Doctors need to know about sex
REFERRING to your report on the controversy over the use of pornographic material in the medical sexology course at the University of Hong Kong, (South China Morning Post, November 20). I am writing to express my unreserved support for it.
As one of the students who has gone through the course, I thought the videos were enlightening rather than disgusting. Certainly, no one could be comfortable with the accounts of 'bestiality' and 'perversion' shown, nevertheless these acts are part of our society and medical practitioners need to understand them.
People who try to prevent medical students from understanding sexual behaviour, normal or abnormal, are simply trying to enforce a taboo on discussing sexuality at public cost. People rely on professionals for consultation relating to these matters. What use is a doctor who feels disgusted or falls off the chair when a patient relates acts of 'perversion' to him, or her, and then asks for assurance or advice? The sexology course is part of the fourth year medical curriculum (a five-year course). I think it can be reasonably assumed that after four years of study in medicine at the university, we have attained a sufficient degree of independent thinking and maturity to be able to deal with the sex videos.
I believe that the videos constitute a 'necessary' part of the course just as much as we need a corpse as a pathological specimen.
Sitting in front of textbooks all day is not the way to equip ourselves as doctors. Patients are real, and our understanding and relationship with them will also have to be real. If we treat a patient with 'sexual perversities' with the contempt that has been cumulating from the social aversion that we students have been living with throughout our lives, it will be a disaster to the patient as well as the society as a whole.
The videos have forced us to open our eyes and confront ourselves with the reality that the sexual desires and practices of some people are actually very different from what we expect and that, whatever they do, they are still humans, and we should try our best to treat them professionally and with respect.
The videos effectively compelled our class to think about human sexuality in an objective way. In the classroom setting, we have to abandon the everyday escapist strategy of laughing off our embarrassments.
Since watching the videos I have come to realise that things beyond my imagination can happen to anybody anywhere. The videos taught us to be more open-minded, more tolerant and more sympathetic.
I finish off by making a plea for tolerance to people who are perpetuating the taboo on discussions of sex and marginalising those who practise 'abnormal' sexual behaviour by identifying them as evil.
It is only with a more open attitude that a greater understanding of human sexuality, an essential part of human existence, can be achieved.
I appreciate the sexology course and believe that the medical professionals should not be the sole pioneers in the field.