Meet the New Managing Editors: Bethany Lumsdaine

September 13, 2023 by Merissa Prine

Sex and Psychology is expanding! I’m pleased to introduce the latest additions to the team, who will help continue our mission of bringing you science-based sex ed. Next up:

Bethany Lumsdaine is a recent Master’s of Public Health graduate from Washington University. She completed her undergraduate degree at Indiana University in Media Management. She has conducted research in sexual health promotion and human sexuality. Her primary interests include: health communication theory, sexual behavior trends, heterosexual men’s sexual self-concept, and SSRI-induced sexual difficulties. Bethany has experience working in social media marketing, management, and has hosted a radio show. And she is now part of the Sex and Psychology team as one of our new Co-Managing Editors!

I asked Bethany some questions about her research, education, and work. Below are some questions and answers from our conversation.

Q: What personally drew you to the study of human sexuality? Was there a pivotal moment or experience in your life that ignited your passion for this field? 

A: I think I’ve always been fascinated by human sexuality because of the juxtaposition of its taboo treatment and omnipresence in American culture. It was something I was always hearing about, but it was so challenging to actually learn about growing up and even into adulthood. I found myself always wanting to know “the truth” about sex and sexual health after receiving mixed messages between school, medical professionals, and friends. 

My first formal introduction to the study of human sexuality was in a class about women’s bodies at Indiana University with Dr. Virginia Vitzthum. We talked in depth about both biological functions of bodies and the way culture impacts the body. I was introduced to a lot of ideas I had never really considered before. I didn’t realize how much that class affected me until years later, but it was definitely a pivotal moment for my academic interest in human sexuality! 

Q: Can you tell us a little bit more about your research interests and what it is that excites you about these topics? 

A: I’m still exploring my interests a bit, but overall, I really love digging into the way social norms and common cultural understandings impact the way we move through our sexual relationships. There are so many unspoken “rules” and “expectations” that people function under, especially in heteronormative relationships. I think the more people can break down these ideas, the more fulfillment they might be able to find in their intimate lives. 

In this sense, I’m also very interested in how we translate academic research findings to reach the average person. When we are researching topics that are so human-based and relationship-focused, it feels imperative that we also have the tools to make sure real people get to benefit from our findings. I am also interested in how we can ensure this information reaches a wide range of audiences, rather than just those who choose to seek out this knowledge. 

Q: What made you want to get involved with Sex and Psychology? 

A: Joining the Sex and Psychology team felt like the perfect opportunity to combine my recent studies in human sexuality and research dissemination with my background in communications. I completed my undergraduate degree in media management, and after finishing my master’s in public health earlier this year, I was hoping to find a way to incorporate both of these interests into a career. Besides that, I’ve been a longtime listener of the podcast, so I was very excited when I saw Dr. Lehmiller was hiring! 

Q:  What motivated your interest in public health? 

A: After college I got a job working in media management and marketing – exactly what I had studied. But after a few years in the field, I found myself wishing I was involved in person-centered work rather than profit-centered work. A major catalyst in my decision to pursue public health came through the COVID-19 pandemic and observing the communication challenges happening between the scientific community and the general public. I really wanted to explore more about how to utilize media and marketing strategies for health education, and that led me to pursue a graduate degree! 

Q: What real-world applications or benefits do you hope to achieve through your work in human sexuality? 

A: I hope that at least one person out in the world can have an easier conversation about sex with someone in their life. 

Q: Has your involvement in sex research and education led to any revelations or self-discoveries about your own attitudes or feelings towards sex and relationships?  

A: More than anything, I think being involved in the human sexuality field has allowed me to expand my concept and understanding of sex, relationships, and even love. Like many people, I had been exposed to a lot of limiting beliefs of what sex and relationships looked like – whether that was through media, pop culture, or my own experiences. Learning more about the myriad ways people experience their sexuality has allowed me to totally reframe my own perspective, and that has been very liberating and joyful! 

Q: What’s something about sex that you later learned was a myth or falsehood? 

A: Basically everything about the hymen. It doesn’t have to tear with penetration! There are different types of hymens! 

Q: What do you enjoy doing outside of being a student and researcher? 

A: I really value being a part of my community and engaging in creative practices – both those things manifest in different ways that often overlap in collaborative projects. I love learning about new things to do in my city and spending time outside. 

Q: Where can folks find you? 

A: You can find me on LinkedIn! 

Q: Is there anything else you want people to know? 

A: I’m super excited to get involved with podcasting through this work! I was previously a broadcast radio host for several years and see this format as a sort of continuation of that interest! 

Welcome to Sex and Psychology, Bethany!

Image Credits: Photos provided by Bethany Lumsdaine

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Written by
Dr. Justin Lehmiller
Founder & Owner of Sex and Psychology

Dr. Justin Lehmiller is a social psychologist and Research Fellow at The Kinsey Institute. He runs the Sex and Psychology blog and podcast and is author of the popular book Tell Me What You Want. Dr. Lehmiller is an award-winning educator, and a prolific researcher who has published more than 50 academic works.

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