I spoke at the University of Kentucky a few days ago as part of their Sex Week. The Family Foundation of Kentucky was terribly upset about the Week's various activities, insulting the faculty organizer and demanding the school repudiate the whole thing.
FFK says it is astonished and confused by the Week's goal, which is to increase sexual literacy. Sarcastically, they wonder "That's right. Today's college students apparently don't know enough about sex. If you didn't get that memo, don't worry, neither did we."
What would make FFK think college students know enough about sex? Like most "family" oriented morality groups, they constantly decry our youth's high rates of STDs, unplanned pregnancy, and abortion. And like most of these anti-sex organizations, they apparently believe that information about sex creates problems, rather than preventing or solving them.
Ironically, on the very day they were criticizing the idea of increasing college students' sexual knowledge, they were advertising Honeymoon for Life marriage enrichment seminars. They promise to teach about how communication really works; conflict resolution skills; and the real selling point, how to "keep sex and romance alive."
These are GREAT goals, and I agree that the lack of this information is often the source of problems in marriage. In fact, the lack of this information often destroys relationships that could have worked.
And it's exactly this information that Sex Week provides students on college campuses across America. Programs attacked by social conservatives and religious fundamentalists.
My only question is, why does FFK want to withhold this precious information from young people until AFTER they marry and run into trouble? If you claim to believe that marriage is important and special, why make marital success unnecessarily difficult, and then sell people the solution--via marriage seminars and advice on getting more involved with their church?
Oh wait...now I get it.
Those hypocritical, entrepreneurial bastards.
All three of those are ridiculous, but the last one is true.
Americans are not allowed to look at photographs of actual children being sexual with actual adults. In fact, pictures don't have to show kids having sex to be illegal--they just have to show "lascivious exhibition of the genitals or pubic area." "Lascivious" is defined by whatever 12 people who couldn't get out of jury duty decide it is, which has already included children wearing bathing suits.
Americans are not even allowed to look at photos of actual children whose non-sexual images have been computer-manipulated to look as if the child is being sexual with an adult.
Alaska wants to criminalize cartoons that remind people of pictures they're not allowed to look at. That would be like criminalizing paintball shoot-outs because they remind some people of actual killings.
The legislators and prosecutors behind this proposal believe that because the cartoons are disgusting, they should be outlawed. They say the cartoons encourage bad thoughts in adults, and can be used to encourage children to comply with invitations for molestation.
No one can say these things aren't true, of course. What we can say is that none of that creates an exemption from our Constitutional protections. Alaskans own a huge number of guns--and they defend their right to do so, even though guns encourage bad thoughts in adults, and are often used to coerce or harm others.
As Joan Bertin of National Coalition Against Censorship says, the would-be illegal cartoons "represent someone's fantasy life. When you start regulating that kind of matter, you are getting into thought control, and that is very dangerous." Federal Judge Roger Gregory agreed when he dissented in the conviction of a Virginia man for owning some Japanese cartoons, encouraging the defendant to take his case to the U.S. Supreme Court. He called it "government regulation of private thoughts, convicting a man for the victimless crime' of privately communicating his personal fantasies."
Aaron Sperbeck of the Anchorage DA's Office is driving the new law, encouraged by Alaska's House Judiciary chair Rep. Jay Ramras. The images he has in mind "are almost as graphic and disturbing as real children." Alaska Assistant U.S. Attorney Audrey Renschen says of anime, "even though a real child wasn't used, it still sexualizes the child [who someone might show it to]."
That's a lot of "what ifs." These professional lawyers--working for a District Attorney and a U.S. Attorney--apparently don't understand the principle that in America, we jail people for breaking the law, not for having the means of breaking the law, or for enjoying disgusting ideas.
A couple I'd seen in sex therapy for a month quit last night. I can't say I blame them. And I admit I was a bit relieved.
They're in their late forties, attractive and youngish. Here's what I learned about them in four sessions:
The couple's problem that brought them to therapy? They don't have sex much anymore, and don't feel much passion toward each other.
They dropped out of therapy because we weren't making much progress on the problem they wanted fixed. Worse (according to them), I didn't seem that interested in talking about sex--I seemed overly focused on feelings, power dynamics, letting go of the past, and communication.
Yes, of course. Absolutely.
But they wanted to talk about sex, and wanted me to repair their "low desire" for each other. I told them that low desire with someone you don't like or trust isn't pathological, isn't a problem to fix. Instead, I said, we needed to address the toxic environment in which they thought they should be wanting sex.
No, they dismissed my point of view (for which they were paying good money) and demanded I help them with their sex problem--the same way they dismiss each other while demanding what they want.
I was friendly, gentle, patient (mostly). But I either couldn't or wouldn't give them what they wanted (they weren't sure, they said), so they left.
I have no idea what kind of sex they imagine they would have if they somehow desired each other--while disliking, mistrusting, and resenting each other. Whatever kind of sex that is, I don't want to help people have it.
Today starts WRAP Week: White Ribbons Against Pornography.
Sponsored by groups including Concerned Women for America (CWA) and Morality in Media (MIM), the goal of the week is "to educate the public about the extent of the pornography problem and what can constitutionally be done about it." The groups involved suggest activities for observing the week, such as urging the Attorney General to enforce obscenity laws.
I totally agree with the idea behind WRAP. I support increasing everyone's awareness of pornography use in this country--how many people watch it, who these people typically are, how it affects them and their relationships, what are rights are regarding pornography, etc. Of course, I have a different, more scientific take on the "problem," so I propose a different set of activities to observe the Week.
To counter the obscene lies our media and legislators will be hearing this week, perhaps you could do one (or more!) of the following:
Bonus: What to say to people who claim that pornography causes most of America's problems:
In the never-ending quest to boost their "tough on crime" and "family values" credentials, politicians and police departments across America have turned this year's Halloween into the scariest one yet.
What could be scarier than a vampire, zombie, or Michael Jackson?
A Registered Sex Offender.
Yes, whether someone's on the registry for consensual teen-teen sex, for exposing himself from 10 feet away, for discussing sex online with an undercover cop, or for raping an actual kid (whether 5 years ago or 25 years ago), Registered Sex Offenders are being targeted as the Most Dangerous Thing around.
Since virtually no one will stand up for these people's rights, communities are restricting them on Halloween more than ever. In New Jersey, they may not leave their home tonight after 7pm, and they may not open their doors to trick-or-treaters. In South Carolina, sex offenders on parole or probation must be home and may not have their outdoor lights on between 5-9pm. In Lubbock County, TX, some 80 offenders cannot even stay home tonight and mind their own business--they must attend a Corrections Department meeting from 5-9pm.
Although no one listens, experts keep stating that such coercive programs address a non-existent threat. For example, the recent study from the University of Oklahoma's Center on Child Abuse and Neglect shows that children are no more likely to be sexually exploited by a stranger on Halloween than on any other autumn day.
And a paper published in Sexual Abuse: A Journal of Research and Treatment reviewed attacks by non-family members during a nine-year period on more than 67,000 victims 12 or younger. Neither Halloween nor the days surrounding it showed increased attacks.
And the FBI says that Registered Sex Offenders are less likely to reoffend than murderers, homicidal drunk drivers, arsonists, or violent burglars.
In reality, the most dangerous part of trick-or-treating is--cars.
Pedestrians age 5-14 are four times more likely to get struck and killed on Halloween than on any other day of the year, according to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention.
But cars are everywhere, and we can't eliminate them. It's easier to target a group of people with no rights and no support, and attempt to eliminate them.
If only protecting our kids were that easy.