Sex for all
Sonia Kolesnikov-Jessop, Singapore
Singaporeans have been getting hot in their bedrooms recently. No, there's nothing wrong with the nation's air conditioning; that's as frigid as ever. But it seems that couples have been persuaded to do their national duty - and the result is a 3 per cent increase in the number of babies born between May and July, compared with last year.
Obviously, the lure of a few dollars in tax breaks (announced last August) has had some results, but now it's time to bring out the big guns. Sexpo - touted as Singapore's 'first sexuality, sexual health and sexual lifestyle exhibition' - is due to take place this November.
Having been ranked at the bottom of the Durex global sex survey as the least sexually active nation for several years in a row, Singapore would not immediately appear to be the ideal location for an exhibition on 'adult novelty products' and 'sex-friendly furniture'.
However, probably so as not to irritate the many prudes (after all, it was not so long ago that discussion raged in local papers as to whether an exhibition of nude drawings at a national museum was pornography), organisers are already toning down the adult entertainment industry angle and pushing the health angle.
'The exhibition will deliver frank, accurate and updated information on sexual education in a family-friendly way,' said Sexpo director Kenny Goh, who sees 'a lot of potential' in the market.
Obviously, a sex exhibition is a touchy subject. Even the police (from whom organisers were seeking a licence) felt they needed to clear it with 'higher authorities'. Never mind that prostitution is perfectly legal here or that sex toys are already freely available in plain view (not that I've been looking for one, but I have seen a few).
With 'in principle' approval, organisers are working closely with police in screening Sexpo's programme and participants. Plans are for 'something for almost every member of the family': sex education for teenagers; dating and courtship hints for the unmarried; tips on communicating about sex for married couples and parents; and issues of sexual health for elderly couples. An exhibition on the evolution of underwear and lingerie, and a demonstration of 'intimate dance' are also on the cards.
The event will be separated into two sections: the 'Living Room', with topics of interest to the general public, especially adolescents, and the 'Bedroom', which will be strictly for those over 21 years old. I wonder which will attract more people?
Organisers say their 60,000 visitor target for the three-day event is conservative - let's find out whether Singaporeans are as conservative as they're often portrayed.