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Strange bedfellows: how to get academics to take pleasure seriously ?

By 2011-06-17April 1st, 2020Meetings & Publications, What We're Up To

The Pleasure Project has been featured in a special Supplement of Health Research Policy and Systems published yesterday.

We are naturally quite pleased with ourselves. Our article “Strange bedfellows: bridging the worlds of academia, public health and the sex industry to improve sexual health outcomes” is part of a series that discuss how get sexual  health  research into policy and practice.  After all, research that gathers dust on the shelf will not help us tackle HIV and  sexually transmitted diseases.

We talk about  how walk a thin line to build bridges between the health industry, academia and the pleasure industry to promote good safe sex. How we have featured in very diverse media, from Playboy to the Washington  Post. How we have spoken at the Royal Society of Medicine and been nominated for an Erotic Oscar by the UK Sexual Freedom Coalition.

Our fabulous Wendy Knerr speaks here at a Liverpool conference with the awesome title “Sex sells everything from cars to toothpaste..could it also sell safer sex and empowerment”.  Her presentation led to the writing of this article about our communications methods and our successes and challenges in bridging these very different worlds. How people assume  many things about our work;  like erotic images are always harmful to women, poor people are never interested in sex, women cannot be agents of their own desires and sexy images, pleasure or erotica is not worthy of serious research.

The article also is a little bit of self interrogation – because despite all this resistance  have we have managed to appeal to a wide audience –  “The Global Mapping of Pleasure” had been dowloaded 20,000 times and we get around 5000 unique visitors a month to our website.

The rest of the articles are an interesting exploration of how researchers have had a real life impact – from expanding public spaces where sexual minorities can talk together in Bangladesh to improvements in HIV treatment outcomes in Ghana.