Monday, 26 May 2008

Nick Hornby - Slam - a brilliant book to read

I have just finished reading Nick Hornby's book Slam.  It is a brilliant book about families, relationships, sex and pregnancy that both young men and young women, their parents and carers and those of us working with young people can all enjoy, be touched by and learn from.   Go online and order it now!  

And remember if you are online shopping from many stores including amazon go through and Brook receives a percentage at no extra cost to you.

Wednesday, 21 May 2008

24-week limit intact

I waited for the vote on abortion time limits last night with what my family fondly describes as my 'Blake face'. That's the face I pull when numbers don't make sense or when I just don't get someone's point. I was sitting with a friend who was explaining that she, as a woman who supports choice, knows a 12-week time limit is ridiculous, yet was starting to believe there was science to back a reduction in the time limit.

My friend is a clever, discerning woman who supports women's right to choose and yet she had begun to believe the stories and she is far from being the only one.  Reporting about abortion and the time limit in recent months has, it seems, blurred the line between scientific fact and anti abortionist fiction for some of the general public.

So today at Brook, an agency that has as a core value the right to safe and legal abortion, we celebrate and applaud parliamentarians who chose science over dogma in support of women. We thank colleagues and friends who have worked tirelessly in recent months, and we are thinking seriously about what we need to do to ensure young people know the facts as they are, not as they have often recently been reported.

Sunday, 18 May 2008

Abortion - defend the 24 week time limit NOW

This week parliament will be voting on women's rights to abortion. Despite medical consensus that the time limit should stay at 24 weeks, there is a lot of anti-choice activity trying to reduce this time limit. This is not progressive, sensible or helpful for women. Any reduction in the time limit is only going to punish those people in the most difficult circumstances and will likely have a particular impact on young people.

If you read my previous blogs on abortion you will see some of the positive changes Brook would like to see and the reasons why.

Defend women's rights to 24 weeks - visit Brook's website to find out more about the bill going through parliament and visit to get your voice heard - if we don't speak out, women, and their partners in difficult circumstances will pay the price.

It may be 22 weeks they go for this time....what next 20 weeks, 18 weeks, 16 weeks....

I am proud to live in the UK and proud of our progress in securing sexual and reproductive rights for all - I hope to still be proud when this Bill is completed.

Friday, 9 May 2008

Is it really possible that a year has passed since National Condom Week 2007? Last year I suggested for at least one hour of National Condom Week you should answer condom in response to any question your friends, family and work colleagues asked. Children and Young People Now broke with their policy of advocating non-violent solutions, and predicted that if I tried it I would likely be punched. I took their advice and didn’t try it - but this year I might.

Meanwhile Brook has developed an exciting campaign ‘’ which is shown below. Young people told us they think the design is engaging, fun and eye catching. The campaign includes posters and postcards for use in youth clubs, schools, Pupil Referral Units and all health and sexual health services including general practice. is linked through to the Ask Brook service including our website with information about sex, sexuality and sexual health for young people under 25.

Find out more about the campaign and how to order the materials at or

Remember whatever the question, for the next week at least condom is the answer.

Thursday, 1 May 2008

Wet dreams, pornography, pleasure and shame

Earlier this week I attended a debate about pornography run by fpa ( in conjunction with the Women's Library. There were different views on whether pornography is good or bad (and whether some is good and some is bad - soft = good/hard = bad; heterosexual = bad because of gender inequality, gay and lesbian porn = not so bad because it might be educational). These arguments are perennial and the opinions endless. There was also lots of discussion about sex education, and the importance of improving sex education so young people do not have to rely on pornography to find out about sex. Of course it is important to improve sex education, to be more explicit about sex with young people so they understand how it works. Little room for argument there.

But that is only half of the story because beyond educational purposes many people watch pornography because they get pleasure from it and yet it can also make people embarrassed and ashamed.

When I worked with young men on a fpa project over a decade ago, one young man said, 'pornography is good for a wank, but I hide it.' Another said 'my mum had been washing my sheets when I had wet dreams and not saying anything, then she found my mags and left me a note saying I was dirty - how confusing is that?'

In an age of ever increasing access to pornography and a growing number of the You Tubers making their own porn, how do we as practitioners bring together the different perspectives of pleasure, pain, inequality and education in a way that makes sense for young people and help them think about pornography in interesting ways, and reflect on the distance between the sexual prowess, stamina and low level communication in porn, and the realities of everyday relationships and everyday lives.