From ‘Condoms on Bananas’ to Negotiating Consent:
Educating around safety and desire in human sexual relationships
Jasmine Wilton
Student Number: n8830142
Tutor: Judith Meiklejohn

Rip & Rolled. Practicing Safe Sex, Always.

RipAndRoll.jpg



‘Rip & Rolled’ campaign is an operation targeted at gay men in regards to practising safe sex. The campaign consists of a series of advertising billboards, postcards and gay press (magazines, social media) ads that feature two homosexual men hugging (fully clothed) with one unopened, unbranded condom packet in their hand; tagged with the words ‘A safe sex message from Healthy Communities’. Thirty five of these advertisements were distributed around Brisbane and the Gold Coast region bus shelters in 2011. According Matthew Sini (2013), a writer for ABC news, the controversial campaign topped the 10 most complained about advertisements of all time with a massive total of 275 complaints.

Name public health issue-
The public health issue behind the campaign is a message designed to promote safe and healthy sexual relationships. HIV/AIDS are two illnesses transmitted via contact with body fluids; one of which includes sexual intercourse (State Government of Victoria, 2013). In 2010 the number of new cases of HIV/AIDS reached a peak since the first HIV/AIDS testing in 1980 and indicated that 65% of these cases were made up of homosexual men (AIDS Action Council, 2011). This alarmingly high statistic is the reasoning behind the ‘Rip & Rolled’ campaign; to bring attention to the consequences of not practising safe sex in all relationships, including homosexual.

Cultural and social analysis-
According to Queensland Health (2010), safe sex can be defined as “caring for both your own health, and the health of your partner. Being safe protects you from getting or passing on sexually transmissible infections (STIs) and an unplanned pregnancy”. Anyone in a sexually active relationship is at risk of acquiring an STI and in order to lower the risks, it is important to promote safe sex in all relationships; homosexual included. The ‘Rip & Rolled’ campaign is now considered the most controversial advertisement in Australia in 2011 as it caused a wild public debate, both for and against the ad, and received 275 complaints forcing the advertising company, Adshel, to briefly take down the billboards. Majority of complaints about the safe sex campaign were organised by the Australian Christian Lobby who fought hard have them removed from public display, as they believe all public advertisements should be rated ‘G’. Some complaints from the Australian Christian Lobby and the public stated that these ads were “encouraging homosexuality”, “pre-sexualizing children”, “promoting this lifestyle to our youth is NOT in the interests of HEALTHY COMMUNITIES” and many more (The Advertising Standard Bureau, 2011). This not only raises the evident concern that homosexuality is still controversial but also suggests that homosexuals are unwelcome and excluded from the ‘healthy community’ status.
Lesbians, gays and bisexuals fall into a minority when it comes to sexual orientation. Many studies conducted indicate that heterosexuality is the more accepted than homosexuality (State Government of Victoria, 2013). This separation between sexual orientations, in some instances, leads to minor and/or severe cases of homophobia. What causes certain people to develop a fear of being in close vicinity to homosexuals is unknown, however, Adams, Lester & Lohr (1996) explain that sexual ignorance, moralistic beliefs and/or fear are closely linked to homophobia. Sexual orientation discrimination is evident around the community in many forms, from verbal abuse and physical harassment to discrimination in work places and housing choices (American Psychological Association, 2013).
The Australian Christian Lobby used the argument that sex, and especially homosexual sex, should not be publicly displayed regardless of the health message; while gay rights activists addressed that homosexuals have the right to be publicly displayed. However people are becoming sexually active earlier and earlier over the past ten years and as a result of this, sexual education is essential to maintaining a healthy community. With the Australian Christian Lobbyists protesting against these advertisements, they were not just tearing down a billboard. They tore down education. The company displaying the advertisements, Ashdel, felt the force of the controversy and acted accordingly by removing the billboards which only caused more of an uproar from the gay rights activists and their supporters. After rallying up over 90,000 supporters, they were able to reinstate the sex educative billboards. As a result, 93.7% of the targeted audience of the Rip & Rolled campaign recognised condom use after viewing seeing the campaign, while 92% state that the advertisement is “very or somewhat important” (LGBT Healthy Communities, 2011).


Literature review-
The figures indicating the effectiveness of this campaign (above) further demonstrates how important addressing this issue really is. Homosexuals, being in the minority of sexual orientations, are widely excluded from the rest of the community. “Gay men and lesbians have higher rates of mental health disorders than the rest of the population. They also have higher rates of obesity, smoking and unsafe alcohol and drug use, and are more likely to self-harm” (State Government of Victoria, 2013). Instead of sitting back and accepting that homosexuality is often not legitimized, this campaign and its advocates are fighting for equality in the health system and within the public.
It was not until 1992 that the World Health Organisation (WHO) took action in redefining homosexuality from a mental illness. The organisation released a statement indicating that homosexuality is neither a disorder nor a disease (WHO 1992). Since this change in 1992, the world has made great strides in recognising the legitimacy of homosexual relationships by legalising same-sex marriage in a variety of different countries. As a result of this recent forward movement, legal equality for homosexual relationships and social acceptance is on the rise. Netherlands, Spain, Norway, Portugal, Denmark and New Zealand are a select few of the thirteen countries that have legalised same sex marriage in the past twelve years; however various states throughout the US also recognise the legitimacy of gay marriage. Despite the recent acceptance social and legal movements, homosexuality still remains a very controversial topic.
From 1985, when HIV testing was first introduced, the rates of HIV has steadily increased in Australia, especially in Queensland and Victoria (National Centre in HIV Epidemiology and Clinical Research, 2006). The majority of new cases of HIV are found among sexually active homosexual men. While the ‘Rip & Rolled’ campaign is designed to specifically educate the community and lower HIV/AIDS rates, it also plays a huge role in preventing other sexually transmittable infections (STIs) such as genital warts, Gonorrhoea, Hepatitis (A, B & C), Chlamydia and many more. According to National Notifiable Diseases Surveillance System (2011) cases of Chlamydia alone had more than tripled from 2001 to 2011; rising from 152 cases per 100,000 people to 502 cases per 100,000 people. This information alone demonstrates the importance of promoting safe sex to all sexually active relationships, despite sexual orientation. In relation to the input of religion, the US Conference of Catholic Bishops released a medically controversial publication against safe sex promotions stating that they ‘reject the use of condoms’ and that ‘safe sex can lead to promiscuous sexual behaviour’ (Merger Watch 2011). It was the World Health Organisation (WHO) and the European Union who corrected and criticized the Catholic Church for releasing false information in regards to safe sex. However despite being presented with scientific proof the latex condoms are an effective choice of prophylactic, the Catholic Bishops did not retract their statement. This incidence goes on to show how religious beliefs can have a huge impact on what information is spread to the public. When false information is published, much like in this scenario, the health impacts of the population may suffer significantly. Australian Bureau of Statistics (2013) states that “while the best way to avoid STIs is to avoid sex altogether, there are ways to improve safety by always using condoms and having regular STI tests”. In regards to promoting safe sex and not promoting promiscuous sexual activity, this statement is ideal and medically appropriate.
While the ‘Rip & Rolled’ campaign may be confronting or inappropriate according to the opinions of some of the public, it has also proven to be a very effective safe sex advisor among the homosexual/bisexual community. Given the significant increase in HIV/AIDS and other various STIs over the recent years; wouldn’t it deem to be more important, from a health perspective, to educate safe sex rather than take down the campaign? The ‘Rip & Rolled’ campaign is neither the first nor will it be the last of controversial advertisement in regards to sexual education. This is clear when taking into account the controversial statement released by the Catholic Bishop. State Government of Victoria (2013) suggests that a positive approach to sexuality includes ‘sexually active or not is okay’, ‘recognition that adolescence is often a time of sexual experimentation and development’, ‘develop healthy, respectful and consensual sexual relationships’ and lastly ‘any sexual preference is OKAY’. The latter point further encourages that the ‘Rip & Rolled’ campaign is not only a positive approach to sexuality but also an educator in practicing safe sex (both heterosexual and homosexual) and possibly a step toward homosexual social acceptance.


Analysis of artefact and your own learning reflection-
As previously mentioned, the ‘Rip & Rolled’ campaign is designed and developed to promote safe sex among a minority within Australia. The group targeted are sexually active, homosexuals. The posters that were put up in bus shelters and spread out in thirty five different locations cause one of the largest community uproars related to an Australian advertisements. On the posters are a natural looking couple holding a single, unopened condom packet in their hand. These posters have proven to be a relevant and much needed resource for Australians due to the recent rise in HIV/AIDS and various other STIs. Evident from the wild public debate, the health message behind the posters were clearly not enough as there were 275 complaints lodged against the campaign.
Personally, the information I was presented with indicating how homosexual relationships are not considered legitimate in many countries and social situations, was very confronting. I learned that equality for homosexuals has a long way to come politically, socially and religiously before they will be considered fully equal and how powerful social media can be in creating a supportive network of followers. The last issue raised throughout this essay was the health status among homosexuals. The alarmingly high percentages of STIs further encourages Australia as a whole to get behind the promotion of safe sex to heterosexual, homosexuals as well as bisexuals. In my future profession the information gathered throughout this essay will benefit me in ignoring the social issue of treating sexual minorities differently to ensure that everyone can be given the right to be safe and healthy. While there may be a ‘minority’ in numbers, everyone is entitled to health.

Reflection on artefacts:

Below are two links to the reflections I posted on two separate artefacts. I read through quite a few wiki pages and was most drawn to these two as they were interesting, well written and had two very contrasting writing techniques.

http://healthcultureandsociety2013.wikispaces.com/share/view/64696478

http://healthcultureandsociety2013.wikispaces.com/share/view/64696472

By Jasmine Wilton 2013.


Reference-
AIDS Action Council of the ACT. 2011. HIV/AIDS Statistics. Retrieved October 18, 2013, from
http://aidsaction.org.au/content/hiv_sti_health/stats.php
American Psychological Association. 2013. Sexual Orientation and Homosexuality. Retrieved October 15, 2013, from
http://www.apa.org/helpcenter/sexual-orientation.aspx
Anonymous. (2011 May 29). RE: Rip & Rolled. [Online forum comment]. Retrieved from
http://www.qahc.org.au/files/shared/docs/ASB_-_complaints_0.pdf
Australian Bureau of Statistics. 2011. Chlamydia Notifications, Australia. Retrieved October 18, 2013, from
http://www.abs.gov.au/AUSSTATS/abs@.nsf/Lookup/4102.0Main+Features10Jun+2012
Henry E. Adams, Lester W. Wright’ Jr, & Bethany A. Lohr. 2013. Roots of Homophobia: Assault on Gay America. Retrieved October 10, 2013, from
http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/shows/assault/roots/freud.html
Mary Anne Pearson. 2013. Christian Gays. Retrieved October 18, 2013, from
https://christiangays.com/marriage/legal.shtml
Matthew Sini. 2011. Rip & Roll for the Children. Retrieved October 10, 2013, from
http://www.abc.net.au/unleashed/2740604.html
Merger Watch. 2011. Religious Restrictions: HIV/STI Prevention Counselling. Retrieved October 18, 2013, from
http://www.mergerwatch.org/hiv-sti-prevention/
Centre in HIV Epidemiology and Clinical Research (2006) 2006 Annual Surveillance Report: HIV/AIDS, viral hepatitis and sexually transmissible infections in Australia, UNSW, Sydney, p.
State Government of Queensland. 2010. I Stay Safe. Retrieved October 18, 2013, from
http://www.health.qld.gov.au/istaysafe/be-safe-with-sex/safe-sex.aspx
State Government Victoria. 2013. HIV and AIDS. Retrieved October 15, 2013, from
http://www.betterhealth.vic.gov.au/bhcv2/bhcarticles.nsf/pages/HIV_and_AIDS