Iconic Dr Ruth delivers something a little different at CSW 2010

By YWCA of Canberra CEO, Rebecca Vassarotti

As week two heads into the difficult negotiation stage, CSW delivered something different today with a session involving Dr Ruth Westhhimer, the iconic  psychosexual therapist, who pioneered speaking frankly about sexual matters.

At a lunch time panel discussion, hosted by the Mission of Panama, delegates were treated to the wisdom of Dr Ruth, as she shared her experience, the evidence and her perspectives around working with individuals and couples on issues around sexual relationships.

Some of the words of wisdom shared with the room included:

  • the importance of all people to understand what is right for them sexually (and otherwise) in the context of their values, beliefs and where they are at.  She stressed the importance of people understanding this for themselves, rather than being pressured to confirmed to a particular view or behaviour
  • the importance of cultural understanding in terms of norms, and particularly education.  She noted that when working in the area of sexual and reproductive health, it is vital that people delivering this education are within the culture and understand the cultural norms operating within the communities they are working in.  She noted that when working in communities, educators must understand the diversity of beliefs, understandings and myths operating in cultures in order to be effective
  • the importance of consent, and for both parties to be comfortable with activity.  However, once there is consent, people should feel free to express themselves in the privacy of their own homes
  • the importance of focusing on relationship when responding to sexual and other health matters.  Issues should be worked through together, and both partners should be involved in decisions around sexual health

This was a great session, where significant information around working on issues of great cultural sensitivity was delivered with great humour, humility and authority.  It was a session I would not have expected to be part of CSW but one that was greatly enjoyed.