Articles by Wendy


Wendy is the Chief Pleasure Propagandist at The Pleasure Project, where she plots with the rest of the pleasure posse – and pleasure-minded partners across the planet – to prove and promote the power, importance and appreciation of pleasurable safer sex. (She’s also a communications consultant in the fields of sexual and reproductive health, HIV and AIDS and international development, runs her own communications company (, and is pursuing post-grad glory at Oxford, studying for an MSc in Evidence-based Social Intervention.)

While not every session at AIDS 2010 is blog-worthy, it’s been a fantastic opportunity to catch up with Pleasure Project fans and friends, including Mike Kennedy from the Victorian AIDS Council in Australia. He gifted us with a huge (and I mean huge) calendar featuring (huge) pics of (huge) hot gay sex … just the kind of thing to hang on the office wall and impress the boss.

We’ve also hooked up with Support, the non-profit arm of the company that makes female condoms. They organized a workshop to promote female condoms to men, which included folks from Durex Condoms, MTV and BBC World Service Trust. Last night we sipped, nibbled and talked pleasure with them and others at the Viacom (i.e., parent company of MTV) party.

While not everyone at the party had heard of The Pleasure Project, when asked if they’d seen the posters about masturbation, porn during the plenary and spanking between sessions, most lit up with a spark of recognition and a cheeky grin. One more poster to go, and many more fantasies to spark. Stay tuned!

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lotion2Reporting live from the hallowed halls of the University of Oxford was never more exciting than last week, when Jerry Galea of the UCLA Programme in Global Health and the International Rectal Microbicide Advocates (IRMA) talked about the frontiers (or should that be ‘rear-iers’) of HIV prevention: the search for an effective rectal microbicide.

His visit was hosted by Oxford’s Centre for Evidence-Based Intervention (CEBI) in the Department of Social Policy and Social Work, and featured the facts about who’s having anal sex around the world (news flash: not just gay men), and the slippery subject of how to have your anal play and stay safe, too.

What are microbicides, and why would I put them up my *&%$?
Microbicides are a new type of product being developed which can be inserted into the vagina or rectum to reduce a person’s risk of HIV infection and possibly other sexually transmitted infections. Research to develop and test an effective vaginal microbicide has been ongoing for a number of years and, while there is no currently approved, effective product, there are a number of strong candidates. Yet research into rectal microbicides is in its infancy, despite the widespread practice of anal sex and the comparably high risk of transmission compared to most other forms of unprotected sex.

According to Galea, recent research shows that among heterosexuals in the UK the practice of anal intercourse is increasing. In the US 30–45% of heterosexual men and women reported experiencing anal sex, and the rate in Brazil was similar: around 40%. About 43% of female sex workers in South Africa report having engaged in anal intercourse.

If an effective vaginal microbicide is found, it will be crucially important to determine its effect on the anus because, explained Galea, before too long, someone will undoubtedly stick it up their arse. The vagina is relatively “durable” compared to the rectum – the latter being far more susceptible to irritation, tears and other damage – which is why unprotected anal intercourse poses a higher risk of HIV transmission than, for example, unprotected vaginal intercourse. Thus, finding and testing a rectal microbicide is a priority.

Enema anyone?
While there are many unanswered questions about rectal microbicides at this stage, one of the most interesting (at least for some of us) is about insertion and quantity. While we can simply lube up a penis or dildo with ordinary lubricant to make sex slippery (and reduce the chance of condom breakage or rectal damage), the same approach is unlikely to do the job when it comes to rectal microbicides. To be effective, microbicides may need to be applied in large quantities (a few tablespoons? a couple of cups? no one knows…). How’re we going to get all that up there and keep it there (enema anyone?)? And what happens when you stand up? (This fun Japanese ‘enema toilet’ may be the answer!)

Pleasure potential
This is a fascinating area of research and one that is long overdue for funding and support (both of which, unfortunately, are not sufficient at current levels). It’s also relevant from a pleasure perspective: if an effective rectal microbicide is developed, can it be marketed as a pleasure enhancement tool, rather than a clinical or pharmaceutical product? Will it be called ‘Recto-prevent’ … or Backdoor Butter? Will it be stigmatized, or celebrated as a way to have great sex while lowering the risk of infection?

Learn more and support the research and advocacy for rectal microbicides at the IRMA website.

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Filament magazine's first (contested) issue

Cover of Filament mags first issue

A UK publisher ran into roadblocks recently trying to make a mainstream erotic magazine for women with pics of actual naked men in actual states of arousal. Filament magazine claims printers won’t print the mag for fear of the wrath of “the women’s/religious sectors”.

Are erect penises actually dirtier than women’s body parts? Are women too frail to handle pictures of erect penises when, in fact, they were just stopping by the newsstand for a carton of milk? Or are women simply not interested in ogling men’s bodies?

Read the rest of this entry »

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Take part in the tête-à-tête about pleasure & safer sex

Take part in the tête-à-tête about pleasure & safer sex

The Pleasure Project has been spreading its mantra of pleasurable safer sex around the world for five years, and now we’ve brought the sexy banter to the blogosphere.

Stay up to date with the latest thinking on the pleasure approach to safer sex and upcoming and recent pleasure events. You can also share your comments and ideas – whether you’re a sex educator, public health promoter, sexual health researcher, porn star or a fan of good sex.

Then don’t miss our sexy Satellite Session at ICAAP9 (The 9th International Congress on AIDS in Asia and the Pacific), featuring:

Sexing up safer sex, steamy (safer sex) film clips – Arushi Singh (The Pleasure Project)

Eroticizing safer sex in a devoutly Catholic country – Philippine sex columnist and radio host Anas (aka Ana Santos)

Juicy sexual health campaigns for MSM in Oz – Mike Kennedy (Victorian AIDS Council)

Making condoms and lube feel fantastic for MSM in India – Ashok Row Kavi (Humsafar Trust)

Condom social marketing with pleasure appeal – TBC (DKT Indonesia)

Wednesday 12 August, 17:45 – 19:15, BIC-Westin Hotel Auditorium, Bali. Download the flyer>>

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Look out for a new piece ‘Promoting Safer Sex Through Pleasure: Lessons from 15 countries’, due out in March. Read the flyer here.

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