safer sex

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It’s World AIDS day, time to reflect on the impact of this epidemic, but also how we are tackling it together as sexual health advocates. One of the great phrases in recent discussion of HIV prevention is the one coined by Richard Horton of The Lancet in the foreword to their special journal on men having sex with men and HIV. It was a phrase that continues to ring in my ears way after I heard it at the Washington AIDS conference, way back in July.

The conference was exciting for the enthusiasm about how new technologies can further reduce HIV incidence; male circumcision and ARVs have shown in research settings to reduce HIV incidence by up to 66% and 96% respectively. The Conference corridors were awash with discussion of these breakthroughs and how this will bring to us to an ‘AIDS free generation’. However we remain skeptical over here at The Pleasure Project towers, as we counted condoms mentioned only four times in the opening ceremony. Why are we encouraged to focus our energies on the new technologies without consideration of how to improve our efforts to promote the perfectly good ones that already exist?

In the increasingly bio-medicalised world of HIV prevention there seems to be less and less discussions of the messy business of sex, pleasure and human beings as sexual beings. Some studies show that circumcised men go on to believe themselves immune to infection. So why then is there little discussion on the stages of HIV prevention on how to better communicate risk reduction and incidence reduction rather than risk elimination?

And talking of risk elimination where are the condoms, the safest penetrative sex, these days in dialogues of HIV prevention? Where are the sophisticated research projects that help us promote encourage mutual masturbation, phone sex, thigh sex: to have satisfying sex that is safe and feels good. We are not denying that penetration feels darn good (if done right) but at AIDS 2012 or in current discussions of HIV prevention you would think its the only way. There are  ‘many ways to skin a cat’ and sadly the HIV prevention world colludes to restrict our ideas of sex that can be satisfying.

A recent article in the The Huffington Post also points the figure at the family planning world, and says that it’s even worse. In the family planning world pleasure is not even a whisper round the corner in the next town. In fact the recent Family Planning Summit in London made no reference or mention of how people may also have sex for pleasure , and contraception suppliers might want to factor that into discussions of how people want to plan their families. After all wasn’t the invention of the pill a huge collective sigh of relief for women to be able to start having worry free sex. Until AIDS came along.

Looking through the coverage of World AIDS days another  sad omission that strikes us is the lack of any mention of  love or romance, a fairly universal driver of risky behaviour but also a critical dimension of satisfying sexual lives. at the AIDS conference I saw only one abstract highlighted how people take more health risks for love – and our evidence review “Everything you have ever wanted to know about Pleasure and Safer Sex, but were afraid to ask” turned up little in the way of studies of romance or falling in love.


The biggest sexual organ is the brain

Condoms and interesting and diverse ways to promote safer sex are getting lost in the usual scientific charge to find the next techno-fix or magic bullet. Funding incentives are on finding new drugs or products that will stem new infections; but really as we know it’s not that simple.  Human beings will use technologies in a myriad of ways. The sooner we start to see the pleasurable potential in prevention – as we are with microbicides as lube or female condoms as they rub us in that oh so special way – will we start to build on the reasons why we have sex not try and avoid the natural advantage we have for health promotion in sexual and reproductive health.

Its not all doom and gloom and we are pretty cheery activists, as they go. There have been some great articles recently about safer sex and pleasure and the link to empowerment.

So looking forward to the next World AIDS day in 2013 – we hope to see more realistic discussion about real sex, what feels good and how to use good safe sex techniques.


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The Pleasure Project was lucky enough to run into two amazing women from YP Foundation in Goa recently. Ishita Choudery and Gopika Bashi. They rock. They made us laugh and inspired us.

Ishita Choudery started the the YP Foundation to fill the a political gap in India –  ensuring that young people get heard when it comes to policy decision about their sexuality, political rights  and right to information (amongst other things).

They have done heaps to get young people recognised as valid political partners in decisions about their futures and have worked with 300,000 young people since 2002.

And the reason we love them is because they lobby for comprehensive sex education in India with their “know your body know your rights” campaign.

And then we love them more but they don’t shy away from discussions of pleasure and use our Pleasure Project materials to stimulate discussions. We were fishing a bit (just a little) so we asked them why.

Istita says they used our promising practises in safer sex posters to “start conversations about pleasure and whether it is a right” .  She says that the images do not make young people feel uncomfortable, as might be expected, and it also helps start a discussion about consent and what is your own personal “line of consent“.

So this got us talking about how sexy consent is. How the best thing you can hear from a romantic or sexual partner is “I want to” or “please do”.

Because (as all the pleasurists know)  having safer sex is not just about condoms but about making sure you are doing what your partner wants, what makes them feel good and vice versa. And rather than thinking our partners should automatically know what we want;  it would turn them on to tell them.

As we concluded girls are not meant to ask for what they want; but boy, do men like it when they do.  As Ishita said “it is sometimes easier to have sex rather than talk” and I added that this plays into our romantic myths of “you must know me and therefore I should not tell you what I want”.

So how do we start to learn to ask and see consent as sexy as it is ? The YP Foundation start with body mapping exercises and let people know the facts. For example the clitoris is not between the toes (as they found some people thought in one workshop ). They then have conversations of what people like and don’t like and what might be their “line of consent”

And they found some surprising twists: it is often assumed that the middle class urban young people of India are better informed about sex with their i -phones and internet connectivity. Not so, not so;  rural young people have more time for sex and  talking about sex and so surprised them with their lack of conservatism. They have more imaginative ideas about sexuality.

So that’s why YP Foundation rocks. Actually speaking as and for young people and telling us things we did not expect.


Perfect Poster girls for the "know your rights" campaign




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So all our dear pleasure loving safety conscious sexy people,

We know that you have got the hang of talking dirty when you want safer sex. We know you say things like this.

” Sweetie let me slowly carefully consciously unroll this tight fitting sex toy all the way down your cock so that I can feel the bumps on it grind me as we fuck. “

and you follow it up with    “Because I wanna have a long relaxed sexy breakfast with you tomorrow rather than rushing out to get the morning after pill or got for an STI test”

But maybe some of you are still worried. You are having

You know how to Put the pleasure into prevention.

But what about ethical ?  What about those sexy ribbed sex toys…..can you relax knowing that no harm was done whilst they were being made ?

Worry no more.

Well we just heard that now you can buy fair trade condoms called fair squared condoms. Rubber sourced in Kerala (which  is possibly the sexiest state in India in itself…)…and then processed in a carbon neutral factory with some of the profits going to charity.

How about that. Now we can all really relax into it.

Knowing we are pleasured, protected and saving the planet as we fuck.


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Here is the next report from our intrepid Pleasure Propogandist, Arushi, who is reporting back from the World Sexual Health Congress in Scotland. This time she is getting right down to brass tacks and finding out how to ignite the fire of pleasure in longer term relationships…

Good Safe Sex:  reducing the worry in the playful and exploratory erotic

Are you the LDP or the HDP in your relationship? No, these are not medical or psycho-analytical terms from the Sexual Health Congress. LDP is low desire partner and HDP is high desire partner. This, according to marital and sex therapist, Dr David Schnarch , is the inevitable between every couple.

And in societies where consent is considered important, the LDP controls the amount of sex happening in the relationship, whether or not they are aware of it.

Also, sex is all about leftovers (Dr. Schnarch’s words, not mine!). What do you mean, you ask, as you squint your eyes in indignation, thinking back to your hot and steamy capers. Well, a couple engages in those sexual practices that both are comfortable with. Meaning if one likes anal sex and the other doesn’t, they are most likely not going to have anal. So it’s all about what is ‘leftover’.

A slightly different take on erotic desire among long-term couples is that of Ms Esther Perel, another marriage and family therapist, who talks about reconciling the erotic and the domestic. Did you ever come across the couple who says, “We love each other very much but it’s been a long time since we had sex”?

The spark of the erotic needs air to ignite – just the way a couple needs space. The erotic and desire is playful, alive, experimental and all about exploration, says Ms. Perel. She also says that there is no ‘care-taking or worry’ involved in desire. Seems to me, she’s saying that including a sexy toy like a condom in those ‘leftover’ acts of yours removes worries around unwanted pregnancies and sexually transmitted infections and increases the amount of desire.

So you need to start giving each other that space and letting go of the anxieties. Doesn’t matter if you’re LDP or HDP as long as you can get the spark to ignite! After all, the more playful and exploratory you get with each other’s bodies, the longer that list of ‘leftovers’ might get.


Next up Arushi reports back on the big O, watch this space

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Arushi Singh, ace Pleasure Propagandist based in Delhi and Goa, spent June in the sunny climes of Glasgow learning all there could be about good safe sex. Here is her first report home.

Ever heard of a soggy sao?

This Pleasure Propagandist got to go to a sexology conference for the first time and boy was it an incredible experience! The 20th World Congress for Sexual Health  in Glasgow, was jam-packed with sexologists, sex and relationship therapists and sex educators.

I found a sex education specialist who could well feature in the third edition of The Pleasure Project’s “The Global Mapping of Pleasure”. Dr. Lorel Mayberry runs a 14-week Sexology elective at the Curtin University of Technology in Western Australia. I was lucky enough to participate in a two-hour workshop by her where she took us through some of the teaching methods she uses with young people. One of these being the ‘Saucy Sexy Scale’.

A scale that helps people understand which sexual acts are high risk, low risk or no risk for sexually transmitted infections, including HIV. It does this in the sauciest way possible – with pictures!

Now before I describe the scale to you, the story of how it was developed must be told. A group of ‘at-risk’ young people from a Brisbane Youth Centre got a $1000 grant. They spent $990 on food and alcohol and $10 on Play-Doh. Do you know how many sexual positions you can create with Play-Doh?! That’s what they did – they used the Play-Doh to make little, colourful people in all kinds of sexy positions, including golden showers and a soggy sao ! A friend of theirs took photographs of each position and voila! They had postcards, each with a saucy sexy act on it with the Play-Doh figures getting it on and the description written behind. So you get to discuss each of the positions and sex acts, learn about new ones you never knew of and place them on a scale from no, low, medium to high risk – so you know how to be safe too.

Play Doh will never look the same to me . Maybe they inspired this play doh porn – looks pretty safe to us..

Arushi Singh, Pleasure Propagandist based in Delhi and Goa, India has been working with The Pleasure Project for the past few years in a number of ways, training young people to sexy up their sex education in the UK, doing pleasure body mapping at the Bali Global AIDS conference and encouraging all to draw on our Great Wall of Vagina in Delhi. She attended the World Association of Sexual Health in Glasgow and we asked her to write about it for us…..more coming later this week

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So another middle aged straight male is blogging as a lesbian. We are surrounded by lesbian blogger fraud. First the The Gay Girl in Damascus turns out to be the straight bearded boy in Edinburgh. Then a leading lesbian blogger at   Lez Get Real “A gay Girls View on the World” turns out to be a retired construction worker in Ohio.

So it’s a new angle on men fantasising about being with lesbians – now there is a rush to pretend to be one. So we at The Pleasure Project were musing on why. And came up with a few reasons.

1. You get to have sex with women.

2.  You get to live in a huge flat with ironed duvets, have great sex and swim in your pool just by drinking lots of coffee all day.


3. It is much easier to HAVE SAFE SEX all the time. Just by virtual of being a gal who loves gals. You can’t get unintentionally pregnant. There is a small number of documented cases of woman to women HIV transmission and much smaller risks than for straight women or gay men. Although women loving women still need to watch that mixing of sexual fluids on uncleaned sex toys or through oral sex. But all that stuff that dykes love – touching each other, wanking each other, eating chocolate spread off nipples, borrowing each others clothes and getting a cat – is good clean fun

So maybe those guys are just plain jealous of all that and the double nipples involved in it ?

So we have thought of a new campaign building on the ABC sex education campaign promoted from the US,mainly by religious groups and mainly in Africa to stem the HIV epidemic. We feel inspired by lesbian jealousy to add the D to the ABC.


Be Faithful


Dyke Sex



Think its gonna fly ?


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