Hello from Amsterdam! Today is the first day of a class I’m teaching on Sexuality and Culture in the Netherlands. I’m confident I could not have picked a better place to teach my very first study abroad course. Amsterdam is, well, just an awesome city—but it’s also a fascinating place to go learn about cross-cultural differences in sexuality for a couple of weeks. Here’s why.
For one thing, sex work is legal and government-regulated in the Netherlands. As such, one of the things we’ll be focusing on in this course is what this means for sex workers. For instance, compared to places where prostitution is criminalized, how are the motivations for becoming a sex worker different in the Netherlands? Also, are there any differences in sex workers’ mental health? What about differences in their risk of sexual assault and STIs? We’ll be digging into what the research says about all of these issues, but we’re also going to get some firsthand insight through a seminar and discussion with a Dutch sex worker at the Prostitution Information Center.
Beyond this, we’re going to explore cross-cultural differences in sex education. The Dutch have among the best sexual health outcomes in the world (e.g., very low rates of teen pregnancies and STIs) and it’s due, in large part, to the fact that–Unlike the United States–the Netherlands has mandated comprehensive sex education for all students. Again, we’ll be diving into the research on this subject, but also speaking with a Dutch sex educator for additional perspective.
Finally, we’ll also be exploring LGBT+ issues in the Netherlands. The Netherlands was one of the first countries in the world to legalize same-sex marriage, so we will be looking at the implications of being a sexual minority in a culture where there is much greater acceptance of sexual diversity (e.g., is it linked to enhanced physical and psychological health?).
Of course, in addition to learning about Dutch sexuality in all of these ways, we’ll also be immersing ourselves in the culture through a bike tour of Amsterdam, a boat cruise along the canals, a food tour, visits to all of the major museums, and more.
Basically, this is going to be the best course. Ever.
It’ll be a busy couple of weeks for sure, so if my posts are a little more sporadic, that’s why. However, I’ll be sure to post some updates about what we’re learning–and if you want to follow our adventures, follow me on Twitter @JustinLehmiller
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Image Source: 123RF.com/stanciuc
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