Entrant: Kat Kline
Nominee: Dinah, Sexologist at The Dinah Project
My hero is a woman who I have never met nor do I even know her full name. Dinah is a sexologist who I first came across through her website – dinahproject.com – about a year and a half ago. As a physical education teacher, one of my 15-year-old students approached me confidentially in a state of panic and imminent depression about contracting an STD from a boy who no longer wanted anything to do with her. She was desperate, ashamed and confused, and I agreed to help her because she wasn’t prepared to speak to anyone else.
An internet search turned up the Dinah Project site and its advice column, which includes an entire section dedicated to STDs. At first I just sought advice to pass on, but I realized that Dinah had a very special way of speaking to people — and especially to young people — that makes them feel comfortable about their sexual feelings and even their sexual mistakes.
Ultimately she is doing outstanding sex education. She does not make people feel worse about things that already worry them, things like unwanted pregnancy, STDs, sexual dysfunction or sexual pain. Her personal answers are comforting and empowering and, not unlike a rape crisis center, manages to let the anxious questioners know that they are not alone.
Even without meeting her personally, you know that Dinah is imbued with patience and respect and these are very important virtues in a women’s health promoter. I have recommended her site to women of all ages and I have myself managed to learn about my body and its sexual function, and that impressed me because I have spent years specializing in physical anatomy and health promotion.
There on many levels on which people are working to improve the state of women’s health around the world, and it is usually the people at the top of the pyramid, or those who are highly visible, who get most of the credit. Dinah’s work really touched me because it appears to be done purely for the love of the work, not for pay or for credit. Furthermore, her support of disenfranchised young people deserves recognition, because they are the most vulnerable ones and the kind of problems that Dinah is dealing with are some of the problems that lead to dropping out of school, loss of education, conflict with family and friends, and most definitely short- and long-term health troubles.