*What We’re Up To

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talk dirty to meOur very own Anne was featured in the Guardian’s “Let’s talk about sex: why do we need good sex education?” Global Development monthly podcast posted on their website on June 15th. The podcast highlighted that sex education has become more important than ever where young people make up 1.8 billion of the world’s population.

The contributors highlight that thus far, sex-talk has consisted of the biological aspects and dangers of having sex. Liz Ford, the reporter and presenter of the podcast, states “questions about whether children and young people should receive sex education… are still hotly debated the world over.”

Many of the contributors, including Anne, agreed that sex education is a lifetime process. Remy Shawa from Sonke Gender Justice relays a story in the podcast that during an AIDS conference in Cape Town, South Africa, 2013 “an older woman [stood] up and [said], ‘Look, I am interested in talking about the choices for my children but I don’t even know what to talk about because I don’t understand my own sexuality.’” It was made clear by other contributors of the podcast that this example is the same for many adults and youths alike in much of the world.

In response to how this issue can be addressed Anne, our pleasure guru, highlights that people have sex for pleasure and the public health world has got to catch up. She says, “We have to wake up to the fact that young people are now… have got access to the internet, which is a massive change from 10, 20 years ago, and I think the public health world has got its head in the sand and we might regret this in 10 years.” She goes further to say that the Pleasure Project is “really about bridging between the pleasure world and the world of public health… our mission is to ensure that people include pleasure in sex education messages; or putting the sexy into safer sex. And also putting the safe into erotic.”

We say how unsafe sex should be at the top of the agenda for governments and global institutions. Anne highlights that in a Lancet report “unsafe sex is the highest risk factor for death and disease for young women and the second highest for young men,” and we have a global responsibility to address this. Anne makes a strong statement when she says that the World Bank ought not to “just think about increasing GDP or increasing incomes but thinking about, for what? I’ll die a happy woman when I see the World Bank actually measuring women’s pleasure or women’s wellbeing as an ultimate indicator of their investments rather than the income of populations.”

Another key point made in the podcast… It’s cheaper to educate young people on sex than it is to pay for all the impacts that come from unsafe sex. As Doortje Braeken from IPPF says, “We know from countries like Estonia where they invest in comprehensive sex education together with access to services… the abortion rate, the HIV rate, the STI rate went down. And if you then calculate it, it becomes extremely cost effective… But it’s a difficult thing to sell.”

There is a taste of this tantalizing soundbite from this well-produced and engaging podcast by the Guardian. To hear it pleasurably in full, click on the following link, http://www.theguardian.com/global-development/audio/2016/jun/15/lets-talk-about-sex-why-do-we-need-good-sex-education-podcast.

Image from Huffington Post

Image from Huffington Post

Exciting news Pleasure Propogandists…our appraoch has been singled out by the Huffington Post for a noble mention.

In the Huffington Post’s blog added June 14th, 2016, commentating on the Women Deliver 4th Global Conference in Denmark, our scintillating Anne was on point and ready for some Pleasure Project advocacy. To emphasize a key objective of the conference, educating on safe sex to youths, Anne was quoted as saying that “When we do [talk about sex]… we will protect ourselves from sexually transmitted diseases.”

The article highlights how “pleasure is the single most powerful motivating factor for sexual behavior” and how unsafe sex is the cause for HIV and other risk factors that disproportionately affect girls. Lori Sokol, the blog author, emphasizes in the piece that there are lower rates of unwanted pregnancy, abortion and STIs in Denmark than “[in] their American peers” because the “teens were more likely to have received comprehensive sexuality education that includes a focus on relationship skills that foster mutually consensual, pleasurable and responsible sex.”

The article raises how the conference also touched on the topic of early marriages or acts of sexual violence and how such experiences should not hinder us from engaging with these girls or women in “sex-positive education”. A conference panelist specialising ni  Adolescent Sexual Reproductive Health WHO, Dr. Venkatraman Chandra-Mouli, said in reference to this type of education in projects they run that “rather than focusing only on their ‘uptake’ of family planning… we also focused on their sexual well-being… [to] develop mutually respectful, loving relationships [between girls and their partners].”

Bringing it back to the Pleasure Project, the article ends with how our online tools “help women and organizations that are working to promote, advocate and campaign for pleasurable ways to have safer sex [and] map their progress.” Anne ends with the basic reasoning into why the Project emphasizes pleasure when talking about safer sex, “One is only so effective without including the other.”

For the full flavor of the blog, click on the following link, http://www.huffingtonpost.com/lori-sokol/making-safe-sex-sexy_b_10456968.html.

Hi pleasure explorers!

Mara here…

IMG_1521

The new intern over at the Pleasure Project.

My experience… When we call ‘sex’ everything else other than sex, we are missing the point, particularly with the young. Sex is fun and safe sex can be erotic. This is exactly why I am working with the Pleasure Project – to learn how to refer to safe sex in a sexy, pleasurable and fun way. And to advocate for the capacity of this approach to influence behavior change, lowering teenage pregnancy rates and STI transmissions among youths.

With over 5 years of sexual reproductive health advocacy and programme development around youth engagement, engaging youths in a discussion around safe sex has been my focal point. Prior to my shift to London’s UCL as a candidate for an MSc in Global Health and Development, I worked in Zambia. First, in a small Bemba village in Northern Province where I worked at the grassroots level with adolescents. Together, we had frank and open conversations about what sex is and how to prevent pregnancy, HIV and other STIs. I learned that a lot of the misconceptions and myths about sex that exist among Zambian adolescents are the same for youths in the America and other developed countries, regardless of wealth and ethnicity.

From there, I worked for the Zambian branch of Marie Stopes International (MSI) and then a local NGO called CHAMP in youth program development and management. During my years with both, I quickly learned that Zambia and the rest of Sub-Saharan Africa are eager to lower their teenage pregnancy rates and address their high burden of HIV among youths. But, at the same time, we continue to run in circles as a global health community by focusing our sex-talk on all the risks of having sex; rather than demystifying it to promote a delay in early sexual debut and making safe sex sexy to encourage behaviour change.

I am EXCITED to work with the Pleasure Project to advocate for a pleasurable approach to safe sex education. Let’s turn it up and turn them on to give our safe sex education a Luther Vandross and Barry White voice, and stop making sex a basic biology and epidemiology lesson that youths want to painfully escape from.

Here we are at Women Deliver in Copenhagen, ready to give pleasure a push!

We are also launching our sexy new mapping of pleasure around the globe. Remember our lovely Global Mapping of Pleasure? Its going interactive and online! We will launch our lovely new map on our website on Thursday, 19 May at our side event at Women Deliver.

 

The launch side event for the online Global Mapping!

And that’s not all! We are doing something almost every day! So if you’re at Women Deliver this week – check us out!

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This post is by Arushi Singh

We were at a conference in January where they talked about MAGs who are uptakers, delayers, or switchers. Any guesses what this refers to? It’s just teenagers who have sex! Yup! We were at the International Conference on Family Planning in Bali and we thought it was time to wake the family planning community up and help them smell the sex in the air.

Our funky poster at the ICFP2106

Our funky poster at the ICFP2016

Because when we talk of married adolescent girls (yes, the very same MAGs), we need to remember that they are engaging in sex that may not be consensual, pleasurable, or safe. So rather than focusing only on their ‘uptake’ of family planning, or when they ‘switch’ their contraceptive methods, or whether the reason for using contraception is ‘spacing’ between births, if we also focused on their sexual wellbeing, provided them and their spouses with sex-positive education that helps them develop mutually respectful, loving relationships, we may be contributing significantly to these young girls’ lives and addressing their realities. After all, we know that a majority of married adolescent girls’ experience of sex within marriage is violent, scary, and unwanted.

A study in northern Ethiopia revealed that 81% of child brides interviewed described their sexual initiation as forced. In India, they were 3 times as likely to report being forced to have sex than girls who married later. Studies have also found that child brides typically continue to experience non-consensual sex throughout their marriage.

It wasn’t all doom and gloom even though we were among the handful who were bringing up the idea that sex can and should be pleasurable. This, especially so in the face of what Dr. Chandra-Mouli of WHO said at the plenary on the second day, that is, that porn is more accessible to young people than contraception.

Michelle Chackalackal wow-ed the crowd

Michelle Chackalackal wow-ed the crowd

Our friends at Love Matters were running their #pleasurematters campaign and there were some sexy condoms available with free coffee!

Flavoured condoms, coffee, and pleasure - the perfect combination!

Flavoured condoms, coffee, and pleasure – the perfect combination!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Our guerrilla campaign was appreciated by a number of people at the conference.

Arushi adds some points of interest to the women's loo

Arushi adds some points of interest to the women’s loo

Proud of pleasure

Proud of pleasure

We came across words like ‘coitally’ dependent and cringed. 20160128_133931

At a panel on rights and contraception, the panelists made the point that just focusing on supply chains, or providing a good method mix, or provider training, or even all three combined is not enough. There are all the gender and sexual norms that also need to be overcome. This includes those that perpetuate child marriage, violence against girls and young women, and silence and negative attitudes around sex and sexuality.

Bill Ryerson of the Population Media Centre spoke about conformism – where people are driven more than anything to fit in, to be the norm. So how do we make the norm positive, i.e. that sex is fun, enjoyable, something in your control and under your agency to make it safe? DKT is obviously doing a good job of that with brands like No YawaLydia and Kiss in Ghana and the accompanying advertising (yes, the very same who gave us a prize!).

We are constantly talking about uptake of contraception as success, which is fine, but there is too much emphasis on the numbers – what about the voices and desires of the “MAGs”? Considering they are known to lose their social networks and be disadvantaged in so many other ways! Are we seeing “MAGs” as spacers, delayers, switchers, uptakers, and / or victims? They are human beings with human rights! We need to provide information not only on the method mix but also talk about sex. These girls were most likely expected to be asexual till they were married at which point they would be transformed overnight into sexually active women.

We were overjoyed that Carol Larson, President of the Packard Foundation said that young people are not thinking about family planning necessarily but about sexual enjoyment and pleasure. And we are doubly overjoyed to be on our way next month to Women Deliver to sexy it all up again in the women’s rights and public health world. Watch this space for more info! ICFP 2

no pleasure ?

wot no pleasure ?

pleasure quote twoHi Pleasure Seekers,

The Pleasure Project is at the International Conference of Family Planning#ICFP16 in Indonesia, searching out the pleasure in Family Planning….In fact we tried to have a session there and got turned down. [Teeth grind]

So really we are frankly a bit disapointed. There is not much. But we have had a really good look, there are some of fellow pleasure seekers out there.

But out of all of the 1000’s of presentations, maybe 10,000 in all there are only 10 that mention pleasure at all…. thats like 0.00001 % right ?

There are a couple that the NGO Simavi @SimaviNL who have been working Jharkand, India will present on. It sounds exciting, Loan Liem and colleagues created sex education that included pleasure and found that young men liked it…Also the Family Planning Association of India, in Uttar Pradesh [number 1152] have been delivering sex positive sex education. Its awesome and impressive.

Aa couple of presentations highlight the myths that surround how contraception will affect pleasure, or doesn’t address how they might affect the pleasure in sex. For example a study in Zambia [#1652] addresses myths about diaphragm use and pleasure, whereas in Uganda [#336]one study found that many people believed injectable contraception would remove the pleasure in sex.

Ayo Adebowele also found in Ibadan in their study [401] that men beleive vasectomy also cuts the pleasure in good safe sex……

lastly most presentations that actualy mention pleasure, which for us is a huge step forward. However most of the research studies focus on how contraception does not affect pleasure…..but we say maybe planning INCREASES pleasure, or could increase pleasure more…So rather than worrying about family planning being a dent on pleasure we should celebrate good safe sex..because #pleasure matters

Done your planning ? Now time for pleasure, but there is a way to go yet..

our poster at ICFP 2016

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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