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Spreading the message of Ellen Laan: In pursuit of sexual pleasure

1h 28m

Marieke Dewitte

Clinical Psychologist & Sexologist
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Content and aim: It is remarkable that men and women experience sexual pleasure differently while their sexual system is organized similarly. The commonly observed pleasure gap between men and women is not biologically driven and thus needs to be approached from a biopsychosocial perspective. Ellen Laan made it her lifework to promote a positive approach on sexual health and advocated the idea that the experience of sexual pleasure is embedded in a gendered context in which heterosexual women’s sexual pleasure is generally subordinated to heterosexual men’s. To further promote sexual pleasure in our clinical and educational activities, it is important to gain deeper insight into the basic mechanisms of sexual desire, arousal and orgasm and to have an overview of gender differences and similarities in the capacity and opportunities to experience sexual pleasure as approached from a biopsychosocial perspective. This talk will address the societal and clinical implications of this view, emphasize the importance of shifting our focus from gender differences to gender similarities, and provide suggestions on how to arrive at gender equality in sexual pleasure.

Learning objectives: The participants will be guided on:

1.Understanding the biopsychosocial determinants of sexual responding and sexual pleasure.

2.Understanding that gender differences in sexual pleasure are due to differences in the opportunities rather than the capacities towards sexual pleasure.

3.Understanding the need to focus on gender similarities in sexual experiences rather than gender differences.

4.Implications of a sex-positive approach for clinical practice as well for prevention-and educational activities.

Produced in 2022

Marieke Dewitte

Clinical Psychologist & Sexologist

Marieke Dewitte is a clinical psychologist-sexologist who had her training in Belgium and The Netherlands and completed her PhD at Ghent University, Belgium. She currently works as assistant professor at the Department of Clinical Psychological Science of the University of Maastricht, The Netherlands.

She teaches several courses and workshops on sexual responding at the university and in post-academic sexology trainings. Her research involves psychophysiological studies on basic mechanisms of sexual functioning, gender differences, interpersonal dynamics, dyadic interactions between partners, and attachment in relation to sexual responding.  The main focus of her research is on the sexual interaction between partners. Her clinical (research) focus is on female genital pain. She also worked as sex therapist at Ghent University Hospital and now at Maastricht University Hospital. She is editor-in-chief of the Dutch Journal of Sexology and Secretary General of ESSM.

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