World Sexual Health Day: Let’s Talk About It!


On Saturday September 4th, more than twenty-five countries celebrated the first World Sexual Health Day, instituted by the World Association for Sexual Health (WAS).

During the summer, Nadine Terrein, member of the Advisory Committee of the WAS, invited me to co-organize the Mexican activities of this important date.

She told me that Rosemary Coates, President of the WAS, had conceived of the Day with the main objective of spreading the understanding of sexual health as a main component of our well-being and to promote the fact that sexual health is only attainable through sexual rights (see WAS Declaration of Sexual Rights). Thus, the specific theme of this first World Sexual Health Day was: Let’s talk about it… an intergenerational discussion.

After Nadine explained the concept of the Day, I offered to organize a Forum of Intergenerational Discussion on Sexual Health at the private Jesuit University where I study Psychology: the Universidad Iberoamericana in Mexico City. The institution was interested in, and accepted to house, the Forum. After weeks of organization, it took place on Friday September 3rd, one day before the World Sexual Health Day.

The Forum began with a message delivered by Patricia Uribe, Director of the National Center of Gender Equality and Reproductive Health. Later, Eusebio Rubio (Past President of the WAS) introduced the concepts of “sexual health” and “sexual rights,” Esther Corona (Executive Coordinator of the WAS) explained the global panorama of the World Sexual Health Day and Nadine talked about the activities in Mexico.

The intergenerational discussion began with the tremendously smart and funny intervention of Guadalupe Loaeza, one of Mexico’s most popular writers. She told her “sexual autobiography,” which began decades ago, when she was expelled from a religious middle school after telling her classmates about “the way babies are made.” Years later, she would arrive to her first marriage with no sexual experience and eventually divorce. Afterwards, she discovered, for the first time in her life, sexual pleasure through auto-eroticism and by getting rid of her taboos. Less than a decade ago, she remarried. Now she proudly says that as a woman in her sixties, she is in the prime of her sexual life.

In the course of her “sexual autobiography,” Guadalupe pointed out the gender gap in the recognition of eroticism among older people: an old man is allowed to have an active sexual life, but older women are seen as asexual “grannies.” Younger people in developing (and in some developed) countries face the same injustice: only men are allowed to enjoy their sexual activity, whereas girls are allowed to be only objects of desire.

Though this exemplifies the extent to which sexual ignorance prevails around the globe, the advances in matters of sexual health have to be acknowledged. One of them is that young people, more than ever, are talking, assuming responsibility and demanding sexual rights.

In relation to this, I was extremely surprised with the participation of youths during the Forum. One of them commented on something of extreme importance:

“Yes, it’s the government’s responsibility to provide sexuality education, but sexual health is also our responsibility.”

I immediately replied that I was in total agreement. World governments do have the responsibility of providing scientific sex education and sexual health services, but youth can’t stay numbed, passively receiving everything from the educational and health institutions.

If you have gained sexual health consciousness and knowledge, why not spread them? If you see that your government is not acting according to science and a human rights-perspective, why not denounce it?

As time goes by, more young people gain access to information, to formal education, and to opportunities of becoming more health and sex conscious. We should take advantage of this situation!  If we hear a homophobic or misogynistic joke, let’s criticize it; if our friend tells us that she/he has a question regarding birth control or condom use, let’s help her/him by seeking professional help or information.

In the “John Money Lecture” she delivered last May at the University of Minnesota, Joycelyn Elders (15th Surgeon General of the US) said:

“Sexual and reproductive health problems count for 18 percent of the total global burden of disease, and 32 percent of the burden among women of reproductive age.”

The problem is even worse when we consider inequality regarding gender and sexual orientation, sexual violence (including teen dating violence) and many more psychosocial problems related to sexuality.

Fortunately, young people have a powerful weapon in our favor: the right to talk, to discuss issues regarding our sexuality. Breaking the silence is fundamental to achieving sexual health, not only among peers, but among generations as well.

Through the creation of an honest and constructive dialogue, we can make a serious difference, involving more peers and adults.

Let the World Sexual Health Day be a space to continue and update this revolution of talking…

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  • kevin-rahe

    World governments do have the responsibility of providing scientific sex education and sexual health services

     

    Where did that idea come from?  Is there something in our Constitution about this?  Is the government also responsible for telling me how to avoid hurting my back, or teaching women how to feed their babies?  How about the best method for brushing one’s teeth?  Next they’ll want to tell me how to wipe my….

  • crowepps

    Where did that idea come from?  Is there something in our Constitution about this? 

    It fits in nicely under “promote the general welfare” since a healthy and educated people are necessary for a healthy democratic republic.

    Is the government also responsible for telling me how to avoid hurting my back, or teaching women how to feed their babies?  How about the best method for brushing one’s teeth?  Next they’ll want to tell me how to wipe my….

    Yes, actually, the government puts out a myraid of helpful pamphlets and has web sites with information about those and other public health issues.  Preventing “hurting your back” would likely be covered by OSHA, the superior advantages of nursing through the Surgeon General, etc.  Many are available here:

    http://bookstore.gpo.gov/collections.jsp

  • kevin-rahe

    The only legitimate purposes of government are to maintain order and defend the country from outside attack.  Pretty much everything else is pork.

  • plume-assassine

    The only legitimate purposes of government are to maintain order and defend the country from outside attack.

     

    Oh, so, you’re pro-choice after all, then? (In that case, I agree that the government has no place in trying to control anyone’s reproductive decisions!)

     

    Let’s follow your logic all the way through and just get rid of the Department of Education while we’re at it, too, hmm? And screw the Department of Health… all those people with heart disease and diabetes and AIDs… screw them, am I right? And the Department of Labor – totally useless! It’s all pork!

    Is that really what you want?
  • colleen

    Why bother with Faux news or Rush Limbaugh when we have Kevin here eager to continually abuse this blog with his mindlessly repetitive pseudo-christian right wing spam.

     

  • kevin-rahe

    Oh, so, you’re pro-choice after all, then? (In that case, I agree that the government has no place in trying to control anyone’s reproductive decisions!)

     

    I would say that preventing what a majority of Americans consider manslaughter falls well within the bounds of the government’s mandate to “maintain order.”

     

    Let’s follow your logic all the way through and just get rid of the Department of Education while we’re at it, too, hmm? And screw the Department of Health… all those people with heart disease and diabetes and AIDs… screw them, am I right? And the Department of Labor – totally useless! It’s all pork! Is that really what you want?

     

    The Dept. of Ed. can certainly go.  As for the others, while they may occasionally do some good, and might have the potential to do even more, the political meddling that goes on with them renders their value dubious at best.

  • arekushieru

    Proof about the majority of Americans, please.  And, do most of these people think that taking someone off of life support is manslaughter?  If they don’t, then they would be erroneous in presuming that abortion (termination of the implantation of a fetal placenta into the uterus) is manslaughter… and/or hypocritical….

  • squirrely-girl

    The Dept. of Ed. can certainly go.

     

    No doubt after YOU and your children benefited from it personally, right? Please just do us all a favor and move to a shack in Montana already… where you can’t use the evil technology developed and supported by our useless government (The Internet).

  • prochoiceferret

    I would say that preventing what a majority of Americans consider manslaughter falls well within the bounds of the government’s mandate to “maintain order.”

     

    So much for the Second Amendment.

     

    The Dept. of Ed. can certainly go.  As for the others, while they may occasionally do some good, and might have the potential to do even more, the political meddling that goes on with them renders their value dubious at best.

     

    So much for the FDA. Enjoy your eggs, sir.

  • plume-assassine

    I HIGHLY doubt that the majority of Americans would describe abortion as “manslaughter” and view 1 out of 3 American women as criminals. Even if the majority believed something that ridiculous, then it still doesn’t matter, because we don’t usually let the majority decide how things run.

     

    The Dept. of Ed. can certainly go.  As for the others, while they may occasionally do some good, and might have the potential to do even more, the political meddling that goes on with them renders their value dubious at best.

    HAHAHA! okay, I get it, you want to put the US into the Dark Ages. Yeah, it’s totally realistic to just have everyone homeschooled or pay for expensive private schools. And if they can’t — then who cares, let the US fall behind even more on science, math, and language, right? What kind of political meddling are you referring to in the Department of Labor or Dept. of Health? Wait, let me guess, you want to abolish the minimum wage and let sweatshop labor fluorish? And what do you think of the Dept. of Energy? More pork?

     

    It sounds to me like that you’ve been brainwashed by big gov conspiracy theorists AKA Glenn Beck.

  • colleen

    I HIGHLY doubt that the majority of Americans would describe abortion as “manslaughter” and view 1 out of 3 American women as criminals.

    It’s not true and not even close to being true. Indeed a considerable majority of voters don’t wish to see Roe overturned.

     

  • kevin-rahe

    I HIGHLY doubt that the majority of Americans would describe abortion as “manslaughter” and view 1 out of 3 American women as criminals. Even if the majority believed something that ridiculous…

     

    You should know if you’ve been reading my comments regularly that I don’t throw out names and numbers unless I’m pretty confident that they’re accurate.  Unlike those who argue against me who seem to have no problem getting a free pass for all sorts of misinformation, one significant mistake on the facts on my part and I’m toast.

     

    Yeah, it’s totally realistic to just have everyone homeschooled or pay for expensive private schools.

     

    When I said the Dept. of Education could be abolished, I was referring to the federal government, not the state or local.  The same with the Dept. of Health & Human Services, Labor, etc.

     

    And what do you think of the Dept. of Energy? More pork?

     

    At least a third of their budget goes for things that private industry ought to be doing (e.g. research & development).  About a third should be under the national security/military umbrella (which may also include some pork), and the rest is either related to protection of the environment (pork or belongs to another agency) or dealing with nuclear waste (one of its few legitimate functions, and which comprises only a small fraction of its budget).

  • kevin-rahe

    Proof about the majority of Americans, please

     

    Here’s a column that references the poll:

    http://www.punditreview.com/2007/02/tide-turning-on-abortion/

     

    and here’s a link to information about the poll on the Zogby site itself:

    http://www.zogby.com/Soundbites/readclips.cfm?ID=6982

     

    abortion (termination of the implantation of a fetal placenta into the uterus)

     

    Is a “fetal placenta” anything like a whole fetus?

  • kevin-rahe

    It’s not true and not even close to being true. Indeed a considerable majority of voters don’t wish to see Roe overturned.

     

    You don’t have to deny that abortion is evil in order to say that it ought to be legal.  You just have to place little importance on principles.  Why do you think that so many people, including many prominent politicians, say that while they consider abortion wrong, they believe it should be legal?  As G.K. Chesterton said, “Men do not differ much about what things they will call evils; they differ enormously about what evils they will call excusable.”

  • plume-assassine

    You should know if you’ve been reading my comments regularly that I don’t throw out names and numbers unless I’m pretty confident that they’re accurate. 

    From what I understand, Gallup* has recorded a shift in views; with numbers a couple years ago showing more identifying as “pro-life,” for the first time ever, but it has now recently narrowed to a near deadlock, as you will see when reading the charts in the link I provided. Many people identify as “pro-life” if faced with an unwanted pregnancy, but still support choice for others, and the majority do not want to overturn Roe v. Wade. And most people support the moderate position of legal abortion with few restrictions.

     

    You may believe that 1 out of 3 (or about 820,000) American women are murderers or evil, but you would be very hard-pressed to find a sizable majority to agree with you.

     

    And anyway, as I said earlier, majority vs. minority opinion is sort of irrelevant anyway, because laws are not made based on majority opinion.

     

    ** http://www.gallup.com/poll/1576/abortion.aspx#1

  • panhandler

    The majority of Americans view abortion as murder, with the most recent that I could find poll on the subject showing that 57% of all Americans agree that abortion is murder with 36% disagreeing.

     

    In juxtaposition, majorities also believe abortion is murder:

          57% agree that it is murder
          36% disagree

     

    http://www.latimes.com/news/nationworld/timespoll/la-000618abortpoll-442pa2an,1,7894326.htmlstory

  • prochoiceferret

    The majority of Americans view abortion as murder, with the most recent that I could find poll on the subject showing that 57% of all Americans agree that abortion is murder with 36% disagreeing.

     

    Gosh Mr. Panhandler, so what percentage of Americans agree that things that the criminal justice system usually prosecutes as murder are murder?

  • kevin-rahe

    the majority do not want to overturn Roe v. Wade. And most people support the moderate position of legal abortion with few restrictions.

     

    According to the page you linked to, only 25% of Americans agree that abortion should be permitted for any reason throughout all 9 months of pregnancy.  Almost all of the rest would prefer more restrictions than current practice imposes.

  • jan

    A woman has a right to a safe and legal abortion and no one has the right to keep her from getting one if she chooses to have one.  NO ONE.  No one has the right to place restrictions on her choice.  It is as simple as that.  Now since most women agree with the right to choose when they will become a mother, and women are over half of the population, and many men agree with that right, your statistics are WRONG.  People can identify as pro life, and still agree with the right to an abortion, because they think of as life as outside of somene’s uterus.  For example,  some identify as pro life when it comes to war and the death penalty, but while something is in a womans uterus, it is not yet life until it is born and autonomous. So, you can’t trust the polls, though most are much more in favor of the right to abortion than the ones that you state.  That is because you and others like you, are self serving, and misogynists.  You use the spector of an Almighty being to justify and project your misogony onto the rest of us.   You envision a world where women are slaves for men, slaves to their uteruses and the fruit of their wombs, unable to enjoy sex, and beholden to their burdens and not able to follow their dreams.  This is unacceptable to the majority of us women, and to the majority of people living in a free society.  Your righteous anger at young people wanting to have a day where sexual dialog is out in the open around the world shows the lengths you want to go from keeping life saving information and a dialog about sex from happening further proves my theory about how you and your kind wants to use sex as a weapon against women and teen girls.  Anyone who does not want information about sexual health and birth control out in the open as it should be wants to keep people uninformed and misinformed, and is threatened when the information that should flow freely in a free society is out to the light of day.  I applaud the efforts of these young people,and agree with them that we need to address the needs of people’s sexual health.  That is what this post is about; stay on topic Kevin.  We have heard enough from you on the lengths that you will go to to lie about the right of a woman to have an abortion.  Skewed polls and all.

  • forced-birth-rape

    This is what I learned from my christian up bringing. Every man has a right to his much desired sex with a virgin. This man does not want her having experience or knowledge about, well anything. She is to always be submissive and have the freedom, power, and mentality of a seven-year-old girl.
    Girls are not supposed to know anything about sex, and if they have sex they have to pay by way of giving birth and living in poverty and shame for the rest of their lives. Sex is better for the man if the women or girl does not know what is happening to her and her body.

  • forced-birth-rape

    Kevin That is your I want no female to get out of having extreme unwanted vaginal pain against her will principles. I know as some one who had to anticipate vaginal pain, that it is worse to force a female to anticipate vaginal pain against her will, and make her worry about and dread it for nine months. Should all females be raped to save a life?
    You calling abortion evil does not make it evil. Forced birth is evil!

  • colleen

    We have heard enough from you on the lengths that you will go to to lie about the right of a woman to have an abortion.  Skewed polls and all.

     

    Notice how Kevin has managed to once again derail yet another thread with an off topic series of lies and manipulation.

    Someone needs to ban this ‘man’.

  • rebellious-grrl

    Fortunately, young people have a powerful weapon in our favor: the right to talk, to discuss issues regarding our sexuality. Breaking the silence is fundamental to achieving sexual health, not only among peers, but among generations as well…………..Let the World Sexual Health Day be a space to continue and update this revolution of talking…

     

    Yes, yes, yes!

  • rebellious-grrl

    It’s a good thing.

  • rebellious-grrl

    The only legitimate purposes of government are to maintain order and defend the country from outside attack.

    If that’s the case the government should have no problems keeping it’s hands off my uterus. It is hilarious that the party of “small government” (GOP/tea party) want’s the government to be involved in a woman’s personal decisions about reproduction.

  • rebellious-grrl

    No doubt colleen. Sometimes I listen to “faux” news just for sh_ts and giggles. It’s so ridiculous.

  • ahunt

    Sex is better for the man if the women or girl does not know what is happening to her and her body.

     

    Hmmm. There may be some truth to this. If young women do not have the experience and knowledge to distinguish between good sex and bad sex, pro-life men need never concern themselves with irritating, unimportant  little issues like…female orgasm and having to help create  mutually satisfying physically intimate relationships.

     

    Seriously? My husband was my “first,” and please believe that the earth did NOT move, and…awkward, embarrassing and not an experience I would like to have on my wedding night.

     

    Luckily…we’d gotten it gotten it together by the blessed day….and the honeymoon was infinitely more fun!

  • panhandler

    I don’t know where you’re getting your information from but, in the U.S., more women identify as pro-life than pro-choice by a 48% to 45% margin. I’d be interested to see what your source is which leads you to believe otherwise.

  • ahunt

    And oddly enough…roughly one third+ of all abortions are obtained by women claiming catholic/evangelical christian affiliations.

     

    As in….”the only moral abortion is my abortion.” Do some research…

  • pilar608

    No kidding.  My husband was also my first, and my first time wasn’t exactly fireworks either.  By the time we got hitched, we’d gotten much, much better at it. 

  • rebellious-grrl

    Polls are not a scientific study. They are influenced by the organization sponsoring the poll. One must look at how the questions or survey is structured. Who is asking the questions and why.

    In terms of polling results 2007 is very dated in terms of using that as a actual number for 2010. 

    Polls aside, I believe most people are in favor of keeping abortion legal.

  • ahunt

    Yah…there is something sadistic in the fundie demand that female “purity” is a requirement for the wedding night. So glad I took a pass…despite being obliged to jump through the marriage prep courses of two different churches.

  • squirrely-girl

    Considering the same polls that show the majority of Americans do not wish to see Roe v. Wade overturned I’ve always been interested in how many of these “pro-life” women are actually just pro-life with regard to their own uteruses as opposed to all women’s uteruses. 

     

    Similarly, I’ve always been interested in how the semantics of the “pro-life” title may contribute to more people self-identifying with the movement by default of “life” just sounding nice without actually reading the platform materials. :/

  • jan

    a womans right to a safe and legal abortion is not dependent upon polls, though the majority of polls do not want abortion to become illegal, because most people are smart enough to know that abortion, legal or illegal will always exist; but when it becomes illegal, women DIE.

  • jan

    Abortion is not murder, a person has to be born and autonomous before it is a person by any definition of personhood.  If abortion was murder, then women who had them done would be jailed, and the right to have one wouldn’t exist as an amendment to our Constitution.  Most people do not belive that it is murder, it is your wishful thinking and lies.  of course, if I ask you for sources, you would provide some right wing Christian leaning poll.  This is NOT a thread about abortion, by the way, it is a thread about young people having a world sex day, an idea I applaud. Go troll somewhere else, because we don’t have the time or the desire to give you the attention that you are lacking and trying to get here because your mother didn’t give it to you.

  • panhandler
    Abortion is not murder, a person has to be born and autonomous before it is a person by any definition of personhood.  If abortion was murder, then women who had them done would be jailed, and the right to have one wouldn’t exist as an amendment to our Constitution. 

     

    The argument was whether or not the majority of people view abortion as murder, not whether or not the law treats abortion as murder. Try not to change the actual issue being discussed. However, since you brought it up, I should note that you do not need to be born to be murdered, as is evidenced by the existence of fetal homicide laws.

     

    Most people do not belive that it is murder, it is your wishful thinking and lies.  of course, if I ask you for sources, you would provide some right wing Christian leaning poll.

     

    Even though Kevin was the one who initially made the claim that most people view abortion as manslaughter/murder, it can be proven as true and I already took the time to do so by posting a link to the LA Times poll. Now, as you believe that Kevin is wrong and the LA Times poll to be in error, then the onus is on you to provide some evidence that both Kevin and the aforementioned poll are incorrect. The only way to do that, therefore, would be to link to a more recent poll in which a majority, or even a plurality, of respondents agree that abortion is not murder. If you cannot do that, then the only one engaging in lies and wishful thinking would be you, as you would be stating something which would not only be unproven, but could be proven as untrue. 

     

    This is NOT a thread about abortion, by the way, it is a thread about young people having a world sex day, an idea I applaud.

     

    I was responding to colleen who said that Kevin’s statement wasn’t “even close to true”. If you have a problem with me pointing out that someone was, and is, correct in one of their assertions, then I don’t know what to tell you.

     

    Go troll somewhere else, because we don’t have the time or the desire to give you the attention that you are lacking and trying to get here because your mother didn’t give it to you.

     

    It’s nice to see you’re quick to resort to petty insults.
  • arekushieru

    Umm, as opposed to the time you DIDn’t take to read the arguments that rejected polls as irrelevant or disputed the polling methodology?  Then why should we be concerned about sticking to the issue, when it is obvious that you cannot…?

     

    All murder is homicide, not all homicide is murder, though.  Just thought I should point that out 

  • forced-birth-rape

    Any woman, little girl, or rape victim who is getting an abortion is pro-choice for her body, life, and vagina. It is “NOT” the pro-life womens vagina. Women are not sex-slaves or baby-machines as much as like minded people like you want them to be, they do not have to have their bodies and vaginas used for anything against their will. A woman, little girl, or rape victim has the right to say “NO” when “HER VAGINA” is involved.
    Majority does not “RULE” manorities bodies and genitals.

  • colleen

    I was responding to colleen who said that Kevin’s statement wasn’t “even close to true”.

     

    I was not responding to you and have no interest in what you have to say. I completely agree with the suggestion that you go troll somewhere else.

  • pnewman

    an old man is allowed to have an active sexual life, but older women are seen as asexual “grannies.” Younger people in developing (and in some developed) countries face the same injustice: only men are allowed to enjoy their sexual activity, whereas girls are allowed to be only objects of desire.”

              I found this interesting because it relates to the book I’m reading in my women studies class at the moment. Young girls’ being referred to as “only objects of desire” represents the male gaze, which states that the image of a woman (in the media) is created as a spectacle for male desire. In popular culture men look at women and women watch themselves being looked at. The male gaze includes how a female should look, sound, and act. So of course they would not be allowed to enjoy their sexual activity, or (heavens forbid) initiate it (especially in undeveloped countries). It makes me sad to think that women in undeveloped countries still aren’t anywhere close to having the same opportunities as men, and are much more submissive when it comes to just being an object of desire. How old men can have active sex lives, but old women are seen not to is also a part of the male gaze. In the mass media old “grannies” are represented as just being the one who bakes cookies and knits ugly sweaters for all her grandchildren. Since this is the way most old women are represented in the media that is the way most people believe old women should behave in real life. However, in the movie “Grandma’s Boy” one of the old women is a true cougar and dresses in current fashions and sleeps with a much younger guy. I enjoy representations like this which challenge traditional views of gender and age stereotypes.