Marquette Warrior: Marquette Pulls Support of Bawdy FemSex Workshop

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Marquette Pulls Support of Bawdy FemSex Workshop

Kudos to former Marquette College Republican president Ethan Hollenberger for demanding some response from Marquette about the FemSex workshop that we blogged about right here. On February 17, he wrote several people in the Administration (including Father Pilarz) and asked them to respond to the following questions:
During the opening of the Gender and Sexuality center, you said the center will “create a community rounded in personality and will delve into issues of gender and sexuality with respect, sensitivity, academic rigor, and a concern for social justice.” As a supporter of the center, do you support the FemSex workshop as written?

If you were advising a Catholic student who was saving herself for marriage, would you recommend this workshop?

Can you defend the discussions on safer sex, masturbation, sexual desire, or the use of the “cunt coloring book”?

Reading the syllabus of the workshop, the premise of the workshop is understanding the body. Giving into sexual desires and lust are both expressly regarded as sin. Do you defend FemSex as consistant with Jesuit and Catholic teachings?

What do you see as the purpose of this course? Why is it written with vivid sexual overtones?

Marquette is often criticized for not providing contraception (as it shouldn’t) in student health services, largely because abstinence is key to the Catholic feelings on pre-marital sex. Do you see Marquette moving away from that policy?

Why isn’t the Center teaching Catholic traditions on sex and marriage in a seminar?

The University’s mission reads, “Marquette University is a Catholic, Jesuit university dedicated to serving God by serving our students and contributing to the advancement of knowledge. Our mission, therefore, is the search for truth, the discovery and sharing of knowledge, the fostering of personal and professional excellence, the promotion of a life of faith, and the development of leadership expressed in service to others. All this we pursue for the greater glory of God and the common benefit of the human community.” Where does this workshop fit into that?

Lastly, what is your response to a donor who may stop giving to the University because of this course?
Having gotten no response, he wrote again three days later, noting “I am still seeking comment from the President’s office regarding the Gender and Sexuality Center’s FemSex workshop.” He further observed that “Historically and culturally, Marquette is a Catholic university. Seemingly, by hosting this workshop Marquette is caving to current cultural pressures.”

Finally, later that afternoon (yesterday afternoon) Provost John Pauly responded:
Dear Mr. Hollenberger

In response to your inquiry to the President’s office, I wanted to provide some additional information.

We recently became aware of the student-led Female Sexuality program. After reviewing its content, we found that aspects of the program did not fulfill the expectations set out in the charter of the Gender and Sexuality Resource Center. Because of this, the center is no longer sponsoring the program. To be clear, this was not an academic course and was not led by faculty. It was student programming that took place outside of the classroom.

We support the Gender and Sexuality Resource Center and the goals set forth in the center’s charter, and have done so since its inception. The center plays an important role within the university, allowing us to delve into issues of gender and sexuality with respect, sensitivity, academic rigor and concern for social justice. It also provides educational programming related to sexual violence, harassment and discrimination, better equipping our students to be able to respond society’s complex cultural issues.


John Pauly


Marquette University
Translation: the workshop had created a firestorm of criticism after local conservative talk radio publicized it in the wake of our blog post. One could say we are thankful that Marquette finally “saw the light.” But that would misrepresent what happened. In this issue, as was the case with the aggressive lesbian Arts and Sciences Dean candidate that Marquette was about to hire, but then declined to hire under pressure from local Catholics, Marquette caved in. A genuinely Catholic university would not need to cave in to pressure on an issue like this, because they would not approve something like this to begin with.

The Gender and Sexuality Resource Center was set up precisely as a sop to gay student and faculty activists and their liberal allies. It was entirely predictable that it would do something like this. In fact, many of their other activities have had a similar politically correct focus, including a discussion of a feminist screed that demonizes males and Christians, and publicizing the appearance of lesbian comedienne Julie Goldman at UWM.

If the University really minded stuff like this, they would never institutionalize the worldview that produces it. But the trouble is that they don’t really mind it.

The workshop, Pauly made clear, can continue to meet as a purely unofficial group of students. And of course, if any group of female students wants to get together for a bawdy hen party and talk about sex, that’s their right. But the University should never endorse or officially condone a program whose express purpose is to oppose Catholic teachings on sexuality.

But given the nature of the Marquette administration, look for such programs to happen again with regularity.

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

As Female Sexuality Workshop (FemSex) co-founders and facilitators, we would like to provide insight into the nature of the FemSex workshop in order to dispel misunderstandings and inaccuracies which have been circulating about the course.

FemSex at Marquette is intended to create space for conversation, engagement, and support around issues of sexuality, embodiment, and relationship, issues that are core to our humanity, yet too often shamed, silenced, or ignored, frequently to the detriment of individuals and communities. The mission of FemSex at Marquette does not push an ideology, teach a curriculum, make prescriptions, generalize experiences, or advocate a particular philosophy or morality. The value, beauty, and heart of FemSex lies in the stories, questions, experiences, and insights each participant brings to the space. Rather than something to fear, closet, or avoid, we believe sexuality, as part of embodied and spiritual humanity, warrants affirmation, honest discussion, careful consideration, and open engagement in community.

Ultimately, FemSex is for people. The vision of FemSex at Marquette is to affirm, give voice to, support, and encourage people. We do not believe FemSex to be at odds with the mission of Marquette or the charter of the Gender and Sexuality Resource Center, and we uphold the need for safe student space on campus to seek affirmation of experiences and identities, as well as discuss these issues. We will continue to strive toward our vision in whatever capacity we can, with the hope and intention that FemSex will continue to be a needed source of hope, safety, openness, and dialogue for all participants on campus and in the larger community.

Claire Van Fossen and Rachel Bruns
Founding co-facilitators of FemSex at Marquette

12:19 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Marquette Sucks.

11:12 AM  
Blogger John McAdams said...

@ Claire Van Fossen and Rachel Bruns

I think most readers can look past the rhetoric and see the actual nature of the workshop.

For example: how about explaining the point of this:

Discussion will focus on how systems of oppression shape personal identities, experiences, and relationship. We will focus on deconstructing stereotypes and
generalizations in dealing with gender, oppression, and intersectionality.

Do you actually think people can't decode politically correct language and understand the message?

And while we are at it, what's the point of the Cunt Coloring Book?

2:46 PM  
Blogger John McAdams said...


Are you the one who told the JS that you wanted "punitive sanctions" against me for objecting to your workshop?

Are you the one who called my blog "homophobic?"

So you're all for the free discussion of sex (under the aegis of Marquette) but not for the free discussion of the discussion of sex from a faculty member.

2:52 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

This is the 21st Century, isn't it? I wasn't aware that the chapel from France was actually a time portal that transports Marquette students to bygone eras of bigotry and intolerance of different people. Avoiding the complex issues surrounding female sexuality (all across the spectrum) will only do a disservice to students at large. People need to grow up and be able to have adult conversations.

7:36 PM  

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