Sexual Intelligence
An Electronic Newsletter

Written and published by Marty Klein, Ph.D.

Issue #9 -- November 2000


1. Vibrators Terrorize Dixie
2. Montell Preys on Cyber-Fear
3. Correspondence: Politics
4. Media Review
5. Time, Newsweek: Kids? Sex? Duh...
6. Correspondence: Bathrooms
7. Reminder: Awards
8. Calendar

* * * * * * * * * * * *

1. Vibrators Terrorize Dixie

A federal appeals court has ruled that the Alabama Legislature may indeed make it illegal for anyone to sell "any device designed or marketed as useful primarily for the stimulation of human genital organs"--that is, sex toys.

The 1998 law was struck down last year by U.S. District Judge Smith, ruling that it was "overly broad" and would deny some people "therapy for sexual dysfunction." The judge wrote that "at least a significant minority of the proscribed devices... are not obscene under any established definition...." However, the court also ruled that Americans do not have a "fundamental right" to use sexual devices, a legal category that would have made challenging the law easier.

The Court of Appeals was unanimous in upholding Alabama's law while subtly chiding it, saying that "However misguided the legislature of Alabama may have been in enacting the statute, [it] is not constitutionally irrational because it is rationally related to the State's legitimate power to protect its view of public morality."

I've heard that this is a state in which watching high school football is often considered an intellectual pursuit. We do know that Martin Luther King was commonly dismissed here as a Communist.

But although every Alabaman has a fundamental right to own a gun, they don't have the same right to own a dildo.

So they've decided that vibrators are a threat to public morality. What exactly could that possibly mean? Maybe they're afraid that women would drive while using them instead of driving while drinking. Or maybe they're afraid that women would start holding their partners to a higher standard of lovemaking expertise. Or maybe they're afraid that women would get so wrapped up with their vibrators that they would forget to make dinner or drive the kids to Sunday school.

All of which, of course, would make Alabama a better place to live.

2. Montell Preys on Cyber-Fear

The Montell Williams show that aired October 26 was "Preying on Innocence", all about the unspeakable danger that the Internet poses to innocent minors. There was only a single person with an anti-censorship viewpoint, whom Montell introduced as someone who supported making Internet crime legal.

This is the Big Lie again used against non-conservatives to perfection: Exaggerate someone's position to conform to the worst fears of your constituency, eliminating their need to actually consider the merits of the other side or think for themselves. The Big Lies are repeated during every such battle of the culture war: that progressives...

According to a guest at the show's taping, Williams showed his respect for the Constitution by suggesting that "we just put something on the Internet which watches everything and when it sees something that looks like a child, it just zaps it and makes it go away." He also said that "If the ISPs won't take action, why don't we go after them--take action against America Online?" during the taping, the producer shouted, "We can't say that!" and cut both "ideas" from the final air version.

The frightening, fundamental beliefs at the core of this recurring scene are 1) all sexual imagery is harmful for children, and 2) sex-related social problems are so special and so dangerous that any sacrifice of rights, values, or normalcy is appropriate in fighting them.

Intuition and passion aside, do you know that social science has not proven either of these assertions?

3. Correspondence: Politics

In response to my previous comments (issue #7) that this election offers no pro-sex Presidential candidate and so the best we can do is vote pro-choice, Debra Haffner writes:

"The election issue is much bigger than choice, [which is, of course,] clear... On gay issues, it's clear... on abstinence-only education, it's clear... on vouchers for education, it's clear... This election could turn back the clock on a lot of what's important [regarding sexuality]."

True enough.

4. Media Review

Libido the print magazine is dead; long-live Libido the online magazine.

Since 1988, the award-winning Journal of Sex and Sensibility has explored eroticism in a unique way, with stories and pictures that challenged and transformed readers--while providing fantastic turn-ons, both sexual and intellectual.

Libido is now online and free, at In addition to creative erotica and intelligent articles, it has expanded to include a calendar, interactive bulletin board, safer-sex resources, and a private shop.

Just about everyone can use a little more high-class libido.

5. Time, Newsweek: Kids? Sex? Duh...

America's two most important news magazines have proven, once again, that they don't quite understand childhood sexuality. Newsweek's special edition on "Your Child" featured everything you'd want to know about your child up until the age of 3--except sexuality. Newsweek even told Mom and Dad how to actively shape baby's "sense of self," and urged that "it's never too early to start laying the groundwork" for raising a "moral child." But what about the sexuality of the infant, toddler, or three-year-old? What about masturbation, erections, sex play with others, curiosity about Mom's or Dad's body? Apparently, such normal features of early childhood are either invisible, unimportant, or too controversial for Newsweek. As a final stroke of invisibility, Newsweek describes 12 books, eight websites, and 10 hot lines for parents--without a single word about sexuality. What about Sol Gordon's or Debra Haffner's books? What about How about a single line about what's sexually normal and expectable?

Nothing. The message is clear: Childhood eroticism doesn't exist. If a parent is anxious or curious about it, he or she is on his or her own.

Time's cover story on early puberty in American girls is a curious, reinforcing footnote. They do talk about sex--well, the hazards of being a 10-year-old girl who looks 15. With six pages devoted to the quandaries that early puberty presents parents, doctors, and kids, there isn't a single word on how comprehensive school sex education could help everyone. It's as if our families have nowhere to turn to get everyone educated and using a common language about the stuff. School sex education could actually increase the information and empathy of boys and girls alike, crucial aspects of puberty-related problems. Apparently, Time would rather encourage parents to worry and wring their hands rather than suggest that they mobilize their school district or community to actually address the problem.

It is fabulous that Time describes six books for kids on the subject, including "The Period Book" and "What's Happening to My Body?" But in an amazingly disingenuous move, they fail to mention how frequently these books are banned in public school libraries. They even had the nerve to refer to Judy Blume's "classic" kids' books without noting that she is one of the most censored authors in American history. No, better to ruminate about the possible effects of pesticides--an abstract threat about which parents feel powerless--than to challenge parents to make actual information available to actual children in actual schools.

6. Correspondence: Bathrooms

Last month (issue #8) I described an incident during a training workshop in which the women "liberated" the men's room and made it coed. While I personally thought it was pretty cool (especially without beer or rock music), there are other viewpoints, which two readers wrote about:

"As the first woman who entered the seminar bathroom labeled "men," I'd like to point out that I did take people's preferences into consideration. I waited until the bathroom was cleared of male users, and then went into a stall. When a man then came in, I offered him the opportunity to wait outside til I finished, or to share, hopefully without shame, a room for the relief of bodily functions.

"What was offered to men was the equality of waiting for one's turn, unfortunately a real need in our crowded community, if they so choose. As you know, the right to have your turn when you want it is not available to all genders, classes, sexual orientations, etc."

--Jennifer Cutright

"It's great that the women were so liberated as to share the men's room... as long as those same women would be equally comfortable with men sharing their ladies' room when restroom availability is reversed. I have experienced both situations, (i.e., unavailable men's rooms) and have not found the ladies as willing to share their quarters."

--Henry R. Smith

So there you have it. Curious that although we call sex "intimacy" and describe both money and death as ultimate taboos, the cutting edge of comfort in virtually all American relationships isn't sex or anything other than urinating or defecating in front of each other. We take this for granted--what does that say about us?

7. Reminder: Awards

Hey, folks, get those nominations in for our first annual Golden Eros Awards for sex-positive heroes, and our Tarnished Eros Awards for sex-negative villains. Feel free to nominate yourself (for either category--you know who you are). Deadline is December 25.

8. CALENDAR: Marty Klein's speaking schedule

November 2-3, 2000
Human Sexuality

  National Association of Social Workers
  San Francisco, CA

November 4, 2000
Sexual Fantasies on Both Sides of the Couch

  Lifespan Learning Institute
  Los Angeles, CA

November 9, 2000
Diagnosis and Treatment of Sexual Issues

  Society for the Scientific Study of Sexuality
  Orlando, FL

November 10, 2000
Unresolved Challenges in Sex Therapy & Sex Counseling

  Society for the Scientific Study of Sexuality
  Orlando, FL

December 1, 2000
Diagnosis and Treatment of Sexual Issues

  Family Service Agency
  Aptos, CA

January 20, 2001
Diagnosis and Treatment of Sexual Issues

  Angeles Community Counseling Center
  Los Angeles, CA

March 3, 2001
Diagnosis & Treatment of Sexual Issues

  Long Beach/South Bay CAMFT
  Redondo Beach, CA

March 31, 2001
Diagnosis and Treatment of Sexual Issues in Couples: Counter-Intuitive Approaches

  Phillips Graduate Institute
  Encino, CA

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