During his first year at Humboldt State University (HSU) - as a tenure-track professor in the Psychology Department - faculty and students tried to silence Mark Harwood on a number of occasions. He was hired primarily to teach Human Sexuality—a class he had taught in a variety of settings including a doctoral program in the UC-system, a psychology program in the second highest ranked City College in the nation, and at a private university.
Mark Harwood received excellent reviews from most students; however, with a class as personal as human sexuality, some found a way to be offended. His teaching evaluations were well above average and, in some instances, stellar. His first experience teaching human sexuality at HSU proved to be different. The students in the Master’s program simply couldn’t wrap their minds around the idea that males and females are different. They objected to his emphasis on techniques for treating sexual dysfunction – although this was the primary purpose of the class.
Professor Harwood’s second semester was even more distressing and he almost left HSU to take a position elsewhere. During the spring semester, he taught the undergraduate course in human sexuality. The course was cross-listed with Women’s Studies. Before the semester began, a student from the Women’s Studies department asked if he would allow her to be the T/A for the course. He agreed.
About four weeks into the course, the T/A indicated that she would like Dr. Harwood to cover domestic violence. He replied that because domestic violence isn’t directly related to human sexuality, he had not included it on the syllabus; however, he said that if they covered all the material in the syllabus and had time at the end of class, he would be happy to address this issue. As it turned out, he had the time.
Dr. Harwood sees domestic violence as a complex problem. Overall, he sees it as a relationship problem with both partners contributing to the dysfunctional relationship and one or both of them playing a role in the initiation and maintenance of the violence. This is recognized by virtually all experts in the field of family therapy. But to the Women’s Studies students, domestic violence is always entirely the fault of the male.
During class one day, Dr. Harwood handed out two peer-reviewed articles. The major findings of the articles were:
1. Women are more likely than men to initiate domestic violence.
2. Women are more likely than men to maintain domestic violence.