Sunday, 30 November 2008

Interesting reads

I have read two very different books over the last couple of weeks that are well worth a read;

Street Boys by Tim Pritchard which tells the story of 7 young men from London who get involved in crime.  This factual story gives a different perspective behind the guns and drugs stories we read about daily. It is challenging because it brings you face to face with horrible events that none of us would wish for young people, and it again reminds us of the importance of love and care in the early years and how we play russian roulette with children's lives when they do not get this.

Friends like these by Danny Wallace which is easy reading, and gives a warm feeling as it inevitably takes you on a nostalgic journey through your past and may even get you reaching for facebook or friends reunited to find some of your old buddies. 

Friday, 28 November 2008

Clitoris - part of the body or dirty word?

I was surprised to read on the Independent Mind’s website yesterday that the word ‘clitoris’ is on a list of words banned from Google’s safe search option, but ‘penis’ and ‘scrotum’ both bring up millions of results.

As Catherine Townsend who wrote the piece says, clitoris isn’t a slang word, it’s the proper word for a sexual organ, and if penis and scrotum are deemed safe words then so too should clitoris. I have always been impressed by Google's ethical approach and sensible attitude towards sexual matters. I look forward to the director's response to find out just exactly when clitoris became a slang word. Yet another reminder of the continuing job we still have ahead of us to change people’s perceptions or make sure that we don't fall into age old stereotypes and prejudice.

Monday, 17 November 2008

Men and aquarobics

I went to Tenerife on holiday a few weeks ago - determined that I would see some sun before the nights finally drew in.  The sun did shine and the hotel was perfect with lots of pool side activities, mostly for children, with a few for the adults.  

Each day the adults were encouraged to do aqua gym (most commonly known as aquarobics) at 12 noon, by which time, a notorious fidget starts getting a little bit bored of just lying in the sun, so i was thrilled to be asked and jumped up.  Now I like to think of myself as pretty confident about who I am,  happy to try it all out, and it was hot sitting next to the pool, i wanted to get in it.  But something stopped me plunging into the pool on day one - there were no other men doing it - so it was back to my book, and pleading with my partner to go and jet or water ski (again).  

On day two, I watched again, and was relieved to find there were two men doing it - ok they weren't doing it properly, they were just bouncing around with their children on their back but they were doing it, and so I was able to join it.  And it was great - real 80s remixed dance tunes - and it was hard work - as long as you did it properly - which I was determined to do.

Day three there were four men in the pool.  I have a tendency to want to win - whoever said its taking part that matters....but I did think i had outgrown some of these tendencies, but the competition between us was incredible.  The high leg kicks, the strong sweeps through the water which were, at least in my case, starting to hurt, but something unspoken, something learnt, forced each other on.   

Meanwhile a group of primary aged boys had gathered to laugh at us.  Given my interest in young men and sexual health, I was interested at what i learnt about myself, and reminded that nature or nurture, primary school boys know pretty early that call it what you like aqua gym/aquarobics ain't something men should be doing, and that is why an understanding of gender has to lie at the heart of all we do in sex education and service provision. 

Friday, 7 November 2008

Nominations for Brook Awards opened

Last year we launched the Excellence in Sexual Health Awards. The awards dinner was a lively, interesting and fun night – a real opportunity to celebrate what is good and exciting about sexual health and young people. In their second year we want to hear from people who are proud of what they have achieved, who have learned to share with others and who are really making a difference. If that sounds like you, your team, or someone you work with, find out more about the awards by visiting You can nominate on-line, it takes between 5 and 10 minutes and the deadline for entry is December 15th 2008.

We are also really excited to announce that the awards dinner, taking place on the 5th March 2009 at the Oval Conference Centre in Central London, will be hosted by Matt Rawle, star of the hit musical "Zorro" in London's West End. We are delighted to welcome Matt as a new Brook Ambassador. Ole'!!