Sep 7th, 2017, 02:38 PM

Student Spotlight: Clarke Audrey Rose

By Sarah Mahgoub
Image Credit: Sarah Mahgoub
"When I can sense people are uncomfortable with my interest in studying sex or becoming a sexologist in the future, I'll just say something like sociology...or math."

Clarke Audrey Rose, a junior at AUP,  is a “Gender, Sexuality and Society” major. According to AUP’s description, the major is aimed to provide students with “a coherent and comparative study of gender and sexuality within the social sciences and the humanities.”

While this major opens the door for students to various specializations and fields, Rose is already interested in researching, educating and continuing her education on a very “popular” yet still taboo subject- SEX. Why many are afraid or uncomfortable to talk about it, how many are engaging in the act and not educated about it, and lastly, how it’s often not being done properly so that both partners are getting to the BEST PART. Meaning that often, and usually in heterosexual situations, the women is not fully satisfied nor is that pleasure prioritized the way it is for men, which is a problem.

AUP says that their students studies will prepare them to “interpret and critically analyze the scientific, biological, artistic, and poetic articulations of gender and sexuality at the center of contemporary social, cultural, and political debates” and that is why this edition of student spotlight is on one of the not so popular majors that encompasses quite a “popular” act. One which at the center or our biology and is worthy of academic study, research and normalization in social conversation.

Image Credit: Sarah Mahgoub

“When people ask me what I study, I say Human Sexuality, because that is the core of my studies and what I focus on specifically, even in my own research. At AUP, a lot of the classes can be very feminism based which can be great to a certain extent, but feminism and sexuality are different and shouldn’t be treated like they are one in the same. Feminism is its own facet that is meant to focus on gender equality and while that can branch into sexuality, they really are different subjects with their own issues and concerns. So sometimes I do wish there were more classes that were specifically sex focused, but of course I know that in order to be a sexologist or sex researcher that’s something you have to go to grad school for and so as far as undergrad it is a pretty good program here at AUP."

Clarke explained that when she first began her studies at the University of San Francisco, she was studying theatre and acting, which led her to learn much about vulnerability. But she explained she was interested in sexuality from a young age and would often wonder about the human body and question everything she was told. After her gap year of traveling, she decided to focus strongly on sex education and positivity and moved to Paris. She even started the Feminism club at her highschool but today her opinion about feminism has changed, as she feels that "capitalism bought feminism" and that "it's hard to distinguish what the actual goal is from the misguided propaganda." For now, she has taken a step back from it but still continues to fight for gender equality, sans title. Rose can be described as an outgoing, quirky and unapologetic young woman. She can be seen around campus wearing many rings, pink lipstick and and likely covered in glitter. 

Image Credit: Sarah Mahgoub

“When I meet people’s parents and they ask me what I study (laughs) the response I usually get is “hmm!” and a long pause and they can’t really decide what they are gonna say next, but sometimes they say it is good and important and ask me what I want to do with that."

“It is a whole other thing when I am out and about in Paris, usually people are open and cool about it. Usually they are expecting to hear something they’ve heard before, like Communications or Psychology, so when I say I study sexuality and gender they immediately go “oh yeah cool” and then they realize what I said and are like “wait what?!” but often when the approach is different, like a guy trying to pick me up at a bar, I often experience this immediate and weird reaction from men about my studies and interests. Somehow they assume I am only interested in having sex with them, which is just ridiculous.”

This kind of response continues to prove and reinforce the misconception about the field and remind us why sex education is so important and how pop-culture, media representations and current conversation and the lack of,  has made it either too sexual to be taken seriously or something people avoid discussing. When we talk about sex, we often picture what we see in the media or what is portrayed in porn, which is not representing the various forms which can take place nor between the different kinds of couples. This major can lead to many career options. Rose is interested in becoming a sexologist, which would also require focus on psychology. The job essentially entails the treatment of sexual dysfunctions and disorders which she would learn more about in higher education. Sexoligists are health practitiones who study and try to treat the pyschosexual interactions between all gender identities. They encourage people to speak more openly about their sexuality and desires with their partner/s and to empower clients to experience sexuality in a different more positive way. They inform people about the very serious and often misunderstood transmitted diseases and learned behaviors that can become serious psychological issues and create problems for couples and individuals in their sex lives when they believe that sex is only that which we see in the media and porn.

“It is tragic. In America we get sex education from pornography, from abstinence-only education, our friends (who also don’t know much) or usually movies and television."

"I don’t want to judge people when they are comfortable enough to ask me certain questions but I am just saddened and reminded at the lack of sex knowledge, especially when it comes to the female anatomy that often both men and women don’t understand. Our knowledge is coming from a white male patriarchal place and so that doesn’t help of course, which is why we need more women studying this and to be encouraged and respected the same as anyone else.”

Image Credit: Sarah Mahgoub

“ I realistically can only focus on my society and those around me now, I understand that while this is a problem everywhere in the world (lack of sex education and understanding of female anatomy and pleasure), I can not walk into another culture and society, especially as a white women and say these kinds of things.”

While Rose’s openness makes some people uncomfortable, it has also encouraged others to reach out to her to talk about their concerns.

“I realize when they start, it’s like they’ve been holding back so much for so long that they can’t stop. We are in this culture, where as women we are made to feel like we can’t talk about our sexuality so openly or confidently. In the bedroom, we are worried about the fragility of our partner if we say we aren’t pleased, so we act like it’s great or “fake it”.

"Sometimes women themselves can’t express what they want because they themselves don’t know or understand their bodies, so how could (we) possibly expect men to know how to properly please us?”

Image Credit: Sarah Mahgoub

“ We are doing ourselves a disservice by acting like what we are getting is good enough. This isn’t to shame anyone or say you’ve never experienced good sex but people need to be talking to each other about what they like and don’t like in the bedroom, especially women, and it is not always an easy conversation to have but we need to empower each other. "

"I remember this episode of How I Met Your Mother where Marshal and Lily go to the doctor because Lily is pregnant and on the wall is a diagram of the vagina and Marshal points and says something like “what’s this thing?!” as he points to the clitoris and it actually isn’t even funny because they’ve been together for like 15 years and he doesn’t know what the clit is? Sure you can argue it is just a show but guys are watching and thinking well if he doesn’t know, guess it doesn’t matter. It is all these little comments adding up and being normalized."

“All I can really do as a student now and someone who is seriously interested in the study of sex and especially how women should and deserve to be pleased more as a priority is talk about it unapologetically. Recently, I started a blog, it’s about my own sexual experiences here in Paris, what friends are talking to me about, and it’s a safe space for people to ask questions if they feel I can help in any way. I want to talk about things people aren’t telling us, like yeast infections, safe sex, STD’s, sexting, ways to improve your sex life and everything else.” 

Check out Rose’s blog.

(DISCLAIMER: Rose's blog is coming from her own HETEROSEXUAL and PERSONAL experiences that are about her experience and personal opinions, it is not a medical journal, "professional" guide or the certified truth nor claims to be.)

For a more in-depth article on Clarke, check out Katerina McGrath's profile on Medium.