Tough man stereotype can hurt women and men: report

Our Watch, November 2019

Men who conform only to rigid stereotypes of how to be a man are more likely to have sexist attitudes and behaviours, which in turn makes them more likely to perpetuate violence against women, according to a new report by Our Watch and the Victorian Office for Women.

The landmark study, Men in focus, is an extensive review of Australian and international research evidence on the topic, which aims to build a deeper understanding of masculinity, as well as providing guidance for those working with men and boys to prevent violence against women.

Prostitution and sex work: nature and prevalence in England and Wales (report)

University of Bristol, commissioned by the Home Office and the Office of the South Wales Police and Crime Commissioner, October 2019

The University of Bristol was commissioned by the Home Office and the Office of the South Wales Police and Crime Commissioner to look in to the current ‘nature’ and ‘prevalence’ of prostitution in England and Wales, involving adults aged 18 or over. The research was carried out between May 2018 and June 2019.  We were not asked to report on policy or law.  Drawing on the literature and initial findings, we used the following definition:

Prostitution and/or sex work constitutes the provision of sexual or erotic acts or sexual intimacy in exchange for payment or other benefit or need.

Following a systematic search of the existing national and international evidence base, including a review of previous prevalence studies, we sought views, data and personal experiences through a 6-month public online survey, yielding almost 1200 often detailed responses with over 500 from those currently or formerly involved in selling sexual services.  We also worked through NGOs and support services to identify individuals unlikely to respond to online surveys. We completed follow up in-depth email interviews with 42 individuals.  We invited 155 organisations, collectives and individuals to consult on our draft finding at four regional meetings in early 2019.

Given methodological and ethical constraints, we recognise two groups whose voices are under-represented or absent within this report: (1) Migrant sex workers; (2) British and non-British individuals who are/were forcibly coerced, who are/were trafficked, who are/were sexually exploited and/or who are traumatised in relation to their experience.

In terms of ‘prevalence’, currently in England and Wales there is no source of data which allows for the production of representative population estimates for this group.  Stigma, the private and hidden nature of the sex industry, complex engagement patterns and definitions of activities mean that estimating prevalence is challenging.  Producing an accurate estimate would require studies to follow the guidance and recommendations on data collection jointly produced by the UNAIDS and World Health Organisation (WHO) (2010) and/or to use statistically representative samples.  Focused and small-scale prevalence studies are also more likely to be accurate.  The report provides guidance on such work.

In terms of ‘nature’, overall, we found that the way that sex is sold in England and Wales today is both complex and diverse.  It is common for individuals to move between settings and services, for safety or to maintain income, and to engage full-time, part-time (sometimes alongside other paid work or study), intermittently or casually.  Looking across our data, we identified and structured our commentary around the following:

Cross-cutting themes

Identifying sex work, identifying as a sex worker

·         Social identities, inequalities and routes in

·         Patterns of engagement and moving between settings/services

·         Advertising, payment and third parties

·         Risk, harm and managing safety

·         Buyers and buying

 Settings and services

·         Bar-based sex work and hostess bars

·         BDSM, kink and fetish

·         Brothels, parlours, saunas

·         Erotic and exotic dance

·         Erotic massage

·         Escort: independent

·         Escort: agency

·         Pornography, glamour, erotica

·         Sex parties

·         Street and outdoor sex work

·         Sugar arrangements

·         Telephone, text-based, TV-based, live voyeurism

·         Therapeutic services

·         Webcamming

Individuals selling sex in England and Wales today are varied in terms of demographics and motivation. At the same time, there are recurrent patterns of experience or identity that mark some individuals’ entry into the sex industry and/or the type of setting, service or the conditions in which they work.

We found that a substantial proportion of individuals (mainly women and trans women) are selling sex to get by financially, given different constraints in their lives around caring responsibilities, physical and mental health, lack of access to social security benefits and support services, workplace discrimination, or other reasons.  Their situation is compounded by stigma and managing safety, and many find that the longer they sell sex, the harder it can be to leave completely.  This moves beyond individual ‘choosing or ‘not choosing’ and recognises the structural economic and social context in which choices are narrowed: or in the case of those coerced in to selling sex, choices removed.

What to know about bipolar disorder and sex

Medical News Today, 

Bipolar disorder causes a person to experience intense shifts in moods, sometimes from a manic state to a depressed state, for example. These shifts can occur with changes in sexual desire, confidence, or sexual function.

Though the symptoms vary from person to person, bipolar disorder can disrupt several aspects of a person’s life, including their sexuality.

In this article, we discuss sexual symptoms of bipolar disorder and ways to manage them.

We need a new definition of pornography – with consent at the centre

The Conversation, March 18, 2019 5.51am AEDT

We all think we know what pornography is, whether we oppose it, use it, or tolerate it. But are we all conjuring up the same images?

Before we began our research on the meaning of pornography in young women’s lives, we wanted to define it. Our review of the literature found no consistently used definition.

It was notable that there was no mention of consent in any of the definitions we reviewed.

“I never realised they were so different”: understanding the impact of the labia library

Women’s Health Victoria, October 2018

Recognising that women are increasingly altering their genitalia through cosmetic surgery, WHV developed the Labia Library, a unique online resource that supports positive body image by informing women about the natural diversity in normal female genital appearance.

The Labia Library houses a gallery of 40 unaltered photographs of female genitalia.
This provides viewers with the opportunity to learn about the diversity of normal female
genitalia and make visual comparisons, in a safe and private way. The site also contains information about anatomy, female genital cosmetic surgery, hair removal, media literacy and pornography.

In order to gain an understanding of the effectiveness of the resource in improving
women’s health literacy, a survey with a free text option was promoted on the Labia
Library home page from September 2013 to July 2015

Overall, the vast majority of survey respondents indicated a positive perception
of the resource, often experiencing a significant reduction in anxiety and
reassurance of normality associated with genital appearance.

 

Australian sex education isn’t diverse enough. Here’s why we should follow England’s lead.

The Conversation, 7 August 2018

By David Rhodes, Senior Lecturer, School of Education, Edith Cowan University

How children are taught about sex, relationships and sexuality at school is shaping up to be a political hot potato in Australia (again).

It’s already been slated to be an issue in the Victorian state elections later this year. That’s just a short time from being on the agenda during the same-sex marriage debate.

Now a radical shift in how children in England are taught about sex, relationships and sexuality promises to be the biggest reform of its kind in nearly 20 years. Here’s what Australia can learn from the new English system.