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Sex and relationship education should be about rights and equity not just biology

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For decades, researchers, young people, and activists have campaigned for better sex and relationships education. Yet still today children and young people rarely have the high quality lessons they need in schools around the world.

International research has found that for it to be effective, sex and relationships education needs to start early, as well as be adaptable and needs-led. It must be delivered by well-trained and confident teachers, in partnership with external providers. It also needs to be of sufficient duration – not one-off sessions – as well as relevant, engaging and participatory. And, most importantly, it must be held in a safe, respectful and confidential learning environment, and embedded in a whole school approach.

But if we know what is needed, why are these lessons not in UK schools already? At present, the future of what the sex and relationship education curriculum will look like is still being discussed by politicians in England. Wales, however, is starting to make some headway.

Major reforms in Wales

Since education was devolved to the Welsh government in the 1990s, Wales has sought to embed policy and guidance on its sex and relationships education into a social justice model of rights, equity and well-being.

In March 2017, an expert panel – which I was invited to chair – was established by the Welsh Assembly’s cabinet secretary for education, Kirsty Williams. We were tasked with reporting on how teachers could be supported to deliver high quality sex and relationships education more effectively in schools in Wales. As well as help inform the development of the future curriculum in this area.

Drawing on the available national and international research, we found significant gaps between the lived experiences of children and young people, and the sex and relationships education they receive in school. We also found that the quality and quantity of these lessons vary widely from school to school.

Our panel has now made a series of recommendations to the Welsh government which collectively constitute a major overhaul of sex and relationship education in Wales. This is in line with significant curriculum and teacher training reforms, and is supported by the fact that health and well-being will be a core part of the 2021 Welsh curriculum, with equal status to other areas of the curriculum.

Living curriculum

In our report, we have outlined a vision for a new holistic, inclusive, rights and equity-based sexuality and relationships education curriculum. We concluded that what children and young people need now is a “living curriculum”, relevant to their lives and real world issues.

The idea is that this living curriculum would respond to children and young people’s lives, and enable them to see themselves and each other in what they are learning. It will also evolve to meet changing biological, social, cultural and technological issues and knowledge.

Importantly, we have recommended that sexuality and relationships education should not be relegated to an individual lesson or subject. It should be embedded across the whole curriculum. This means that any subject – science, humanities, or any other – should be able to address key areas of learning about gender, sexuality and relationships. Issues like rights, identity, body image, safety, care, consent, among others will be taught across the school timetable.

To ensure that learning is reinforced beyond the classroom, we have recommended that sexuality and relationships education provision is part of a whole school approach. We also suggest that content and assessment is co-produced with children and young people themselves.

We have also suggested that the name is changed to “sexuality and relationships education”. This is important for children and young people who say that current provision is narrowly focused on the biological at the expense of learning about the social, cultural and political aspects of sexuality.

Making sexuality and relationships education a statutory part of the curriculum is a start, but to achieve all this we need to ensure that those who are delivering it are well-trained, supported and confident. There should be a sexuality and relationships specialist lead educator in every school and local authority. This is in addition to protected time in the curriculum for the topic, so that what is planned for can be delivered on, and not squeezed out by other subjects.

These are significant reforms which will demand investment and planning. But the outcome will be an inclusive, relevant and empowering curriculum that can learn from, respond to and support all children and young people’s needs. Our vision is a sexuality and relationship education curriculum for life long learning and experience.

Complete Article HERE!

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A Mighty Fine G-Spot Pleasure Tool

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Hey sex fans!

It’s Product Review Friday once again. And this week we have another product from the German company, OVO Lifestyle Toys.

To keep track of all our OVO Lifestyle Toys reviews, here’s what you do. Use the search function in the header of DrDickSexToyReviews.com, type in OVO, and PRESTO!

Today’s product is reviewed by two of the Dr Dick Review Crew veterans, Kevin & Gina.

Ovo E3 G Spot Vibrator —— $39.99

Kevin & Gina
Gina: “Here we go again!”
Kevin: “Today we bring you a very nice g-spot vibe from the German company, Ovo. It has the slightly unremarkable name, E3.”
Gina: “Sounds like a model of BMW. Not particularly sexy. But, I suppose a rose by any other name…”
Kevin: “Right! Call a thing whatever you want, just make sure it does what it’s supposed to.”
Gina: “And the Ovo E3 G Spot Vibrator does deliver.”
Kevin: “Before Gina tells you about the vibe itself I want to comment on the packaging. The E3 come in a very nice gift box. There is an outer sleeve, which features a picture of the E3, and an inner light grey box, with the words Ovo Lifestyle Toys on it. This box holds the black and clear plastic clamshell insert, which holds the vibe in place. The box claps shut with magnets. It’s attractive without being ostentatious. There’s also a USB charger cable and an OVO product catalog and ‘quick start guide’ included.”
Gina: “As stylish as the packaging is, that’s only the beginning. Here are some of the highlights of the E3 itself. Like all g-spot vibes there is an enlarged flat head for optimized g-spot massage. It has a powerful motor. It’s made of seamless, body-safe silicone. It features an illuminated, touch-sensitive dial, which makes adjusting the 5-vibe patterns and 3-power levels very easy. It’s completely waterproof and it rechargeable. It even comes with a 15-year warranty.”
Kevin: “The E3 recharges via a USB connection. There’s a pin that plugs into a port on the bottom of the vibe. You have to really push to get it through the silicone, but once it’s in, it charges quickly. When the vibrator is charging, the light in the middle of the controls flashes. When it is fully charged, the light remains static”
Gina: “You press the middle button on the control panel to turn the E3 on; the button will light up. To start the vibrations you press the up button and then you can scroll up or down through the unique pulsation patterns. But as the controls are right where I grip the vibrator to thrust, it’s very easy to inadvertently change the speed or pattern mid thrust. That’s kind of frustrating. While the flat head is great for g-spot stimulation and can also be used externally for clitoral stimulation.”

Kevin: “As Gina already said, the E3 is covered is covered in a velvety, latex-free, nonporous, phthalate-free, and hypoallergenic silicone. And because it is waterproof it’s a breeze to clean. Submerge it into the sink with mild soap and warm water and scrub it down a bit. Then let it air dry. Or you can just wipe it down with a lint-free towel moistened with peroxide, rubbing alcohol or a 10% bleach solution to sanitize it for sharing. And because E3 is also 100% waterproof, it’s the ideal toy for bath or shower.”
Gina: “However, make sure you use only a water-based lubricant with E3.”
Kevin: “I can recommend the E3 for butt play too. There’s just enough flare on the handle or base to make it safe for anal play. So if you don’t have a g-spot, but you do have a p-spot, (prostate) this is a great pleasure product for you.”

Gina: “For some reason there is a huge disparity in the cost of the E3. We looked around the web and saw it for as little as $39 and as expensive as $99. I don’t know why that is, but I encourage you to shop around if you plan to buy.”
Kevin: “Gina and I liked just about everything about E3. It’s a great g-spot toy for newbies as well as veterans, like us. The sleek look, the body-safe materials, it being waterproof and rechargeable makes this product a great addition to any toy collection”

Full Review HERE!

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We May Have Just Identified Genetic Evidence of Male Sexual Orientation

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But that still doesn’t mean there’s a ‘gay gene’.

By PETER DOCKRILL

Scientists are reporting what could amount to be the firmest evidence yet of genetic links to male sexual orientation, in the first published genome-wide association study (GWAS) examining the trait.

Researchers recruited more than 2,000 men of both homosexual and heterosexual orientation and analysed their DNA, identifying two genetic regions that appear to be linked to whether individuals are gay or straight.

“Because sexuality is an essential part of human life – for individuals and society – it is important to understand the development and expression of human sexual orientation,” says psychiatrist Alan Sanders from NorthShore University HealthSystem in Evanston, Illinois.

“The goal of this study was to search for genetic underpinnings of male sexual orientation, and thus ultimately increase our knowledge of biological mechanisms underlying sexual orientation.”

To do so, Sanders’ team studied 1,077 homosexual men and 1,231 heterosexual men of primarily European ancestry, who were respectively recruited from community festivals and a nationwide survey.

For the purposes of the study, the men’s sexual orientation was based on their self-reported sexual identity and sexual feelings. Each individual taking part provided a sample of their DNA in the form of blood or saliva samples, which were genotyped and analysed.

When the researchers sifted through the data, they isolated several genetic regions where variations called single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNP) signalled single-letter changes in the DNA, with two of the most prominent congregations located near chromosomes 13 and 14.

“The genes nearest to these peaks have functions plausibly relevant to the development of sexual orientation,” the researchers explain in their paper.

On chromosome 13, the variants were located next to a gene called SLITRK6, which is expressed in the diencephalon – a part of the brain that’s previously been shown to differ in size depending on men’s sexual orientation.

While the mechanisms here aren’t fully understood, the researchers explain the SLITRK gene family is important for neurodevelopment and could be of relevance for a range of behavioural phenotypes, not just sexual orientation.

On chromosome 14, the strongest associations were centred around the thyroid stimulating hormone receptor (TSHR) gene, and it’s thought the cluster of SNP variants here could conceivably affect sexual orientation due to altered expression in the hippocampus – in addition to producing atypical thyroid function.

It’s not the first time scientists have examined our genetic code looking for hints as to predictors of sexual persuasion.

While there are numerous environmental factors to consider, previous research – that has not yet been replicated – linked a genetic marker in the X chromosome called Xq28 to male sexual orientation back in the 1990s.

This gave rise to the idea of the so-called ‘gay gene’, even though that’s technically a misnomer, since the Xq28 band actually contains several genes, and the science on the region remains unclear.

More recently, a controversial study presented in 2015 by UCLA researchers suggested an algorithm analysing epigenetic markers that affect gene expression could predict male sexual orientation with up to 70 percent accuracy, but the findings were never published.

Similarly controversial – but in a completely different field of science – researchers from Stanford University made headlines in September when they claimed an AI they had developed could correctly distinguish between gay and heterosexual men and women (81 percent of the time and 74 percent of the time respectively).

While those findings produced an uproar, the claims – if true – serve as another illustration that our biology may contain innumerable clues about things like our sexual orientation that science is only beginning to reveal.

In terms of the new results, there’s bound to be a lot of interest in the study, but the researchers are eager to emphasise their findings are largely speculative for now, since there’s still a lot we don’t know about what these genetic variations really mean.

There’s also the relatively small size and skewed European basis of the sample – not to mention the fact that it’s all men – which limit what it can tell us about genetic underpinnings to sexual orientation more broadly across race and sex lines.

Despite those shortcomings, there’s a lot for other researchers to consider here, and the team hopes this could lay the groundwork for future investigations that could more deeply penetrate the genetic factors that help influence our sexual identities.

“What we have accomplished is a first step for GWAS on the trait, and we hope that subsequent larger studies will further illuminate its genetic contributions,” says Sanders.

“Understanding the origins of sexual orientation enables us to learn a great deal about sexual motivation, sexual identity, gender identity, and sex differences, and this and subsequent work may take us further down that path of discovery.”

The findings are reported in Scientific Reports.

Complete Article HERE!

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A history of sexual depictions in art

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‘Sex has been evoked in ways that simultaneously challenge, repress and embrace its notions’

Even though the existence of humankind is dependent on sex, it has always been a taboo topic of discussion.

The entire history of art, from ancient to contemporary, has portrayed sex in very overt ways, bringing the subject of sex into the institution of art museums. Because of the lack of recorded history about sex, these frank depictions of sexuality in art visually uncover the way sexuality was viewed over time. These works of art can help us understand attitudes towards sex as they were transformed and shifted geographically through time.

Studying erotic art exposes the open attitude ancient Romans had towards sex. Statues, frescoes and household decorative items from ancient Rome prove that sex was an integral part of their everyday lives and that they were not afraid to show it.

The Secret Museum in Naples exhibits ancient Roman works of people having sex, phallic statues and beastiality, which is sexual relations between a human and an animal. Although the ancient Romans were seemingly comfortable with sex, the museum is called The Secret Museum because King Naples I of Naples deemed the works inappropriate and demanded they be locked away. Art’s attempts to comfortably illustrate sex have been historically shunned and disapproved because it is considered taboo.

Mesopotamian art (c. 4500-539 BCE), like ancient Roman art, portrayed sex openly. Observing these works reveals the sex customs in the culture as well. For example, it was a custom for every woman to perform a specific type of prostitution at least once in their life. This ritual was for women to sit outside the Temple of Ishtar and have sex with a man who chooses them. Mesopotamian plaques frankly evoke people having sex as well as this ritual of prostitution.

Western culture is particularly known to disapprove of open sexuality. But, Western artists rebelled against this notion, especially with the introduction of Modernism. Prior to what we call Modern art (1860s-1970s), was the Renaissance in Europe. Renaissance art is typically more discrete with depictions of sex and sexuality. Because it is inspired by classical antiquity, nudity is common among the works. This portrayal of nudity is not shunned because it depicts religious figures and figures of the past.

As a response to urbanization and industrialization, Modern art took a major turn from classical antiquity, which created a shift in subject matter. This introduced illustrations of what were contemporary figures rather than ancient ones. Suddenly, sex and nudity were deemed inappropriate and tasteless. Modern artists have intentions of being radical, disregarding this response to their work.

Modern artists in Europe explored how the rapid urbanization and industrialization of the time period commodified sex and alienated figures of the modern. Egon Schiele frankly depicts sex to address this condition of modernism in his work “Two Women Embracing” (1915). The drawing portrays two women being sexually intimate in front of a blank background.

Although the figures are embracing, the perspective and the background make them appear as if they are floating in a space of loneliness and alienation. This melancholy feeling of isolation that stems from modernization is a condition that Modern artists repeatedly evoked. Schiele expresses this feeling through a depiction of sex to elicit that even in the highest forms of intimacy, feelings of loneliness exist.

“Two Women Embracing” and the rest of Schiele’s works were extremely radical for the time. In fact, Schiele was forced to spend time in jail as a pornographer. His frank representations of sexuality were so incredibly radical because of his depictions of modern subjects and lesbianism. Schiele revolutionarily instigated a discussion about sex and sexuality in the Western world where it had been neglected and shunned.

Following Modern art is what we call Contemporary art, which was produced from the late 20th century to the 21st century today. Performance art was a medium introduced with Contemporary art. The medium aimed to create a bodily encounter between the artist and the viewer. Many performance artists took advantage of the live relationship between artist and viewer to bring sex into their workplace.

A lot of performance art would be considered abject art — art that works to introduce the bodily functions that are silenced and taboo into the museum. When a viewer encounters an abject work of art, they are forced to think about their own body and what they repress everyday. Abject artists oftentimes work with the concept of sex in an attempt to dismantle its history as something forbidden and address issues about sex and sexuality.

Vito Acconci’s abject work titled “Seedbed” (1972) encounters the viewer in a shocking and vulnerable way. It was a performance piece in which Acconci said sexual comments to the audience members walking past a little wooden square in the corner of a museum. During the performance, he hid under a ramp so the viewers could hear his vulgar comments out of a speaker yet they could not see him. Under the ramp, Acconci was masturbating to those who encountered the wooden square. By making the repressed sexual act of masturbation a public performance, Acconci attempted to break stigmas about sex while simultaneously addressing issues of sexual objectification.

The Contemporary artist Carolee Schneemann evoked sex through performance art as well. In her 1964 performance “Meat Joy,” men and women wrestled sexually with meat in an orgy encounter. She provoked the viewer to look at sex in a profoundly unusual way. Through this seemingly odd performance, Schneemann confronted the audience with this overt sexuality in an attempt to reject the notion that sex should be repressed.

Throughout the history of art, sex has been evoked in ways that simultaneously challenge, repress and embrace its notions. From ancient art to contemporary, artists have continuously worked to make sex a comfortable topic that should be embraced and addressed openly.

Complete Article HERE!

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How sex with a small penis can actually give you more pleasure – and how to tell your partner you have one

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Only a small number of men have a micropenis, and it’s not necessarily bad news for their sex life

By Zahra Mulroy

Penis size is the butt of many a joke, and, wrongly, nothing will elicit a titter more than the mention of a micropenis

With 0.6 per cent of the male population affected, they remain comparatively uncommon, but the physical and psychological repercussions can be serious and the cause of much anguish.

There’s undeniably a stigma attached: “Size matters” , you’re less of a man if you have one, your partner will get no enjoyment out of sex with you – the list goes on.

But having a micropenis isn’t necessarily the dire news it’s assumed to be – at least, according to sex therapist Elizabeth McGrath .

McGrath counsels clients with micropenises, and their partners.

She helps them get the most out of their sex lives and will talk them through “clothed, non-genital touch” the Daily Dot reports.

“I really practice this work and I believe in it, primarily because sex is of our bodies,” McGrath said. “When it comes to sex and relationships, I believe there’s only so much talking can do.

“So much of what keeps people down, makes them feel awful, are these ideas about what good sex is, and it’s a box, a very, very small box,” McGrath adds.

“For somebody with a micropenis or their partner, not fitting in that box is very painful.”

So what does McGrath advise?

“There’s humping, there’s grinding, there’s rubbing the penis on the labia or on the side, and then it expands into ‘What kind of fun things can we do together?'” she explains.

“Look at it as an opportunity to find new things rather than focus on one way of doing it specifically.”

McGrath also goes on to recommend oral sex becomes the “main event” and suggests that toys be used too.

“I think any augmenting toys can be fun. But more importantly, is it comfortable and does it feel good? Are you doing it because you enjoy it or is it because you feel like it makes you more normal?”

As for breaking the ice with a new partner and being honest about having a micropenis, McGrath says a man shouldn’t stress about this, as it only reinforces the idea that it’s something to be ashamed of.

Complete Article HERE!

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