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Sex predictions for 2007

January 2nd, 2007

Dr Petra

Every New Year I try and predict the main issues around sex and relationships we can expect see in the year ahead. If you missed my predictions and review of 2006 click here. Otherwise make yourself a cuppa and settle down for the predictions for 2007.

2007, the year of “super sex”

This year you can expect to see a lot of media coverage in the UK, US and Canada on ‘great’ or ‘super’ sex. This will be in the form of books, television programmes and magazine features and include topics such as ‘how to have the best sex ever’, ‘how to have the best sex in the world/universe’, ‘how to have more/better orgasms’, ‘how to get more sex’, and ‘how to be really fantastic in bed’. Related to these programmes/features will be classes run from either sex stores or by individuals teaching ‘great sex’ techniques. Most of this coverage won’t be based on evidence but will be based on a one-size-fits-all approach to sex. Contrary to good sex advice, rather than encouraging exploration and adventure we’ll be told what good sex is and how to achieve it. The programmes/articles will be built around product placement and feature ‘sexperts’ who may not be the best qualified to offer advice on exploring sex. The emphasis of media coverage will be around positions, body parts, hormones, techniques and activities with little information on communication, culture, choice and pleasure. It’s anticipated this media coverage will be hugely popular, but will also create more questions and anxieties in audiences who probably won’t find the information easy to act upon and will blame themselves when they don’t get the best sex ever or become the best lover in the world.

Youth sex programming to focus on sex

On a happier note we know in the UK a number of television programmes will target young people and tackle issues of pleasure, communication, sexual health and safer sex.

Sexual health = self-management and testing

2007 will see a shift in the way sexual health is presented within the UK. There’ll be increased education and emphasis from the Department of Health, schools, charities, youth groups and health care providers around encouraging condom use and greater self-management of sexual health issues. We will wait to see whether increased media campaigns and public education on condom use will have an impact on improved sexual health. Other developments will include encouragement towards rapid testing for STIs such as chlamydia and HIV – and moving testing from GU clinics or General Practice towards more community based settings such as pharmacies. A number of commercial companies will also be more actively promoting self testing to diagnose HIV, chlamydia and other STIs – but whether this will lead to a reduction in STIs and increase in treatment remains to be seen.

Sex will get the science treatment

We can look forward to a number of science events specifically addressing issues of sex science, sexuality and sexual well-being. Watch this space for more information.

Female sexual dysfunction will re-emerge as a ‘health crisis’

2007 is definitely going to be the year where we see resurgence in media attention on female sexual dysfunction and hormonal treatments. In particular the Intrinsa patch will be heavily promoted during the first half of 2007 although this raises a number of ethical issues. Magazines and newspapers will focus on the patch and other hormonal and herbal ‘cures’ for female sexual dysfunction without understanding the condition or looking at the many other factors that influence women’s sexual dissatisfaction. Under headlines like ‘Viagra for women’ we can also expect to see a growth in features promoting foodstuffs (e.g. nuts, seeds, fruit and fruit drinks) as a means of boosting or transforming male and female sex lives. Women who don’t want sex, have gone off sex or don’t desire sex to the same degree as their partner will be labelled as ‘dysfunctional’ by the media and pharmaceutical/commercial companies driving coverage. Media reporting will run counter to good science and existing evidence and will mislead the public, although a number of campaigners and educators (myself included) will continue to try and give more balanced sex information to the media.

Prostitution will become a media favourite

Due to the tragic stories of the murders of five women in Ipswich the UK press are going to focus on prostitution and related issues in magazine features (particularly women’s magazines), newspapers and television documentaries and dramas. Common themes you can expect to see include the ‘dramatic’ increase in prostitution (although this is an oversimplification of data). Expanding on this will be the ‘new trend’ of men seeing prostitutes, and features/programmes on why men go to prostitutes with tips on how to spot if he’s seeing a hooker, how to ‘sex proof’ your relationship so he won’t be tempted to stray and what to do if you discover he is seeing a prostitute. There will also be a focus on the ‘real’ lives of sex workers which will at a surface level seem to be sympathetic to sex workers but in actuality will characterise sex workers as victims. The overall effect will be to continue to distance the public from sex workers and subtly (or not so subtly) blame sex workers for either violence directed towards them or wrecking relationships.

New sex stores to open but may not be sex positive

Despite a number of sex shops closing in recent years it is rumoured Playboy will be opening a London store in 2007 with increased branches elsewhere in the Western world. It remains to be seen what success the store has and the quality of products and services offered.

More attention will be paid to ‘ethical’ sex toys

Building on debates that began last year there will be greater media attention on ‘ethical’ sex toys, although their interpretation of ‘ethical’ will focus more on the quality and components of the toy rather than wider issues of trade and commercialism. It may not lead to much more interest within the general public but should inspire reputable sex shops to provide examples of good practice.

Commercial sex surveys will continue to run

Well, it’s not really a prediction, just something that will sadly continue in the coming year. To get press coverage, PR companies, magazines and other commercial organisations will continue to misuse ‘surveys’. Ones to watch out for include pharmaceutical companies using sex surveys to inflate concerns over sex and sell products, and also the Durex ‘global sex survey’ due for launch in the Spring.

Challenges will be made to bad (sex) research
More positively we know that there’s now an interest in tackling poor (sex) research in the media, and people have started to directly challenge bad practice . At least one conference will be tackling the issue next year, with private actions taken against prime offenders. Join me early in 2007 for more information on how to take action against dodgy surveys.

Debates will continue over abortion

Within the UK and US debates on abortion and availability will continue. In the UK there will be increased pressure from organisations and individuals to reduce the current legal limit for termination of pregnancy at 24 weeks to a lower time period. Meanwhile in the developing world problems of access to safe terminations will continue with increased risks to the long-term fertility and health of women.

Care for transsexuals may become restricted
It is likely that some services offered to transsexuals within the UK and other countries will be restricted over the next year due to cost-cutting exercises from health care providers. I’ll continue to update on this issue as more news emerges.

Focus on sex with a World conference – but will it be truly global?

In Sydney in April 2007 the World Sexology Conference will take place. The theme of the conference is ‘achieving health, pleasure and respect’ and will cover a number of new issues around sex and relationships. It is hoped the conference will learn from previous years and not be dominated by pharmaceutical advertising and agendas, and will also encourage greater inclusivity for those from developing countries, charities and low-income groups.

More training on understanding sex/relationships issues will be made available to journalists
There are plans within a number of countries to offer education, debate and resources for journalists to better understand how to communicate sex information to the public. This will build on existing schemes targeting the media. Whilst educators like myself are not convinced this will transform the media overnight, we do hope the coming year will lead some journalists to understand training and support is available – and to seek to improve the coverage they currently provide.

Drop by tomorrow and I’ll update you on some of my plans for this blog in 2007.

Happy New Year!

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