Many researchers who try to understand sexual development from a public health perspective have two choices for framing their research agenda: prevention of risk behaviors or promotion of positive behaviors. I’m interested in combining the two. I aim to understand how young people both prevent pregnancy, STIs, sexual assault, and teen dating violence as well as promote positive body image, pleasurable and satisfying relationships, and sexual agency to make the sexual choices they want to make on their own terms. More than half of all individuals are sexually active by age 18 (1), which suggests we should be more focused on sexual behavior as normative and therefore in need of understanding, instead of in need of preventing. Sexual health requires a positive and respectful approach to sexuality and sexual relationships, as well as the possibility of having pleasurable and safe sexual experiences, free of coercion, discrimination, and violence (2).
A documentary called Porn on the Brain aired in the UK, but you can watch it on YouTube for a limited time. I recommend it, but there are some intense images and subject matter, so keep that in mind before watching. Like all documentaries, there is an agenda. However, I think this documentary’s agenda is more than reasonable. To me it seems that they have highlighted what a lot of folks know to be true: Internet pornography is not the same as the pornography from "back in the day" and use of it in adolescence is pervasive. Yet, no one is talking about it.
I am thrilled to dig into Masters of Sex, which premieres tonight (9/29/13) on Showtime. The new series is based off the true story of Masters & Johnson’s pioneering work which established the study of human sexuality as a science. During the 1950s, Masters & Johnson broke down all social barriers at the time to study the physiological sexual response cycle by observing and measuring masturbation and intercourse between men and women in their lab.
A new academic journal called Porn Studies which will be published by Routledge will be debuting in 2014. I have been reading academic literature on the topic of pornography since 2007, and it seems as if the number of articles published in the area of pornography doubles each year. So, a journal solely dedicated to the study of pornography is long overdue. However, this journal has already sparked some controversy before its first volume even goes live. There is a petition that is circulating to replace the board of editors with a more balanced membership, because the current board is too “pro-porn.” I have very mixed emotions about this new journal and the upheaval surrounding it for four reasons: (1) Having only a pro vs. anti perspective on pornography is extremely un-academic as well as counter-productive for the progression of evidence-based knowledge in this area. (2) It is also extremely un-academic to use colloquialisms in journal titles, such as “porn” instead of “pornography”. This would be comparable to starting a journal about marijuana and calling it Weed Studies. (3) It seems that an editorial board should reflect a multifaceted outlook on the target subject, and not have a collectively homogenous record in research. Yet, (4) I think it is most appropriate to wait until the first volume comes out to see if the editors are truly too biased to publish articles on all outcomes of pornography’s influence on our lives and relationships.
About this Blog:
I'm here to help us discuss sexuality, gender, and media by integrating information from academic and mainstream sources. I hope this resource produces more sexually competent people who raise sexually competent kids.