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Sexual health for men is ‘boring’

August 6th, 2005

Dr Petra

It’s official. Men are simply not interested in sexual health. It must be true because Martin Daubney, editor of Loaded men’s magazine, said so. In fact he didn’t just say sexual health issues were ‘boring’, he claimed they were ‘deeply boring’ and added in an interview in the latest Press Gazette: “Who decided it’s up to the men’s mags to educate blokes on sexual health? Men buy men’s magazines to escape from the humdrum issues in life….If matronly women’s mags like Company want to bang on about testicular cancer and encourage women to play with men’s scrotums then good luck to them. That can only help keep our peckers up.”

His quotes are reminiscent of a former GQ editor who in the 1990s famously claimed ‘real men don’t have problems’. But I think all this suggests is editors of men’s magazines actually do have a number of problems.

Firstly they are out of touch with their reader’s needs – men most certainly are interested in sexual health. Secondly they’re presenting a form of masculinity that causes their readers problems – stating sexual health is ‘boring’ and refusing to cover it means men can’t ask for help and don’t know where to get advice. And thirdly they’re happy to admit in public that they’re such bad journalists that they can’t make a topic like sexual health interesting.

I mean sexual health is only dull if you choose to see and report it that way. With a bit of imagination the world is your naughty oyster.

Here are a few suggestions for story ideas:
*intrepid reporter gets a number of blow jobs. Each time he wears a different flavour condom – he and his partner give feedback on which flavour delivered the best results.
*Readers are asked to road test which brand of condom helps them last longest in bed, or which coloured condom makes their cock look biggest.
*Reporter visits a GU clinic and reflects on their experiences (hopefully dispelling the myth of the ‘umbrella down the willy’ examinations)
*Show a range of penises and get readers to guess which one has the STI – with the take home message that many STIs are symptomless.

Or you could write features about how to get the best out of erotica, how to finger a girl, how to make your partner come, tips for gay and bi readers, questions about sexuality, tips for al fresco sex, or how to expand your repertoire – all of which fly under the flag of ‘sexual health’.

Each of these can be answered as explicitly as the magazine can manage – and with as many illustrations or photos as they desire. We all know that men’s magazines like to say ‘hooray for boobies’ and a sexual health story gives them ample opportunity to increase their breast count.

Come and have a go if you’re hard enough Loaded. If you’re not scared of what your advertisers or Tescos will say. Behind your boysy bluster, the secret you don’t want lads to know is that market forces demand you be boring about sex and you’re happy to comply. Why not do us all a favour and be honest – admit that you’re too scared to really go to town and give your readers want they want.

Bet you’re wondering why Loaded’s editor made such a daft statement? Well he was annoyed because the sexual health group Brook had assessed the last month’s men’s and women’s magazines and found that men’s magazines offered less sexual health coverage than women’s did. They also had additional research data suggesting services for young men were limited, that peer pressure made men feel bad about asking for advice, and that young people consistently misunderstood sexual health information seeing it as a women’s problem.

In fairness the Brook magazine analysis wasn’t as robust as it could have been. It picked a curious mixture of weekly, fortnightly and monthly publications aimed at teens and older readers. It also analysed only one month’s worth of titles during the summer period where there’s always a focus on sexual health stories. To be more accurate they should have studied a smaller variety of magazines over a longer period. Which would most likely show women’s magazines focus more on sexual topics – although neither men’s or women’s mags currently do enough to cover sexual health.

Nevertheless there’s no excuse for Loaded’s editor to make such a flippant remark. Only someone who doesn’t know his readers would do that. But hey, competitors are probably rubbing their hands with glee since what some men’s magazines can’t deliver others will manage.

To speak in a language Loaded will understand, if you can’t keep your man happy, he’s going to start looking elsewhere.

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