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Stocking Fillers

December 27th, 2005

Dr Petra

Over the past week there’ve been some great sex stories in the papers.

The first one that caught my eye came from Neeta Lal reporting in The Hindu businessline about a new service offered by the ‘condom doctors’. This is a service offered by barbers to their male clients, providing them with HIV/AIDS and safer sex advice along with a trim or shave. Outreach workers have been training barbers to provide clients with condoms, pamphlets and sex education material and help with referrals to health services offering HIV testing. It’s another example how those who’re in positions of public access can offer sex advice. We’ve already seen similar schemes operating from taxis and gyms, but barbers involved in the current scheme are proud to provide sex education.

It’s an encouraging story of how men can provide sex advice to men, and how with the right sex training you can share lifesaving knowledge within a community setting. The scheme is so successful it’s now operating in 10,000 barbers across 20 states. The approach has also helped couples understand each other better, improve family planning and also allow men to share in sex education knowledge and contraception. Previous campaigns have been targeted at women, but in a society where women who’re knowledgeable about sex are stigmatised, schemes haven’t always been successful. And in a culture where men are supposed to be all knowing about sex, the safe space of the barber can provide a venue where men can ask questions or admit they don’t know everything.

Maybe we can hope this scheme moves to other cultures in the near future.

Over the past year there’ve been plenty of stories about sex drugs for ‘female sexual dysfunction’ but it seems the acronym FSD has some negative connotations people don’t want to be associated with. Pravda, reporting on the plans to renaming the KGB explained how one suggestion for calling it the ‘Federal Security Bureau’ didn’t go down too well: “Renaming the KGB was an absolutely outrageous idea. It ruined an internationally-known brand name. Not every foreigner knows what FSB stands for. Some of them mix up FSB with FSD. FSD means “female sexual dysfunction” – the disease invented by pharmaceutical companies to launch the production of Viagra for women”. Seems the discussions over the rebranding of the KGB will continue, but top marks for being one of the few papers to identify the disease-mongering that’s been part of most media coverage of FSD.

One of the main claims about FSD is that women, particularly post-menopausal women, go off sex and this requires medical treatment. Interestingly an Australian report has suggested that many older women still consider sex to be important. A Queensland based Internet survey has shown respondents in their 70s and over are reporting positively about their sex lives. Admittedly the response rate is very low (and surprising that media coverage has been given to such a small study), but it’s encouraging to see older women’s sex lives being discussed openly.

And finally, after one mince pie too many my thoughts started to turn to exercise (not that my body followed, but at least I thought about it). And with the New Year just ahead it’s no surprise that a new array of fitness and diet DVDs have just been launched. I was struck by coverage in The Sun about Jordan’s new fitness DVD where the model explained how keeping fit was a better way to lose weight than sex. Although most people ought to know this, sadly there’s regular media coverage of how sex can burn calories or make you fitter. Yawn. In an era where we can usually rely on glamour models to provide misinformation when it comes to sex it’s nice to see one involved in a bit of myth busting.

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