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.
Life has few guarantees—and even fewer when it comes to sex.
However, there are things that are guaranteed to make sex less enjoyable. How many of these have you done lately? How many of these do you think are part of "normal sex"? Imagine how much more you'd enjoy sex if you and your partner eliminated a few (or all!) of these:
* Insist that orgasm is the goal (for both of you)
Orgasm lasts a few seconds, making it a tiny fraction of any sexual experience. And while orgasms can be delightful, no orgasm is good enough to make up for sex that is annoying, mechanical, or emotionally frustrating.
If you're having trouble climaxing, try relaxing instead of working hard. Do what's pleasurable, what makes you glad to be there, and what makes you feel connected to your partner. If that doesn't lead to an orgasm, you haven't wasted your time—you've enjoyed sex.
And if your partner at some point looks at you and says "I don't think I'm gonna cum tonite," let it go—don't insist on pushing for an orgasm. After all, your partner's orgasm, if they have one, is for their satisfaction—not your sense of accomplishment.
* Tease the other person about their body
Most of us are a bit insecure about our bodies: too much here, not enough there, hair where it isn't wanted, not enough where it is wanted. Bumps from shaving or waxing. Shapes that aren't like Greek statues. A scar, blemish, or skin condition. Lack of symmetry (eyes, nipples, anything that comes in pairs).
And yet we keep coming back to sex, where we take off our clothes and invite someone to admire—or judge—our body.
Go ahead of admire. Don't judge. If you don't like every part of your partner's body, focus on the parts you do like. If you can't find one single thing to enjoy—the smell of their hair, the curve of their shoulder, the taste of their neck, the firmness of their calves—pay closer attention, and let go of your stereotypes about what's attractive. Or get a new partner.
But don't, don't, don't tease someone about their body—unless they LOVE their body. Hardly anyone likes it. And it make some people shrivel up inside—which will soon translate into them shriveling up on the outside. And if you can't help yourself, if you absolutely can't keep from teasing your partner about their body—maybe you have a problem much bigger than their big butt.
If you want to discuss a concern about your partner's body, do it outside of the bedroom, when you're feeling close.
* Refuse to touch your own genitalia
Most people masturbate, usually by stroking their vulva or penis. And most people would rather die than do the same thing in front of a partner.
What a shame. How else can you show how you like to be touched? How else can you give yourself a bit of extra pleasure when you want it? How else can you apply lube to yourself, or insert a penis into you (or your penis into someone else)?
Some people can only climax with their own hand. Instead of seeing this as a problem or a "dysfunction," shrug it off as your own personal style, and put yourself over the top. If you do so, make sure you stay in touch with your partner—with your eyes, your mouth, or your other hand. Or theirs.
* Freak out if you fart (or queef) during sex
Our bodies are just a festival of fluids, sounds, and smells—many of which are on display during sex. And while some of these are welcome additions to sex (vaginal lubrication, moans of pleasure, the smell of arousal), others are definitely NOT welcome.
Farts are the most unwelcome of all.
So what do you do when you or your partner um, pass gas? You let it pass. You don't need to say "excuse me," don't need to hide, and certainly don't need to stop having sex. If you're in the middle of being real excited, you can certainly keep doing what you're doing. In any case, about 20 seconds after it happens, you'll both forget about it.
Unless you hold onto the unwanted moment, preparing your apology for later.
Don't do that. Grownups know that lots of things occasionally happen during sex: a little urine, a little drooling, a belch, a sneeze. It's because we do this glorious thing—sex—with this pedestrian thing we don't entirely respect—our bodies.
Oh, what's a queef? That's just an expulsion of air from the vagina, typically during or after something goes in and out of it, over and over. It can't be gas (that isn't how the plumbing is arranged), so it can only be air. But it sounds like a fart, so some people feel guilt (or embarrassment) by association.
* Obsess that you don't smell or taste good "down there"
I hear there are people who enjoy the taste of broccoli. Really? It's hard to predict what someone will enjoy smelling or tasting—and even harder to understand it.
In oral sex, there shouldn't really be a "giver" and "receiver", just two people sharing some flesh, some dampness, and some enjoyment. So if you have trouble understanding why your partner enjoys licking or sucking you, ask; and then you really should believe them.
If you're concerned about how you smell or taste, just say so—"I'm not sure I'm real fresh down there right now." Thanks for the warning, friend. Then let your partner decide for themselves. If you hear "Mmm, lovely," believe it. If your partner continues in an enthusiastic way, believe it. If you're baffled by your partner's enjoyment, be grateful rather than pushing them away.
And if you're certain you wouldn't like the way you smell or taste down there, don't lick yourself.
"Mom, what's an erection?"
"Dad, what's ED?"
If you're terrified of questions like these, TV ads for Viagra and Cialis are your worst nightmare. Fortunately, the ultra-conservative Parents Television Council has your back: they have the TV commercial schedule for these products listed on their website. That way, you can either prevent your kid from watching the programs that show them (from radical-left broadcasters like Major League Baseball and NBC's Nightly News), or distract him/her when the 45 seconds of lurid images of loving couples slash across your screen.
Yes, in families where cancer, Syria, and Donald Trump are discussed at the dinner table, conversations about erections and sex are still, apparently, taboo. What universe are these frightened parents living in? One in which kids don't wonder about penises, or think about sex? One in which kids don't look at porn and see penises and sex? One in which young people won't eventually grow up to become adults who have sex?
Many parents live in a world in which they're uncomfortable talking about sexuality. I'm sympathetic about their discomfort, but outraged about how they're dealing with these feelings—depriving their kids of information, and encouraging norms of secrecy and silence.
Parenting is full of conversations that parents find uncomfortable. It starts early, with "I know you don't want to brush your teeth at night, but I say you have to." It continues with "I know the other kids think it's dorky, but you have to wear a helmet when you bike." And don't forget "I know you're broken-hearted that you can't play soccer today, but I warned there would be consequences if you were late to school again this week."
I've heard parents complain about all the sex questions they're being forced to deal with these days: What's a homosexual? What's a transsexual? What's a prostitute? Why do some people hate them? What's a blow job? Why do people want to do that?
No matter how discomfiting, questions like these do represent some expectation of communication by a child. The only thing worse than having to deal with questions you don't like is NOT having to deal with them—because your kid refuses to ask, or knows she or he will get a non-answer.
The truth is, kids need instruction about sexuality the same as they do in all other aspects of life. To address that need, one single "The Talk" isn't nearly sufficient; kids need an ongoing conversation that lasts most of the 18 years that they live with you. If you're fortunate, it even extends beyond the time your kid leaves home for college or elsewhere.
When kids are young, many conversations about sexuality involve plumbing and logistics. Values are essential, too: how to decide when and with whom to have sex, how to treat people you have sex with, what responsibilities come along with the decision and the pleasure (we hope) of sex.
Backward-looking groups like Parents Television Council and the National Center on Sexual Exploitation (the re-branded Morality in Media, which was a far more honest name) aim to solve the "problem" of uncomfortable adults by limiting commercials that encourage questions they'd rather not answer.
But such commercials provide a golden opportunity to provide accurate information and clarify your values around sexuality and decision-making (yes, "morality"). We don't need fewer conversations with our kids about sex, we need MORE. As usual, hiding information and stories we don't like creates more problems than it solves. The response to TV commercials we don't like is talking about them, not eliminating them.
No one likes answering questions that they're uncomfortable with. But doing so is a key aspect of raising kids properly. In fact there's a special word for conversations with your child that you're uncomfortable with. It's called Parenting.\