats were turned, we saw hundreds of police officers jogging down the street, away from the protest and back toward the street where the festival had been held.  All of a sudden, people were getting up on the floats and the music started blaring.  They had turned the parade around.  All at once, everyone in the streets jumped to their feet and took off down the street, led by police escort and leaving the protesters behind.

What followed was literally awesome.  Thousands of us marched in the streets, backward along the original parade route, at 10:00pm following a six-hour delay.  The float in front of my friends and I blared “Born This Way,” and several men covered in black spandex and glitter danced their asses off as the float moved through the streets of Sinchon.  We all sang along as loud as we could after having yelled for hours.  We cheered and cheered and cheered, rejoicing in the validity of our love and our voices.

So here’s where I come back around to the title of this post.  My first Korean Queer Pride Festival was in 2010, and the parade was tiny – maybe only six blocks.  There were only two floats, and everyone was wearing masks and special stickers so that no one would take their photo.  There weren’t really protesters because it wasn’t even on the radar.   This year, there were no stickers and I only saw a few people in masks.  Attendance was estimated at 20,000.  Google had a booth.  The US embassy had a booth (which was giving away George Takei T-shirts!  Oh, my!).

I feel good that there was a protest because it is a sign of fear.  It’s a sign that political and religious conservatives see that society is changing whether they want it or not, and they’re taking action because they are afraid of those changes.  They’re afraid of our voices and our power.  And that’s amazing.  It’s a true sign of progress.

The slogan of this year’s festival was “Love Conquers Hate”; last night, it did.



[As an aside, I’d like to mention that among alllllll the groups participating in the parade (which included a church, by the way!), there was a sex workers’ rights group, which I was pleased as punch to see.  If you happen to read Korean, their website is here.]



It was a Pong Night…

oh god why.

I was watching my students play beer pong last night* and I thought, “Heck, yes – this is what college is supposed to be like.”  They were totally different people from the kids I see in my classroom (the ones who are always working furiously, high-strung, and hypersensitive about a tenth of a point difference between their score and their friend’s score).  They were relaxed, confident, and happy.  They let go and just got to be university students. 

I remember some of my uni professors very well; I even remember a few assignments.  But when I think about my time in college, I don’t think about either of those things.  I think about all the hours I spent in a dingy, dark, smoke-filled basement dive bar, playing bumper pool and listening to rock music on the jukebox.  Or watching my buddies bowl on Sunday nights in the same basement bar, keeping score on a piece of paper while doing homework and seeing if anyone could get a shot shot (7-10 split; everyone buys a shot for the person who makes it).  Or going to house parties of people I didn’t even know, carrying a six-pack of Mike’s Hard Lemonade (it makes me cringe now, too) with me.  They were the best and the worst years of my life.

Students in South Korea carry a heavy load.  At my last university job, the students all had to take twelve classes a semester.  So it was nice to see the most sweet, quiet student squeal joyfully upon landing a ping pong ball in her opponent’s cup, yelling at them to drink it all after giving her partner a high five, then doubling over in laughter, her deer-like eyes twinkling. 

We remember events in flashes and moments, and that was a moment worth remembering.   

*In South Korea, it is not only welcomed by school admin for staff to spend time with students outside of school, but encouraged!  What a difference from the States (where my principal once told me I was not allowed to give my swimmers a ride home after swim practice because of liability).  

PSA for Men

The night started out so well.  I had an hour-long conversation with a good (male) friend about sex, love and relationships.  It was insightful and we spoke with consideration.  I was feeling pretty good, and then just after midnight I got hit with a cocknado that left me feeling the need to write a PSA.  

Incident #1:  I ran into a guy that I’ve met a few times.  We’ve always gotten on really well, had good conversations, and laughed our asses off when we see each other.  The last time we were in a bar talking, I was flirting with him a little bit, and he suggested we have a fling.  I found the idea intriguing and told him as much; we shook on it, texted  each other with a fun goodnight note later that night, and left it there.  You can imagine my are-you-fucking-kidding-me? face last night when I saw him and gave him a warm hello, and he couldn’t remember my name.  “It starts with an… wait, I know this.”  Boner lost.  I wouldn’t tell him; he looked it up on his phone and then tried to hit on me later a few beers in. 

Incident #2  A male friend of mine accidentally spills beer on me; he says, “Oh, let me dry that off for you,” and starts patting my breast, laughing.  Of all the these incidents, this one actually bothered me the least because I know this guy really well.  We’ve been friends for years, and he did it without any sexual implication.  I laughed pretty hard, but I have some female friends who would have been horrified by this. 

Incident #3 Another male friend of mine calls me over to the bar – “Jo,” he says, his words slurring, his eyes glassy.  “I need to talk to you.”  This should be hilarious, I think, and wander over to the bar to talk.  He then proceeds to tell me that he really likes how honest I am about everything, and how open I am about sexuality, and how he really likes me, and then starts saying how I need to meet his girlfriend because she would really like me too, so I just need to talk to her, right?  Because she really likes girls.  THEN he starts telling me how they each made a list of people that “would be good” and I’m at the top of his list.  (Wow!  Congratulations to me!)  He’s hemming and hawing without ever actually saying what he wants to say, so I ask him: “Are you asking me to have a threesome with you and your girlfriend?”  He doesn’t answer me directly, just starts talking again about how his girlfriend is really into girls and I should really talk to her, because he really likes me and I would be perfect.  I then tell him that I think we should carry on this conversation when he’s sober; that I have good advice to give him if he and his girlfriend are looking to open up their relationship or experiment, but that right now we can’t have a real conversation about it because he’s so shit-faced.  “Am I drunk?” he asks.  Yes.  Yes, you are drunk.  I then proceed to tell him that by the way, I have no interest in fucking him and his girlfriend since I know them and see them all the time.  I try not to fuck where I eat.  He looks pretty shocked by this piece of information, so I then say: “You know that in order to have sex with someone, you need their consent, right?  Well, you don’t have mine.”  At this point, his girlfriend comes over and tells him she’s going home.  I tell him he should go home with her and sleep it off, but he stays at the bar while she leaves, obviously upset.  Two things about this scenario blow my mind: One, that this guy seems to have decided all on his own that I was going to sleep with him and his girlfriend and then told his girlfriend this while obliterated, which is the WORST IDEA EVER.  Two, that he presented it to me as though it were a gift.  Like, “We want to have a threesome, and we choose you!”  Like I’m a fucking Pokemon.  Like I’m supposed to be honored because I have the opportunity to fuck him.   

Incident #4:  This guy who I’ve seen at the bar a bunch of times (and who’s hit on me a couple of times, in the midst of hitting on all the other women there) comes over in the middle of a conversation and grabs my arm to look at a tattoo.  He then touches another tattoo on my body and says, “Oh, I really like this.  Where are you from?”  I answer, but I give him a look that says Why-the-fuck-are-you-interrupting-my-conversation? and look back at the person I was talking to.  He asks another question, which I answer curtly, and he gets it; he walks away.  Later on that night, as I’m leaving the bar, he grabs my arm, pulls me over and says, “Hey, do you have Kakao?”  “Nope,” I say.  This is an honest answer.  I don’t.  “Facebook?” he asks.  “Nope,” I say.  “I want to have dinner with you,” he says.  “Can I have your phone number?”  No, I tell him.  He looks confused, so I continue: “You’re a man in a bar who’s hitting on me.  I don’t know you.  So — no.”  He actually asks me to repeat this, which I do, slowly.  “No offense to you,” I say.  He nods, and I walk away.

Incident #5:  I go into the smoking room to have a cigarette; I ask a friend for one, which he gladly gives me.  The guy next to him says, “You have to show us your tits if you want one.”  I hand the cigarette back and say I don’t need it.  He then says, “I was just kidding.”  “Yeah,” I say.  “Sexual harassment is pretty funny.”  “I was joking,” he insists.  Whatever, dude.  I want to go into a whole rant about how comments like that promote rape culture and hurt men and women alike; how it’s comments like that that serve as a catalyst for a privileged twenty-something kid to say, “Women owe me sex by the very existence of their being and they’re not giving it to me, so I’m going to kill a bunch of them.”  But by that point in the night, I don’t want to talk any more.  I’d be pretty happy not to see a male-identified person for awhile, period. 

A Public Service Announcement from Teachers Have Sex:

1.  Just because I’m putting a P in my V now doesn’t mean that I want to fuck you.  I don’t. 
2.  Just because I’m a woman doesn’t mean that you have the right to touch me.  I’m not public property.  In addition, just because I have a tattoo doesn’t give you express permission to touch me.
3.  Just because I’m bisexual doesn’t mean that I want to have threesomes (I mean, I do, but not with you). 
4.  If you’re interested in the idea of having a threesome with your girlfriend and another woman, you need to hash that shit out in several conversations before you start looking for a partner.  Following that, don’t make assumptions that any woman you happen to know is up for it. 
5.  Actually, here’s a general rule of thumb: Don’t make any assumptions.  Period.