Brief overview of the SSSS conference – Sunday

1. Phillip’s Sextuple, Because Size Matters (When Reporting Findings)

I’m going to be honest that I haven’t taken Statistics in a long time and I think I would have needed to take a much higher level course to be able to follow everything in this presentation. However, the presenter still made a very good case for why researchers should use his method of explaining statistical results in their papers. He gave an example at the beginning of the presentation where he showed us three pieces of data and asked us which of them showed a significant finding and everyone voted, using their own trains of thought to try and determine what the numbers meant. Well of course in this first example the numbers were all a telling of the same data just using different excepted methods for reporting. It wasn’t hard to see how, based on what you wanted the data to say, you might choose one or another method to make the numbers look like the supported your thesis. Anyway, 30 minutes and a lot of math later he asked us to look at the results from three studies with all of their numbers expressed with his method of reporting and, lo and behold, we could all tell pretty well what the numbers meant and if they suggested a significant finding.

What I really appreciated about this is that, even though when I do get around to publishing research and doing my thesis I’ll work with an expert in stats to help me with all the numbers, I can tell them that I want to see the numbers expressed in the way that was described in this presentation (luckily the presenter provided a copy of notes because my notes did not do the process justice) and it will help me understand the numbers better, too, and make sure that they really are saying what I think they’re saying.

2. Women’s Fantasies and their Language of Love

This presentation was given by Anthony Boegart, who has also written several papers on asexuality and is apparently working on a book on the subject (more about that later). I’ll need to read the paper on this to understand it better but essentially it was about how important it is for many women to feel desirable and attractive. One theme that I picked up from this presentation (it might have also been the next presentation, they all kind of ran together) was that men are shallow and women know it, so they feel a lot of pressure to look attractive where as women are more interested in finding a partner with a certain type of personality and level of resources (heh). I thought some of the research methods were a little questionable but it was still all good food for thought. What I appreciated most about this presentation is that it was the only presentation where the presenter consistently used “sexual or romantic attraction” consistently (suggesting that feeling desirable/desired by your parter- even if not necessarily sexually desirable was important regardless of the relationship type). I would very much like to see more presenters make a distinction between romantic and sexual attraction when appropriate.

3. Mediating Mechanisms in the Relationship between Body Image and Sexual Well-Being among Women in Relationships with Men

This presentation was about how important it is for women to have a healthy body image of themselves because many women report not fully enjoying sex because they’re distracted thinking about how they look during sex, and also because if they don’t think they look attractive, no matter what their partner tells them, it’s more difficult for them to get aroused (that may have been from the previous presentation, they were pretty similar). I’ll read the paper when it gets published and if there is more that is relevant here I’ll write more but I think the findings were pretty much what would be expected, just backed up with a lot of research.

4. Revolutionizing the Sexual Climate in Our Nation and Around the World

This presentation was given by Joycelyn Elders and it was an honor to hear her speak. I’m going to provide some direct quotes below and talk about them a little:

“Honesty, education, and empowerment – we need all these things in order to be able to act responsibly”

“46% of births last year were unplanned”

“if you can’t control your reproduction, you can’t control your life.”

Joycelyn Elder’s 5 H Club: Children who go to bed Hungry, Children who grow up without Health Care, Children who grow up Homeless, Children who can find drugs more easily than Hugs, children who are Hopeless.

“If we had used the time spent on preventing abortion on creating better health care just imagine the health care we could have!”

and my favorite, from her grandmother: “Common sense is the sense that everyone has to keep the other five senses from acting a fool.”

Dr. Elders was a very impassioned speaker and I really appreciated her instance that *everyone* be given good sexual health information, that no one should be overlooked because that is how misinformation spreads.

A lot of her speech was geared towards motivating educators so I won’t recount all of her words here but I will say that she was very inspirational for me and definitely reaffirmed my desire to be in this field. With better education abortions would be less in demand, disease would be less prevalent, people could make better decisions about what’s right for them and have more confidence that they are making informed decisions. Education is and always has been the key- to everything.

I appreciated her concern for the many children we have in this country that we already can’t take care of and I recently watched Freakonomics (also a great book) and they had a video that outlined the data about what happens when unwanted children grow up, you can watch the video below (if the embedding worked correctly) or at this link: http://youtu.be/zCH_OewK_KI

<– See notes from Saturday

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