January 1st, 2008
Every January I give my crystal ball a rub and have a go at guessing what will happen during the coming year in terms of sex and relationships. Here’s my take on what we can expect to see in 2008.
Sex will get political
Sex issues are going to be a major part of the UK political agenda this year – particularly in early 2008.
There will be readings of the Criminal Justice and Immigration bill which will have an impact on how the way both pornography and prostitution are treated in law. Suggestions have been made to legislate against ‘extreme’ or ‘violent’ pornography (although what either of these constitute haven’t been clearly defined). It has also been recommended that buying sex is made into a criminal offence following the controversial Swedish model of prostitution control.
There will also be further hearings to possibly revise the abortion act, with some members of parliament seeking to move the legal abortion time limit from 24 weeks to possibly 20 or even 13 weeks.
I predict these debates are going to get nasty and there’s a risk of common sense being overshadowed by activist groups with anti prostitution/pornography/abortion agendas. Rather than using an evidence-based approach to defend the health and rights of women and sex workers it seems that many politicians are being swayed by those with highly emotive moral agendas.
So although I’d like to predict otherwise, and despite efforts of healthcare staff, academics, educators, sex workers and members of the public it is very likely that we will see more repressive controls over our rights to abortion, women’s health and the management of the sex industry.
It’s a prediction I’d be more than happy to be proved wrong on this time next year.
Elsewhere in the world we can also expect to see debates mixing politics and sexual health around abstinence-only sex education, male circumcision as HIV prevention and debates over the prevalence of HIV/AIDS.
There are strongly held views in favour and opposed to abstinence-only sex education which has been shown not to be effective if delivered as the only form of sex information. However funding groups are still ensuring such approaches are delivered and it’s likely wider debates on the efficacy of abstinence-only education will become more pronounced this year.
Within the HIV circumcision debate there are two camps – one majorly in favour of circumcision, the other believes male circumcision is mutilation and won’t believe any evidence that circumcision can be beneficial. The problem is the evidence on this isn’t as clear as you might expect – despite a lot of headlines claiming circumcision prevents HIV. Sadly this year you can expect a lot of mudslinging from both camps which will mask poor science and not help us understand what factors can help in the fight against HIV.
Moving on from this will be a wider debate about whether the prevalence of HIV is accurate since some are now disputing whether the numbers of people affected by AIDS are as great as have been claimed. Which may well affect the help and care needed for those with HIV.
We’ll be obsessed with future sex
Look forward to debates in science and the media this year about the future of sex where we’ll all be having sex with robots. Due to some heavily-hyped science we can expect to see a lot of discussion about the future of our interpersonal relationships but not a lot of critical appraisal of this evidence – particularly from the media who’ll be keen to embrace the ‘robots as our sex slaves’ angle.
There’ll be new opportunities to improve sex education
From early 2008 and across the year there’ll be a number of initiatives looking to improve the delivery of sex education – from new technologies and formats, to using film and other media. Many of these initiatives will originate from young people’s groups and will include ventures from developing countries. I’ll keep you updated on some of these programmes as the year progresses.
Sex comes to the movies
We can expect to see sex as a major theme within mainstream movies this year with films covering topics ranging from affairs to abortion – and with varying levels of explicitness. We’ll also have the film of Sex and the City arriving. Arrgh! Just when you thought we’d escaped from it, it will return to spawn countless sex features in women’s magazines. Look forward again to features about vibrator addiction, improving the taste of semen, and teabagging – all while wearing vintage clothing and Jimmy Choos.
Hormonal contraception will be a hot topic
We’ve been used to occasional hypes about the ‘male pill’ but this will step up a gear this year as scientists battle it out in trials to have their pill on the market first. You can also expect to see more of a focus on hormonal contraception for women with new brands of the contraceptive pill available and a move to encourage young women onto long acting reversible contraception. There’ll also be tensions between drug companies and (in the UK) Primary Care Trusts with new brands being available, but not necessarily being affordable.
The new taboo will be zoophilia
Well, dogging and swinging has become passé, we’re tired of asexuals and we need something new to get the media’s juices flowing. This year, welcome zoophilia! With some films and documentaries in the pipeline we can expect to have coverage of folk who get it on with their farmyard friends. Unlike previous years this won’t be in a ‘how to do it’ style – unless zoophiles can persuade the media that you can coming petting with a pet in designer clothing at an upmarket venue attended by celebrities. The focus will instead be more of a ‘why do these people do this kind of thing’ and shock value. But within this there may be some sensitive discussions about sexual behaviour.
Teenage pregnancy will be a big issue
We can expect to see a lot of global coverage about teenage mums (particularly celebrity ones). Add to that a lot of debate about levels of teenage pregnancy and moral outrage from the right wing media there’ll be a lot of scope for teen blaming in the coming year. Most of this vitriol you can expect to be directed at teen mothers (and their mothers), and sadly I predict discussions will be more on the salacious and judgemental level rather than turning into any helpful action for young people.
The media will obsess about marriage
Last year we saw a lot of media coverage over how to have the perfect marriage or boost your sex life after you wed. This year we’ll see an extension of this with books, TV programmes and magazine features advising how to have a better marriage, uncovering the hidden lives of husbands and wives, and predicting what makes a marriage last. Within these formats will be the usual procession of experts telling us what makes the ‘right’ kind of marriage but you may also get the chance to see a wider view of relationships represented.
Sexual problems will return as a medical crisis
It all went a bit quiet on the sexual dysfunctions front last year – despite a lot of hype in early 2007. Whether it was down to trials of sex drugs being pulled or products not being promoted isn’t clear. What you can expect in 2007 is a major push from pharmaceutical companies towards getting us focused on female sexual dysfunction as a medical crisis and also bringing up male sex problems (particularly premature ejaculation) as something in need of a clinical intervention.
So those are my guesses for the year ahead. Watch this space for more updates on these stories and more sex related issues as they arise. As ever, if there are issues you want me to cover, or feedback you want me to hear please email me at email@example.com.
Wherever you are, and whatever you are doing wishing you a wonderful 2008. Join me tomorrow for some sexy resolutions and a teaser about what I’ll be offering in the coming year.Tweet