Sunday, September 6, 2009

What on Earth am I doing?

I’ve been a bit wishy-washy in trying to figure out exactly what it is that interests me most and trying to turn it into something resembling a research topic. This blog post is primarily a brainstorming exercise to figure out what it is out of the things I’ve been reading that interests me the most, and I’m going to do a point form thing with a little description of my interests to go with it.

1. Sex Education Agendas
Who is doing the teaching, and what are they trying to say? There are some really obvious ones, like the Abstinence programs, but what about the other ones? I was viewing a website for a recent NSW Sexual Health initiative ( that was encouraging people to get tested for STI’s and to ‘play safe’ (whatever that means). Now, the agenda on this one is simple, it wants people to get STI tests, and it wants people to use condoms…but how does it go about that, and what assumptions about sex and the people who do it does it make?

2. Assumptions Regarding Gender in Sex Education
Highlighted breifly in my most recent post is the notion of gender in sex education. What assumptions are made about women and men and the roles they play? What expectations do sex education programs give to young people regarding gender and their own future roles in relationships? Whose responsibility is it to bring out the condom, and who is going to be the aggressor? Is a woman who enjoys and actively seeks sexual encounters a ‘slut’, and is a man in the same situation actually represented positively? How are women taught to think of men in this context, and how are men taught to think of women? Do these assumptions have any greater impact beyond the immediate educational situation, or are they only relevant as a teaching mechanism?

3. Adult Sex Information
What information do experienced people seek regarding sex? How is information for adults presented? In this regard, I’m rather fond of the term ‘experienced practitioner’. It lends a certain amount of integrity to the sexual act, and to the people who are seeking to learn more about it, with just a little behind-the-hand titter at polite society by talking about sex in such an ironic way. It also looks at sex as something that we practice, something that you gain experience in and something that people, in fact, do for a living. What information for adults is there? Do people feel better after reading the cosmopolitan guide to how to give your boyfriend a better blowjob? What sex information is available for men? As a woman, I’m more exposed (tee hee) to information designed for women, but my first exposure to sex was a couples sexual recipe book that was designed to give ideas and provide stimulus (chortle) for couples erotic play. It was written for couples, but I suspect it had women particularly in mind. Where do adults go if they need help? Do they go to their friends?; do they go to the (IMHO awful) womens magazines?; do they talk to a doctor, a pharmacist, psychologist, (gods forfend) their partner? Recently listening to a live radio program on triple j about sexual communication indicated that people simply don’t talk to their partners about things that trouble them sexually. If not, why not? What are they risking by talking, and what are they risking by staying silent? What do the creators of adult sex information think that adults want to know, and what does this say about the sex information industry (cos I’m pretty sure it says more about the people writing the material than it is likely to say about the adults reading it)?

4. Pornography as an informtion product.
Now, I’ve heard from more than one source that apparently people find out sex information from porn. Is this true, or is it simply people assuming that someone out there (who is obviously not nearly as clever as them) is looking at porn for hints and techniques to avoid the pizza delivery bill and give great head? Despite what some people think, I’ve only ever seen one pornographic film (an R-rated one, I think) and it left me uninspired and a little bored. I was intrigued as to how they were planning on bringing the dispirate elements of the plot together in order to save the little whore-house from destitution, but lost interest enough to turn it off before it ended since it was increasingly apparent that my curiosity wasn’t the only thing that was going to be left unsatisfied that evening. So my foray into viewing pornography a few years ago was not a well of information on what people seek when looking at porn. Yes, they want to be aroused by the video, but are they learning anything at the same time, and if they are, is it sticking? Are people learning bad (or good) habits from porn, or is it just that they might like to blame porn for their bad (or good) habits later down the track when they are being asked about it? Are we so accustomed to blaming the media for every misconception that we have that porn is copping it for not showing more condoms, pillow talk and STI testing?

That’s all I can think of for now, but rest assured dear reader (I think there’s one of you at the moment), I will update with any more ideas that spring to mind later when I’ve had a good rest.

1 comment:

  1. My take on some of those items:

    - *Both* participants ought to assume their own responsibility to have and bring out the condom. Safe sex is a joint effort.

    - A woman who enjoys and actively seeks sexual encounters is a gift to be cherished. I blame organized religion for instilling the opposite attitude over the centuries. (But then I blame organized religion for a lot of things that are wrong with society...)

    - Sexual education materials can be useful - I learned a lot from reading The Joy of Sex as a teenager. But there's nothing to compare to actual experience, or being taught directly by people who know what they're doing. (Admittedly - the latter can be hard to come by, but not impossible... :D )

    - Porn is a mixed bag -- most porn is useless as educational material because it presents a highly unrealistic fantasy world of sex. That said, porn which is more realistic can be educational - some of it highly educational. The problem is picking out which is which.

    (P.S. Hi! :D )