Sexual Intelligence
An Electronic Newsletter

Written and published by Marty Klein, Ph.D.

Issue #15 -- May 2001


1. National Masturbation Day
2. Sexual Problem Solved--Or Exacerbated?
3. Yahoo Betrays Silent Majority
4. Sex Offenders: One Size Does NOT Fit All
5. Who Owns Those Cheerleaders' Bodies?
6. Cowboys, Cowgirls, and Cybersex
7. Calendar: Marty Klein's Speaking Schedule

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

1. National Masturbation Day

May 7 is here once again, a day to celebrate sex with someone you love: Mary FiveFingers or Miss Pearl Jam, as your anatomy wonts. If self-love is, as Oscar Wilde said, the beginning of a lifelong romance, masturbation is the fulfillment of a lifelong affair.

Don't let those sexual addiction police make you doubt your hobby. Masturbation is a wonderful way to comfort yourself, escape your problems, explore your sexuality, and have a moment or two of unambiguous, selfish pleasure. It's cheap and low-calorie without any aftertaste, and how many treats can boast all that? And the fantasies you can enjoy with it! Whether your taste runs to Fellini, Walt Disney, or something your neighbors haven't even thought of, celebrate it. Remember, a mind is a terrible thing to waste.

One of the best ways to observe the holiday is discussing your masturbation with your mate. Raise the subject. Demonstrate, if you wish. If you have kids, show your love by raising the issue and telling them that most kids do it and yes it feels good and of course it's OK (and sure, it's also OK not to touch yourself). The more difficult these conversations are for you, the more important they are.

"What I like about masturbation," Truman Capote said, "is that it's a chance to have sex without having to get all dressed up." On May 7, dress for success.

2. Sexual Problem Solved--Or Exacerbated?

The latest product that promises to improve your sex life is Deferol. For a buck a day, it supposedly increases "male climax control" by increasing the body's serotonin/dopamine ratio and chemically reducing anxiety.

The worst thing about this "dietary supplement" is its justification--the American Academy of Family Physicians's claim that "up to 40% of U.S. males have difficulties with premature ejaculation (PE) at some time in their lives." Of course this is true, but calling it a "problem" and addressing it with medication is part of our culture's relentless pathologizing of normal sexual experience. It isn't enough that men are being told that the occasional, normal lack of erection is "impotence" or "E.D." Now they know that if they come sooner than they want, they have this other disease, "P.E.", with its own literature, statistics, and medicine.

The health care industry continues to colonize sexuality--male and female, reproductive and recreational--recognizing psychological and relationship issues as little as possible. Seeing ejaculation as a dopamine issue makes as much sense as seeing female orgasm as an issue of vasocongestion--they're both necessary, but not nearly sufficient to explain or improve functioning.

America's desire to fix its sexuality with biological science and its body-as-machine metaphor is like the drunk searching for his car keys under a streetlight--that isn't where he dropped them, but the light's better there. Sexual relating is at least as complicated as finding car keys in the dark. The answer isn't perfecting the body--it's accepting the messiness of actual eroticism, which is far more challenging.

3. Yahoo Betrays Silent Majority

Once again, the sensibilities of those who want to banish pornography have triumphed over those who were minding their own damn business.

Two years after Internet mega-retailer Yahoo began selling porn videos and other adult products, word got out. Groups like the American Family Association urged people to complain, and, accusing Yahoo of peddling child porn (read, "consorting with the Devil"), urged the Attorney General to investigate.

Well, I'm offended.

I'm offended that Yahoo has caved in to pressure from people who didn't even know the products were being sold for two years, and who haven't even seen the stuff. These critics' two years of silence proves that the sales were being handled quietly and responsibly.

I'm offended that Yahoo doesn't care about my feelings, or those of millions of its pornophile customers. As usual, those who buy or watch porn, along with those who don't but don't care if others do, are considered non-entities, consumers whose voice is irrelevant. And of course we are, because there is no organized lobby to counter "let's-us-run-your-life" groups like the Eagle Forum and Moral Majority. As far as they and Yahoo are concerned, pro-choice people are not regular men and women, certainly not representative of any community standard. They think we're just a small handful of non-normal people who somehow rented and purchased over 600 million X-rated videos last year.

Given the pressure from the Right, ending sales of porn may be the smart commercial move, but it isn't the right moral move. Yahoo should issue a simple statement advising consumers that it sells many different products from the bounty of the world's factories and workshops, and that no one is expected to buy everything Yahoo sells. Choice is what America is about, and people are just as free to not buy what they don't want as they are to buy what they do want. Yahoo has missed the chance to provide a valuable civics lesson about the genius of the American economic system.

4. Sex Offenders: One Size Does NOT Fit All

A federal judge has ruled that Connecticut's online sex offender registry is unconstitutional because it fails to give non-violent sex offenders a way to appeal their inclusion. Hopefully, this is the beginning of a country-wide dialogue about the databases and other police procedures developed as part of the Megan's Law trend of the mid-90s.

The original idea--to track dangerous criminals who might strike again--was understandable. But the way it singles out sexual criminals is troubling. Why no such public database for arsonists, violent thieves, murderers? Just as sex is stigmatized among healthy people, sex-related crime is demonized among criminals.

These databases do not differentiate among types of "sex crimes." They list psychopathic rapists alongside losers who solicit vice cops for blow jobs. They list the father who terrorizes his own kid next to the 19-year-old caught having sex with his 16-year-old girlfriend. Until now, there has been no recourse for those listed in "sex crime" databases for non-violent or victimless "crimes" -- for what we'd call, in countries we don't like, political crimes.

Connecticut State Representative Jim Amann is "stunned" that the court has found this unconstitutional. He acknowledges that some individuals on the state's website don't belong there, but maintains the database has made the state safer, and that "most" sex offenders listed on the Website are dangerous. If he or his son were one of the non-dangerous offenders on the list that was making Connecticut safer, he might change his attitude. Violent or psychopathic sex offenders are dangerous, of course, and we need protection from them. But the casual construction and emotional use of these databases compromises public safety in another way.

5. Who Owns Those Cheerleaders' Bodies?

A group of Seaside High School seniors posed together recently for photos at a local Oregon playground. The young ladies lifted their cheerleader uniforms for the camera, revealing their nubile, bare breasts. The resulting photos found their way to the Web, and have police and school officials in a frenzy. Distributing "sexually explicit photos of children" is a crime, of course. The students may not be allowed to graduate, and whoever posted the pics is wanted for a felony. If convicted, she or he will, yes, have to register as a sex offender. For life.

The photos are of people who are old enough to drive and get married, not to mention get pregnant and give birth. Calling them "children" is simply an attempt to control their sexuality. Citing the desire to protect them or society from "pedophiles" is disingenuous--pedophiles have no use for the bodies of these young adults. MTV does, of course, and features endless videos of gyrating T & A. If you masturbate to nude cheerleader photos you're a criminal, whereas if you masturbate to MTV you're a consumer.

It's kind of like the way the old Soviet Union tried to expropriate all the means of production to itself. Young women's bodies can be exploited as long as a corporation is getting paid for it. These Oregon freelancers, however, are being taught who controls the moneymakers they're shaking.

After the fuss dies down, I hope these young women go back to the same location and take the same photos--with their clothes on. I hope they post them on the Net and invite people to masturbate to them.

6. Cowboys, Cowgirls, and Cybersex

Almost half of a sample of 506 students at Texas A&M University said they had accessed sexually explicit materials through the Internet. While males were more likely to masturbate at the computer, females were more likely to engage in sex chat--a young adult version of men's and women's common preferences for pornography and romance novels respectively.

According to Dr. Patricia Goodson's article in the latest Archives of Sexual Behavior, "curiosity about sex" was the primary reason students cited for seeking sexually explicit Websites; 19% said they sought salacious sites to become aroused, and 13% said they were hoping to "enhance (their) sex lives" with their real-life partner. Note how standard Internet filtering software--mandatory or voluntary--would attempt to eliminate the chance for all three. The line between "pornography" and "information" is extremely thin, and frequently depends on the context--"pornography" often being the judgement that accompanies 'you shouldn't want to know this.'

While it's great that we're beginning to find out what sorts of cybersex college students think about and do, such knowledge does not and cannot exist about high school or junior high school kids. Virtually all American schools prohibit researchers or teachers from asking kids about their sexual thoughts, feelings, or, most importantly, their activities. Thus, we don't know how to design sites to help kids deal with sex, and we don't know what sites they're using to get their sexual (mis?)information.

The present research helps illuminate the "contemporary community standards" among young people in Texas. Hopefully, the next time some poor soul gets busted there for porn or obscenity it will be clear that s/he isn't a pervert. Not among Texans, anyway.

7. CALENDAR: Marty Klein's speaking schedule

Note: Dr. Klein will be conducting monthly small-group case consultation, training, and supervision of marriage counselors and psychologists in the Los Angeles area on Fridays and Saturdays starting June 23. For more information, email <>.

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

August 19, 2001
Sexuality & Religion--Friends or Enemies?

  Center for Inquiry West
  Los Angeles

September 20-21, 2001
Human Sexuality

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

October 25, 2001
Diagnosis & Treatment of Sexual Issues

  Society for the Scientific Study of Sexuality
  San Diego

November 15-16, 2001
Human Sexuality

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

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