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Sexual issues explored in new book

MEDIA RELEASE 17/1/06

Sexual issues explored in new book

In advertising, in the news, as part of our identity... sexuality is both inescapably public as well as fundamentally private.

In Sexuality Down Under: Social and Historical Perspectives historians and sociologists explore issues of sexuality and society. Editors Allison Kirkman and Pat Moloney have gathered contributions discussing a range of issues, from sexuality and Pacific peoples, to the impact of Viagra and art controversies including the 'Virgin in a Condom'.

New Zealand's sexual history is not a straightforward march from repression to liberation. And, rather than being seen as inherent in human beings, attitudes towards sexuality are regarded as historically specific ways of thinking about and controlling reproductive organs and bodily pleasure. In this book, historians look at how sexuality was understood and expressed in the past and why that might differ from today, while the social scientists complement this material by building a picture of contemporary attitudes and behaviours.

There are some startling insights. Jan Jordan analyses rape allegations and the often-sceptical response by New Zealand police officers. Their perceptions of rape and sex generally echo more closely accounts from the men accused of rape than they did descriptions of rape provided by women.

The New Zealand teenage birth rate is the third highest in the OECD. Barbara Collins explores the sexual knowledge and experiences of teenage mothers. She analyses the risk factors in the lives of young women who get pregnant, and how their understandings, beliefs and attitudes towards sexual activity and contraceptive use contributed to the likelihood of pregnancy.

Prostitution law reform continues to be controversial. Libby Plumridge explores the different experiences of street workers and prostitutes working from parlours or private premises. Parlour and escort workers try to approach commercial sex as a human encounter. In contrast, street workers experience fear in a workplace that is violent and dangerous.

Sexuality Down Under is published by Otago University Press.


About the Editors
Allison Kirkman is a senior lecturer in Sociology; Pat Moloney senior lecturer in Political Science. Both are from Victoria University of Wellington.

ENDS

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