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Against the backdrop of high human immunodeficiency virus HIV prevalence in stable relationships in Southern Africa, our study presents sociocultural barriers to safer sex practice in Zimbabwean marriages. We conducted 36 in-depth interviews and four focus group discussions with married men and women in Zimbabwe in Our aim was to identify barriers faced by married women when negotiating for safer sex. Participants identified individual, relational and community-level barriers.
Normal People is anything but your normal TV first-love story. The adaptation of Sally Rooney's novel streaming now on CBC Gemwhich follows its protagonists Connell and Marianne from high school to adulthood, has received attention for it's long and explicit sex scenes. The show is revolutionary in the way it depicts consent, setting boundaries, and a balance between female and male pleasure and desire on screen.
This is largely thanks to the work of the show's on-set intimacy coordinator, Ita O'Brien. Sex on screen matters for actors and audiences alike. By making actors comfortable behind the scenes, and working with the director's vision, O'Brien was able to create something beautiful. O'Brien has been in the industry for 36 years as an actor and dancer herself.
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Before the MeToo movement, there were no guidelines for sex and intimacy on screen. But O'Brien views sex as any other stunt or dance, since it is just as risky physically, emotionally and psychologically. Simulated sex scenes have often made stars feel pressured, such as in the cases of Game of Thrones Emilia Clarke and or threatened, in the case of Frida star Salma Hayek. In the best-case scenario with a closed set, O'Brien describes sex scenes as being done in an "unconscious place," and that afterwards, actors would meet up and have to act like it never happened.
Before Normal Peopleneither actor had done sex scenes this way, they said in a recent interview with Dazed. Edgar-Jones described the experience with O"Brien: "Ita was so wonderful.
She took the pressure off completely. The scenes ended up being quite positive.
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Mescal agreed: "The fact that they put policies and structures in place allowed me to go about doing the things that are really important to the book as honestly as possible. Also, we were given guidelines in terms of the physical blocking, but it never felt like there was a disconnect from the emotional part of the scene — it never felt clinical or creatively dead.
Since conversations started opening up around women's boundaries at work, shifts in the film and TV industry have been taking place. O'Brien believes there should be care every step of the way. As an intimacy coordinator, O'Brien is present as the actors and directors talk about the scenes, starting with auditions and throughout the production, she steps up and goes through guidelines to make sure there is agreement and consent to touch and choreograph the motions clearly.
She makes sure sex is spoken about in open way, using adult language about actions and body parts. The first time Connell and Marianne are intimate together is in the second episodea sex scene that lasts nine minutes and 24 seconds — or, a third of the entire episode. When they are standing opposite each other in complete nudity, Connell reaches forward to Marianne, and she reaches forward to him. It's meant to show the equality between them. This is showing agreement and consent, which is exactly what O'Brien is putting into place as intimacy coordinators with actors behind the scenes as well.
It's through these details that the audience can stay enjoying these characters through their emotional journey. It is in these details that the reality of the intercourse is honoured, says O'Brien, who takes special insight into how these scenes change as Connell and Marianne evolve over the years. Flash forward to the sixth episode, Connell and Marianne are a year older, and they've both had different sexual partners. We spoke about how much more the body is in play.
How much more could be kissed down to the belly, hands, and the thumbs. There's a real lusciousness present, so we discussed that. Each time, it is honouring where the characters have shifted and changed with the choreography. O'Brien says she has her own boundaries when it comes to the shows she chooses to work on.
Intimacy coordinator, ita o’brien on coaching daisy edgar-jones and paul mescal's simulated sex.
Once, she told a director of a different production that she would not be a part of creating the pornographic scenes they wanted, and they changed their course. There's nothing wrong with that, that's what it's for.
I firmly believe that if someone is watching a drama, they want to invest in character, and while intimate content will be part of that, they don't want to be confronted with pornographic images. And that's what makes the intimate content so special, says O'Brien, "I knew it was beautiful and integral. Television Sex on screen: behind Normal People's acclaimed intimate scenes How do sex scenes actually work?
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