Norman Haire and the study of sex follows the life of this incredibly brave and daring Australian who supported the sexual freedom of all. What seems to be particular poignant today is his championing the reproductive rights of women and the control of women’s bodies by women.
Dr Norman Haire, sexologist, practised at a time when sex and sexuality – woman’s sexuality in particular – were taboo topics. In the early years of the twentieth century (has it changed so much?), it was expected that a woman was to remain chaste before marriage; when she did marry, provide her husband with sexual pleasure while not necessarily receiving that pleasure herself; reject all methods of birth control; and give birth to a multitude of healthy babies. The questions that Haire asked of these expectations were shocking to the conservative, polite society of the time. Why must there be no sex before marriage when women and men mature sexually in their early teens? Why can there not be a trial-marriage period? Why must sexual pleasure of women be less of a priority than that of men? Why shouldn’t there be safe and easy for women to access birth-control products?