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Sex and science stuff 06/10/10

October 6th, 2009

Dr Petra

Here’s a roundup of some sex/science stories that might interest you.

First off, those of you who’re interested in sex education (parents, teachers, healthprofessionals and journalists) you might want to check out this interview with Michael Reiss. Michael’s the editor of the journal Sex Education and in the podcast linked above he talks about current issues around sex ed, the study of this area, and gives pointers for researchers and would-be authors who want to publish academic papers on sex education issues.

The Battle of Ideas
is heading our way at the end of this month. You can book tickets for events and find out what’s going on now. I’m particularly interested in the stream of events around reproductive choice, but there are plenty of topics to choose from across the arts and sciences.

Last week Harriet Harman called on Governor Arnold Schwarzeneger to close prostitution website Punternet. This call had the inadvertant effect of making Punternet more visible than ever before. Numerous discussions about it (and Harman’s call for a ban) abounded in the media and blogosphere. The most sensible discussion I thought came from Alix – you can read and respond here.

You may have already heard of or visited the Kinsey Institute’s website. They’ve relaunched their site – Kinsey Confidential – and given it a great new look./ I particularly like their ‘find answers to commonly asked questions’ which is way more accessible than their previous site. Bookmark this resource – particularly if you work in healthcare, education or journalism.

Following recent Caster Semenya story – and a lot of very bad media coverage – the Androgen Insensitivity Syndrome Support Group (AISSG) has produced a fantastic resource for journalists covering this story (and related issues) – it also is of use to anyone willing to talk to the media about gender issues. I’d strongly recommend a read whether or not you’re a journalist who would cover this story as it indicates how often the quick and dirty approach to news reporting (and not checking out your sources) can lead to problematic coverage.

The Times has run a discussion piece about the concept of ‘Date Night’. For those unfamiliar with this idea it’s based on the concept that anyone in a long term relationship (particularly with children) will experience relationship benefits if they schedule in a regular night out with their partner – a ‘date night’. While I’ve no doubt finding time for each other is important, the concept of the ‘date night’ is often presented within a discourse of relationships being something you ‘work’ at, and are usually framed within a commercial context. So a ‘date night’ is presented as a meal out, a weekend at a romantic hotel or a trip to Paris – or is a shorter event but requires a new outfit or makeover. Of course feeling positive about yourself is important, but the concept of ‘date night’ has never been evaluated in terms of efficacy (ie if you have them regularly does it improve your relationship?). It also doesn’t allow for variation, for people who find other ways of creating intimacy, and it excludes those who are on a low budget or are unable to have evenings out together. You can read the discussion here.

Finally here’s the most important story of the week. The ever-inspiring Gimpy has documented the very unsettling actions of the Raindance film festival who appear to be endorsing AIDS Denialism. It follows them showing the controversial AIDS Denialist film ‘House of Numbers’ that I raised concerns about in a recent blog. Sadly after showing the film the organisers of the festival have remained unrepentant and engaged in a twitter exchange where they doggedly refused to see any problems in showing this movie. It’s all very worrying and depressing. A full account can be found over at Gimpy’s blog and I’ll post further updates as appropriate. In the meantime those of you working in the area of HIV/AIDS may well wish to address your concerns to the festival organisers (although don’t hold your breath about them paying any attention to you). The sponsors and organising committee of the festival might be more willing to listen – or at least may not want to be associated with a festival that promotes AIDS denialism.

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