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Some new year’s sex resolutions

January 2nd, 2008

Dr Petra

Sex is an important issue, but often we focus more on the problems with our sex lives than the positives. So my first new year resolution is….

….to think about sex positively, yet critically, in the coming year. That means thinking about good aspects of sex and encouraging pleasure and enjoyment as well as highlighting problems.

Some other sex resolutions you might like to join me in making include:

- Supporting good causes
There are many great innovations out there providing sexual health advice and entertainment. Here are two particularly good ventures you may want to support with promotions and some old fashioned cash.
Scarleteen – the fantastic straight talking teen sex advice site that celebrates it’s tenth year this year.
The Midwest Teen Sex Show – who are naughty, funny and tell it like it is.

Also you might want to support the Hesperian Foundation who create free publications on health-related issues for practitioners and the public in resource poor regions.

And there are countless other organisations who need your help and support in terms of money, time or skills. So if you’re feeling helpful this year please email me and I can let you know where you can be of assistance.

- Challenging bad science

You’re used to my gripes about bad sex research by now, but it remains a key problem area. That’s because the media and other academics often don’t take sex research as seriously as they should, and because this is a key area where anyone can set themself up as an expert offering dodgy advice. We can all do something about this – whether it’s complaining to an editor of a journal, magazine, website or newspaper; or whether it’s drawing attention to bad work or unethical practice through our own blogging or broadcasting. And while we’re at it we can also praise the good research that’s coming out as a means of showcasing how important and informative sex education and research can be.

- Managing your own sexual health

All too often I hear people complain that nobody told them they should look after their sexual health. So let’s make this the year that we give clear sex messages to everyone. It might be encouraging friends to use condoms, making sure we use a condom for sex, or watching our sexual behaviour so we’re clear with partners about what we want – and listen carefully to their needs too. All of us can play a role in helping each other negotiate our way through all the masses of confusing and contradictory sex information out there. And we can all play a part in taking charge of our own sexual health, leading by example, and offering help to those who feel exploited or coerced. I’ll continue to share resources with you to help this happen.

- Campaigning for better sex education

We’ve all seen the scare headlines about teenage pregnancy, rising STI and abortion levels, or scaremongering headlines like ‘children as young as five to be taught about sex’! The problem is that we should teach young people about sex – not anything explicit but about how to value your body and feel proud about yourself while respecting others. As children grow we need to prepare them for puberty and give them sex advice that’s more than just saying no or lists of contraceptives or STIs. In the UK our government believes parents don’t want sex education to be mandatory in schools. So this means they’re not pushing to provide it. As parents we can all put pressure on the government to let them know we DO want our youth educated appropriately about sex – and that we won’t allow pressure groups to prevent these vital messages being delivered. Teenagers can also add their voice to this campaign. Wherever you are in the world you have the right to clear sex information – so demand this service rather than let politicians and moral groups claim it’s not something you’re bothered about.

- Praising good sex coverage

I’m going to try a new tack this year. Rather than just grumbling about bad media sex coverage, I’m also going to highlight good practice. In a field where so much coverage is dire it’s important that we give credit to good work. If you spot anything please let me know about it – and better still tell the journalist and their editor/producer about what you enjoyed about the work. The more we say we like good stuff, the more likely we are to get it.

- Exploring your desires
All too often we’re presented very samey formats for sex. Porn all covers the same old procession of positions and poses. Magazines and manuals tell us variations on tired techniques. Make this the year that you decide to try and enjoy your sex life more through exploration, reflection and humour. Sex doesn’t have to be about keeping up with your mates or trying to be the best. But it can be about learning more about yourself and your partner. By all means use erotica, books or articles to help you, but use them to decide what things you could try and expand on and play with rather than believing you have to copy everything in order to be sexually competent.

And here’s what I’ll be offering you in 2008.

There’ll be the usual coverage of sex science and media stories and information on how to understand social science. I’ll also be adding to my website so there’ll be lots of free information about sexual health, problems and contraception. I’ll be hosting a regular ‘quicky’ with many well-known (and not so well-known) leaders in the area of sex work, education, health and activism. On a more serious note I’ll be exposing bad practice – and dodgy practitioners. For journalists there’ll be more guides on how to cover sex stories (and social science), and for everyone else there’ll be sex tips, links to advice sources, book reviews and examples of sex positive research and practice from around the world.

I’m looking forward to an eventful, thoughtful and sexy new year and hope you can join me.

Happy 2008!

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