An Electronic Newsletter
Written and published by Marty Klein, Ph.D.
1. Banned in Birmingham--Buzzing in Britain
Issue #32 -- October 2002
* * * * * * * * * * * *
1. Banned in Birmingham--Buzzing in Britain
Long-time readers know that sex toys really are illegal in Alabama (issue #9). Our British cousins are now showing us the civilized approach, as physicians have begun prescribing vibrators for women with sexual difficulties. Since doctors don't carry such things, women are being referred to "sex shops"--and the National Health Service is paying.
Meanwhile, most Yanks can't even get a prescription for an antibiotic without seeing our primary care physician, who then refers us to the specialist we really wanted to consult, who then sees us--a month later. An American needing a vibrator could die of horniness by then.
Around the world, vibrators are more easily accepted as medical devices than as pleasure devices. Although everyone knows that people eat for pleasure, not just nutrition, many professionals and institutions still can't see pleasure as a legitimate aspect of sex alongside intimacy and procreation.
It will be a long time before Good Vibrations is a Blue Shield
2. Ban Spermicide--Get Pregnant?
The World Health Organization and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control have concluded that the common spermicide nonoxynol-9 actually increases the risk of acquiring HIV. The harsh N-9, as it's called, irritates the lining of the vagina and, particularly, the more delicate rectum, leaving the body more susceptible to STDs including HIV.
Over a third of all condoms sold in the U.S. are lubricated with N-9, which for years has been described as making condoms more effective. Although many brands have discontinued using N-9, the best-selling brands such as Trojan and Durex still use it.
Before you throw your condoms away and start rolling the dice every time you have anal or vaginal intercourse, however, remember this: any condom with N-9 will protect you better than no condom. That's especially true when the main risk is unintended pregnancy rather than HIV--which is the far greater danger for most Americans who can conceive or impregnate.
Every day we read new health studies about what we eat, breathe,
and do. It's important to understand what the science actually says--which our
press does a poor job of explaining, and our public education doesn't prepare
us for. The N-9 studies compared condoms with N-9 to condoms without N-9. The
results are important, but for many people still struggling to say the word
condom or keep one in a purse, the study misses the point completely--and the
press is, once again, more interested in heightening our emotions than our understanding.
3. Today Motel Porn--Tomorrow Motel Sex?
Almost every issue we report a story of sexual repression in America that sounds too extreme to be true, featuring behavior that can't possibly attract too many followers. And sooner or later, we run a followup story showing that what seemed like an isolated incident of wacky erotophobia was, unfortunately, the lubricant on a real-life slippery slope.
Two years ago (issue # 6) we reported that Omni Hotels had decided to remove adult films from the in-room, pay entertainment system at its 30 properties. Owner Bob Rowling didn't feel it was right to profit from adult movies. He did, of course, continue to profit from violent in-room movies, and those three-dollar mini-bar cokes.
This wasn't, alas, an isolated event. After a Cincinnati morality group threatened to invite the district attorney to examine their pay-per-view adult menu, the local Marriott and several other hotels pulled their sexy movies.
Flushed with success, the vigilantes are now planning to impose their deviant agenda nationwide. Citizens for Community Values and several other groups have formed a coalition to urge Attorney General John Ashcroft and the Justice Department to eliminate all hotel porn.
These are tenacious people who have been rooting out eroticism--not just sex--anywhere they can: members' clubs, topless bars, nude beaches, sex education, art galleries. Your private hotel room is now high on their agenda.
These groups are fundamentally hypocritical: the complain that pornography is everywhere they look, and at the same time claim it "violates community standards." In-room hotel movies make $500 million a year, over half of it from adult-oriented files. So it's not just one or two sickos buying it.
This is why it's so important to stand up and say "I look at porn" when the censors demonize users, claiming that only perverts use the stuff--"them," not "us." When they come to your town--and they will--make sure you let them know it's "us."
Things will change when all porn users adorn their car with
the bumper sticker, "I watch porn--and I vote."
4. Lambda Legal Offers Toolkit
October is National Family Sexuality Education Month. It's a great time to remind everyone that research has now proven that kids whose parents talk with them openly about sexuality and decision-making make better sexual choices--postponing first intercourse, and using contraception when they have intercourse. When we look at the sexuality-related decisions made by our national leaders--such as cutting funding for world-wide contraception and preventing gay people from marrying or adopting kids--it's clear that family sexuality education is a crucial social need, not some luxury we can or cannot afford.
One of the most destructive programs ever launched against America's children has been the deliberate takeover of school sex education by Right-wing political activists. In school districts across the country, these people have successfully replaced sex education with programs teaching that sex is dangerous for everyone except legally married individuals.
Lambda Legal has now released a kit to educate parents and other citizens about the dangers of "abstinence-only" programs, and to help people make sure their local school district is teaching accurate and inclusive sex education. Tell Me the (Whole) Truth: School Supplies To Get Real Sex Education is an action-oriented resource that addresses the effects of "abstinence-only" programs on youth and their communities. The kit includes:
* Factual background on the differences between "abstinence-only" programs and real sex education;To download or order the kit, see www.LambdaLegal.org.
* Statements from national education and health groups on the need for comprehensive, accurate sex education;
* Questions to ask to find out whether "abstinence-only" programs are being taught in local school districts;
* Tips for working with local school boards to secure real sex education;
* Samples of school board testimony, letters to schools and opinion pieces for local newspapers.
5. Censorship: Hazardous to Censors?
Two years ago we talked about employee assistance programs that could mitigate the dangers to those poor vice cops who somehow had to watch dozens of stripclub performances before they could gather enough "evidence" to bust them (issue #6). Now we need to consider the mental health of their poor cousins, the censors.
New Zealand's Office of Film and Literature Classification--the government's censorship board--has decided that its 12 censors deserve hazardous duty pay. They will start receiving $498 a year to spend on activities such as piano lessons that help get rid of the "psychological pollution" encountered in their work.
Like all censors, chief censor Bill Hastings says material containing pornography has the potential to harm those who watch it--without, of course, citing any actual evidence.
But could a few piano lessons or basket-weaving classes possibly undo the ravaging effects of pornography on these good people? If a small amount of porn is so damaging to the average person that it's reason enough to undermine democracy, how much more damaging is tons of porn to someone with refined sensibility? Instead of $498, New Zealand should make the hazard allowance $10,000 per month, and conduct open interviews for the position.
If porn really does pollute people's minds, why are censors--called
upon to view intense quantities of it--often chosen from teachers, judges, and
those with positions of responsibility, even having access to children? We really
can't trust these people to participate in normal society. After 30 days on
the job, "psychologically polluted" censors should be pastured out on
a remote Pacific island where they can't hurt anyone.
6. Sexually Healthy Faith Communities
Many people know Debra Haffner as the executive director who made SIECUS the international leader in sex education advocacy. Since leaving SIECUS three years ago, Haffner has embarked on a dramatic journey. She has finished divinity school, will soon be ordained as a Unitarian Universalist minister, and has now co-founded the Religious Institute on Sexual Morality, Justice, and Healing.
The Institute's mission is mobilizing the nation's religious denominations, congregations, and clergy to promote healthy sexuality. The Institute's founding declaration is a gorgeous document which affirms that sexuality is a life-fulfilling divine gift. Signed by more than 2000 clergy and theologians, it calls upon faith communities to integrate sexual minorities, offer quality sexuality counseling, challenge sexual oppression, and support comprehensive sexuality education in schools and religious institutions.
One of the great things about the Institute is that it isn't simply a bunch of radical clergy and marginal denominations congratulating themselves. Haffner and co-founder Rev. Larry Greenfield have attracted the participation of seminary faculty, Catholic bishops, and other mainstream people of faith. In her new guide A Time to Build, Haffner shows how all congregations--from Catholic to Lutheran to Mennonite--can use their own fundamental theological statements to relieve sexual suffering, promote the sexual health of clergy, and affirm sexuality for all congregants.
Haffner not only tells religious leaders and their flocks that they should and can support healthy sexuality, she shows how--in a language that shimmers with both faith and justice.
For more information about the Religious Institute or the Declaration, see www.ReligiousInstitute.org or call 203/840-1148.
You may quote anything herein, with the
"Reprinted from Sexual Intelligence, copyright © Marty Klein, Ph.D. (www.SexEd.org)."