Health & Science

Elizabeth's picture

Debra Haffner on Adults on Teen Sexuality

Debra Haffner, minister, sexologist, and Executive Director of the Religious Institute, just wrote a post called "Adults are the problem with teen sexuality." I couldn't agree more. For very recent evidence she cites the fake prom in Mississippi, the threat by Wisconsin DA Scott Southworth to charge educators with crimes if they teach the state's sex ed curriculum, and the Catholic Church's ongoing inability to formulate a helpful response to the sex abuse scandal in its own ranks.

And then instead of focusing on the critical she turns it around and tells us what she wants teens to be able to expect from adults who are truly looking out for them:

What do I want teens (and the adults who care for them) to know? That forming a sexual identity is a developmental task of adolescents. That adults need to support the teen virgins and the teens who engage in sexual behaviors. That truth telling should be the hallmark of all of our programs. That adults will do everything they can to protect youth from abusive adults, regardless of profession. That young people have the right to ask questions and a right to have answers. That they deserve our respect and our support as they become adults.

Those are among the smartest words I've read about how we should be addressing the developmental needs of teens. At a time when others, guided by moral panic, are focused on keeping information away from teens Haffner understands what they really need: support, truth, trust and respect.

I'm glad there are people of faith out there who understand that sexuality is not an awful thing from which we need protection but rather a part of being human and something we need to cultivate and understand.

 

Elizabeth's picture

Some thoughts on Clitoraid and the ethics of intervention

Sexual pleasure is a human right and I wholeheartedly support the providing of free surgery to those who need it and can't afford it. This is the case for many women who underwent the excision of their clitorises during ritual cutting (FGM/C). There is also no question in my mind that "Adopt a Clitoris" - the campaign rally of Clitoraid.org - is a deeply problematic slogan for a deeply problematic organization. If you're new to the Clitoraid story here's some background: 

Several years ago the Raelians (a religious group that believes humans were created by intelligent designers from outer space) founded an organization, Clitoraid, to offer free clitoris reconstruction surgeries to women who had undergone clitoridectomy - one form of female circumcision or female genital mutliation/cutting (FGM/C) - so that they could have the pleasure of clitoral stimulation restored to them. Clitoraid uses language that reduces sexual pleasure to clitoral orgasms and that treats African women's bodies as objects that can be reduced to clitorises and adopted. That said, it is true that their mission is indeed to provide free surgery to women who need it. They do this by funding surgeries at a clinic in Trinidad Colorado, and also by using donations to build a hospital in Burkina Faso.

There are a number of problems with Clitoraid's work and I'm going to talk about only two. Dr. Wanjiru Kamau-Rotenberg raises questions about the connection between Good Vibes and Clitoraid (more on that below) and Dr. Petra Boynton raisies questions about Clitoraid from a medical and research ethics point of view. Please read their work. I've included a list of sources explaining the work already going on in Burkina Faso at the bottom of this post as well.

BeckySharp's picture

If You're in NYC - A Walking Tour Through The Clitoris!

A lavishly illustrated presentation

Rebecca Chalker, Ph.D. author ofThe Clitoral Truth

You’ve taken a walking tour of literary New York, Renaissance Harlem and the financial district (watch out for falling facades!) Now it’s time to take a walking tour of women’s least understood, but dynamic anatomical location!

Dr. Chalker provides a surprising “inside” look at women’s genital anatomy, revealing that what is almost universally though of as a pea-sized nubbin is, in reality, a powerful, responsive organ system. Beginning at conception, we’ll learn that fetuses masturbate in utero. Then we’ll explore the visible parts of the clitoris, the parts that cannot be seen, but can be felt, and finally the parts that can’t be seen or felt, and discover how these complex structures work together to produce pleasure and orgasm and why, for some women, orgasm may be elusive.

Sunday, April 18, 3:30 – 5:00 at

Eve’s Garden (http://evesgarden.com)

119 E. 57th St., 12th floor 

Between 6 and 7th Avenues 

Subways:57t St. @ 7th Avenue:N, R, Q, W.

59th Street @ Lexington:4, 5, 6.

Reservations Online: Enter an order and pay $15 by credit card or Pay Pal in advance and save $5 or check off pay by check and pay $20 by cash or check at the door.


Reservations By Telephone:
Call 212-757-8651 and we will reserve your seat.

 

Seating is Limited... Make reservations now! "For women and men escorted by a woman"

Elizabeth's picture

My Rx for hypermedicalization disorder

This is the second of at least two posts exploring the continued medicalization of sexuality as seen through the revisions of the American Psychiatric Association's Diagnostic and Statistical Manual (DSM). See part one here.

Clipped from: www.dsm5.org by clp.ly

 Imagine a person who is deeply conflicted about his sexuality. Instead of acknowledging his problem and working through it, this person lashes out at others, sending them confusing and judgmental messages about their own sexual behavior. He then tells them they are sick because they are confused. Imagine further that this person is a person of power and consequence and so the people around him start to feel ashamed of their own sexual desires and behaviors. They stop talking to each other about sex, and look to therapists and doctors to help them cope with their own shame and confusion. Hardly seems fair or right, does it? One person's conflicts get internalized by many, and the many all then think there is something wrong with them.

That is kind of like what's happened in the United States in terms of sexual diversity. We get so many confusing messages, and one outcome is that we simply don't talk about our own desires and behaviors and many of us end up feeling abnormal, ashamed, or ill. Meanwhile the American Psychiatric Association continues to supply new diagnostic categories for those of us who are made anxious or disturbed by our sexual urges. 

Elizabeth's picture

Hypermedicalization Disorder

I've been reading the sexuality-related proposed revisions to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, published by the American Psychiatric Assocation and I'm troubled. In the move from DSM-IV to DSM-V It seems that larger and larger realms of sexual expression are falling under the rubric of psychiatric disorder. This is the wrong approach to the difficulties people have with sex.

My reading started with the newly proposed diagnosis "Hypersexual Disorder" because a reader asked me if I intended to post about it. The new diagnosis is a response to the increasing use of the loosly defined and largely bogus label "sex addict." The American Psychiatric Association subcommittee that put this new diagnosis together says, in its rationale statement:

There is a significant clinical need, even a “demand” from mental health consumers, for mental health providers to recognize and diagnose a distinct group of men and women who have been seeking and are already receiving mental health care such as individual psychotherapy, 12-step group support, pharmacotherapy, and specialized residential treatments. These men and women are presenting to clinicians because of recurrent, “out of control” sexual behaviors that are not inherently socially deviant (i.e., normophilic, not paraphilic). Persons afflicted with these conditions are currently diagnosed as Sexual Disorder Not Otherwise Specified, a diagnostic wastebasket that the DSM-V editors would like to see diminished in scope. Clinical and research-based interest in this set of problematic nonparaphilic sexual behaviors is sufficiently established to have birthed a peer-reviewed journal published since 1990 dedicated exclusively to research and treatment of “sexual addiction/ compulsivity.”

This, on its own, is troubling. The diagnostic criteria are even more troubling. Direct from the DSM-V Revision site, here are the criteria:

Elizabeth's picture

Men: Homophobia endangers your health!

Colon Cancer alliance "screen my colon" logo"Don't let fear of letting someone stick something in your butt get in the way of cancer prevention."

Those were not his exact words, but close. The speaker was a survivor of stage 4 colon cancer - one of the rare ones - and his message was all about the importance of colonoscopies. But what was striking to me was that he so bluntly identified one barrier men face when it comes to getting them: fear of anal penetration. He talked about how relieved he was when, after his girlfriend had suggested he request a screening his doctor said "You're only 40, you don't have to worry about that for another 10 years." Two years later, an investigation of ongoing dizziness and anemia, he was diagnosed with advanced colon cancer. He regretted not advocating for himself and insisting on the screening, but explained that at the time when the doctor told him not to worry about the screening he was very relieved that he'd be able to put off a procedure that made him feel so squeamish. In trying to convince other men to choose differently he said things like "Guys, nobody will ever know you had one" and "You know how stigmatizing it is if you're a masculine guy to admit that someone put something up your butt, but it's so important to get screened."

He never used the word "homophobia" but that is essentially what he was talking about. Why else would he emphasize "Guys, nobody will ever know you had one" and what other stigma around "putting something up your butt" could he have meant other than the stigma of male homosexuality?

So it made me think. We know that homophobia is hazardous to the health of gay men, and any man who incoroporates stereotypically feminine interests or characteristics into his personality unless they are balanced out by a sufficient number of stereotypically masculine ones. But this is a clear example of how homophobia is hazardous to the health of straight men. And that got me thinking that one subtle way to reduce homophobia is to convince straight men of the merits of sticking things in their butts.

So why not start big, with a long flexible tube and a fiber optic camera!

Ricci Levy's picture

Building Bridges for Creating change in the DSM

In the past few months I've received numerous calls and emails about the revisions to the bible of the psychiatric world - the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, or DSM for short.  The diagnosis in this manual are critically important because they determine who gets diagnosed as mentally ill, who should get powerful psychotropic drugs, and whether and how much insurance companies will pay for care.

The Washington Post quoted Alan Schatzberg, the president of the American Psychiatric Association, "It not only determines how mental disorders are diagnosed, it can impact how people see themselves and how we see each other.  It influences how research is conducted as well as what is researched. . . . It affects legal matters, industry and government programs."
 

The proposals will be debated in an intense process over the next two years, with potentially billions of dollars at stake for pharmaceutical companies, insurance companies, government health plans, doctors, researchers and patient advocacy groups.

But perhaps more important, the outcome will help shape which emotions, behaviors, thoughts and personality traits society considers part of the natural spectrum of the human persona and which are considered pathological, requiring treatment and possibly even criminal punishment.

Elizabeth's picture

The Center for Sexual Pleasure and Health Wins!

Center for Sexual Pleasure and Health LogoFrom Megan Andelloux, founder of the Center for Sexual Pleasure and Health, now officially open in Pawtucket Rhode Island:

The Center for Sexual Pleasure and Health (CSPH), the first non-profit sexuality resource and information center on the East Coast, has won the right to open its door and provide sex education for adults.

The Center for Sexual Pleasure and Health will provide one on one coaching services, group classes, drop-in hours, teaching resources, access to sexuality journals and in the fall, start an internship program and conduct sexual health studies. Megan Andelloux, a board certified Sexologist and Sexuality Educator is the founder and director of the non-profit Center for Sexual Pleasure and Health.

Elizabeth's picture

The Center for Sexual Pleasure and Health Applies for Special Use Permit

Center for Sexual Pleasure and Health logoMegan Andelloux and the Center for Sexual Pleasure and Health have not given up in their efforts to provide medically accurate information about sexuality to the residents of Pawtucket, RI and surrounding communities.

The CSPH, if allowed to open, will make an invaluable contribution to improve the quality of life in Pawtucket and surrounding areas. Specifically, its mission is to educate adults about sexuality so that they can enjoy sexual pleasure in ways that also protect (and even improve) their own health and the health of their partners. By extension such an organization protects the health of families and communities.

I sincerely hope that the zoning board will approve CSPH's application for a special-use permit that will allow it to do educational work in a space zoned for commercial use. The fact that CSPH is not going to be a commercial enterprise should not be held against it!

What follows below is the press release that Megan sent a few days ago. Please read it, retweet or repost it, and if you can show her your support please do!

Chris OSullivan's picture

Female condom

A new advancement in barrier protection.


Today’s conference call was a report on the development of the new version, FC2. They’ve taken the feedback from users and agencies into account and have definitely improved the product. FC2 is made from nitrile, so it doesn’t have the seam or the plastic bag sound. It’s also at least 30% less expensive than the first version (the cost per unit decreases with higher volume), and it’s still latex-free.


 

http://magazine.goodvibes.com/2009/12/03/report-on-the-new-version-of-th...

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