Sexual Intelligence
An Electronic Newsletter

Written and published by Marty Klein, Ph.D.

Issue #26 -- April 2002


1. Better Nude Than Screwed
2. Child Porn Extortion Attempt
3. The Smoking Gun--Feds Against Sex Information
4. Wilder Leaves Us, Richer
5. The Church & Godly Sex


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1. Better Nude Than Screwed

Playboy is doing it again--reminding us that there's a playful side to much of what drives us crazy, and that sex can often be part of it. They also have a genius for puncturing pomposity--after they raise its ire.

The magazine wants to create a Women of Enron feature and is inviting female employees to pose. Yes, women who have been laid off and robbed of their life savings will be offered money to take off their clothes and entertain others. Some people will instinctively condemn the horror of these women being "exploited." But exactly how much did those high-minded citizens yell about these women being exploited by Enron? No, anti-porn crusaders only care about women as bodies--bodies to be covered up, to be used as political vehicles, bodies whose eroticism must be controlled by laws, because the brains attached to them can't be trusted.

And which of these anti-sex faux feminists will offer the Enron women the kind of money that Playboy will? I say the second you offer any of these women a job that pays $100,000 a year, you get to sit in judgment about their choice.

Meanwhile, pity the poor middle manager Men of Enron who can't score some big money as easily as the women. Ask any of them how much they'd love to be "exploited" for that kind of cash.

2. Child Porn Extortion Attempt

We predicted this would happen, and now it has.

A recent extortion attempt against two Tallahassee pediatricians tells us as much about ourselves as it does about greed: the criminals threatened to spread false rumors that the doctors were involved in child pornography. Each physician received CDs with digitally created images of young children having sex, blended with the doc's name and address.

While these criminals are solely to blame for their attempted crime, they have accomplices. Their threats could only be credible with the cooperation of:

The good news is, hardly anyone tries to extort money by threatening to expose someone's homosexuality anymore. That's sooo twentieth century.

3. The Smoking Gun--Feds Against Sex Information

If you thought that the mission of the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention was to, um, prevent and control disease--you're wrong. It's really about a federally-funded power base promoting a particular vision of life--one that's out of touch with the lives of most of America's youth. It's the kind of thing we sneer at in China and Iran.

Recently, it was discovered that the CDC website linked to, among other things,, a sex-positive site which explains how youths can protect themselves from disease by using safe sex practices such as condoms. The scientific research is clear: accurate information about sex leads to more responsible, healthier sexual behavior.

But science is not in vogue right now in Washington, which sponsors the largest scientific enterprise in human history. The Physicians Consortium doesn't approve of science when they complain that the CDC has given advice about safe sex rather than promoting abstinence (to millions of teens who are already sexual). Many Congressmembers didn't approve of science when they endorsed Florida Rep. Dave Weldon's complaint that helping teens understand their sexual feelings "conflicts with the message that millions of parents try to reinforce in their children each day." The Department of Health and Human Services threw science away when they stated the issue was partly about "age-appropriateness of the material." And the Bush administration ignored science when it pressured CDC chief Jeff Koplan to "resign" a few weeks ago because it wants to use the abstinence-until-marriage message for its HIV education programs. This puts President Bush on the same level as Republic of South Africa President Thabo Mbeki, who plans to fight AIDS but doesn't believe HIV causes it (issue #17).

Take a moment to remember the 1925 Scopes monkey trial, in which a Tennessee high school biology teacher was charged with illegally teaching the theory of evolution. Americans of the day thought their age was exactly as modern as we think ours is. And, in fact, it was.

4. Wilder Leaves Us, Richer

Billy Wilder died last week at age 93. The writer/director was nominated for 21 Academy Awards, and won six times. Both "The Lost Weekend" and "The Apartment" won Best Picture Oscars. "Some Like It Hot" was honored as the funniest film of all time by the American Film Institute.

Wilder made a lot of movies about sexuality, including "Some Like It Hot," "The Apartment," "Irma La Douce," "Kiss Me Stupid," and "The Seven-Year Itch." Whether in comedy or drama, he typically portrayed sexual feelings and impulses honestly. From Tom Ewell ogling Marilyn Monroe to Joe E. Brown proposing to Jack Lemmon in drag to Jack Lemmon struggling with the ethics of lending his apartment for his co-workers' trysts, Wilder presented sexuality unapologetically and usually unromantically.

Wilder's characters seemed real in the dumb, even self-destructive things they periodically did around sex. His films' characters generally understood what others thought and felt about sex, which was what often drove the action forward. For Wilder, sexuality was sometimes a character, sometimes a characteristic, and always part of the complex human palette.

In "Some Like It Hot," Tony Curtis and Jack Lemmon spend half a film in dresses and heels. Incredibly, they do it without condescending to the audience, to women, or to any sexual minorities or erotic desires. Playing the comedy straight was not only screamingly funny, it was respectful. It was adult. No one pretended the film wasn't about sex, yet no one had to make lame condom jokes or show butt cleavage to hammer the point home. It's way too hard to find a film these days involving sexuality that's adult, respectful of eroticism, and entertaining.

Wilder's "Kiss Me, Stupid" was one of his few commercial misses. It was condemned by the Catholic League when released in 1964 because of its subject: the difficulty of fidelity. Such a condemnation would be a badge of honor to many artists. Nevertheless, Wilder himself downplayed the "message" of his films. "Never bore people," he said, "And if you have something important to say, wrap it in chocolate." As we lose Billy Wilder, the chocolate right now is bittersweet.

5. The Church & Godly Sex

Everyone is talking about the seemingly unending revelations of Catholic priest sexual misconduct. It's a great media story, because it involves both sex and sanctimony--not only on the part of the Church, but on the part of the media as well. As usual, USA Today, Newsweek, and network TV are promoting the unfolding scandal to titillate viewers about sexuality, while simultaneously bemoaning how awful all that sexual behavior is.

It's a familiar trajectory: OJ > Monica > Gary Condit > Church scandals. Media consumers apparently love this perfect expression of our sex phobic/sex obsessive culture: we get to enjoy the titillation, feel guilty, and be self-righteous all at the same time. It's a Rube Goldberg machine made necessary by a society that can't simply accept sexuality for what it is.

That said, what of the Catholic Church and its priests? It's foolish to suggest that the Church is a snakepit of pedophilia. But it is rather remarkable that an organization based on rigid sexual norms for congregants and rigid sexual perversity for clergy apparently has an institutional problem with sexual acting out.

The Church works hard to inspire our compassion for each other. In this instance, however, the Church's decades-long (centuries-long?) experience of its own sexual frailties has resulted not in compassion but in unremitting judgment, rigidity, and condemnation. How dare the Church denounce gays, the non-monogamous, the pre-maritally sexual, and the divorced for celebrating their sexuality when the Church can't get clear about its own?

As we said last month (issue #25), that's the apology the Church really owes us: not for a few priests who have hurt a few young people (although that is surely due), but for an institution wallowing in internal conflict that condemns the rest of us for the exact same struggle.

The lesson for our world is that sexuality is far too important to be left to religion. The only safety lies in taking the leap--into using your own values to assess your sexual desires and behavior, and in
understanding the difference between feelings, fantasies and desires on the one hand, and behavior on the other.

The danger for most people lies not in sexual perversion, but in using external standards to evaluate whether you are perverse or normal. Until the Church trusts congregants enough to help them understand and accept their own personal sexuality, the Church's ideas on how to live sexually should simply be ignored. If the Church really wants us to express our sexuality in a Godly way, it should teach people how to locate and celebrate the Godly sexual feelings inside them, rather than imposing a one-size-fits-all ideology of eroticism on everyone.

The Church has a double standard: on the one hand, it says that sexuality is so important that we must live according to narrow Church rules. On the other hand, it says that sex is so trivial that its leadership need have no experience with it. Regardless of the historical accident that resulted in a celibate clergy, how can anyone doubt that this massive institutionalization of ignorance presents a dangerous blind spot to those who wish to lead divine lives?


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