Declarations of Sexual Rights and Sexual Pleasure

There are two Declarations at the core of my work and that of the World Association for Sexual Health (WAS). The Declaration of Sexual Pleasure articulates the significance of sexual pleasure to our overall well-being. The Declaration of Sexual Rights states that “sexual rights are universal human rights based on the inherent freedom, dignity, and equality of all human beings.”

In February 2014, I was a part of a global group who were invited to gather in New York City to work on our collective understanding of sexual rights and how they are experienced and expressed across cultures and languages. Our hope was to give a framework for everyone who has the capacity, and could assume responsibility, to be an advocate for sexual rights in their own settings, be it in their home, classrooms, work environment, and, on a larger scale, at the community and societal level. Sexual rights are usually ignored because sexuality is a matter of luxury or quality of life for many. However, this is not the case for millions of people around the world whose sexual well being is being compromised, used, and abused against their wills on a daily basis.

Declaration of Sexual Rights

The Declaration of Sexual Rights states that “sexual rights are grounded in universal human rights that are already recognized in international and regional human rights documents, in national constitutions and laws, human rights standards and principles, and in scientific knowledge related to human sexuality and sexual health.

It takes an asset-based approach, affirming that “sexual health is a state of physical, emotional, mental and social wellbeing in relation to sexuality; it is not merely the absence of disease, dysfunction or infirmity. Sexual health requires a positive and respectful approach to sexuality and sexual relationships, as well as the possibility of having pleasurable and safe sexual experiences, free of coercion, discrimination and violence.”

The Declaration is fully inclusive as well and includes “the prohibition of any distinction, exclusion or restriction on the basis of race, ethnicity, colour, sex, language, religion, political or other opinion, national or social origin, property, birth or other status, including disability, age, nationality, marital and family status, sexual orientation and gender identity, health
status, place of residence, economic and social situation.”

We recognized that “persons’ sexual orientations, gender identities, gender expressions and bodily diversities require human rights protection” as well.

Here is an abbreviated list of Sexual Rights. You can see the complete list here.

  • The right to equality and non-discrimination
  • The right to life, liberty, and security of the person
  • The right to autonomy and bodily integrity
  • The right to be free from torture and cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment or punishment
  • The right to be free from all forms of violence and coercion
  • The right to privacy
  • The right to the highest attainable standard of health, including sexual health; with the possibility of pleasurable, satisfying, and safe sexual experiences
  • The right to enjoy the benefits of scientific progress and its application
  • The right to information
  • The right to education and the right to comprehensive sexuality  education
  • The right to enter, form, and dissolve marriage and other similar types of relationships based on equality and full and free consent
  • The right to decide whether to have children, the number and spacing of children, and to have the information and the means to do so
  • The right to the freedom of thought, opinion, and expression
  • The right to freedom of association and peaceful assembly
  • The right to participation in public and political life
  • The right to access to justice, remedies, and redress

Declaration of Sexual Pleasure

A little more than twenty years after the Declaration of Sexual Rights, the World Association for Sexual Health went further in publishing the Declaration of Sexual Pleasure in 2019.

We defined sexual pleasure as the “physical and/or psychological satisfaction and enjoyment derived from shared or solitary erotic experiences, including thoughts, fantasies, dreams, emotions, and feelings”

Key to sexual pleasure are “self-determination, consent, safety, privacy, confidence and the ability to communicate and negotiate sexual relations.”

WAS declared that “sexual pleasure is a fundamental part of sexual rights as a matter of human rights” and it should “ be integrated into education, health promotion and service delivery, research.”

The Declaration urges all sectors of society, from governments to health authorities, from NGOs to individuals to:

  • Promote sexual pleasure in law and policy as a fundamental part of sexual health and well-being, grounded in the principles of sexual rights as human rights, including self-determination, non-discrimination, privacy, bodily integrity, and equality
  • Ensure that comprehensive sexuality education addresses sexual pleasure in an inclusive, evidence-informed and rights-based manner tailored to people’s diverse capacities and needs across the lifespan, in order to allow experiences of informed, self-determined, respectful, and safe sexual pleasure
  • Guarantee that sexual pleasure is integral to sexual health care services provision, and that sexual health services are accessible, affordable, acceptable, and free from stigma, discrimination, and prosecution
  • Enhance the development of rights-based, evidence-informed knowledge of the benefits of sexual pleasure as part of well-being, including rights-based funding resources, research methodologies, and dissemination of knowledge to address the role of sexual pleasure in individual and public health
  • Reaffirm the global, national, community, interpersonal, and individual commitments to recognition of the diversity in sexual pleasure experiences respecting human rights of all people and supported by consistent, evidence informed policy and practices, interpersonal behavior, and collective action.

While discussions of sex and sexual health are often spoken in either hushed tones in private or more coarsely in public, I believe that sexual rights are human rights and that sexual health is a vital part of our overall physical, mental, and emotional well-being.

Have you thought about your own sexual rights before? Or have you thought about sexual rights and health within the context of your work?

For example, if you’re a clinician, are you factoring in sexual health to the assessments of your patients? Or if you’re an educator or caregiver, are you considering the sexual rights of your dependents?

World Sexual Health Day North America 2021In September, we celebrate World Sexual Health Day. Take this moment to reflect on the Declarations above, learn more, or join us on September 24th!

If you are a practitioner and you would like to learn more about how to work with the Declaration of Sexual Rights, check out The Wheel of Context for Sexuality Education.

World Sexual Health Day, 2021: Turn It On!

World Sexual Health Day North America 2021

About a decade ago, in one of our World Association for Sexual Health Advisory Board meetings hosted by the warmth of colleagues in Brazil, we were brainstorming how we could elevate the state of sexual wellbeing for everyone, beyond politics, advocacy and academic research. Our president at the time, Dr. Rosemary Coates, suggested creating a whole day around the theme and that is how World Sexual Health Day was born. We looked at the calendar and picked September 4th as the day to claim sexual well-being for all. Our hope was to step away from seeing sexual health as just a disease-free state and more of a state of well-being.  

Turn It On: Sexual Health in A Digital World

The theme for 2021 is “Turn it on: Sexual health in a digital world,” which is so relevant to the moment we’re living through. Not only has technology had a huge influence on sexual health, from the advent of the internet and dating sites to the global accessibility of sexual health information, but the pandemic has kept many of us at home and in front of our laptop or smartphone more than ever.

The phrase “Turn it on” is important too. We want to ignite awareness of sexual health and sexual rights, as well as activate participants in confronting and fighting the many abuses of sexual health in digital spaces.

We at the World Association for Sexual Health define sexual health as “a state of physical, mental and social well-being in relation to sexuality. It requires a positive and respectful approach to sexuality and sexual relationships, as well as the possibility of having pleasurable and safe sexual experiences, free of coercion, discrimination, and violence.”

I am so appreciative of this positive and respectful approach to sexual health, as opposed to a deficit- or shame-based approach. If we don’t have positive learning environments, we won’t be able to fully explore our sexuality and reach a deep level of well-being, personally or on a global scale.

World Sexual Health Day at Stanford University

I’ve been involved with the World Sexual Health Day Planning Committee since it began in 2010. We first hosted an event for the public in New York City and then when I moved to California in 2015, Stanford University, specifically Dr. Inge Hansen, generously offered to be the home for our event.

This year, we are hosting another virtual event at Stanford University, and we are inviting everyone, from colleagues to students, peers, friends, and members of the public, to celebrate with us.

September 24th

8:30 am – 5:00 pm.

The event is virtual, free, and open to everyone from anywhere. You can add a nominal fee of $25 upon registration to receive six hours of CE for the event.

Learn more or register here.

The agenda will provide an exciting day of learning and connecting.

This year, we will also have a film screening! “Yes I Am: The Ric Weiland Story” is a documentary on the life of Ric Weiland, queer co-founder of Microsoft who made Weiland Health Initiative possible at Stanford University. The film addresses the intersection between the tech world and advocacy for queer rights. The audience is invited to watch the documentary in conjunction with the event. Exact Time TBD, but you can watch the trailer here

Please join us on September 24th to celebrate sexual health and expand our knowledge!

Until then:

Learn more about the Declaration of Sexual Rights in English, Farsi, or twelve other languages.

Read the Declaration of Sexual Pleasure in English or Spanish.

Share your learning online and use the hashtags #WorldSexualHealthDay2021, #WSHD2021, #TurnItOn,
#enciendelo.

You can also check those hashtags on your favorite social network and see what others are sharing!

Want to take it one step further? Organize an event and let us know your plans! It has been amazing to see how many people have organized meaningful events around the world.

CNN Feature: “Turn rupture into repair: How to navigate relationship arguments”

The stress of the last year and a half has frayed many relationships. Couples may not agree on their risk tolerance in relation to COVID-19; lockdowns, quarantines, and travel restrictions may have us feeling cooped up; and our social lives outside of the home, and the support and sustenance they normally provide, have been severely curtailed.

If this sounds familiar, then My dear colleague Dr. Ian Kerner’s CNN article, “Turn rupture into repair: How to navigate relationship arguments in the ‘new normal”” may be of assistance. I was glad to be tapped for my advice, along with more than a half dozen other colleagues. 

Namely, I offered counterintuitive advice to take the flight option of the fight-or-flight response. 

We know the body takes about 20 minutes to calm down after the fight-or-flight response is activated. I suggest: “Tell your partner that you’re not in a space to contribute to the discussion in a useful way, suggest taking a break with offering a specific time to come back to one another, and then return to it when you’ve both cooled off.”

You could workout or go for a walk, jump rope, call a friend, or meditate. Consider any activity that doesn’t bring you immediately back to the argument.

Couples therapist Barbara Gold offered the next step which I agree with: “But don’t ignore it. If a quick repair isn’t possible because one or both of you is agitated, make a plan to talk about it as soon as you’re both ready and able. Sweeping things under the rug is not the solution to stopping conflict.”

Kerner outlines seven other techniques to help you return to the relationship and begin repairing it. You can read the CNN article here. And here are a couple extra that I use with my couple and found effective: 

I suggest my couples have a “couples jar.” Anything that needs further conversation or to be revisited will go in that jar, so the next time you go for a walk, or have your weekly sessions with one another or your couples therapist you can take it out and make an attempt to discuss and resolve it. The conversation goes back in the jar until it is fully resolved from both of our perspectives. 

This is very helpful because you know there will be a time for you to come back to the issue so you won’t have to carry it around with you and let it cast a shadow on every moment of the coming days! 

It is also important to put away an hour a week (not asking for too much here) to connect and discuss any issues that need resolution. Like going to a therapist once a week. Don’t go over an hour. Having a time limit will help you preserve presence and consistency of energy throughout the hour. 

Enhancing Couples’ Sexuality

Enhancing Couples' Sexuality

Good sex cannot save a bad relationship, but bad sex can break a good relationship!

Dr. McCarty is joining me from North Carolina today to bring us wisdom on the power dynamic of couples as it relates to sexual desire across life span and very practical and solid tools as how to manage them and even solve them. Erotic voice, responsive desire, why is sex more interactive and human over time. How to honor your sexuality while age. Introducing pleasure and relationships after losing a partner, good sex cannot save a bad relationship, but bad sex can break a good relationship, various forms and shapes of pleasure within a coupledom. Why learning to say no to sex is the pre-requisite to saying yes to it. Equity versus equality in coupledom. What is good enough sex?

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About Dr. Barry McCarthy

Dr. Barry McCarthy, PH.D. is a professor of psychology at American University, a diplomate in clinical psychology, a diplomate in sex therapy, and a certified couple therapist. He has published more than 120 professional articles, 33 book chapters, and 22 books the latest being Rekindling Desire (3rd edition), Enhancing Couple Sexuality, and Finding Your Sexual Voice. Dr. McCatry has presented more than 450 professional workshops in the United States and internationally. In 2016 he received the Masters and Johnson award for lifetime contributions to the sexuality field. 

Tools and Resources

Full list of Books: phd-bwm.com

 

Moving from Racial Literacy to Becoming an Antiracist

Moving from Racial Literacy to Becoming an Antiracist- Bonus Episode

In this dialogue I had the pleasure to have an insightful dialogue with my dear colleague and mentor Dr. Kenneth Hardy. Dr. Hardy is one of the most original voices in the discourse around racial identity and family therapy. We touch upon three main topics: 1) multiple identities, intersectionality of these identities and the context in which they exist, being perceived and received with a practical model to get to know these selves and how they inform our way of being in our everyday lives. 2) the notion of reality and how it could be different based on our privileged identities and areas of subjugations. 3) VCR (Validate, challenge and Request) as a tool to acknowledge and heal rage within our society. 

 Dr. Hardy differentiates between being voiceless and having your voice being taken away. We address tough questions such as: How to become an antiracist in your everyday life? Who are your multiple selves? Are they all equally privileged? What constitute your racial self? What does it mean to be White? Black? Are we looking to be savors or ready to serve the underprivileged? What is a safe environment to have uncomfortable conversations and who is concerned with it? How does it feel to be uncomfortable, hurt, offended or triggered? 

Dr. Hardy offers practical advice and models of practice on becoming an antiracist and engaging provider to nurture purposeful, clear and passionate voices of the underserved. He invites us to get to know our emotional pie: Get to know mad, glad, sad and nervous. Dr. Hardy provides a new look at rage as a passionate emotion that needs to be channeled to a productive way not shut down and he offers VCR (Validate, challenge and Request) as a model to acknowledge and heal rage. 

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About Dr. Hardy

Dr. Hardy presents workshops and provides consultations nationally and internationally on issues of diversity, multiculturalism, and cultural competency. He has provided training and consultation to an extensive list of Human Services agencies and School Districts devoted to providing culturally competent services to children and families. Some of his clients have included the Children’s Defense Fund, The United States Department of Defense, the Menninger Clinic, the New York State Office of Mental Health, Harlem Hospital, the Washington D.C. Superior Court, Philadelphia Department of Human Services, Allegheny County Department of Human Services, the South Carolina Department of Mental Health, the Westchester County Department of Human Services, and a host of Colleges, Universities, and Post-Secondary Institutions throughout the United States. Dr. Hardy has published extensively in the area of diversity and has earned considerable public acclaim for the contributions that his numerous publications and videotapes including Psychological Residuals of Slavery and the Experts series which have made great strides toward challenging our society to think critically about issues of diversity and oppression. His recent book, with Tracey A. Laszloffy, is Teens Who Hurt: Clinical Interventions to Break the Cycle of Adolescent Violence. He was co-editor with Monica McGoldrick of Re-Visioning Family Therapy: Race, Culture, and Gender in Clinical Practice (3rd Edition).

In addition to his own writing, he also serves on the editorial boards of the Journal of Marital and Family Therapy, the Journal of Family Psychotherapy, the Journal of Divorce, the Journal of Couples Therapy, the Psychotherapy Networker, and the Journal of Family Counseling. Dr. Hardy is a frequent contributor to the print media such USA Today, Jet Magazine, and Good Housekeeping, and also has been featured in the electronic media having appeared on the Oprah Winfrey Show, Dateline NBC, PBS, The Discovery Health Channel, and ABC’s 20/20.

The Art and Science of Self-Care

The Art and Science of Self-Care

Today I am in dialogue with my dear friend and colleague Dr. Emily Nagoski. This episode is different than any other. I honestly didn’t know how to introduce it rather than extend a heartfelt invitation to you all to listen to her and listen well. Emily takes us on a meaningful, inspiring, personal and powerful journey from struggles with moments of darkness to joy and pleasure.

Emily is a world-renowned expert in women’s wellbeing and sexual health. She is a New York Times bestselling author and has multiple popular TED Talks to her credit. She says I am a writer, educator, researcher, activist and a nerd!  

Today, you will meet Emily as all of these and much more. Something in my heart lit up after this dialogue that is still burning bright. I hope you derive as much meaning from our conversation as I did having it.

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About Dr. Emily Nagoski

Emily Nagoski began her career as a sex educator in 1995 when she became a peer health educator at the University of Delaware. She was trained to teach her fellow undergraduates about stress, nutrition, physical activity, and, above all, sex. Soon she added sexual violence prevention and response to that work, and suddenly she was a sex educator. The plan was to use her degree in Psychology (with minors in cognitive science and philosophy) to become a clinical neuropsychologist, working with people with traumatic brain injury and stroke. But even though she loved brain science, her work in sex education and violence prevention made her like who she was a person, in a way the academic stuff couldn’t. So that’s the path she chose.

She went to Indiana University for a M.S. in Counseling Psychology, completing clinical internships at the Kinsey Institute Sexual Health Clinic and the IU GLBT Student Support Services Office. She continued on to earn a Ph.D. in Health Behavior with a concentration in human sexuality. She taught graduate and undergraduate classes in human sexuality, relationships and communication, stress management, and sex education. Her time at IU was characterized by stumbling with unwarranted luck into opportunities to work with some of the greatest minds in the world of sex science, and she will spend the rest of her career trying to earn those opportunities.

For eight years, she worked as a lecturer and Director of Wellness Education at Smith College, before transitioning to full-time writing and speaking. She now travels all over, training professionals, teaching college students and other lay people, and learning more every day about the science and art of sexual wellbeing. She is a trained Gottman Seven Principles educator, with extensive specialized training in bystander intervention, motivational interviewing, and cultural inclusivity, including race, gender, and class. 

Emily’s mission in life is to teach women to live with confidence and joy inside their bodies.

Her second book, Burnout: the secret to unlocking the stress cycle, is co-authored with her twin sister Amelia. It’s for women who feel overwhelmed and exhausted by all they have to do, yet worrying that they’re not doing “enough.” 

 

Debunking Desire

Debunking Desire

In this dialogue I am in conversation with my dear colleague Dr. Lori Brotto from Vancouver, Canada to debunk myths around sexual desire. Lori has a unique position as a researcher and a clinician to translate scientific data into practical tools and tips for everyone to benefit from. She is a master expert in the science of KT (Knowledge Transition). She is the Director of the Sexual Health Laboratory at the university of British Columbia and chairs the Canada research in women’s sexual health.

In our conversation Lori will bring us pearls of wisdom from her book, Better sex through mindfulness and her new campaign DebunkDesire.com. We will talk about elicitors and diminishers of sexual desire and practical tips to cultivate it.

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About Dr. Lori Brotto

Dr. Lori Brotto is a Professor in the UBC Department of Obstetrics and Gynaecology, and a Registered Psychologist in Vancouver, Canada.  She is the Executive Director of the Women’s Health Research Institute of BC located at BC Women’s Hospital. Dr. Brotto holds a Canada Research Chair in Women’s Sexual Health. She is the director of the UBC Sexual Health Laboratory where research primarily focuses on developing and testing psychological and mindfulness-based interventions for women with sexual desire and arousal difficulties and women with chronic genital pain. Dr. Brotto is an Associate Editor for the Archives of Sexual Behavior, has 170 peer-reviewed publications, and is frequently featured in the media on topics related to sexuality. Her book, Better Sex Through Mindfulness: How Women Can Cultivate Desire (2018) is a trade book of her research demonstrating the benefits of mindfulness for women’s sexual concerns. She is a strong advocate for empowering women to take on leadership roles. 

Tools and Resources

Arranged Marriages American Style

Arranged Marriages, American Style!

In this dialogue, my inspiring friend and respected colleague, the New York Times Best Selling author, professor Pepper Schwartz joins me from Seattle. I share what I learned from our dyadic validation study for Relationship Panoramic Inventory and she generously shares her top learnings as one of the three relationship experts on the Married at First Sight TV show, which is a series on Lifetime about arranged marriages. The show focuses on bringing compatible couples together, get them legally married and help them figure out the rest after.

 

It is on its 11th season in America and is aired in 26 other countries.

As a sociologist at the University of Washington in Seattle, with 25 books, two TED Talks and multiple research papers to her credit, Pepper brings a rich and holistic perspective into our conversation about what it takes to create a thriving relationship.

 

I invite you to listen in if you believe that you deserve to be in a loving relationship that you desire. 

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About Professor Pepper Schwartz

Acclaimed author, researcher, and television personality, Pepper Schwartz has devoted her life to furthering the fields of intimacy and sexuality. After achieving a BA and MA at Washington University, St. Louis, Schwartz went on to receive her PhD in Sociology at Yale University in 1974.

Over the next 40 years, Pepper has become a prolific writer, authoring many academic and popular articles as well as 25 books on the subjects of love, sexuality, and commitment. Two of those books American Couples and The Normal Bar: The Surprising Secrets of Happy Couples have been on the New York Times Best Sellers list. Several others, including PrimeTen Talks Parents Must Have with Children About Sex and Character, Peer Marriage, and The Great Sex Weekendwere featured on Oprah. Her latest books are SNAP Strategies for CouplesFrommer’s Places for Passion, and 50 Great Myths of Human Sexuality

Schwartz is the former president of SSSS, the Society for the Scientific Study of Sexualities, and the past president of the Pacific Sociological Association. She received an award from the American Sociological Association for public understanding of sociology and Law and Politics Magazine named her one of the 25 Smartest People in Washington State. Among other awards, Pepper was named as a distinguished alumni from Washington University in St. Louis and served on the alumni counsel of Yale University Graduate School. Alongside Janet Lever, Pepper has coauthored a column for Glamour magazine as well as independently authored a column for American Baby magazine (both over a period of 8 years). She currently writes a column for AARP.org/nakedtruth as well as continuing to lecture nationally and internationally on intimate relationships, sexuality, and women’s wellbeing.

Currently, Pepper serves as AARP’s first Love & Relationship Expert & Ambassador and teaches at the University of Washington in Seattle. She has two children, Cooper and Ryder, and recently got married to her husband, Fred Kaseburg. She lives on a horse ranch outside of Seattle.

Education Redefined

Education Redefined

In this dialogue, John Doran the author of “A way to wellbeing” joins me from Ireland to discuss education during and post pandemic. John offers an optimistic view by inviting us to embrace adverse events. He says: “what you meet and greet will defeat and what you resist tends to persist”. He talks about the meaning of education and what young people need to thrive in the future that is yet to be created. He invites us to compare ourselves with ourselves yesterday, not another person. He highlights that selfcare of parents is critical not selfish and advises us on finding the right school fit for our children in the time of the pandemic.

John asks some critical questions: Are we preparing students for a life of testing or the test of life? What is holistic education? Are we helping students to develop as critical thinkers, creative minds with resilient hearts or are we trying to fit them to the already existing system which would not even exist by the time they enter adulthood? Skills such as emotional intelligence, problem solving, teamwork and collaboration in a world where life experience and competencies will be more important than formal qualifications.

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About John Doran

John Doran has been a teacher and guidance counsellor for over 24 years. He is passionate about the transformative power of education to disrupt poverty, and help young people do all that they can, with all that they have, in the time that they have got, in the space that they are in.

John speaks to Management Bodies, Businesses, Education Trusts, Teachers, Parents and Students on the topics of Resilience, EQ, Well-being in the workplace, Stress Management, and Maximising Performance both nationally and internationally.
John is a TED speaker and a media contributor. He designed and delivers the SMART Training Programme (Stress Management And Resilience Training).

John is also the author of ‘The Ways to Well-Being’, which is designed to help 15-18 year olds explore how to maintain their own sense of well-being, leading to improved academic outcomes in school and a sense of accomplishment in life.

 

Tools and Resources

Connect with Jon on Social Media

Twitter: @awaytowellbeing

IG: awaytowellbeing

Other Resources:

Address to the Irish Parliament

Ted Talk: Positive Education for the 21st Century

Book: The Ways to Well-Being

Cyber Infidelity

Cyber Infidelity

In this dialogue, Marlene joins me from Cape Town, South Africa as we discuss Cyber Infidelity and her experience of navigating dilemmas that have occurred in working with the controversial dating site, Ashley Madison. 

Marlene is a clinical sexologist with four published books as well as an accredited Ted Talk to her credit. Marlene shares insights from her research, differences she’s identified between in-person and cyber infidelity, why she felt she needed different tools to work with couples with this experience rather than others, the underlying motivation behind an affair, the pain of the experience, and possible ways to recover and heal. 

Relationships are complex dynamics and every couple might have a different definition of what constitute privacy and secrecy in their relationship therefore, we share the use of the terms “affair and infidelity” to cover a range of behaviors in our society. 

Although this is a rather taboo subject, it is a very common issue with high prevalence in both of our practices. We share some of the clinical approaches we each use to help clients navigate their way through the stages that follow an affair with the hope that our listeners can find some relevant tools that they can use and share with others. 

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About Dr. Wasserman

Dr Marlene Wasserman, founder of the DR EVE brand, is an internationally trained AASECT (American Association of Sex Educators, Counselors and Therapists) certified Clinical Sexologist and Couple and Sex Therapist, Sexual Medicine consultant and therapist, in Private Practice. An Academic, Educator, Author of 4 books, and well known media celebrity with her own weekly live radio and television programs, Marlene is most passionately invested in her Clinical Private Practice.  After many years of being an online expert youth sexuality educator and counselor throughout Africa, in 2013 Marlene began research into online relationship and sexuality behavior, specifically cyber infidelity. In 2015 she globally launched her book “Cyber Infidelity: The New Seduction”. Internationally she presents papers at conferences and does professional training and public appearances. As an activist and women’s rights defender, she trains government and parastatal management teams, in Sexual Harassment and Gender Based Violence. She is a Temporary Adviser for the WHO (World Health Organisation). Marlene is a sexual health medico legal expert and certified medico legal mediator. She specializes in medical negligence and personal injury believing everyone has the right to sexual and reproductive health. In 2018 she served as consultant to the Department of Education, in the development and writing of the Sexuality Thread of the new Life Orientation text books, to be nationally implemented in  all schools, in 2020. Her current areas of clinical interest are #Cyber Infidelity,  Infidelity, Modern Love, IntimacyTrauma and Compassion.

Hope Focus

Hope Focus

In this dialogue Sebastian and I have a transparent conversation about making connections through preserving human dignity and seeing people for all that they are and not what they are expected to be portrayed as.

Sebastian was dyslexic as a child and now is a world-renowned photographer who focuses on capturing some of the most sensitive, inspiring and heart-wrenching moments in our current history. He has a powerful message for those who do not fit into the boxes provided to them.

Sebastian’s photos capture hopes and sorrows all in one shot. He is based in Cyprus but was in lockdown in Devon, England at the time of this interview. He brings his whole self to our conversation from an award-winning camera man to a survivor of multiple kidnaps and gun-wounds to a father who still seeks to find balance in his life.

We talk about compassion, empathy and sympathy. What we need more of and what we need to leave at home when we are trying to be helpful to others.   

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About Sebastian Rich

Sebastian Rich has been a photographer /cameraman in hard news, documentary and current affairs all his working life. He joined Independent Television News (UK) in 1980 and developed a gift for being in the right place at the right time on some of the world’s biggest breaking news stories; he gained a reputation not just as an uncompromising cameraman in the theatre of war but also as an insightful and highly talented photographer.

Jon Snow the highly regarded British television journalist, describes Sebastian in the forward of his first book ‘People I Have Shot’ as(“Probably the finest news cameraman and photographer of his time… his camera work is amongst the most sensitive I have ever witnessed” Jon Snow, Channel 4 News)

NBC News describes Sebastian as:
“The consummate professional, a seasoned veteran combat photographer.

He also recently received high acclaim and an award from the ‘Rory Peck Foundation’ for his work with U.S. Marine bomb disposal teams in Afghanistan.

Sebastian was honored with the prestigious Royal Television Society’s Cameraman of the Year award for his dramatic pictures of war and famine throughout Africa. Over the years he has been the personal cameraman to some of British television’s most highly respected journalists – Martin Bell, Jon Snow, Kate Adie, Sandy Gall, Trevor McDonald, and many American Network anchor. During his career Sebastian has filmed and photographed every major war and conflict: El Salvador, Northern Ireland, Afghanistan, Sudan, Ethiopia, Lebanon, The Gulf, Bosnia, Palestine, Iraq.He has been wounded several times, kidnapped and held hostage while on assignment in Beirut. One of the characteristics of Sebastian’s work is the poignant images of suffering children worldwide that he portrays most vividly in his footage and photographs. He left ITN in 1993 to pursue a freelance career as a photographer /cameraman, dividing his time between international television networks, independent film productions and print media.Sebastian is a favoured cameraman/ photographer with the French NGO Medicins Sans Frontiers, Save the Children, World Wildlife Foundation and United Nations Agencies, predominantly UNICEF/UNHCR. During the war in Iraq Sebastian was ‘embedded’ with the 2nd Battalion 8th Marines (USMC) a.k.a. ‘America’s Battalion” for the entire duration of hostilities. Sebastian is still documenting for numerous clients the subsequent ongoing conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan.

The United States Marine Corps gave Sebastian a honourable mention in ‘Dispatches’ for“An outstanding cool head under fire” and was awarded a ‘Combat Citation’ 

Sebastian has just finished his second book ‘Where Fools Rush In’ ( The Death of News) 

Tools and Resources

Sebastian Rich website

Instagram Account Hopefocus

Book: Refugee is available here. 

Black Sexuality & Your Relationship with Your Skin

Black Sexuality & Your Relationship with Your Skin

In this  dialogue  James and I speak about our relationship with our skin. Skin is what we hold the closest to us and for some of us it becomes the most confusing and conflict-ridden relationship.

The most recent racially charged brutalities happened after the recording of this episode however since the systemic oppression towards the people of color and minorities is not a new concept, there are pearls of wisdom that could be taken away from our conversation to sooth pains and give us a vision for the future. James is a Professor and Chair of the Counseling and Human Services Master of Human Services department at Lincoln University, he is the author of multiple scholarly papers and books including Lost and Found and he is the founding member and executive editor of the journal of black sexuality and relationship which is a world-renowned resource for practitioners.

We talk about James’ personal journey as a black man which inspired his professional career to bridge distances and create harmony within various communities.

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About Dr. James Wadley

Dr. James Wadley is Professor and Chair of the Counseling and Human Services Master of Human Services department at Lincoln University. As a scholar-practitioner, he is a licensed professional counselor and maintains a private practice in the States of Pennsylvania and New Jersey.

He is the founding editor of the scholarly, interdisciplinary journal, the Journal of Black Sexuality and Relationships (University of Nebraska Press). He is also the founder and Principal of the Association of Black Sexologists and Clinicians and his professional background in human sexuality education, educational leadership, and program development has enabled him to galvanize scholars and practitioners in the field of sexology across the world.

His research and publication interests include sexual decision making among young adults, masculinity development and conceptions of fatherhood by non-custodial fathers, and HIV/AIDS prevention. He has written undergraduate and graduate courses and authored twenty-two courses for the Master of Science in Counseling program for Lincoln University (PA). In addition, he recently co-authored thirteen doctoral level courses for the Theological Seminary of Puerto Rico. In 2015, Dr. Wadley earned his NBCC-International Mental Health Facilitator certification after spending time with Rwandan therapists discussing the impact of genocide and trauma in the early 1990’s. In 2016, he helped developed curricula and conducted a sexuality education course at the University of Muhimbili in Tanzania for the nursing and midwifery program. Later that year, he developed and taught an applied research methods course at Cape Peninsula University of Technology in Cape Town, South Africa. In 2017, Dr. Wadley’s work and advocacy domestically and abroad enabled him to complete his first documentary, Raw to Reel: Race, Drugs, and Sex in Trenton, New Jersey, which captures some of the challenges that emerge in addiction and recovery. Finally, in 2018, Dr. Wadley co-edited The Art of Sex Therapy Supervision (Routledge) which is a book devoted to the clinical experiences of supervisors and supervisees in the field of sex therapy. The book won AASECT’s 2019 Book of the Year Award. His new book, The Handbook of Sexuality Leadership: Inspiring Community Engagement, Social Empowerment, and Transformational Influence (Routledge) carves a new path for sexuality educators, counselors, and therapists in that it serves as an invitation for re-conceptualizing the consultative roles that sexuality professionals engage in.

Dr. Wadley received his Doctorate of Philosophy degree in Education from the University of Pennsylvania with a concentration in Educational Leadership and Human Sexuality Education. He earned a Master of Science in Education degree in School Psychology from the University of Kentucky after completing his B.A. in Psychology from Hampton University. Finally, he holds a clinical postgraduate certificate from Thomas Jefferson University/Council for Relationships in Philadelphia and is an AASECT Certified Sex Therapist Supervisor. These credentials and a wealth of domestic and international clinical experiences, has catapulted him to be one of the nation’s best marriage, family, and sexuality clinicians.

 

Being Transformed and Transferred through Technology

Being Transformed & Transferred through Technology

In this dialogue, Gaymon and I examine the question of how technology is shaping our identities and the way we relate its use to life, ourselves, and others around us. We talk about the importance of ‘space and place’ to make us grounded, and the power of imagination which can help us see what is possible in relation to moving us forward. 

Dr. Bennett’s work is a cross-sectional approach using technology, science, religion, and history; concepts that don’t necessarily come together in most settings and often are considered as contradictory to one another. In his book “Technicians of Human Dignity”, he examines the figure of human dignity in the 20th century. 

Technology was once considered an accessible tool in our hands to facilitate our lives. Over time, it has evolved to become a dominant force and lens through which we make meaning of our everyday lives. It has impacted the way we perceive, receive, and interpret the world around us, to then determine our state of being in the world. In a hopeful twist, we talk about a sense of agency, how the pandemic is changing the way we relate to technology, and how it is once again redefining the use of a tool that could serve us versus an intrusive one. 

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About Professor Gaymon Bennett

Gaymon Bennett is associate professor of religion, science, and technology at Arizona State University. He works on the problem of modernity in contemporary religion and biotechnology: its shifting moral economies, contested power relations, and uncertain modes of subjectivity. His book “Technicians of Human Dignity” (Fordham 2016) examines the figure of human dignity in 20th century international and religious politics and its current biopolitical reconfigurations. His co-authored book “Designing Human Practices: An Experiment with Synthetic Biology” (with P. Rabinow, Chicago, 2012) chronicles an anthropological experiment in ethics with engineers reimagining the boundary of biology and computation. And his co-authored “Sacred Cells? Why Christians Should Support Stem Cell Research” (with T. Peters and K. Lebacqz, Rowman & Littlefield, 2008) critically engages the early days of stem cell research and the unwitting role of religion in the secularization of life.

Gaymon has conducted multiple experiments in cross-disciplinary collaboration with contemporary biologists and bioengineers. He is a fellow of the Institute for the Future of Innovation in Society, and an affiliate faculty member wtih the Center for Jewish Studies, the School for the Future of Innovation in Society and the Lincoln Center for Applied Ethics at ASU. He is a co-founder and fellow of the Center for Biological Futures in the division of basic sciences at Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center. He is also a principal of ARC [Anthropological Research on the Contemporary] and was a founding co-designer of the Human Practices Initiative at the multi-university Synthetic Biology Engineering Research Center (SynBERC). He led Human Practices at the International Open Facility Advancing Biotechnology (BIOFAB) at Lawrence Berkeley National Labs. These experiments emphasize collaborative empirical inquiry, a shift from theory to shared concept work, and sustained attention to the culture and politics of knowledge production.

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Sex Sleep and Coupledom

Sex, Sleep and Coupledom

In this dialogue Dr. Blair and I talk about relationships with sleep and discuss how feelings about bedrooms, beds, and bed-partners can impact the quality of sleep. In our society, there is a stigma against couples that sleep in separate beds. The term ‘sleep divorce’ is a socialized term that stigmatizes the practice of sleeping independent of one’s partner. Contrary to popular opinion, most research shows that having a bed-partner can impact sleep quality. Some argue that it does have the potential to lead to a calmer state of mind and body; so you might fall asleep in a relaxed state. However it can also lead to a more disturbed and interrupted sleep. Dr. Blair joins me as a sex therapist and a sleep medicine specialist to highlight the importance of a healthy sleep pattern and its great impact on our intimate relationships and sex life. She invites us to look at our bedrooms as sanctuaries that need to be kept away from heavy conversations and stressful activities. She also offers practical tips for individuals and couples, as well as debunks commonly believed myths about sleep. She explains what disturbed sleeping patterns look like and advises when, where, and how to get help.

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About Dr. Britney Blair

Dr. Blair is a licensed clinical psychologist and is board certified in both sleep and sexual medicine. She is an invited speaker at venues around the globe and has published work in the areas of sleep and sexual medicine for the academic and popular press. Dr. Blair is a Stanford sleep consultant and is on the adjunct faculty at The Stanford Center for Sleep Sciences and Medicine.

Dr. Blair is the Co-Founder and Chief Science Officer of Lover, a digital platform designed to resolve sexual problems and optimize sexual wellness. She is also the Founder and Clinical Director at The Clinic, a multidisciplinary practice with locations across the bay area offering in- office and video appointments serving over 3,000 patients living in the State of California.

Dr. Blair completed her postdoctoral fellowship at Stanford University Medical School and her pre-doctoral internship at the VA Greater Los Angeles Health Care System. Dr. Blair received her doctoral degree in Clinical Psychology from the PGSP-Stanford Psy.D. Consortium. She received a bachelor’s degree from the University of California at Berkeley.

Tools and Resources

Certified Sleep clinicians

Lover, an app for sexual wellbeing of couples

The Clinic, multidisciplinary clinic for mental health service

Why do we have vivid dreams during the pandemic? 

What to do with your vivid dreams during the pandemic?

Surviving Harvey Weinstein

Surviving Harvey Weinstein

In today’s Little Black Fish episode, I engage in a dialogue with Rowena Chiu who was one of the critical figures who came forward, and vocalized her experience with Harvey Weinstein’s sex scandal. In this intimate and sensitive conversation, Rowena talks about her private experience of the abuse, the stages of emotions that followed, and how she rechanneled aspects of her experience to become an advocate for those who have endured sexual abuse. As a result of her experience she has become the voice of many, and proceeded to advocate for those who go unheard. We talk about the outcomes that arise from being a voice in this community, and how it can impact experience, as well as aid recovery. 

Sexual abuse is a tragic, life changing experience, that can alter various aspects of one’s life and endevors moving forward. Such an event has multifaceted repercussions, and can alter one’s relationship with their body as well as the way the individual and/or their partners redefine behaviors of physical intimacy. Through a psychological framework, I share the common symptoms of such disruption and the journey that follows, with the hope to validate individual experiences regardless of how they are perceived by others.

One of the main objectives of mental health is to find harmony within various roles and identities that we each hold. With this in mind, we discuss how this experience can alter how one proceeds in reshaping and redefining these aspects of themselves. Rowena discusses the intimate details of how her life has been affected by the experience, and how she is managing the upkeep of her multiple roles to keep balance in her everyday life. We talk about hopes and dreams, and share practical tools to help survivors come forward, seek support, and heal. 

 

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About Mrs. Rowena Chiu

Rowena Chiu, MA.MSc.MBA. worked as Assistant To Harvey Weinstein in 1998. After leaving the film industry, she has worked in the fields of management consulting (for Accenture in London, McKinsey & Company in Silicon Valley, and PricewaterhouseCoopers in Hong Kong) and international development (for the World Bank in Ethiopia, South Sudan & Washington DC). Rowena holds an MA in English Language & Literature from the University of Oxford, an MSc in International Management For China from the University of London, and an MBA from London Business School. She lives in Silicon Valley with her husband and four young children.