Penis Dialogues is a phased plan aimed at developing broader social interactions concerning healthy sexuality. As men seem to struggle when it comes to talking about sexuality, their starting point is: how can we ensure that men talk to one another about the issue of whether sexuality – both individual and social – is due for a recalibration?
Over the course of several years, Circus Engelbregt is investigating – at times up close and personal – how these interactions can be organised, and what tools are needed. What is necessary to get men talking to one another about sexuality? On the basis of these interactions, we are developing a platform where men can meet digitally and make appointments for physical meetings. A new brand of beer, with the working brand name “mannenpraat”, will bring home the urgency of these conversations in a way that is easy to access.
What was it like to participate in No Minor Thing?
‘We enjoyed working on this challenge. The problem definition was already picked apart nicely which allowed us to get started quickly and successfully. Of course, this is a horrible topic, especially when you realise how deeply rooted in society this is. Sex is the most prevalent topic on the internet but there seems to be very little awareness about the topic. In our analysis sexual exploitation is the tip of the iceberg of the quite unhealthy and unsafe way sexuality is addressed in our society.’
‘We were surprised to see that a lot of men feel locked in by their own sexuality and that every man who participated in the Penis Dialogues acknowledged the notions of perpetrator and victim in themselves.’
While working on this project, what has caught you by surprise the most?
‘It is exciting to put the combination of man and sexuality on the table as a topic. Still, it turns out that a lot of room, need and even desire exists among men to lift the taboo on this topic. We were surprised to see that a lot of men feel locked in by their own sexuality and that every man who participated in the Penis Dialogues acknowledged the notions of perpetrator and victim in themselves.’
What role do you attribute to design when it comes to this type of social issue?
‘We find design a difficult term. It seems to be more about form than function. In our case, we have barely been able to scratch the design surface. We advertise ourselves with an exploratory attitude, not seeking solutions or quick fixes, but the question underneath the question.’
Do you intend to continue the project once the challenge is over?
‘Definitely, we have started various projects and they will all continue. For example the three men’s groups we have initiated and are participating in actively. On the one hand The Penis Dialogues are the result of this project, but more importantly they are a starting point for lifting the taboo on sexuality among men. We are noticing that a select group of men exists that is sprung right into action by this set-up. Lessons learned from the meetings will result in clear, accessible invitations that will also appeal to and invite less ‘aware’ men to join.’