Sex Around the World

Teaching Counseling Skills in Hanoi

Sexual Intelligence continues to report from a three-week trip to Vietnam. I’m reaching the end of 5 days in Hanoi. Today I began my two-day seminar in Hanoi. I have 2 days with 20 professionals, teaching both general counseling skills and sexuality counseling. It’s quite a challenge, as the group is heterogeneous in terms of experience and background—some hotline workers, some physicians, some long-term clinicians, etc.. Only 4 of them are over 30 years old. And only 3 are men. As in many non-western countries, a lot of their concept of counseling involves telling people what to do—either from a…

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International Human Rights Day MUST Include Sexual Rights

Yesterday was International Human Rights Day. On such a day, we think of journalists and political activists who are jailed, tortured or killed; people so poor they have no toilets or clean water; people forced to live under brutal religious or political regimes; and children deprived of school, sold into heavy labor, or forced into rebel militias. That’s all so far away, though, isn’t it? So let’s talk about America. Let’s discuss the systematic government oppression of our human rights—our sexual human rights. EVERY human being has the fundamental right to: * accurate information about sexuality * local access to…

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A Visit to the Middle Ages, Central Asia-Style

I continued my trip to Azerbaijan by visiting medieval times twice, from two entirely different—yet oddly related—directions. Today I went to Krasnaya Sloboda, a small town in the foothills near Russia that is experiencing a religious revival. In fact, it now has the only actual Jewish culture in Azerbaijan. The rest was wiped out by the Soviets in the general anti-religion frenzy of the Stalin era, enhanced by the standard Russian and Central Asian anti-semitism. Religion has been making an enormous comeback in all the former Soviet republics since the collapse of the USSR in 1991. Whether Christian, Muslim, or…

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Training Professionals Here In Azerbaijan

This is my 6th day of a two-week trip in Azerbaijan, a country bordered by Turkey, Iran, and Russia. To follow my exploits, see www.MartyInAz.com. I gave several lectures in Baku this week: to psychologists, and to public health professionals at the Ministry of Health. I did them all in English, working with a translator. I say something, wait, she says something; I say something, wait, she says something. I’ve done this before in other countries, and never like it; it’s hard to get a rhythm going, but more importantly, it cuts down the amount of material I can present…

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When Prostitution is a Positive Sign

The New York Times reports that Baghdad is now “secure enough to sin.” “Vice is making a comeback,” says the article, in a city “once famous for 1,001 varieties of it.” Of course, the three primary forms of “vice” are sex, drinking, and gambling. The article reports a noticeable increase in all three. Any sociologist would say this is a sign that locals are feeling safer, that there’s more money in circulation, and that people are trusting each other more. Given the city’s recent agonies, those are all good, regardless of how you feel about “vice.” Sex has become more…

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Sweden Gets It Right: No Need to Make Sex a Sickness

Sweden’s health officials have decided that seven “alternative” sexual behaviors will no long be listed as diseases. The diagnoses which will soon be declassified as diseases include sadomasochism, fetishism, and transvestitism. The Board hopes that this will limit prejudice against these activities and their practitioners. The National Board of Health and Welfare made the decision to declassify the behaviors because they are not illnesses in and of themselves. “These diagnoses are rooted in a time when everything other than the heterosexual missionary position were seen as sexual perversions,” says Board head Lars-Erik Holm. Here in the U.S., people with intense…

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