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This column will examine how sex, gender, and sexuality impact physical and mental wellbeing and how these issues shape, and are shaped by, the types of societies we build and value. Frits Ahlefeldt-Laurvig/Flickr

Sex, health and society: what’s the connection?

“What do you do?” It’s a question that always makes my heart sink, which aspect of what I do should I highlight in the answer to this minefield of a question. The answer must be brief because the attention…
Some people may be turned on knowing their sexual activities are being monitored by experts. Yves Hanoulle/Flickr

Health Check: why some people have sex for science

The who, how, and what of sex-based laboratory studies may all be a little problematic, so can we generalise from their findings?
BDSM gear at Eros Pyramide shop. Manu2560/Wikimedia

Re-imagined power: BDSM as Utopian fantasy

The BDSM-themed movie, Fifty Shades of Grey, is the number one movie in Australia. Its success means that a lot of people are titillated by the idea of sex beyond “vanilla sex.” Controversy about BDSM…
Some criticism of Fifty Shades reveals a disdainful attitude toward fans of the franchise. Photo by Chuck Zlotnick - © Universal Pictures

The ‘mommy porn’ myth: who are the Fifty Shades of Grey fans?

With the release of Fifty Shades of Grey in cinemas this week, serious questions have been raised about whether the film depicts abuse – including on The Conversation. Some feminist groups have staged…
How long did they wait? Feet via wavebreakmedia/Shutterstock

When can you start having sex after a heart attack?

Each year in the United States about 720,000 people have heart attacks and about 124,000 people in the UK and 55,000 people in Australia will have them as well. Since the 1980s, survival rates from heart…
Fifty Shades of Grey creates a minefield on the issues at play in consensual acts of violence. Universal Pictures

Fifty Shades of Grey and the legal limits of BDSM

Christian Grey knows exactly his hard limits in sadomasochism and he may also know a thing or two about his legal limits. The Dominant character Grey in the fantasy fiction Fifty Shades of Grey is bent…
Still at it. Couple by Shutterstock

People in their eighties have sex – get over it

When we consider society’s prevailing view of late-life sexuality, the convention has been that older people are not particularly sexually active or interested in intimate sexual relationships. These preconceptions…
Baby Boomer women are challenging ideas around what it means to grow old. Cesar Vargas/Flickr

Sex, desire and pleasure in later life: Australian women’s experiences

Older people, and particularly older women, are often thought of as being asexual or sexually undesirable. Although the particular age this is believed to happen varies somewhat in the popular imagination…
Some 63% of men and 20% women had looked at pornography in the past year in Australia. shutterstock.com

Celebrity nudes, online porn – we need to watch ourselves

When 56-year-old Madonna posed topless for Interview magazine this month the public reaction was a stifled yawn. Her erotic exposé was the latest in a recent swathe of celebrities stripping off. In November…
Best to keep it under the covers? Lisa S.

Why I’d say yes, yes, yes to the Bad Sex award

Sexual intercourse is getting on a bit. Not only has it been boosting the human population since we emerged from the primordial swamp, it’s more than half a century since Philip Larkin noted its arrival…
Our culture tells women there’s something wrong with them if they don’t orgasm. Gustavo Gomes/Flickr

Female sexual dysfunction or not knowing how to ask for what feels good?

The recently published Italian study suggesting women can only have clitoral, rather than vaginal, orgasms raises important questions about the medicalisation of female sexuality and sexual dysfunction…
Unlocking the secrets of the chastity belt. Science Museum / Science and Society Picture Library

Hunt to discover the ‘secret’ of sexuality is far from over

“Undress your mind” shouts the promotional material for the Wellcome Trust’s latest exhibition, The Institute of Sexology. It’s an apt tagline, encapsulating how sexology – or the science of sex – has…
Most women are just happy to have an orgasm, any old way. Ares Tavolazzi/Flickr

Health Check: clash of the orgasms, clitoral vs vaginal

Controversy over vaginal versus clitoral orgasm is nothing new; it’s a debate that has consumed sexologists and psychoanalysts for the last 100 years. Now, new research has added fresh fuel to the controversy…

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