Say you were the U.S. government and you wanted a record of every moment that every American was on the internet: every search, every transaction, every click. Of every American. And just for laughs, you also wanted every credit card number and bank account number an American used on the internet.
What would you call such a law?
* The No More Internet Privacy bill
* The 1984 Really Is Here Big Brother bill
* The Trust Your Government With Your Privacy bill
No, those wouldn't be very attractive with voters, would they. So instead, the House Judiciary Committee has just passed the Protecting Children From Internet Pornographers Act of 2011.
The bill would require your ISP to maintain a record of your internet activity for a year. Not because you've done anything wrong, but because you might. If that strikes you as, well, exactly the kind of government reasoning that made the Soviet Union such a successful and stress-free place, you're right.
And if you're wondering what that has to do with protecting children, get in line.
"The bill is mislabeled," said Committee member Rep. John Conyers (D-MI). "This is not protecting children from Internet pornography. It's creating a database of everybody in this country for a lot of other purposes." Indeed, the information wouldn't be available only to the government. It could, for example, be subpoenaed by attorneys litigating civil disputes in divorce, insurance fraud, and other cases.
The Republican majority that fast-tracked this bill through the Committee seems to have forgotten that looking at internet pornography is legal. You should feel insulted that one of your hobbies has been tarnished in a pathetic attempt to get popular support for a bill that strips every American naked.
"Every piece of prematurely discarded information could be the footprint of a child predator," said Judiciary Chairman Lamar Smith, R-TX, who cosponsored the bill with pseudo-liberal Debbie Wasserman Schultz, D-FL. "This bill ensures that the online footprints of predators are not erased." The key word there is could. Lamar, how about you start submitting a minute-by-minute log of your driving activity for review by the government---which will hang on to it for a year or two? After all, your car could be used by a child predator.
Some three dozen civil liberties and consumer advocacy organizations oppose this warrantless invasion of privacy, this dangerous expansion of government surveillance, this continued drumbeat of our children's vulnerability. To oppose this bill, use the Electronic Freedom Foundation's
The bill is repulsive for its frontal attack on a basic American right---the right of innocent people to be left alone, unsuspected and unmonitored.
It's also noteworthy in the way that it uses fear of sexuality (not fear of death, or of poverty, but of sexuality) as a way of distracting and disarming people from the blatant power grab. That's why sexual literacy helps safeguard American democracy. Reducing the fear of sex, and the perception that sex is dangerous, eliminates a key excuse American leaders currently use to undermine democracy, limit our rights, and impose a unitary vision of American society on all of us. That vision limits reproductive rights, adult entertainment, unfiltered internet access, and the use of sexually explicit material, to name just a few of its elements.
Just as racial myths (Blacks are criminals, Black men are after White women) were a key element in institutionalized racism, myths about the dangers of sexuality---and the resulting necessity of controlling it at all costs---are a key element in reducing Americans' freedom of expression and thought.
The demonization of sexuality is not a trivial matter, and tolerating it is a luxury that no freedom-loving American can afford.
In opposing the bill, Rep. Zoe Lofgren (D-CA) proposed renaming the bill the "Keep Every American's Digital Data for Submission to the Federal Government Without a Warrant Act of 2011."
That also failed. The government insists it wants to monitor you to protect your kids from porn.
If you've never paid a prostitute for sex, you may be surprised to read that Newsweek refers to you as "the John next door"--a "man who buys sex." You should definitely check out this dishonest article about some misleading research.
For her study, self-described sex work "abolitionist," enemy-of-porn (and often-arrested) Melissa Farley interviewed 201 men, attempting to show the contrasting traits of men who "buy sex" and those who don't. But her categories are defined in ways that skew the results–in ways that support her ideological agenda.
The "sex buyers" are defined as men who "have bought" sex from a prostitute, escort, massage parlor or sex worker (even once, a jillion years ago), or anyone who has exchanged "something of value" for a sex act (which covers almost anyone who has ever dated as an adolescent or young adult). Thus, this category is pretty weak.
More importantly, the "non-sex buyers" aren't simply men who haven't bought sex, as Farley defines it above. Rather, to qualify for this category, a man ALSO has to "not have purchased phone sex," not gone to a strip club more than once in the past year, not have bought a lap dance, and not have used pornography more than once in the past week. Farley notes that even this last criterion alone--what she calls "infrequent porn use"--narrows her category substantially.
So Farley isn't comparing men who "buy sex" with men who don't "buy sex." Instead, she's comparing men who "buy sex" (or perhaps have dated extensively in the real world) with men who are far less interested in virtually all aspects of sexual entertainment, and in some cases presumably masturbation as well (as reflected in their "infrequent" or non-use of porn).
Not surprisingly, Farley finds that men who are less involved in all aspects of sexual entertainment, less interested in porn, and in some cases presumably masturbate less are less likely to view women sexually, are less likely to have many sex partners, less likely to have sexual conflict with women, etc.. It's the equivalent of finding that people who go to church are more likely to believe in God than people who don't go to church.
With all the sociologists and sexologists in America, the article doesn't quote a single one. Somehow, the only people qualified to speak about the reality and impact of prostitution are those devoting their lives to ending it. How's that for "fair and balanced?" Newsweek calls this "news of current research." I call it demeaning propaganda.
So the four-page article focuses on a single study contrasting men who have bought or bartered for sex with men who rarely or never use sexual entertainment, including pornography. The study concludes that men who "buy sex" are violent criminals who dehumanize women, view them with anger and contempt, and relish their ability to hurt them. This will come as a surprise if you or your mate look at porn or go to strip club. Are you or your mate really Jack The Ripper?
Newsweek's article is their latest contribution to America's feverish Sex Panic. Want more proof? After damning all legal forms of adult sexual entertainment, including the single most common form of sexual expression--porn use--the article brings in the heavy guns: the dreaded "Sex Trafficking." Yes, an article that starts out bemoaning America's level of prostitution use, and the vicious sadistic mentality of the average customer, then moves on to "sex trafficking." From there it's just a tiny step to "underage sex trafficking."
Everyone agrees that there are no reliable figures on how bad "sex trafficking" is in the U.S. (which itself is a clue to its rarity), so activists simply make them up. The most commonly cited figure is "100,000 to 300,000"–and even the guy who made this up won't stand behind it.
From The New York Times to Salon.com to Wikipedia to Newsweek, that's the figure cited--not 150,000, not 250,000, but always "100,000-300,000" American kids sold into prostitution every year.
But when University of Pennsylvania professors Richard Estes and Neil Weiner invented the figure "100,000-300,000," they weren't referring to actual prostitution or trafficking; they said the numbers "estimate the number of children at risk for commercial sexual exploitation."
And who's "at risk?" Almost everyone except Beaver Cleaver: loners, female gang members, kids who run away for 24 hours, transgender kids, kids who live near international borders, and others.
In response to a recent Village Voice interview, Estes says "kids who are kidnapped and sold into slavery? That number would be very small…a few hundred people." American law enforcement officials estimate the figure is less than 1,000. Of course, that doesn't stop professional crusaders and celebrity do-gooders like Ashton Kutcher from terrorizing parents, Congress, and kids themselves with completely fictional descriptions of danger.
Is it too much to expect Newsweek to ask for a single study actually backing up its extraordinary claim about the sexual trafficking of American children?
* * *
Newsweek's article is littered with non sequitors, contradictions, and emotion presented as fact:
* It claims there's a "growing demand" for prostitution--without citing any evidence.
* It presents bizarre exceptions as common: e.g., a mother trading her 4-year-old's body for drugs.
* It says "Nearly 100% of men in the study said that minors were always available for purchase in Boston." Since half the men interviewed claimed to never have bought a lap dance or time with a prostitute, how would they know this? Is that what you think about your community--that "minors are always available for purchase"?
The Newsweek article ends with the would-be heart-wrenching question: "should people be entitled to buy other human beings for sexual gratification?"
And while the reader is primed to answer--to shout--"NO!" and leap into action, in the real world virtually no one is suggesting anything about ordinary people "buying other human beings" for anything.
In America's world of commercial sex, people (some with fewer choices than others) are selling services, access, and time (primarily to customers who are lonely or who feel self-conscious about their desires). You can disagree with whether that's a reasonable product for people to sell, but it's a far cry from "buying other human beings."
By the article's logic, we're also buying human beings for our gratification when we pay to watch athletes and entertainers. But we all know we're not buying them. We're buying their time and access to their performances.
With its distortions and fear-mongering, this article is part of the problem--not of prostitution, but of sexual illiteracy, Sex Panic, and a general war on non-vanilla sex. Anything that lumps together prostitution, pornography, and sex trafficking is ideological propaganda.
Are you the John Next Door, or his mate? Newsweek thinks you are; worse, Newsweek thinks that means you hate women, or you're a self-hating woman. You should feel insulted.
This week I described the morality pledge that Republican Presidential candidates are being asked to sign. It includes promises to oppose abortion, pornography, same-sex marriage, and non-monogamy, and to promote large families. As a bonus, candidates pledge to be faithful to their spouses.
I reported that Rick Santorum and Michelle Bachmann had already signed.
Now it seems that Bachmann's husband Marcus is a psychologist, and that together they own and operate a counseling clinic in Minnesota. Let's overlook the extraordinary hypocrisy that they've collected over $100,000 in government subsidies for the clinic---while Michelle is making her career by damning all government spending on anything except the military and the defense of heterosexual marriage.
Instead, let's look at the investigative report aired on ABC News, detailing what goes on in the Bachmann Clinic. It seems that this state-licensed clinic, operated by Michelle's state-licensed husband, is enthusiastically offering to "cure" gays of their homosexuality---through faith-healing.
In this clip, we see former patients discussing their "treatment," and the result of undercover cameras recording sessions. Patients are told how "normal" people are hard-wired to be heterosexual, which gays can supposedly recapture through prayer and related activities.
According to almost every mainstream professional psychological association these are totally unacceptable diagnostic and treatment procedures. In fact, "This is so far outside the mainstream it's practically on Mars," says psychiatrist Dr. Jack Drescher, an expert on attempts at gay conversion.
When asked about the highly unethical, potentially dangerous, and discredited faith healing done at the clinic---based on outdated and ideological assumptions about sexual orientation---Bachmann said she couldn't comment because she was too busy "focusing on jobs and the economy." But she wasn't too busy focusing on that stuff to sign a campaign pledge centered on the issues of sexual lifestyle and privacy. According to this campaign pledge, President Bachmann will focus on such non-economic issues as abortion, same-sex marriage, monogamy, contraception, and pornography. While candidate Bachmann talks about jobs, apparently President Bachmann will focus on Americans' sex lives.
So what is it candidate Michelle? Are you going to focus on something real---the economy---or on something strictly symbolic and opportunistic? If you had integrity and were consistent, wouldn't you say much of what's in that pledge is none of the government's damn business?
To the sexually illiterate, everything is about sex. And once again, we see that the tea party wants to shrink government smaller and smaller until it can fit underneath your bedroom door.
(For an entertaining and scathing criticism of the Republican morality pledge, see Whoopi Goldberg here on The View.)
As next month's GOP straw poll in Iowa draws ever closer, all Republicans who wish to be President are being urged to sign "The Marriage Vow: A Declaration of Dependence Upon Marriage & Family."
Michelle Bachmann and Rick Santorum have already signed.
The Pledge is a bizarre combination of 1950s sexual conservatism and Cold War-style doomsday-ism (it opposes "infanticide" and the "enslavement" of military wives), which it blends into an obsession with marriage and morality. It claims, with an absolutely straight face, that "candidates' positions on core values, such as marriage, correlate directly to their moral stances on energy issues, sound budgeting, national defense, and economic policies."
Apparently, these people either don't realize that George W. Bush was a devout Christian, or they don't notice that he personally directed the rape of America's environment, destruction of its budget surplus, or invasion of a country that posed no threat to us whatsoever.
And while we're at it, let's remember that Richard Nixon was a devoted husband and father who lied to America so profoundly, about such important things, that he actually had to quit office. Ronald Reagan, on the other hand, was a divorced man with a colorful past who was conservative to his core. FDR ran around on Eleanor, and rescued America during the depression. Anyone really prefer Hoover?
It's time someone stood up and said the obvious: a President's relationship to his wife, his kids, and his dog are no predictor of his fitness for office. Ditto a female President.
In addition to its garden-variety opposition to same-gender marriage, candidates signing the Marriage Pledge also:
* acknowledge that "robust childbearing and reproduction is beneficial to the U.S.;"
* recognize a category called "stolen innocence," which includes "seduction into promiscuity" and "all forms of pornography"---which must be opposed;
* realize the alleged statistical evidence that "married people enjoy better sex."
This last bit of junk science goes hand-in-glove with the "science" of creationism.
Interestingly, the 14-point Marriage Pledge doesn't demand that candidates be held responsible for keeping their political promises. It just makes the wild assumption that people who support monogamy and oppose contraception are more likely to do so. Putting aside the illogic of this, don't these people read the papers, which continually announce the sexual foibles of the professedly moral?
Instead of grilling candidates on how they will keep predatory, irresistable gay soldiers from seducing, bullying, or depressing our weak, defenseless heterosexual soldiers, I'd prefer a pledge requiring candidates to:
* explain the Separation of Powers that underlies the American system of government;
* name one advantage of any non-American government in the world;
* promise to tell the truth about both themselves and their opponents, and pledge to immediately resign if found to have lied about either one.
I'd also like to see candidates commit to either ending all tax deductions for religious institutions, or require them to stay out of politics. I'd prefer both, but I'd settle for one.
In case you missed it, let me repeat: those who wish to be U.S. President are being asked to pledge their opposition to contraception, pornography, "easy" divorce, and the separation of Church & state, while affirming their support for heterosexual monogamy.
I hope every Republican aspirant signs this. Let them finally admit their alleged positions. Watch the anointed candidate squirm when he or she has to recant once the election campaign starts.
Among its many hysterical positions, the Marriage Pledge demands rejection of "anti-women Sharia Islam." This seems contradictory; after all, with its opposition to contraception, abortion, divorce, pornography, promiscuity, and its demand that religious morality be the basis of political decision-making, it seems that Sharia--minus the headscarves and stoning for adultery--is exactly what this Pledge demands.
If so, nominate it!
Yes, annual nominations are now open for the Best Sexuality Blogs. Competition is fierce, as we're up against erotic stories, daily journals, videos, and sex advice. But surely there's room for Sexual Intelligence among all that sexy stuff.
If you'd like to help put Sexual Intelligence on the cyber-map, either
1) click here and leave a comment on the webpage, OR
2) email rori (at) betweenmysheets.com.
Either way, just include our URL (www.sexualintelligence.wordpress.com) and a simple sentence about why this blog's so great.
Nominations close August 31, which gives you plenty of time to forget all about it. So do it this very second. Hurry!