Three Observations About Sex And Culture In Europe

Three Observations About Sex And Culture In Europe

I recently finished teaching a study abroad course on Sexuality and Culture in the Netherlands. After the course was over, I did some personal travel around Europe, with stops in Germany, the Czech Republic, and France. While the latter part of the trip was mostly a vacation, my sex researcher brain was in full gear the whole time (it always is!). At several points, I couldn’t help but be reminded of just how dramatically different sexual attitudes are in Europe compared to the United States. Here are just a few of the many things I noticed on this trip:

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What I Learned From An Afternoon With Two 77-Year-Old Sex Workers

What I Learned From An Afternoon With Two 77-Year-Old Sex Workers

As part of the study abroad course I’m teaching on Sex and Culture in the Netherlands, I booked us a tour of Amsterdam’s Red Light District with the famous Fokken twins, Louise and Martine. The Fokken sisters have been employed as sex workers for over a half-century and the day we met just happened to be their 77th birthday. In addition to answering our questions, they talked with us about what it’s like to be a sex worker and how they’ve seen the business change over time. Here are a few of the most interesting parts of our conversation:

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Why Dutch Teens Have Better Sexual Health Than American Teens

Why Dutch Teens Have Better Sexual Health Than American Teens

This week in my study abroad course on sex and culture in the Netherlands, we're focusing on cross-cultural differences in sexual health and sex education. As a starting point, we're reviewing some statistics that highlight how dramatically different teens’ sexual health outcomes are in the Netherlands relative to the U.S. Check out the infographic below for a quick overview, which shows that teen girls in the Netherlands have much lower rates of pregnancy, birth, and abortion. Below, we’ll discuss why.

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Sex Laws in the Netherlands

Sex Laws in the Netherlands

I've been researching sex laws in the Netherlands as part of the study abroad course on sex and culture that I'm teaching. One of the ways sex laws in the Netherlands are unique compared to the US is that prostitution and brothels are legal and regulated by the government--but you probably already knew that. So here are a few other legal differences that might be new to you. 

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Do Sex Workers Have Better Mental Health In Cultures Where Prostitution Is Legal?

Do Sex Workers Have Better Mental Health In Cultures Where Prostitution Is Legal?

Today in my study abroad course on sex and culture in the Netherlands, we're focusing on sex work, especially the link between prostitution and mental health. Many studies have been conducted on the mental health of people (mostly women) who sell sex for a living. Most of this research has found that female sex workers suffer from rates of depression, anxiety, and PTSD that are much higher than the rest of the female population. However, virtually of all of this research is based on studies of female sex workers who live in countries where prostitution is illegal.

So what about places, like the Netherlands where sex work is permitted under the law?

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I'm Studying Sex in the Netherlands For the Next Two Weeks!

I'm Studying Sex in the Netherlands For the Next Two Weeks!

Greetings from Amsterdam! For the second year in a row, I’m teaching a study abroad course on Sexuality and Culture in the Netherlands. Today is the first full day of my two-week course, and I couldn't be more excited. Amsterdam is, of course, an awesome city—but it’s also a fascinating place to teach students about cross-cultural differences in sexuality for a couple of weeks.

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What Sex Laws Look Like in the Netherlands

What Sex Laws Look Like in the Netherlands

As part of the study abroad course I’m currently teaching on Sex and Culture in the Netherlands, I’ve done some research into what sex laws look like over here. As I wrote in previous posts about this class, two of the ways that laws in the Netherlands are unique compared to the United States are that prostitution is legal and comprehensive sex education is mandated. However, those are just a couple of the most interesting differences. Here are a few more:

1.) Sex and the disabled. The Netherlands doesn’t just have legal prostitution—they also have government-subsidized prostitution for certain segments of the population. Specifically, disabled citizens are eligible to receive government assistance to hire sex workers. Why? Because sex is seen as a right—something that everyone who wants to participate in should be able to enjoy. Also, it’s something that’s seen as good for people’s mental and physical health.

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Why Teens Have Better Sexual Health in the Netherlands than the US

Why Teens Have Better Sexual Health in the Netherlands than the US

The next unit in my Amsterdam study abroad course focuses on sexual health and sex education. As a starting point, I shared some statistics with my students highlighting just how dramatically different teens’ sexual health outcomes are in the Netherlands compared to the United States. So that you can get some sense of this, too, I’ve put together the infographic below, which reveals that teen girls in the Netherlands have far lower rates of pregnancy, birth, and abortion. Below, we’ll discuss why.

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What Legalized Prostitution Looks Like in the Red Light District

What Legalized Prostitution Looks Like in the Red Light District

What would it be like if prostitution were legal? If you're from the United States or any other part of the world where sex work is (largely) prohibited by law, this might be a very difficult thing to imagine. However, if you look to countries where sex work is legal today, you can see that there are actually several different forms it can take. For example, in Switzerland, they’ve opened up drive-in sex garages, which you can learn more about here. And in the Netherlands (where I'm teaching a study abroad course on sex and culture at the moment), they have walk-up sex windows in the Red Light District.

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Two Weeks of Learning About Sex and Culture in Amsterdam = Best Class Ever

Two Weeks of Learning About Sex and Culture in Amsterdam = Best Class Ever

Hello from Amsterdam! Today is the first day of a class I’m teaching on Sexuality and Culture in the Netherlands. I’m confident I could not have picked a better place to teach my very first study abroad course. Amsterdam is, well, just an awesome city—but it’s also a fascinating place to go learn about cross-cultural differences in sexuality for a couple of weeks. Here's why.

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What It’s Really Like To Be a Sex Worker in the Red Light District

What It’s Really Like To Be a Sex Worker in the Red Light District

What does legalized prostitution look like? For people in the United States--and other parts of the world where the sale of sex is illegal--it might be difficult to imagine. However, when you look to countries where sex work is permitted by law, you can see that there are actually several different forms it can take.

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