Preliminary Programme

Wed 18 March
    08.30 - 10.30
    11.00 - 13.00
    14.00 - 16.00
    16.30 - 18.30

Thu 19 March
    08.30 - 10.30
    11.00 - 13.00
    14.00 - 16.00
    16.30 - 18.30

Fri 20 March
    08.30 - 10.30
    11.00 - 13.00
    14.00 - 16.00
    16.30 - 18.30

Sat 21 March
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    11.00 - 13.00
    14.00 - 16.00
    16.00 - 17.00

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Wednesday 18 March 2020 08.30 - 10.30
U-1 HEA15 Activism around Sexual and Reproductive Health Counselling across Europe: Forms of Resistance and (De-)medicalisation from Below
Reuvensplaats 4, 201A
Networks: Health and Environment , Sexuality Chair: Wendy Kline
Organizers: Yuliya Hilevych, Agata Ignaciuk, Caroline Rusterholz Discussant: Wendy Kline
Silvia Armenteros Fuentes : Sex Therapy in Spain in the 1980s and 1990s and the Emergence of Asexual Activism
From the 1980s onwards, the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental disorders (DSM) has framed the lack or absence of sexual fantasies and sexual desire as ‘sexual dysfunctions’, and therefore, clinical issues which require intervention. This has contributed to the invisibilisation and pathologisation of non-normative ways of experiencing desire. At ... (Show more)
From the 1980s onwards, the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental disorders (DSM) has framed the lack or absence of sexual fantasies and sexual desire as ‘sexual dysfunctions’, and therefore, clinical issues which require intervention. This has contributed to the invisibilisation and pathologisation of non-normative ways of experiencing desire. At the same time, paradoxically, it boosted the emerging (non) sexual orientations as it is the case of asexuality. Since the beginning of the 21th century, asexuality, defined by the asexual movement as the lack or absence of sexual attraction towards other people, has been re-claimed by a new social movement which rejects the medicalisation of sexuality and promotes non-normative sexualities as legitimate identities. The online community AVEN (Asexual Visibility and Education Network) has been at the core of this social movement.

In the Spanish context, the science and activism around asexuality has been understudied. My paper explores the Spanish scientific and medical discourses on ‘sexual problems’ between the 1980s and 1990s, by focusing on the representations and debates around ‘sexual problems’, also medically conceptualised as ‘sexual dysfunctions’, and the sex therapy regarding these. In order to do so, I analyse medical, sexology and psychology journals from IME and ISOC, two Spanish databases containing medical, social sciences and humanities data. I also explore early activism arising to counter these treatments and therapies and the spaces in which this activism materialised. (Show less)

Yuliya Hilevych : From Fertility Awareness to Infertility Consciousness: the Emergence of Infertility Awareness Grassroots in Britain in Late 1970s-80s
“Have you got children?” is the opening sentences of the book ‘Unfocused grief’(1977) written by Peter and Diane Houghton, the founders of the National Organisation of the Childless (NAC) in 1976 in Birmingham, and whose work is today continued by the Fertility Network UK. NAC was the first organisation in ... (Show more)
“Have you got children?” is the opening sentences of the book ‘Unfocused grief’(1977) written by Peter and Diane Houghton, the founders of the National Organisation of the Childless (NAC) in 1976 in Birmingham, and whose work is today continued by the Fertility Network UK. NAC was the first organisation in Britain, similar to its American counterpart RESOLVE, that wanted to ‘focus awareness on the need for improved medical treatment of infertility, for better adoption and fostering services and for an acceptance of the childless in the society’ (Houghton & Houghton, 1977). Emerged just before the invention of in-vitro fertilisation (1978), the role of NAC became crucial in late 1970s and through the 1980s in lobbying for the rights of infertile couples, most notably for the provision of infertility counselling.

Based on the analysis of published materials by the organisation and its members, their radio and published media appearances, and oral history interviews with its former members and affiliates, in this talk I will discuss on what premises did this organisation emerge, what it pledged for, and what kind of awareness about infertility did it popularise. The main intervention of this talk is to show how similarly to the family planning movement of the early 20th century, whose role was instrumental for the promotion of fertility awareness, NAC could be seen as instrumental for the emergence of infertility consciousness in the later decades of the 20th century. (Show less)

Agata Ignaciuk : “Do not use - Love”. Sexual and Contraceptive Expertise and Anti-abortion Activism in Catholic Preparation for Marriage in Poland during Late Socialism
The legalization of abortion in Poland in 1956 and the ensuing public health campaign popularizing contraception met with virulent opposition from the Catholic hierarchy. As executors of this state-socialist policy, doctors were the initial target of the Polish Catholic Church’s attempts to counter the abortion law, framed as a direct ... (Show more)
The legalization of abortion in Poland in 1956 and the ensuing public health campaign popularizing contraception met with virulent opposition from the Catholic hierarchy. As executors of this state-socialist policy, doctors were the initial target of the Polish Catholic Church’s attempts to counter the abortion law, framed as a direct threat to both the Church and the Polish nation as a whole. As this strategy was only partially successful, a different approach was taken: the mainstreaming and intensification of marriage preparations in accordance with the Church hierarchy’s strong anti-contraception stance. From the mid-1960s onwards – and especially after publication of the encyclical Humanae Vitae in 1968, through which the Polish hierarchy reaffirmed its anti-contraception stance – the Church promoted the institutionalization of episcopal and local chaplaincies for families. These were intended to prepare children, the youth (“long term preparation”) and fiancées (“short term preparation”) for Catholic marriage, while simultaneously defining the very idea of what “Catholic marriage” should mean to the masses of believers. From the 1970s, priests and the laity (including Catholic intellectuals and female fertility awareness instructors) provided guidance through catechesis and talks delivered in schools and parish meeting halls, as well as specific courses for couples planning a Catholic wedding (a substantial majority throughout the state-socialist period). These courses constituted perhaps the most widespread form of sex education and couples’ therapy Polish society had been exposed to. My paper explores the expertise on sex and contraception interwoven into this training during the 1970s. To do so, I analyse unpublished texts produced in a number of Polish Archdioceses during this decade, by and for secular and non-secular marriage preparation instructors. I conclude that the sexual expertise emerging from this material is centred around – and subordinated to – the paradigms of fertility awareness and foetal personhood. Both paradigms were essential tools in mainstreaming the anti-abortion and anti-contraception stance taken by the Polish hierarchy throughout the state-socialist period. I argue that this sexual and contraceptive expertise and its dissemination were key early tactics by the burgeoning Polish anti-abortion movement, which gained significant momentum during the early 1990s and eventually secured severe restrictions on access to abortion in Poland. (Show less)

Caroline Rusterholz : Between Activism and Counselling, the Brook Advisory Centres and Youth Sexuality in Britain (1965-1985)
From 1964 onwards, the Brook Advisory Centres (BAC) were the first centres to provide contraceptive and sexual advice to young people in Britain. This paper uses public health campaigns and sexual counselling developed by BAC as a case study to analyse how BAC members helped young people to make ‘responsible’ ... (Show more)
From 1964 onwards, the Brook Advisory Centres (BAC) were the first centres to provide contraceptive and sexual advice to young people in Britain. This paper uses public health campaigns and sexual counselling developed by BAC as a case study to analyse how BAC members helped young people to make ‘responsible’ decisions about their sexual life from the opening of the first BAC in London to the outset of the AIDS crisis.

Drawing on archival material from the Wellcome library, medical journals, oral history interviews and mass media, this paper shows how proactive BAC members were to reach the targeted population and the outreach strategies they developed to inform and teach young clients how to ‘behave’ in a way that met the sexual norms conveyed by BAC, namely protected sexual intercourse in steady relationship. However, BAC members faced a great deal of obstruction in their undertaking. Pushbacks from Independent Broadcast Authorities and conservative lobbies, in particular the Responsible Society, made it difficult to publicise the work of BAC and circulate information on contraception. By analyses the forms and content of public health campaign and sexual counselling, this paper shows how creative and committed BAC members were in circumventing these obstacles
. (Show less)



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