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Sexual ethics: Healthy sexuality ? Discussing normative affiliations of the concept

Sexual ethics: Healthy sexuality ? Discussing normative affiliations of the concept

My research of philosophical sexual ethics aims at morally neutral and transparent conceptions in the field of sexuality. The concept of “healthy sexuality” is nowadays widely used in context of sexual well-being. Unfortunately the concept also carries normative potential that can be used to control and confine both personal expressions of sexuality and sexual culture in general. I analyse the concept using philosopher Alan Soble’s work as a basis.

Soble shows how the idea of health depends strongly on culturerelated ideas of value, functionality, impairment and normality. I use contemporary examples of medical and public discussion to show how health-arguments are used inappropriately mixing values with factual claims. The most vulnerable area for misguided evaluation is mental health.
Psychiatric definitions for mental disorders include several sexual preferences which are unusual. Healthy sexuality is too often correlated with value-laden idea of normality. For some groups and individuals health has become a smokescreen, which is used to further political or religious agendas against sexual minorities. As a result of my ethical research I present
some suggestions, how the concept of sexual health should be handled.
First, statistical normality or presumed naturality of sexual preferences cannot be a basis for evaluating health. Second, interfering in someones sexuality must be guided by ethical decisions or patient’s requests, not by patronising or referring to some view of healthy sexuality. Summing up, sexual health must be understood as a thin baseline of conditions that supports individuals capability to self-direct her sexuality.
 

Speakers: Tommi Paalanen
Areas of Interest / Categories: Mental Health, Sexual Ethics, WAS 2009, Well Being

WAS 2009

Infertile couples who undergo treatment: experiences of the consequences on sexuality

About 10-15 % of adults have the experience of not getting pregnant, when they have a wish to have a child. For some, this life situation is resolved spontaneously. Some undergo investigation, followed by varying treatments, resulting in a child, some adopt, and for others this situation is permanent, and without a solution. When this is the case, existential questions often arise. Earlier studies show that couples who become parent after IVF-treatment are just as content, or more, with their relationships and sexuality compared to parent who conceived spontaneously. Little is known about the couples who continue their relation without a child. Clinical experiences are that many women and men struggle with questions concerning the meaning of sexuality.

Non formal sexual rights education and sexual pleasure: experiences from a grassroots training program in Turkey

In the framework of the Coalition for Sexual and Bodily Rights in Muslim Societies (CSBR) experience to promote sexual, bodily and reproductive health and rights, this paper will explore women's approach to sexuality, sexual health, sexual rights, and sexual pleasure based on the experience of the Human Rights Education Program for Women (HREP) in Turkey, implemented in 42 cities. The paper will contexualize sexual health and rights in Muslim societies through a human rights approach, drawn on experiences of grassroots movement for women in Turkey, in a context where efforts to promote SRHR contend with patriarchal norms and taboos around sexuality. 

Furthering reproductive rights of women in rural India & the impediments

Legal education in rural India which circumscribes rights of women with special focus on reproductive rights, rape laws, female feticide, domestic violence, child marriage etc. has played a pivotal role in translating these rights into practice. This has been possible through innovative legal education drives which have identified a set of para-legal women who act as reservoirs of knowledge and are adequately equipped to handle instances of violation of such rights.

Awareness, knowledge and willingness to deal with sexual education among students in academic colleges of education in Israel

It is commonly accepted that sex education should start at early age. Most teachers hold positive attitudes towards programs on sex education, but some surveys showed a discrepancy between overt attitudes towards sex education and willingness to practice this as part of the professional duty.

A comparative analysis of understandings of sexual behaviour among key stakeholders in UK secondary schools

In many school settings, adolescent sexuality has been discussed largely in terms of sexual behaviour and risk. Little attention has been given to the positive aspects of sexuality and sexual expression. This study sought to explore how key stakeholders in three secondary schools in the UK understand youth sexual behaviours. 

The African studies on the impact of circumcision on HIV

Does circumcision reduce the risk of HIV transmission? Relationship between male circumcision and HIV infection based on randomized, controlled intervention trial in three

Sexuality and LUTS: an Asian perspective