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Sex and science stuff – 07/07/09

July 7th, 2009

Dr Petra

LOADS of sex and science stuff to get through today, so let’s get cracking with the fantastic news that as of the end of last week India has overturned its law against homosexuality. Some are already calling it ‘India’s Stonewall’ and LGBT campaigners and sexual health groups have welcomed the ruling.

While the change in the law won’t overturn stigma and prejudice overnight it will go a long way to tackle homophobic crime, forced marriages, and enhance mental and physical wellbeing of lesbians, gays, transgendered, hijra and men who have sex with men. It will also be helpful to our Desi LBGT friends in the UK. You can see some reactions to the ruling here. And if you’re from South Asia and want more information on sexuality you can find support from the NAZ project (UK) or TARSHI (South Asia).

Back in the UK discussions around the latest trafficking statistics have been circulating following information being posted on the website They Work For You. Figures suggest since the anti trafficking legislation came into force 568 arrests for human trafficking offences have been made with 114 convictions. Details on the nature of the offences are not broken down, but these will include trafficking for domestic service, manufacturing and other industries, and prostitution – and will include children as well as adults. Undoubtedly any case of trafficking is wrong, but we do need to be careful when considering this issue since politicians and the media are frequently led to believe the figures are far, far higher than suggested. Which can have adverse effects on policy, practice – and ultimately the wellbeing of those who are trafficked.

Meanwhile, Elizabeth Pisani documents the ongoing and increasingly bitter debates and campaigns around prostitution. Depressing.

So while we’re on the subject of sex work you might want a more rounded view, from the latest edition of Research for Sex Work (11). Along with something a colleague referred me to – a recent (and surprisingly balanced and fair) report produced by Tower Hamlets describing a public consultation on the licensing of lapdancing clubs in the borough.

Moving away from sexuality and sex work, my friends over at Evidence Matters tipped me off on a very useful ruling by the Advertising Standards Association against a very shoddy survey by Clairol’s Nice and Easy hair dye. The ASA investigation identified numerous problems around recruitment of participants for the survey and how it was conducted. You can read the full account in the link above. My hunch is this is not a particularly bad survey, it was just something that was brought to the ASA’s attention. Which is bad news for Proctor and Gamble (the makers of Clairol) but good news for those of us who dispair of dodgy surveys used for promotional purposes. The take home message is we just have to keep complaining about them to the ASA.

As a reminder, here’s the ad, without the dodgy data. I don’t think it ever needed it.

To finish, here’s a really great piece of news from a fantastic piece of research just published by one of my sex research heroes – Peggy Kleinplatz. Her research on seniors sex lives has indicated that intimacy, emotional closeness and communication are the most important factors for a pleasurable sex life as you get older. The study is summarised here and I’ll be blogging a longer summary of the research soon. How nice to see a sex positive write up about intimacy that isn’t about ‘mind blowing orgasms’ and ends with the wonderful message from the research: “those with fulfilling sex lives “have learned to ignore conventional performance expectations in order to listen to and take responsibility for their own hearts’ desires.”


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