"Paradoxes and Contradictions: My Time As Surgeon General"
Joycelyn Elders, MD
The role of women in society and in the family continues to evolve perhaps more quickly than before. This evolution crashes headlong into the wall of resistance of orthodoxy in the United States. The health and education of any nation relates directly to the health and education of its women.
Dr. Elders will explore the tensions innate in the fact that we are sexual beings from birth until death and yet we refuse to educate our youth about their own sexuality. Although the US government ignores it, she recognizes that adolescents have a fundamental right to accurate and comprehensive sexual health information. Abstinence-only programs violate the fundamental human rights of adolescents to accurate and comprehensive sexual health information. Dr. Elders recognizes that we are not a sexually healthy nation as manifested by our high rates of unplanned pregnancies, abortion and births, high rates of divorce, high rates of sexually transmitted disease and the fact that more than a billion acts of unprotected sexual intercourse occur each year. She knows we can do better. According to Dr. Elders, we have the most advanced health care in the world, low-cost ways to prevent unintended pregnancy and STIs, and a wealth of readily available information. However, we cannot make the best use of these powerful resources unless our attitudes, policies, and ways of thinking about sex evolve.
Dr. Elders will discuss the problems of political and conventional behaviors that result in paradoxes and contradictions in our society. She will tell her story as it relates to growing up in America, serving on the faculty of a teaching university, as director of a state health department, as Surgeon General of the US, and meeting and speaking with a cross-section of America. She believes that there is too much at stake for us to continue to maintain a quaint silence; ignorance has been neither blissful nor effective in prevention of disease or unplanned pregnancy, and the development of an inclusive society.
During her opening plenary session, Dr. Elders will explain that we must use multiple strategies to improve sexual health in America and to evolve the role of women by promoting a change in attitudes. Multiple strategies will be discussed as they relate to the evolving roles of women in our family and society and what marriage and family therapists can do to accomplish this.
Dr. M. Joycelyn Elders was the 15th US Surgeon General and first African-American woman to hold that post. She is now a Distinguished Professor of Public Health at the University of Arkansas School of Public Health and a Distinguished Professor at the Clinton School of Public Policy, although she never saw a physician prior to her first year of college. She has been recognized with the National Coalition of 100 Black Women’s Candace Award for Health Science, the De Lee Humanitarian Award, and the American Medical Association’s Dr. Nathan Davis Awards among many others. Her current projects include working with the University of Minnesota Medical School to advance comprehensive science-based sexual health information and training for allied health care providers through the Joycelyn Elders Chair in Sexual Health Education. Of all her achievements, Dr. Elders has said she is most proud of her family, including her spouse and two sons.
"Spice and Dice: Profusions of Gender in a Postmodern World"
Mary Gergen, PhD
What is a Woman, a Girl, a Boy, a Man? How shall these questions be answered? Various orientations to gender have important implications for how family therapists work together with people who carry with them assumptions about who they are and how they relate to others. Dr. Mary Gergen’s preference is to describe and evaluate these orientations as they have been developed in feminist psychology: the empirical perspective, a feminist standpoint position, and the postmodern.
The empiricist position defines gender as a socialized overlay on a biological substratum. The goal of therapy is to diagnose and treat, and to help women and men adapt to their normative positions in society, if possible. Feminist Standpoint position presumes that each gender is clearly defined and separate. There is an emphasis on relationships, but, without losing the authenticity of the basic self. Women’s ways are promoted. Therapeutic goals bolster feminine values, work to overcome oppressive male-dominated social structures and practices, emphasize relational values, and support self-esteem and self-integrity.
Postmodern Feminist Position is the most ambiguous in terms of defining genders. Sex, gender, and sexual orientation are socially subscribed categories, which are open for negotiation. This orientation is congenial to queer theory, multiple perspectives, and gender bending. Therapy goals created to support acceptance of ambiguity, multiplicity, multi-being, and relational networks to engage with and support persons is championed. They may also include questioning of certainty about social labels, reduced hierarchy, avoiding diagnosis therapy by involving dialogue, collaborative activities and performativity. Critical controversies involve questions of self, identity, gender-related distress.
Mary Gergen is Professor Emerita of Psychology and Women’s Studies at Penn State University, Brandywine, as well as a founder of the Taos Institute, a non-profit educational organization dedicated to the integration of social constructionist ideas with diverse professional practices throughout the world. She serves as an advisor to doctoral candidates in a joint international program in the Social Sciences with Tilburg University, The Netherlands. With a strong interest in feminist gerontology, she is a co-editor of the Positive Aging newsletter, an online publication which is available in six languages. Her major works are involved at the intersection of feminist theory and social constructionist ideas. She has written and edited eight books, includeing Feminist Reconstructions in Psychology: Narrative, Gender and Performance, Feminist Thought and the Structure of Knowledge, and Playing with Purpose: Adventures in Performative Social Science, with Kenneth J. Gergen, as well as over one hundred articles and chapters for scholarly books. Her most recent book is Retiring but not Shy, Feminist Psychologists Create their Post-Careers, edited with Ellen Cole. Beyond work there is play, especially tennis and golf, and family fun, with an extended group, ages 6 and up. In terms of travel, no continent has escaped her gaze.
"The Best is Yet to Come: Love, Sex and Growing Older"
Gina Ogden, PhD
Does sex have to go downhill with age? For many women, growing older can be sexually liberating—once we pay attention to what we want instead of living up to others’ expectations.
Gina Ogden has pioneered an integrative approach to sexual experience that expands women’s awareness and helps therapists become more empathic and effective. Her work is based on four principles that confront dominant, negative messages that are prevalent about sex—especially as we grow older. She begins by revealing that sex is more than intercourse. It involves all of us: body, mind, heart, and spirit. Next, attendees will learn how erotic satisfaction begins with self-esteem—at any age, with or without a partner. Furthermore, her presentation will illuminate the ways in which the experience of love, sex, and growing older begins early in our lives. Lastly, you’ll discover that you don’t have to be trained as a sex therapist to offer your clients supportive, effective ways to transform their attitudes about sexual pleasure and connection.
This presentation offers practices to initiate client conversations about sexual changes that arise during and after menopause—especially regarding body image, desire, orientation, gender, and shifting notions of function and dysfunction. You’ll hear the latest research on hormones and lubrications, along with case examples that span a wide range of relationship dynamics. You’ll explore a heart-opening, user-friendly template that invites your clients to update their sexual self-image, increase their capacity for love, creativity, and compassion, transcend guilt, shame, and “good-girls-don’t” messages, and heal the sexual wounds of violence, abuse, and compulsivity.
Dr. Gina Ogden is a licensed marriage and family therapist and a Clinical Fellow of AAMFT, as well as a sex therapy diplomate, researcher, and author. She conducts retreats and trainings internationally, and her teleseminars are attended by healthcare practitioners all over the world. She has appeared across the media from talk radio to the Oprah Winfrey Show. Her nationwide survey, “Integrating Sexuality and Spirituality” (ISIS), is unique in exploring the emotions and meanings of sexual experience. Her many collaborations include contributions to the U.S. Surgeon General’s 2000 report on healthy sexuality and to the last three editions of Our Bodies, Ourselves. Her latest books are The Heart and Soul of Sex, The Return of Desire, and Women Who Love Sex. She lives in Cambridge, Massachusetts, where she is completing two books for professionals: Expanding the Practice of Sex Therapy and Sex Therapy Meets Shamanism, and also a mind-opening picture book for the young at heart: The ABCs of Love and Sex.
"How Humor Can Change the Rules"
When women, humor, and a dedication to social change come together the results are life changing.
Liza Donnelly has dedicated her life to the exploration of global cultural phenomena like this through her renowned cartoons in The New Yorker Magazine, as well as her innovative speaking at TED, the United Nations, and countries around the world. Using sharp wit and clean lines, Donnelly’s pen invites us to reconsider taken-for-granted cultural concepts. She joins the AAMFT as our final plenary speaker, accompanied by a showcase of cartoons on gender, relationships, communication and more to explore women’s evolving roles in society and family.
In this presentation, Liza Donnelly, accompanied by her art, will consider the role of women in culture and the ways in which women continue to use the power of humor as an impetus for important societal shifts. Drawing from her roles as a spouse and mother to her recent travel as a cultural envoy from the State Department on an international mission for freedom of speech, Donnelly will offer a unique perspective for reflection and awakening. She will offer considerations and catalysts for the ways in which both women and men can create change within families and the broader community through awareness and gentle, yet powerful, everyday changes. As she reminds audiences throughout the world, “We [as women] need to believe in our presence, in that wherever ‘there’ is, we’re supposed to be there.”
Liza Donnelly is a staff cartoonist with The New Yorker Magazine and a weekly columnist for Forbes.com. When she first began selling to The New Yorker in 1979, she was the youngest and one of only three cartoonists who were women. Donnelly recently became a cultural envoy as part of the State Department’s talent program, traveling around the world speaking about freedom of speech, and more specifically on the role of women in the world and women cartoonists. Donnelly is author/editor of over a dozen books for grown-ups and children, and her work, writing and speaking has also been featured at the United Nations, TED, The Norman Rockwell Museum, CBS Sunday Morning, NBC and BetterTV, Glamour, Cosmopolitan, CNN.com, Huffingtonpost.com, Salon.com, DailyBeast.com, her own site at LizaDonnelly.com, and many others. She and her husband, New Yorker cartoonist, Michael Maslin, live in New York.