Volume 93, Issue 28

Wednesday, October 20, 1999


Fight Club loses in decision

Johanson draws wayward public to her bosom

Lists cures trivial needs

Bowie's Hours... time well spent

Just say no to the evils of the idiot box

Johanson draws wayward public to her bosom

Gazette file photo

By Sara Martel
Gazette Staff

She might remind you of your grandmother – a friendly smile, grey hair, wire-rimmed glasses. To hear her, however, is a different story.

It's probably safe to say your grandmother doesn't talk about blow jobs, G-spots, or STDs. Sue Johanson does.

Making her living as a sex educator/counselor since 1970, if there is one thing Sue Johanson is comfortable talking about, it's sex. And, with a résumé including television, radio, public speeches and writing about human sexuality, she is more than qualified to tackle the often taboo topic.

What inspires someone to enter the field of sex education? "I got into it when I realized that we had a high teen pregnancy rate and it was very difficult for them to go and get help," she explains. "They were afraid their family doctor would tell their parents, so they weren't getting birth control or good sex education. I decided we were going to open a clinic first, then later on I decided to get into sex education."

Johanson has not only remained loyal to educating people, but has also gained quite a following through her reputed "Sex with Sue" and Sunday Night Sex Show forums. Johanson suggests the Sunday Night Sex Show's location on the Women's Television Network is no fact of fortuity.

"It provides information. It answers questions, is non-threatening and confidential. It's relaxed and easy and humorous, therefore people aren't reluctant to call in, because I'm not going to put them down and I'm not going to preach at them," Johanson attests.

"And there is no other television channel that would do it, certainly not at the time that I wanted to do it. They will now because the ratings are tremendous and they want those ratings, but Women's Television was the one willing to take the risk and go for it."

If there's anything she doesn't focus on, it's using gratuitous sex to secure ratings. Instead, Johanson shows concern for the kind of attention given to the subject within the media.

"I worry about that, I'm uncomfortable with it. But that's only for profit, you see, it's not for information," she stresses. "It really has no basis except for titillation. So if you take someone like Jerry Springer, sure, he's only doing it for ratings, for money. Don't kid yourself that he's doing it for enlightenment. That upsets me. But so does gratuitous violence, so does force of any kind. Sex for sex's sake is not good to have open in media."

This reluctance towards sensationalized sex is not to suggest Johanson has any problem with openness about sexuality. In fact, she claims just the opposite.

"No. No, [it's not open] far enough," she says. "I think that this kind of openness, this giving of knowledge and information, sharing attitudes and values, helping younger people take a look at themselves, especially being more comfortable with themselves as sexual human beings and learning the myths and misconceptions – this is really important."

Sue Johanson will be speaking at 4 p.m. today in the Wave.

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