Sexual Intelligence
An Electronic Newsletter

Written and published by Marty Klein, Ph.D.

Issue #16 -- June 2001


1. All Fluids Are Not Equal
2. Polygamy: The Olympic Marriage Event?
3. APA Embarrasses Itself Again
4. Correspondence
5. Can Gays "Change?"
6. Bumper Sticker of the Month
7. It Really Does Happen Here
8. Memo to Rudy
9. Case Consultation Group in Sexuality
10. Calendar--Marty Klein's Speaking Schedule

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

1. All Fluids Are Not Equal

The British can be a bit obsessive about detail, regardless of the subject.

It seems that British censors will tolerate videos depicting urination by either sex, but not in the context of sexual activity, where it is considered "degrading and obscene." It's OK to show peeing before sex and after sex, but not during sex.

Note the precision with which British censors draw their lines: It's OK for a man to ejaculate in his partner's face, because that's part of sex. But it is not OK for anyone to urinate in a partner's face, because that's "degrading." One wonders who is supposedly degraded--giver, recipient, or both. Like all censoring bodies, the government steals participants' rights to consent to this activity, or to watch others who consent.

British censors report that "expert medical advice states there is no such thing as female ejaculation," so any fluid women expel during sex is considered urine. There goes the G Spot defense. Question: What if someone urinates during sex accidentally--is that illegal? What if people do so off to the side, rather than on a partner? Will incontinent people sue to overturn this discrimination?

And is it now illegal for a video to show someone pretending to urinate on a partner's face during sex? The Brits have invented a new kind of kinky sex--the illicit thrill of watching someone pretending to play water sports.

2. Polygamy: The Olympic Marriage Event?

Notorious Utah polygamist Tom Green was convicted this month in the state's first bigamy trial in nearly five decades. John Bucher, Green's attorney, claims Green was targeted because he "shot his mouth off, and stuck out like a sore thumb." Not smart right before the state's upcoming Winter Olympics, Tom. Utah is eager to show the world how modern it is while maintaining its Mormon traditions--such as the excommunication of women who challenge male authority and strict prohibitions on alcohol sales.

Polygamy presents an embarrassing dilemma for Utah. Many modern Mormons, including Governor Mike Leavitt, are descended from practicing polygamists. Church founders taught that divine revelation allowed men multiple wives. This certainly facilitated the Mormon program of conceiving as many children as possible. Green himself has fathered over 25 children, which threatens society far more than having 5 wives.

In anticipation of statehood, the church abandoned the practice in 1890, and six years later Utah became a state--on the condition that polygamy be expressly prohibited in the state's Constitution. New theological doctrine has somehow been found to support the church's contemporary political needs. It appears that tax exemptions for its billion-dollar real estate empire are more important than ideological continuity.

In an era of high divorce rates and non-marital cohabitation, you'd think conservatives would appreciate Green, who believes in marriage so much that he keeps doing it.

There is the minor detail that several of Green's wives aren't old enough to drive--or to have started high school--but officials and citizens who focus on that aspect of his case are hypocritical. Utah's care for its young people ends with their sexual health. Although 15-year-olds can legally marry in Utah, the state prohibits comprehensive sexuality education, even denying them the information that condoms can prevent unwanted pregnancy and the spread of STDs, including AIDS.

Frankly, monogamy has a pretty poor track record among most religious groups in America. It has been replaced by serial monogamy--actually, by serial marriage that often ends up non-monogamous. Adultery is the non-Mormon version of polygamy. Most people don't marry everyone they have sex with. Maybe Tom Green does.

Someone has suggested to Green that people like him gather their families, move to the desert, and start their own town. "We did--it's called Salt Lake City," he replies. As the Good Book says, communities reap what they sow.

3. APA Embarrasses Itself Again

It isn't enough to learn lessons in life; you have to learn the right lessons. Having learned to not stick its hand in the oven, The American Psychiatric Association (APA) has now put its hand into the fireplace.

In 1999 Temple University's Dr. Bruce Rind and colleagues undertook a comprehensive meta-study of adult-child sexual contact. Analyzing 59 studies containing 37,000 individuals, it was peer-reviewed and published in the APA's Psychological Bulletin. Its conclusion was extraordinarily good news--that such experiences affect different people very differently. An impressive number of adults reported little or no harm from their childhood experiences. This is cause for celebration, and the re-evaluation of common beliefs about how toxic American childhood can be.

However, because it challenged cherished cultural myths and the livelihood of the recovery industry and anti-porn activists, the report was ferociously attacked--not on grounds of methodology, but on the unacceptability of its results. Congress denounced the report, and the APA apologized for printing the article. Members resigned from the APA in disgust; more importantly, the public was deprived of valuable information about childhood and adult sexuality.

The APA has apparently not learned its lesson. A recent article by Emory University's Dr. Scott Lilienfeld describing this watershed scientific and political event went through peer review and was slated for APA publication when editor Richard McCarty suddenly decided it needed further review, killing it. Once again, the accusation wasn't inadequate science--it was simply too embarrassing. The APA again faces questions about its integrity.

This is the kind of abdication of responsibility that has left psychology in the hands of Oprah and Dr. Laura.

The goal of science is not to validate common perception, prejudice, or political need. Science has special methods that make its conclusions valuable. A profession that isn't willing to insist on the significance of its own work when it challenges social perception isn't a profession--it's a propaganda apparatus. The continuing retreat of the APA from scientific truth bolsters the public's suspicion that psychology is no more than the mystification of common sense.

Politicians, citizens, and clinicians who attack scientific results because they make them uncomfortable are fully implicated in this mess. Just as we get the leaders we deserve, I suppose we get the professions we deserve as well.

4. Correspondence

"Calling people who solicit vice cops for blow jobs "losers" (issue #15) is a slam against people who do business with prostitutes, and confirmation of a misinformed stereotype. You should know better. Other than that, good column."

--David Steinberg, author & photographer

I'm glad to have the chance to clarify what I meant. It isn't buying sex that makes someone a loser--it's getting caught in the grinding machinery of the government's obsession with controlling our sexuality. People who pay hookers needn't feel ashamed. It's all of us taxpayers who pay the vice cops' salaries who should be ashamed.

More Correspondence

"Regarding the Oregon high school cheerleaders (getting busted for showing their breasts, (issue #15): Under federal law, the baring of underage breasts is not a crime. Under Oregon law it might be a crime, as the law ambiguously defines "sexually explicit conduct" as including "lewd exhibition of sexual or other intimate parts." However, whether the baring of breasts was meant to be lewd (meaning to arouse the viewer) or just done in good adolescent fun would probably be an easy argument to win in Oregon.

"I think you can feed people's hysteria about these issues by avoiding a clear-headed assessment of the law and its application to the facts. Oregon is the only state with this particular use of "sexual or other intimate parts," though a number of states criminalize the lascivious or lewd exposure of underage female breasts, as well as buttocks."

--Larry Stanley, attorney

There are several scary things about all laws relating to public nudity. First, there's the unspoken assumption that people deserve to be protected from observing others' genitalia and women's breasts. I do not believe in this "right." It suggests that nude bodies are in some way aggressive, and that we can't be expected to tolerate them with our normal mental equipment. Second, when the legality of nudity depends on the viewer's experience, all nudity ends up being illegal, because there will always be someone, somewhere who's getting turned on by something--Sears underwear ads, the gory parts of E.R., or Al Gore smooching his wife, for God's sake.

Anti-nudity laws assume that the pain of citizens upset by nudity--in person or elsewhere in town--is greater than the pain of people who must submit to government control of their bodies and a cultural system that teaches their children to be ashamed. This is the lowest-common-erotophobic-denominator theory of Western government. It's why women can't breast-feed in most public areas, and why airline passengers feel free to demand that you put your Playboy magazine away. Supporting such a cultural norm is a big mistake.

So, were these Oregon kids behaving "lewdly" or having some adolescent fun? Unfortunately, the government has seized the right to decide--based on the impact of those teen breasts on a complaining citizen, not on non-complaining citizens, and certainly not on the young women themselves. To the extent that our bodies are potentially erotically offensive to someone, government at all levels claims a right to own them anytime it likes.

Still More Correspondence

"Your story on a drug for 'male climax control' (issue #15) reminds me of Eli Lilly's "new" drug, Sarafem--to help with the "mental illness" of premenstrual syndrome.

"Since Prozac isn't selling as well as it used to, they've decided on a new target market: women with PMS! The commercials make these women appear to be borderline psychotics with their moods swings and hot flashes. It furthers all the ridiculous stereotypes feminists like myself have been working for years to correct. They tout it as some newfangled drug that will calm hysterical women. Shades of "Mother's Little Helpers" from the '60s.

"The ads don't say that Sarafem is another version of Prozac. The only reason Eli Lilly and Company is repackaging this drug is because they have lost their patent on Prozac...ta da, introducing Sarafem!"

--Edare K. Carroll
Director of Communications, San Francisco Medical Society

5. Can Gays "Change?"

Columbia University psychiatrist Dr. Robert Spitzer recently announced a new study in which 2/3 of a gay and lesbian sample successfully went through "conversion therapy" and went straight. The results were especially newsworthy because Dr. Spitzer was central to getting the American Psychiatric Association to de-pathologize homosexuality in 1973.

Predictably, people are discussing the "meaning" of the study, passionately attacking or defending its validity. But both sides agree that if homosexuality can be "cured" or changed, gays' desire for recognition as "normal" and their demand for civil rights are less legitimate. This very assumption undermines the fight for gay equality.

The progressive dilemma stems from the common argument that "homosexuality is born and not chosen, therefore society should accept it and give gays full rights." While this is an understandable attempt to resist social oppression, it is a political mistake. Rather than argue that being gay is OK, it argues "look, we're stuck with our gayness, just like other groups are stuck with their differentness, so be fair and give us rights."

And so in order to defend basic rights for gays (and thus for all sexual people), we are forced to refute the possibility that anyone can change their sexual orientation. This posture simply isn't practical--an increasing number of people are sliding from one orientation to another during their lifetimes. Besides, "homosexual" isn't a homogenous category. Different people arrive at their sexual lifestyles through different routes. Various people identify as gay because they're attracted to the same gender, fearful of the other gender, fall in love with a particular person, and so on. It's the same for straight people, who are also not a homogeneous group. Changing sexual orientation or sexual identity will always be easier for some people than for others.

We should be insisting that homosexuality and all consenting orientations be fully accepted simply because healthy human eroticism comes in many forms, all of them equal. People who want to go through hell in the attempt to "cure" their homosexuality can do so, but any success that they have is irrelevant to others' pursuit of any sexual lifestyle.

By all means, let's attack the political issue of denying rights to various sexual subcultures, but let's not rely on the seductive but ultimately self-defeating strategy of insisting that "real" orientations are inborn and non-changeable.

6. Bumper Sticker of the Month

Bush + Dick = Screwed

7. It Really Does Happen Here

The Constitution's guarantees do not protect us from well-meaning but dangerous social workers, according to the North Carolina Court of Appeals.

In 1999, Jim and Mary Ann Stumbo were visited by a Child Protective Services worker. The agency had been called by a neighbor who saw the Stumbo's naked two-year-old run out of the house while chasing the family cat. The Stumbos refused to allow the investigator inside their home, and were taken to court, which said they should have let the social worker interview their children. They disagree. "Normally when you're going to search someone's home or invade their private family life, you need evidence that they've broken the law," attorney Scott Sommerville says. "A two-year-old chasing her kitten out the front door when she wasn't wearing her pajamas isn't evidence that the law's been broken. That's why this constitutional issue is so important."

The Fourth Amendment protects citizens from unwarranted searches. "Every year, there are approximately three million child-abuse investigations ... two-thirds of those are unfounded," Sommerville says. "This ruling now says that those three million investigations are not searches--and that therefore those two million innocent families whose lives were invaded [have] nothing to complain about because they were never searched, the Constitution doesn't apply, and social workers aren't subject to any kind of rules."

Cases like these refute the cherished notion that such things "can't happen here." Unwisely, Americans tolerate a whole series of laws, assuming they won't be used against them. Examples include sodomy laws, anti-lap dancing ordinances, and kiddie porn laws. If Mary Ann Stumbo had taken a picture of her naked two-year-old chasing that cat, she could be sitting in jail right now. It happens in America.

The Stumbo ruling shows how everyone's privacy and safety are one accusation of child abuse away from being destroyed. It's horribly reminiscent of life in the Soviet Bloc, in which ordinary citizens spent decades fearing the one accusation of treason that would destroy everything they cared about.

While America is a far cry from Romania, our government does have a huge army of County, State, and other agencies that maintain each citizen's vulnerability to the most despised accusation of our time--child abuse. The deadly figure of our nightmares is no longer a Soviet bureaucrat with his finger on the nuclear trigger. It's now an underpaid, overworked social worker just doing her job--which includes covering her ass, practicing defensive casework.

8. Memo to Rudy

New York Mayor Rudolph Giuliani continues to obsessively attack pornography, prostitution, and "indecent" art throughout the city, lecturing New Yorkers on how to live.

A wise man would understand that people make choices for many personal reasons--not all of them wise--and that a great city thrives on a wide range of options for its citizens.

While pursuing his public "morality" campaign, Mayor Giuliani has been publicly flaunting his girlfriend--although he's still married--and now describes his wife as "an uncaring mother, howling like a stuck pig."

A compassionate man would learn that life is complicated, sometimes messy, and that people should be allowed to make their private choices without government interference or media scrutiny.

The Mayor is neither wise nor compassionate. As such, he deserves neither our wise counsel nor our compassion.

9. Case Consultation Group in Sexuality

Therapists can now participate in a monthly seminar led by Dr. Marty Klein that will examine cases focusing on sexuality and intimacy. CEUs are available for MFTs & LCSWs.

Choose from:

The cost is $60 per session, with a discount for four-session advance payment. For registration or information, contact or 310/836-1662.

10. CALENDAR: Marty Klein's speaking schedule

September 29, 2001
Start of next case consultation series for psychotherapists.
  Los Angeles
  For information, call 650/856-6533, or click here.

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

  Center for Inquiry West
  Los Angeles (repeated in Costa Mesa that afternoon)

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

October 27, 2001
Sexuality in the Age of Technology: Has Anything Really Changed?

  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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