What is healthy sexuality? Learning from entertainment

Prof. Alan McKee

Some sexual health experts are concerned that entertainment media promote undesirable forms of sexual practice among young people – including promiscuity and premarital sex. Such concerns are problematic. It is wrong to insist that there is only a single ‘normal’ kind of sexual practice in which all people should engage. Such an approach is heteronormative, relying on a model of healthy sexuality that is vanilla, monogamous and loving. Models of sexuality that do not fit this model – including casual sex, kinky sex, anal sex, BDSM and group sex – are condemned as unhealthy.The Promoting Healthy Sexual Development research group at QUT developed a framework of sixteen domains of healthy sexual development. These are: freedom from unwanted activity; an understanding of consent; education about biological aspects of sexual aspects; understanding of safety; relationship skills; agency; lifelong learning; resilience; open communication; sexual development should not be ‘aggressive, coercive or joyless’; self-acceptance; acceptance that sex can be pleasurable; understanding of parental and societal values; awareness of public/private boundaries; and competence in mediated sexuality. 

 

2011 Australasian Sexual Health Conference, 'Sex in the City', recorded in September 2011 Canberra, Australia.

Alan McKee
Alan McKee
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Prof. Alan McKee

Professor Alan McKee leads the Promoting Healthy Sexuality Research Group at Queensland University of Technology, and heads Research Program 5: ‘Education – Developing improved sexual health education strategies’ in the National and International Research Alliances Program grant ‘Improved surveillance, treatment and control of chlamydial infections’. He has published extensively on healthy sexual development with particular attention to the role of sexualized media. His most recent article on this topic is ‘The importance of entertainment to sexuality education’, which is in press with Sex Education.

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