Sexual Intelligence
An Electronic Newsletter

Written and published by Marty Klein, Ph.D.

Issue #14 -- April 2001


1. We All Live in Utah
2. Utah, Corrected
3. Gonna Rodman? Use a Condom
4. University Runs Scared, So Rios Can't Run
5. Rios II
6. Correspondence: Your Computer's Watching
7. The Oscars--Where's the Flesh?
8. Calendar: Marty Klein's Speaking Schedule

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

1. We All Live in Utah

Officials in Provo, Utah boast that it's one of the country's most conservative cities. Not surprisingly, 4,000 residents recently petitioned to prosecute the owner of a local store for peddling obscene material--for renting X-rated videos. The U.S. Supreme Court defines obscenity as sexual material that offends "the average person, applying contemporary community standards," so the D.A. figured it would be an easy win.

The defense attorney, however, discovered that the Provo Marriott offers in-room pay-per-view sex films--and sells 3,000 a year. He then discovered that Provo's local cable TV and satellite TV companies distribute 20,000 X-rated movies a year. With this data on Provo's "community standards," the jury acquitted the video store owner in minutes.

In 1999, Americans rented over 700 million X-rated videos. Showtime grossed $367 million on erotic films. And over 20 million Americans visit at least one of the Web's 60,000 sex-oriented sites--each month.

Thus, it's particularly intolerable that the central issue around pornography in this country is danger--does it harm viewers? Actresses? Communities? And, of course, children, the vulnerable little children mentioned by everyone whose arguments criminalizing private adult behavior can't stand on their own merit?

What about questions like, Who enjoys porn? How do they integrate it into their lives? What do they like about it? How does it validate their vision of erotic wholeness and contribute to self-acceptance? How does it remind everyday people that their lust is wholesome?

We can snicker about those 4,000 people in Provo who want to take away their neighbor's rights, or complain about the people in your community who want to take away your rights. But almost no one who uses erotic materials is willing to stand up and say, "here's the face of the actual 'community standard' around here." No, we have internalized the oppression of a sex-negative culture, and acceded to the McCarthyesque fear that "they" will take away our jobs, ruin our reputations, and humiliate us profoundly if we come out as sexual beings. As a result, the "community standard" is handed to those who are frightened or angered by eroticism. We, and our children growing up in a sex-phobic culture, suffer as a result.

Those who desire to censor everyone else are only half the problem. We're the other half. And we can't do anything about them.

2. Utah, Corrected

Former "Real Personal" host Bob Berkowitz (now on points out an error in issue #13. I said the sex-talk show had its highest ratings in Salt Lake City. Actually, Salt Lake City had, not surprisingly, the show's highest per capita viewership in the country.

3. Gonna Rodman? Use a Condom

Several prominent athletes, including Patrick Ewing, Dennis Rodman, Dikembe Mutombo and Terrell Davis have been subpoenaed by prosecutors investigating Atlanta's Gold Club. The nude dance club allegedly provided sex to sports stars in order to attract publicity and customers.

So the problem here is...what?

Sounds like good old American capitalism. Most private clubs go the extra mile to attract and keep special customers: insider financial advice, access to celebrities, favorable media coverage. So here's a club that says, "stock tips, People Magazine, who needs it. Let's give these guys something they'll tell their friends about--incredible sex." If you're young and you crave action, it beats having a sandwich named after you. Maybe the Gold Club names sexual positions after their best customers--"Say Doris, I'd love a Ewing from you and Tanya." "Hey Jennifer, slam dunk me!"

If the government could find a way to go into the sex business itself--and monopolize it--the law would change overnight.

4. University Runs Scared, So Rios Can't Run

A California State University, Fullerton student was told she'd have to quit her job as a stripper if she wanted to stay on the school's track team. Leilani Rios is no ideologue--she's going to stick with stripping because "that's what's paying for my college education."

"Students competing in intercollegiate athletics are held to a higher standard than non-athletes," says the school's Athletic Director. "For the privilege of being on a team, student-athletes relinquish rights that other students retain." Exactly which rights do they relinquish? And how are those rights determined?

"Working as a stripper wasn't the best way to represent the university, the track team or me," her coach John Elders says. So he thinks a naked 21-year-old dancer was representing both him and the school, even though she did it off-campus, and was obviously not wearing her letter sweater.

But let's say Elders is right--then by which students would he prefer to be represented?

Beer-drinking, puking fraternity kids? Politically correct students who demand the removal of classic nude Greek statues because they feel sexually harassed by them? ROTC students who carry real guns with real bullets? David Duke campus groupies? These kinds of kids are allowed to represent colleges like Cal State Fullerton around the country. Perhaps Coach wants himself and the school represented by the baseball team?

In fact, that's how CSU found out about Rios's stripping--the baseball team was at the club, watching her strip. According to Rios, they were wearing their Cal State baseball sweaters and caps, clearly representing the school. And yet the players didn't receive so much as a frown, despite the university's code of conduct dictating that CSUF athletes should behave respectably and "give everyone who sees them a positive image of Titan student-athletes."

Does this disparity reflect sexism? If the shortstop were working as a stripper and the women's track team watched, would he be busted? Then the sin here wouldn't be gender, but rather sex: acknowledging it, enjoying it, selling it. Ironically, if Rios were killing herself flipping burgers at midnight for six bucks an hour, she'd be considered a role model. But making thirty bucks an hour flipping her skirt makes her dirty. Anyone who thinks the second choice exploits her more than the first is blinded by ideology--and insulting Rios's intelligence.

Once again, American institutions are instructing its young in core American sexual values--fear, discrimination, and arbitrary use of power to limit private, personal expression. That's what Leilani Rios will remember from her alma mater.

5. Rios II

In searching the Web to verify the above story, I discovered that Rios had been on her Junior College's award-winning cheerleading squad. Cheerleading: Never-ending smiles and pony tails; short skirts designed to alternately caress and reveal young flesh; kicks, gyrations, and seductive encouragement for viewers to get, um, excited. It's close to institutionally-sponsored striptease without the actual removal of clothes.

6. Correspondence: Your Computer's Watching

It appears that many of our readers are as interested in computers as in sex. The article on limiting how much our computer can reveal about our Web-surfing (issue #13) attracted more correspondence than any previous piece. Everyone made the same point: the steps described for deleting history are a good start, but they're insufficient.

Readers discussed deleting tracks on the hard drive, clearing the cache and cookies, even lowering the amount of hard-drive space that can store Web-surfing records. Interestingly, everyone said these were easily done. You might want to ask a friend to show you how to do this stuff.

Paradoxically, this second article we've now done on computer privacy heightens my sense of vulnerability. I can easily imagine the authorities wondering why I'm so concerned about confidentiality. The honest reply, that 'sexuality is controversial and I spend a lot of time studying it,' could easily confirm my status as a potentially dangerous person, who should be scrutinized. I'm beginning to think like my colleagues who have lived in the Soviet bloc. And that troubles me.

7. The Oscars--Where's the Flesh?

While industry insiders think the Academy Awards telecast is about movies, most of the world knows that it's about looking at beautiful dresses. And for many, that's a euphemism for looking at women's bodies.

In that regard, this year's show was a mixed bag. We did get to see several inviting thighs peering out from dresses side-slit waist-high. There was some lovely cleavage, with even Dame Judi Dench showing plenty of royal flesh. But we were meticulously deprived of closeups of virtually all interesting bosoms. For example, Hillary Swank--who convincingly played a girl playing a boy in last year's "Boys Don't Cry"--displayed a surprisingly gorgeous figure that we were allowed to see once, only briefly. And although there were many backless gowns, the TV show's producers refused to let us enjoy those magic spots where a back melts into buttocks--or, as one colleague described it, of Kate Hudson's kundalini chakra.

Although it's disheartening that a pedestrian newcomer like Jennifer Lopez is considered a megawatt star, let's celebrate her insistence on sharing her body with us. While last year she bared most of her breasts, this year she showed her nipples and areolae through exquisitely sheer fabric. This once again proves the limitations of that tired old idea that showing "too much" isn't erotic. There's something to be said for in-your-face, lights-on sexuality, and it isn't said often enough. Like Cher before her, Lopez is now such a star (there, I've admitted it) that the telecast couldn't ignore her, nipples and all. Let sponsors or Australians complain--this woman is a money-making machine, and nobody's going to pull the plug.

Finally, the highlight (lowlight?) of sexual hypocrisy apparently dictated the telecast's clips for Erin Brockovich. Considering how central Julia Roberts's quasi-prosthetic, prominent bosom was to the film's marketing--including the ad campaign for Oscar votes--the golden globes were nowhere in sight on the big night. For all viewers saw, Erin could easily have been campaigning against breast implants.

In all, TV producers got what they aimed for: a show where people could look at dresses, dream of bodies, talk about movies--and pretend they weren't thinking about sex. Just like most people do at the office water cooler every workday of the year.

8. CALENDAR: Marty Klein's speaking schedule

April 20, 2001
Why Sex Therapy Fails

  Society for the Scientific Study of Sexuality
  Newport Beach, CA

May 5, 2001
Existential Issues in Sex Therapy & Sex Counseling

  American Association of Sex Educators, Counselors & Therapists
  San Francisco

June 15, 2001
Cultural Issues in Sex Therapy

  Sexualities in Transition Conference
  Dubrovnik, Croatia

September 20-21, 2001
Human Sexuality

  (satisfies CA licensing requirements)
  National Association of Social Workers
  San Francisco

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