Cindy Pierce: Practicing Social Courage


Proctor Academy’s The Buzz — Jan. 27, 2016

By Scott Allenby

Usually the most valuable conversations are the most difficult ones. When Cindy Pierce visited Proctor Academy’s campus Tuesday, an anticipation of discomfort and curiosity preceded her separate conversations with students and faculty, which meant we knew this meant it would be time well spent! As Pierce noted at the beginning of her conversation, “In order to get to the other side of awkward, you have to wade through awkward soup.”

A social sexuality expert and comic storyteller, Pierce masterfully entertained and educated our community on how we can better navigate cultural, media, and peer pressures students are facing. We each left Pierce’s presentation with our minds spinning around shocking statistics on adolescent use of pornography, the hookup culture, and how technology interweaves throughout these very real issues for adolescents. Underlying each of these topics is an incredibly important theme for us to hear: students need to practice social courage in order to exhibit it when it matters most. Continue reading

Loomis Chaffee News: Cindy Pierce Discusses Healthy Relationships


Loomis Chaffee News — Jan. 13, 2016

By Christine Coyle
Faculty member and Loomis Chaffee parent

Author, sexuality educator, speaker, and comic storyteller Cindy Pierce spent two days on campus this week sharing information and her perspectives gleaned over many years of interacting with high school and college students on the issues of sound decision-making and developing healthy relationships.

During her visit, organized by the Office of the Deans of Students, Ms. Pierce met with the school community in several forums with a message tailored for each group and delivered in a humorous, no-nonsense style that was well-received by students and faculty alike. She addressed the freshmen class, spoke at an evening faculty meeting, shared lunch with student leaders, and spoke at a convocation for sophomores, juniors and seniors.

“Trust your gut. Trust time,” Ms. Pierce told students in her empathetic appeal to develop the “social courage” to follow their own compasses, rather than succumbing to the great pressure they may feel from peers, social media, and a “hook-up culture” to engage in sexual relationships before they are ready. Relationships and sex are much more fulfilling, both emotionally and physically, among partners who choose each other carefully, who respect each other, and who are not under the influence of alcohol, Ms. Pierce stressed. Continue reading

Thoughts on “We’re Casual About Sex and Serious About Consent”

Cindy’s thoughts on “We’re Casual About Sex and Serious About Consent”

Healthy sexual choices are not often made under the influence of alcohol and optimistic arousal. The unspoken social contract among young people dictates that hooking up is the way busy people conduct their sex lives. “Hooking up” is a conveniently vague term that allows people to evade judgment. The hookup culture has created an accepted reversed dating scene. Students of all ages laugh in agreement when I share the following quote from a fifteen year-old girl, “If you hook up once, one of the two people is interested. If you hook up twice, both are interested. If you hook up a third time, it’s a thing.” In other words, physically connecting with someone with whom you are emotionally disconnected is part of the deal and a way to see what might shake out. When students tell me it would be “awkward” to ask for consent, I say, “You are naked. That is awkward! Speak up and get to the other side of awkward or get dressed.” Freitas’s research aligns with my findings over many years of interviews with college students: Hooking up leaves many young women AND men feeling emotionally unfulfilled. The assumption that guys just want to get off is NOT true regardless of what guys say with a group of friends. Girls and young women also feel emotionally unfulfilled and rarely have orgasms in a hookup. The normalization of casual sex has made it a rite of passage, a way to join the club, feel wanted, and evade judgment. Many assume more sex leads to more skills. I have had a number alarming interviews with young men who have had many female partners and are relied on as the source of guidance and information for their peers. These guys are misinformed about female pleasure and misguide their peers. Without a connection, communication, and shared trust, people end up having a lot of below-average sex – one’s practice becomes his or her practice.




“Pierce, Cindy. Sexploitation: Helping Kids Develop Healthy Sexuality in a Porn-Driven World. Bibliomotion. Oct. 2015. 224p. notes. bibliog. ISBN 9781629560892. pap. $18.95; ebk. ISBN 9781629560908. CHILD REARING

Leading social sexuality educator Pierce maintains that what today’s kids need more than screen time are conversations with parents about values, beliefs, friendships, sexuality, and a host of other topics. In talking to their kids, parents are in a position to help them find their inner compass by unplugging and avoiding the trap of digital multitasking. Pierce cites a wide range of problematic media-driven issues for kids (e.g., hypersexualized female body images, violent masculinity) and urges parents to enter into the dialog to give their children alternative ways to behave and think.

Verdict While Pierce points out seemingly insurmountable pressures on today’s youth, she devises a workable plan for guiding them toward healthy life choices.—Deborah Bigelow, director emerita, Leonia P.L., NJ”

Link to original review:

Here and Now: Educator Tackles Porn, Consent And Communication With College Freshmen

WBUR’s Here & Now — Aug. 12, 2015


For many freshmen around the country, college orientation this year will include more than learning to manage a meal plan or figuring out when to declare a major. It could also mean sitting through lectures about sexual behavior on campus, sexual assault and affirmative consent. Some also will require students to fill out honor code forms agreeing to behave in a sexually appropriate manner. Among the schools that have incorporated sexual assault and consent awareness into their freshman curricula in recent years are Elon University, George Washington University, Indiana University, Rutgers and Stanford.

Cindy Pierce is a New Hampshire-based sex educator, the author of the soon-to-be-released book “Sexploitation” and a popular speaker on campuses around the country. And while some argue that the programs are overkill, since students today have access to more information than any generation that preceded them, Pierce argues that it’s exactly because there’s so much information out there that today’s students need more guidance.
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Sex-Ed: US Colleges Should Take Note of Canadian Efforts to Prevent Campus Rape

I enjoyed this thought-provoking article from New York Times contributor Jan Hoffman on college rape prevention programs.

Jan Hoffman is right on with her conclusion that comprehensive rape prevention programs are our best chance to make changes on college campuses. I hope the success this program has brought to three Canadian colleges will inspire colleges in the US to adopt this approach. While more programming for men is needed, we should continue to address this issue from every angle with women, men, and campus faculty. One aspect of my aim as a high school and college speaker is to educate and engage boys and men to take part in changing the culture of their schools. I openly talk about the collision of factors that impact sexual decisions under the influence of alcohol in a normalized hookup culture. Sexual expectations are often skewed by the acceptance (often encouragement) of excess drinking, less face-to-face interactions contributing to less adept social skills, and hyper-sexualized messaging from porn and media. Alcohol, drugs, devices, and porn will always be accessible, therefore it is essential to educate consumers and users through a variety of programming to help change the lens for men. One positive shift I have seen is that more college men are open to conversations on topics like consent and bystander behavior, because they were educated about them in middle school. This kind of programming should be required, but it is also important to continue teaching girls and women about assessing risk, practicing self-defense, and defining personal sexual boundaries. – Cindy Pierce, author of SEXPLOITATION: Helping Kids Develop Healthy Sexuality in a Porn-Driven World

Mike Birbiglia’s School of Driving

Teaching my kids to drive sets fire to just about every one of my worst traits. I am really not cut out for the job. If it weren’t for Mike Birbiglia’s comedy CDs, my kids would never acquire the driving hours needed to get a driver’s license.

There was a period of time when I was a calm cat sitting in the passenger seat with one of my kids backing up and turning around the car in the driveway. Driving on the road changed everything. By the time Zander was ready to drive to a place more than one hundred yards from our house, I was so at ease that I didn’t even give him too many tips on how to do it. Plus, we live in a rural area. Two hundred yards down the road, I was launched into a crazed state. My right calf was fully cramped because I stomped on the imaginary brake, I had a grip on the “oh shit handle,” and my backside was off the seat in fully coiled fear-flex.

Decades ago, I did some therapy to help me manage my catastrophic thoughts. Fear of the dark was an obstacle for me, but I used the strategies and breathing techniques in all areas of my life. None of this work converts to the kid learning to drive gig.

The speedometer read 20 MPH, but it felt like 50 MPH. I warned him that we were heading into the ditch in a strong tone. He overcompensated by crossing the yellow line. I practically screamed at him to move back over. When I heard sticks crackling on the edge of the ditch, I lost it, “PULL OVER. PULL OVER!!”
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Sex Comic Visit

The Taft Papyrus — Nov. 7, 2014

By Kayla Kim
News Editor

taft-papyrus-page“Sex is awkward forever,” says Cindy Pierce. “You are physically naked with a partner; you are emotionally naked. There is nothing that can rescue you from the inevitable awkwardness of that situation.” Cindy Pierce is a college speaker and comic storyteller who visited Taft in late October and spoke separately to the lower and upper school about, to put it simply, sex.

Taft’s newly formed Health and Wellness Committee chose Cindy Pierce specifically to address sexuality and healthy sexual relationships. “Several Taft faculty and students heard her speak at the Independent Schools Gender Project Conference and thought she was fantastic,” says Mrs. Sarah Koshi, Coordinator of Character, Leadership, and Wellness. “She also has spoken at some of our peer schools including Berkshire and Hotchkiss and has received rave reviews.” Continue reading

COMFORT IN THE STUMBLE – October 24th – Brattleboro, VT

20131019-pierce-gh-287Contact: Meghan McGeary – 802-448-9750

(Brattleboro, VT) – Comedian Cindy Pierce will perform her show Comfort in the Stumble on Friday, October 24th at the New England Youth Theatre in Brattleboro, VT. All ticket sales will benefit Planned Parenthood of Northern New England (PPNNE) and their plans for a new health center in Brattleboro.

Self-described as an “Incident Magnet,” funny lady Pierce will share stories on the healing power of oatmeal, wrangling humor in the birthing chamber and more.

“Planned Parenthood is leading the charge on sexuality education and policies that give women choices about their sexual health,” said Pierce. “These issues are very important to me both personally and professionally. In all of my work as a comic storyteller, I hope to empower more people to get the information, support, and awareness they need to make healthy choices. I am honored to work with Planned Parenthood.”

PPNNE is raising funds for a new, state-of-the-art health center in Brattleboro to better serve the community and enrich patients’ experiences as they seek reproductive health care. The current health center, an old Victorian house, lacks the infrastructure necessary for modern health care, including adequate space to efficiently see patients and space to mentor the next generation of practitioners.

“Time and again, our Brattleboro patients rave about the health care they receive,” noted Meagan Gallagher, PPNNE President & CEO. “Unfortunately, the space does not reflect the quality of care we provide. And it’s time to change that.”

In 2013, more than 1,400 patients received reproductive health care at the PPNNE Brattleboro health center, totaling more than 2,200 visits. 69% of these patients had incomes at or below the federal poverty level, $17,235 or less for a single person.

Comfort in the Stumble is hosted by Lisa Ford, Melany Kahn, Leah Nussbaum and Rita Ramirez. Doors open at 6:30pm, where show-goers can enjoy snacks, a cash bar, and a raffle. The show begins at 7:30pm. Comfort in the Stumble is adults only and contains some graphic sexual language.

Tickets may be purchased at or through


About Planned Parenthood of Northern New England (PPNNE): PPNNE is the region’s largest provider of sexual and reproductive health care. In 2013, PPNNE served more than 42,000 patients at 21 health centers across Maine, New Hampshire, and Vermont, including 11 health centers in Vermont alone.

About the PPNNE Brattleboro Health Center: 1,464 patients received care at the Brattleboro health center in 2013, totaling 2,289 visits. 17% of the patients were teenagers and 46% were in their twenties. 69% of patients had incomes less than the federal poverty level. In 2013, the health center provided 499 pregnancy tests, 262 pap tests to screen for pre-cancerous cervical cells, and 2,930 tests for HIV, herpes, gonorrhea, chlamydia and syphilis.

About Cindy Pierce: Cindy Pierce is on a mission to bring truth about sex and relationships to the forefront through comic storytelling. Cindy has been honored as one of “14 Remarkable Women of the Arts” in New Hampshire magazine and a Pioneer with three others in the category. In 2012, she won the Nantucket Film Festival’s Late Night Storytelling competition in the amateur category. Cindy lives in Etna, New Hampshire with her husband and three children, where they own and run Pierce’s Inn.