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Put 'sexy back in safer sex'

Wendy Knerr, From the Pleasure Project

The Pleasure Project is an educational, advocacy and research initiative that is using sexual education and erotica to put the “sexy back in safer sex”.  The goal of the Pleasure Project, as Ms. Knerr explains:

“We’re trying to build a bridge between people’s real sex lives and the health world that is trying to help people stay healthy. We feel there is a massive gap between the public health world and  the sex world of pornography and sex work- that divide is  what we’ve been trying to fill.”

The Pleasure Project has achieved great success with over forty seven organizations around the world incorporating the Pleasure Project’s methodology of using pleasure and erotica to promote safe sex. This includes projects in Nigeria and Mozambique, which are using churches and faith based communities to encourage safe sex within marriages. While these programs are isolate and involve a great amount of secrecy  they have received great reactions from the people they are working with and from the people within the community. And while organizations, like those in  Nigeria and Mozambique, reveal a fear of having their pleasure approach revealed to their government or church funders, Ms. Knerr explains that a greater fear exists:

“Our  experience has been that it is often our own fear of people’s reactions that causes as big of a problem as anything else. We have found that incorporating  an evidence based approach to the pleasure approach is really effective and in many cases is more effective than a bio medical approach. Furthermore, the more we build on that base of information and evidence the more we get to know it, the more confident we become in what we’re doing, and the easier it is to override that fear of other people’s reactions.”

The Pleasure Project’s message is applicable to the Universal Access to the Female Condom Campaign.  As Ms. Knerr describes:

“The Universal Access to the Female Condom Campaign needs to find out how to insert pleasure into what their doing to create a stronger message and to approach the female condom, in particular, as a whole new exciting sex toy that works to  improve your sex life in addition to keeping you healthy. This is in opposition to the approach that advertises the female condom as a new medical device. Furthermore, it’s proven that sex sells and we know this from the marketing and advertising world. We are saying, why aren’t we selling safe sex with sex? This approach can be used to promote the usage of the female condom. Moreover, by using this approach  people can be persuaded to use  the female condom because using it  is going to make them sexy and exciting- its going to feel fantastic and their partner is going to be thrilled.”

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