The Dawn Chorus

Fresh Australian Feminism

Posts Tagged ‘research’

Sunrise Asks Its Viewers: “Are Women To Blame For Footballers Behaving Badly?”

Posted by Clem Bastow on October 6, 2008

Thanks to keen-eyed and early-rising reader Christine for the heads up on this little doozy: Channel Seven’s Sunrise (those storied social justice merchants) chose for their “soapbox” topic this morning, “Are Women To Blame For Footballers Behaving Badly?

I missed the on-air discussion so can make no comment about that, but here’s the website’s slug:

Scandals plagued all codes of football in Australia in the last year.

The worst incidents gaining national coverage were often blamed on alcohol or drug abuse, but could the women around the footballers be to blame?

A study called “Rogue men and predatory women – female fans’ perceptions of Australian footballers’ sexual conduct” has just been published in a Sociology journal with very revealing findings.

That introductory paragraph doesn’t bode well for the findings, does it? Said research revealed the following:

Read the rest of this entry »


Posted in Media Watch, Politics, Sex And Love, Sport | Tagged: , , , | 2 Comments »

Tick Tock Goes The Biological Clock

Posted by Clem Bastow on September 11, 2008

The idea of women having a ‘biological clock’ when it comes to having babies has long been a favoured punchline in the battle of the sexes (not to mention television situational comedy and chick lit). But is it a compelling reality (for some women) driven by, well, biology, or simply a societal pressure that has made its way into our collective subconscious? A group of NSW researchers seem to believe it’s the former:

The Garvan Institute of Medical Research is targeting professional Sydney women aged between 25 and 35, warning that maintaining a healthy lifestyle is not enough to preserve fertility, and IVF cannot be considered a fail-safe back-up plan.

Newtown gynaecologist Gabrielle Dezarnaulds said women have a fixed number of eggs to last them a lifetime and fertility drops sharply from the late 30s as the number and quality of eggs dwindle.

Success rates for assisted reproductive technology also decline the longer a woman’s biological clock has been ticking, she said.

“I’m not saying you should get pregnant before a set age, but go and chat to your GP, even if you’re not aiming to get pregnant immediately. Work out a time frame when you might start to, and if you are ready to have a baby, get on with it.”

Generally speaking, when research/opinions like these are aired, there is always a bristling amongst women (myself included) who sometimes feel it paints them as little more than baby factories who need to get cracking; the former Howard Government’s “one for you, one for the country” initiatives did little to ease these worries.

But is it worth considering what bearing waiting to have children may have on those of us who choose to have babies? There is something to be said about scientific (rather than societal) ideas of when the female body is most fertile. What are your thoughts on the issue – do you have a biological clock, and is it ticking?

Posted in Family, Media Watch, Sex And Love, Women's Health | Tagged: , , , , , | 7 Comments »

Your Daily Dose Of Pill-Hysteria-Based Pseudoscience

Posted by Clem Bastow on August 13, 2008

Attention ladies on the contraceptive pill: you might be missing out on meeting Mr Right because you can’t smell him! That’s right, this corker of a “study” has popped up (where else) in the Daily Mail. (The countdown to Samantha Brett waxing lyrical on the topic starts now.) Here are the “findings“:

Women are said to have an inbuilt ability to pick up the scent of a partner who differs genetically. Falling for this type of man helps ensure that the couple’s children will have broad immunity against disease, so the theory goes.

But researchers found that the Pill disrupts a woman’s power to recognise the aroma of a suitable partner.

Saddled with the wrong man – someone who in scientific terms has similar genes – she may find it hard to become pregnant and any children she does have may have a lower resistance to infection. What is more, when she stops taking the Pill and her sense of smell returns to normal, she’s more likely to fall out of love, the Liverpool and Newcastle universities research suggests. It is thought that women subconsciously use the smell of a man’s sweat as a guide to the genetic make-up of his immune system.

But this research shows that the Pill sends the rules of attraction into meltdown by making women set their sights on men similar to themselves.

To measure its effect, scientists asked a group of men to sleep in T-shirts and steer clear of deodorants and other fragranced products. The T-shirts were frozen until needed, then defrosted and placed in glass jars with ‘nose holes’ in the lids.

Almost 100 women then sniffed the shirts and gave their opinions on the ‘pleasantness’ and ‘ desirability’ of the odour twice over a three-month period. Many started taking the Pill during the experiment – and their opinions of the smell of the T-shirts changed, the journal Proceedings of the Royal Society B reports.

Mmm, the Proceedings of the Royal Society B! Isn’t that a hit Off-Off-Broadway cabaret? Is anyone else mildly amused at the thought of 100 women huffing on thawed-out t-shirts? Not to mention the bit about the Pill keeping women in some Stepford-esque state of permanent loviness until they stop taking it and then go off their partner.

Do you take the Pill? Have you sniffed out a suitable husband?

Posted in Media Watch, Women's Health | Tagged: , , , , | 7 Comments »

Could Viagra Help Women Suffering From Depression- Related Sexual Dysfunction?

Posted by Clem Bastow on July 25, 2008

While Viagra has become something of a punchline (ho ho, look at all the old codgers having heart attacks while macking!) it’s certainly been one of the “it” drugs of the past decade or so, and in some way, helped address stigmas associated with people over the age of, oh, 50 having active sex lives (newsflash, kids: they are still doing it!) – and some new research suggests the little blue pills could also assist women who are suffering from the sexual dysfunction that so often goes hand-in-hand with depressive illnesses.

A drop in libido levels is a common side-effect of antidepressant medicine, which often leads to women going off their medication sooner than they should, because they want to regain a sense of normalcy when it comes to their sex drive.

The women were told to take a pill one to two hours before sex for eight weeks. Half were given placebos pills which had no pharmacological effects.

Some 73 per cent of the women given placebos reported no improvement with treatment while only 28 per cent of the women taking Viagra said they did not notice an improvement, the study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association found.

Some of the women experienced headaches, flushing and indigestion but none of them withdrew from the trial because of side effects.

“By treating this bothersome treatment-associated adverse effect in patients who have been effectively treated for depression, but need to continue on their medication to avoid relapse or recurrence, patients can remain antidepressant-adherent, reduce the current high rates of premature medication discontinuation, and improve depression disease management outcomes,” wrote lead author George Nurnberg of the University of New Mexico School of Medicine.

This is encouraging news, especially when you consider the lack of compassion (let alone research) in the medical community when it comes to what happens to the female libido when certain medications are being taken (including the contraceptive pill; my article on that particular side-effect is here).

I wonder if the Viagra treatment would also work for women whose depression-related sexual problems are just due to depression full-stop, rather than antidepressant medicines, though? A lowered sex drive is a huge part of depression for many people (not just women). When I was at my darkest mood in a two-year period of particularly bad depression – which was treated with therapy, exercise and diet rather than anti-d’s – I had no sex drive whatsoever. At the time I had a lovely partner who I thought was completely gorgeous, but the libido was totally kaput; it was very confusing for both of us.

Either way, though, it’s heartening to see female sexuality and libido being taken seriously by the medical and research communities, but what are your experiences in this realm? Have you noticed a drop in libido while depressed, or being treated for depression? Did you have any ‘magic cures’ (chocolate, massage, vibrators, ’70s porn marathons?) or did you just ride it out?

Posted in Media Watch, Relationships, Sex And Love, Women's Health | Tagged: , , , , , | 1 Comment »

Partner Rape And The Police

Posted by Cate on July 15, 2008

Distrubing research has been published today about partner rape which reveals that many police consider partner rape to be a grey area, and that 1 in 5 police interviewed suggested that sexual offenses perpetrated by intimate partners should not be reported.

The research, titled “Raped by a partner: Nowhere to go, No-one to tell” is the publication of two years of solid research by by Women’s Health Goulburn North East and Upper Murray Centre Against Sexual Assault about partner rape including interviews with 21 women from the Goulburn Valley and north east Victoria; and interviews and focus groups with 30 police officers and 23 sector workers. I couldn’t help thinking of the notorious South Australian rape trial in 1992 where Justice Bollen said:

There is, of course, nothing wrong with a husband, faced with his wife’s
initial refusal to engage in intercourse, in attempting, in an acceptable
way, to persuade her to change her mind, and that may involve a measure
of rougher than usual handling. It may be that handling and
persuasion will persuade the wife to agree. Sometimes it is a fine line
between not agreeing, then changing of the mind, and consenting …
(R v Johns, Supreme Court, SA No. SCCRM/91/452, 26 August 1992.)

It is disturbing that we live in time when rape in marriage was legal less than a generation ago, a media campaign about sexual assault and violence against women takes 3 years to come to fruition only to be released in a watered down form, and rape is still used as a subject of amusement, satirical or otherwise. Why is rape a grey area? When I worked on a volunteer counselling line, I was asked quite a few times

“My boyfriend had sex with me when I was asleep… Is this rape?”

The Dawn Chorus would like to remind it’s readers that non-consensual sex is always a crime. Regardless of whether the offender is in an intimate relationship with the victim.

Let the onslaught of media talk-back/tabloid pundits spew forth their ill formed opinions and rhetoric about the fabrication of rape charges, but we all know that rape occurs daily, the victim most commonly knows their perpetrator, few rapes are reported, and ever fewer lead to prosecution.

People who can help:

  1. Centre Against Sexual Assault 1800 806 292
  2. Women’s Domestic Violence Crisis Line 1800 015 188
  3. Victoria Police 000 or your local Victoria Police Sexual Offences and Child Abuse Units

Posted in Media Watch, Politics, Relationships, Women's Health | Tagged: , , , | 2 Comments »