#8: Sexual Health as Lifestyle Product 

Is fixing the problem as simple as Add to Cart?

  
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Hi, thank you for reading! I’m Jeannette and (wow!) I managed to make it to the 8th issue of The Sex Beat, a fortnightly (for now) newsletter about sex. I’m constantly experimenting / exploring so if you have feedback, I’d love to hear it (hit reply!). 


After I sold my first business two years ago, I began exploring the idea of offering a birth control pill subscription service. It wasn't a new idea; there are other birth control delivery services. However, none of them shipped to Malaysia and at the time, there was no one else in Malaysia offering anything similar, presumably because of the potential legal and religious challenges. Even initial conversations with my lawyer (about pharmaceutical regulations) were discouraging. 

Throughout the months I worked on this idea, one of the things I struggled with was how to create a service that was tailored to each individual, while maintaining sustainability (in terms of profits) and scale. For this and other reasons, including pharmaceutical regulations, I put this idea on hold until I could figure out a way to make it work.

Fast forward to today: There still isn’t a service like that for women, but I’m beginning to see more lifestyle-ish sexual health services for men. And these seem to be offering packages and products that one can simply Add to Cart, even before consultation with a doctor. 

I’m not against modern medicine (prescription drugs ftw 😝) but a big part of me wonders how effective one-size-fit-all treatments can be. I also wonder if medications are sometimes used as a quick fix because we’re just too impatient to make lifestyle changes, which may be more likely to fix the problem at its source.

As part of exploring this topic further, I talked to Dr Andrew Yap from The Red Clinic. He does a lot of work in sexual health in Malaysia, is an executive committee member of the Malaysian Society of HIV Medicine (MASHM) and part of the HIV Connect face-to-face GP training faculty. He is also involved in MyPreP, a pilot study of HIV Pre-exposure Prophylaxis in Malaysia. 

Listen to the episode (👆) or read the transcript.  


On Pornography:

Western hegemony extends to porn genres

It’s the 21st century and we’re more conscious of the different influencing powers acting on us. And yet, we sometimes fail to notice the racism in mundane things like metadata information. (Thanks for the link, Rishad!) 

On tube sites, metadata (data on data) is a kind of digital label that allows categorisation of videos so that users can find them easily. It’s telling that in spite of how globalised we might be today, we still see “ethinic” labels like “interracial” and “ebony” 🤮

In another book I’m reading – Merchants of Culture – John B. Thompson writes that “development and implementation of new technologies are always part and parcel of a broader set of social relations” and that “outcomes are shaped as much by structures of power as they are by the intrinsic properties of technologies as such”. This is one of the reasons I’m a proponent of diversity in tech development, especially in Artificial Intelligence. 

Speaking of AI…

New tech = New pornography

But it isn’t always a good thing. Now that it’s so easy to make deepfake videos, it’s also becoming easier to make deepfake pornography. Apparently, 90-95% of deepfake videos on the Internet are non-consensual porn and unsurprisingly most of them are of women. It has happened to celebrities, as well as people who are not as famous (who probably have less power to challenge the producers of those deepfakes). 

As an aside: It’s no wonder mental health is more of an issue these days. It’s so hard to even tell what’s real anymore.

Do you have news / information / tips on pornography to share? Hit reply!  


Reading / Watching:

Real (2017). It seemed quite experimental and is probably not for everyone. However, what was more shocking to me was the super graphic sex scenes and not the “artsy” type you might see in a movie like Shame (2011). I have mostly been watching Korean dramas and even the few movies I have seen do not have such pornographic scenes. Some cursory research (on Reddit) seems to indicate that this is normal for Korean movies. 

The Signification of the Phallus.I’ve been reading and re-reading this chapter in Jacques Lacan’s Écrits, as well as using other supplementary readings and chats with my supervisor to make sense of this. Have I mentioned that I’m a masochist? Well, there you go. 


I’m trying something new this week, by adding a podcast element and a new section on pornography. What do you think? 

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