We’ve been blogging about the recent spate of sex related shows on TV this past week over on Bad Sex Media Bingo. Check out the posts here:
We’re currently seeing a flood of programmes and related articles about sex and pornography, such as Porn on the Brain and Sex Box, as well as the sex advice columns which have become a regular feature in most national newspapers and magazines.
Those of us who work as sex researchers, sex therapists and sex educators, are aware of the vast differences in quality between the different radio and TV shows, and features, on the topic of sex. Many of them are not well grounded in the evidence around sex, relationships and sexual media. Also they often perpetuate problematic ideas about sex which we then hear from the clients and young people who we work with as counsellors or trainers.
For these reasons we decided to put together a bingo card of all the worst common messages that we see in media reporting of sex. We figured that, if people used the card, it might help them to think about the merits of the information and evidence they were viewing and reading about, as well as challenging some of the particularly common myths about sex.
For each square on the card we’ve also provided explanations about why these messages, or kinds of information, are a problem, what impact they can have on people, and how media might report these things in better ways.
Our hope is that this information will be useful to media producers and editors when producing future materials. It will help them to avoid common traps, and to produce more innovative, useful and ethical pieces.
So many of these programmes and articles focus on complaining about other media (porn, fashion, online sex ed, etc.) and perpetuating panic and anxiety about sex. Instead we would like to see media taking a positive role in providing inclusive, well-researched, thoughtful and balanced, education about sex.
You can join the Bad Sex Media Bingo event on Facebook here and follow our twitter @badsexbingo, #badsexbingo
Reblogged From Rewriting the Rules
I was late in the day to the Blurred Lines phenomenon. At a conference where I was talking about gender and sexual consent a colleague mentioned that I should really check it out. Since then I have followed some of the commentary online, not to mention the numerous parodies that have been produced (as with last year’s Gangnam Style). I was moved to write this post about how this might prompt some very interesting and useful conversations about sex (perhaps in the context of youth work or teaching on sex and gender in higher education).
For those who aren’t aware, Blurred Lines is a song, and music video, by Robin Thicke which has topped the charts this summer across 14 countries. It caused controversy both because of the inclusion of a group of skinny, near-naked female models in the video, and because of the lyrics which seem to suggest non-consensual sex. The repeated line ‘you know you want it’ next to ‘but you’re a good girl’ seems to support the common problematic assumptions that ‘good’ women shouldn’t be sexual, and that women can want sex even when they are refusing it. The ‘blurred lines’ idea seems t suggest that it isn’t always clear whether it is okay to have sex with somebody or not, which is a problematic message given the high rates of sexual violence.
It can be difficult to raise these kinds of issues – around gender and power, and around consent and sex – with people who enjoy the catchiness of the song and don’t particularly see a problem with the lyrics or video. Given how widespread these kinds of images of women – and messages about sex – are, there are many who struggle to see the difficulties.
Join us in London on 3rd November, and in Sheffield on 6th November for a couple of public events about sex, sexuality and sexualisation. We will be exploring common myths, assumptions and attitudes about sex and drawing on cutting edge scientific and social research to consider how we might look at things differently.
- What is normal sex? And who is having it?
- Is society becoming too sexualised?
- Are young people becoming sexual too early?
- What impact does pornography have on people?
- How can we find out what we’ll enjoy sexually? And how do we tell our partners about it?
- What secrets do sex therapists learn about what people get up to in the bedroom?
- Why was 50 Shades of Grey so popular?
- How common are sexual problems and what can be done about them?
- Where do our sexual desires come from?
- How do orgasms work?
- Can you get addicted to sex? Has the internet made this more of a risk?
- Sexually speaking, are men from mars and women from venus?
- What new rules are there for sexual relationships?
- When it comes to sex, what are the vital statistics?
The London day will begin with a speed debating session to get to know each other (1-2pm) and end with a question-time discussion (4-5pm) where you can put your queries and comments to a panel of experts. For the remainder of the afternoon we’ll be running a series of workshops, discussions and activities which you are welcome to pop in and out of, including sessions on body mapping and communicating about sex.
For the Sheffield evening we will just have a question-time style panel discussion and lots of time for debate.
Experts include Clarissa Smith (author of One for the Girls and regular expert witness in sex-related legal cases), Clare Bale (expert on sex in young people), Petra Boynton (sexologist and Agony Aunt for The Telegraph), Katherine Angel (historian of sex author of Unmastered), Feona Attwood (porn researcher and author of Mainstreaming Sex and porn.com) and Meg Barker (sex therapist and author of Rewriting the Rules).
For more detail of timings and venues click this link. We look forward to seeing you there…
As readers of this blog know, I spend a not-inconsiderable amount of time reading, writing, and thinking about sexually-explicit materials. Not just histories and health texts, but also works of fiction and nonfiction intended to arouse. In other words: porn.
As as you may also remember, I have little time for categorically anti-porn feminists (e.g. Gail Dines) whose only way of critiquing porn is to attack it wholesale. Pornography — by which I mean, in the broad sense, material of any medium that is sexually-explicit and intended to involve the reader/viewer on a visceral level — is, like any other creative medium, a way for us as humans to make sense of our world. And discounting it wholesale seems nonsensical to me. Should we not, instead, engage in a critical discussion about what we do and don’t like about the current state of porn (there will, naturally, be differences of opinion here) and what we’d like to see more of moving forward (again, there will be no consensus — there creativity lies)?
Therefore, I was super excited when I first heard, last year, about Anne G. Sabo’s forthcoming book After Pornified: How Women are Transforming Pornography & Why It Really Matters (Zero Books, 2012). A follower of her blogs (Quizzical Mama; New Porn by Women; and Love, Sex, and Family), I knew Anne would have thoughtful and thought-provoking things to say about a genre of porn — motion picture porn — that I have had little experience with, and know little about. I was excited enough about the book to press the author for an advance review copy, which she was kind enough to send me (hooray!). Since that exchange earlier in the summer we’ve actually gotten involved in an ongoing conversation about sexuality and identity — along with Molly of first the egg — which has the potential to solidify into a collaborative project down the line. Read more…