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Episode 0: An Introduction

The moment you have been waiting for is finally here! I don’t know if this counts as an actual episode, that’s why it is Episode 0, but at least it’s actual content! What follows is a quick introduction to what The Unspeakable Vice Podcast is all about.

The Unspeakable Vice Podcast, Episode 0
(Transcript)

Hi, I’m Kenneth, and this is the Unspeakable Vice Podcast, where we talk about talking about sex.  Sex is a dirty word, a taboo, something that just isn’t talked about.  We’re about to dig into why.

Today’s episode is kind of a preview. I’m going to give you an overview of what we’re about, where the name came from, and what kinds of content you can look forward to.

What do we mean when we say “sex”?

Part of the problem of communicating about sex is the definitions. Sex can be a physical act, it can be a biological characteristic, and it can be an identity. In The Unspeakable Vice Podcast, we explore all of the above. We look at all the ways sex and sexuality inhabit and define our lives.

  • Sex can be a physical act.
  • Sex can be a biological characteristic.
  • Sex can be an identity.

Although these different meanings of the word are mostly unrelated–one’s sexual biology can be completely different than the sexual acts one engages in–we are interested in the overlap, in how these different aspects relate to each other. After all, it is not a coincidence that we lump them all under the same term. And they are all hard to talk about, probably for the same reasons.

Introducing the host:

I’m Kenneth Gourlay.

Years ago, I started a career in Internet services, software, and project management. But my plans were derailed quickly when I was sent to prison for sex crimes.

As I started working to understand the circumstances that led to my criminal conviction, I realized that much of my own difficulty around sex and sexuality had to do with shame and an inability to speak openly and honestly about my feelings and thoughts. I realized that this wasn’t just me, but it is a social and societal problem.

Ultimately, I decided to refocus my life, start a new career in academics, and work toward understanding and improving the problem of social repression of sexuality in our society.

Now I am a graduate student at Wayne State University studying the sociology of sex and gender, and I am the host of this podcast!

The Unspeakable Vice Podcast seeks to answer these questions:

  • Why is it so difficult to have an honest conversation about sex?
    • Sex comes up all the time, sort of, but it often is a joke, an innuendo, a hushed rumor, or just weird.
    • We’ll look at some of the things behind this: shame, embarrassment, prejudices, pressure to be normal or fit in.
    • For example, a husband might not feel comfortable telling his wife that he felt an attraction to someone else.  Or someone who thinks he might be gay could have a hard time questioning his identity with his peers.
    • We will look at where these feelings of shame, etc. came from in our culture.
  • How do our relationships and well-being suffer when we have trouble communicating our sexual desires, beliefs, and identities?
    • Think about that husband: with part of his thought-life hidden from his wife, he might become more and more withdrawn. His wife might wonder what he is hiding, and even suspect him of cheating.
    • Or the person questioning his sexuality, how disadvantaged must he be that he is unable to work through any of his questions with anyone else?  He has to navigate his thoughts and his feelings by himself.
  • How do people overcome the barriers to effective, open communication?
    • We are going to look at people who have found ways to be successful in their communication despite the pressures to keep quiet, and what they are doing.

Not every episode will have an interview, but I look forward to finding great people to talk to who have interesting stories, either from an academic study of sex communication or from personal experience learning how to communicate about sex.

Where did the name come from?

“The Unspeakable Vice of the Greeks” (academic speak coined a hundred or two years ago) refers to homosexuality, or maybe sodomy.

From medieval law: “that detestable, unmentionable, and ignominious vice” probably referred to sodomy, but we can’t say for sure what they meant because they wouldn’t talk about it!

Today we might say some sexual deviances are so awful that they are “unthinkable,” especially when it comes to crime.

The pattern here is that deviant sex is so horrible and disgusting that it can’t even be spoken about.  (Sensitive ears must be protected from such terrible things.)

While generally these references are to deviant sex, my position is that no sex is vanilla enough that we are allowed to talk about it openly.  Some things might be easier to discuss than others, like heterosexual marriage, but they are all still veiled in innuendo, euphamism, or simply unspoken. So this discussion is not just about sexual deviance. All of sex is hard to talk about.

Hence, we are here to talk about the unspeakable.  And the primary reason the subject is unspeakable is that it is considered a vice.  A shortcoming, a character flaw. The Unspeakable Vice.

By Kenneth

Kenneth is a graduate student at Wayne State University studying sociology. He is also the host/producer of The Unspeakable Vice Podcast and author of "Lessons Learned: Life-Altering Experiences of Incarceration."

One reply on “Episode 0: An Introduction”

I can’t wait to hear more on the unspeakable, nice introduction. and I am looking forward to getting personal , up close and inside the the unspeakable . Great topic to open people up and let’s get talking !

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