Formerly known as Femsex, GenSex is a student-facilitated DeCal (Democratic Education at Cal) course that was created at UC Berkeley in 1993. The program has now spread throughout the country. This site pertains to the GenSex program at UC Berkeley.
The founders of GenSex were Grace, Kristina, and Christe who took a Feminism and Pornography course in the Spring of 1993. They went to Alix Schwartz, now UC Berkeley’s Director of Academic Planning, and proposed a DeCal course called “The Orgasm Class”, which was an 8-week, shorter version of the class we know now. The class was so popular that a second section was created so that more people could take it. Since 1993 when the curriculum was created and then 1994 when the course took off, GenSex has consecutively been in session up to present day at Cal.
GenSex is a course that focuses on the intersection of gender, sexuality, and identity. Students will have the opportunity to explore aspects of their own identity, and how their experiences have shaped their understanding of their sexuality and self-image. This course covers a wide range of topics, and the name of the course has been changed to reflect that breadth. Students in GenSex will be expected to learn about systems of oppression, mental health, safer sex, sexual practice and kink, dating and sexual violence, trauma and healing, and reproductive health for folks of all identities. This course aims to create an atmosphere that facilitates personal introspection and growth, and our goal is to empower students to share and learn from their own experiences.
GenSex challenges students by exposing them to diverse opinions and experiences through fellow classmates and outside resources. It is our hope that individuals leave the class with a newfound sense of empowerment, a new community, and a greater understanding of how power and privilege are expressed in the world around us.
We strongly believe that everyone stands to gain something from GenSex and can contribute to the space, so we encourage folks of ALL identities to apply. You do not have to be a UC Berkeley student to be eligible to take this course.
art by ashley lukashevsky
art by laura callaghan
“[GenSex] facilitators take their job very seriously. They meet every week to plan the curriculum and to educate one another on the topics that they will be presenting to you, their students. They have taken a vow never to bluff, because they realize that some of the material they are teaching has life-or-death consequences, and all of the material are too important to lie about. They work very hard to create a safe space in every [GenSex] classroom, a place where people can say even the very hardest things without fear of ridicule. They are also committed to diversity in the most thoroughgoing sense of the word: every kind of person is welcome in the classroom, as long as they are willing to make a commitment to honesty and open-mindedness. A [GenSex] instructor also promises to scrutinize themselves, and to hold themselves up to the same high standards of tolerance and commitment that they expect from their students.”
– Alix Schwartz
GenSex is a course that is not funded by the university and many times the GenSex staff provides their own funds to ensure that the space continues to be accessible to all folks. We provide a labor of love for our students because we are committed to this program and believe that all people should take GenSex!