Sexual Intelligence
An Electronic Newsletter

Written and published by Marty Klein, Ph.D.

Issue #44 -- October 2003


1. JLo & Ben's Agreement
2. Senate Fights For Wrong Privacy
3. Porn'd Church Must Be Purified
4. Missouri Mistrusts Its Own
5. Alabama's Indonesian Cousins
6. Letters About Issue 43
7. Media Coverage


1. JLo & Ben's Agreement

Yes, it's a JLo story and no, SI isn't turning into the National Enquirer. We're surprised to be running a story about famous young glitterati, too, but when we saw a chance to use their story to make a point, we grabbed it.

If you follow world affairs you know that Jennifer Lopez and Ben Affleck were planning to wed this fall. Four weeks ago a bombshell dropped--Ben had been seen at a strip club! Media piranhas immediately smelled blood, even speculating--hoping?--that this would jeopardize the nuptials.

Nonsense, said La Lopez in W magazine. It was never "an issue" with them because he told her he was going, and "we don't have those kind of secrets." The idea that a strip club visit would end their relationship is "just insane," she said, and the piranhas slunk away, fins between their, uh, legs.

The assumption that every guy who indulges in porn or strip clubs does so behind his mate's back is a perfect reflection of our culture's tawdry hypocrisy. When it comes to sex, the media is devoted to dramas of jealousy, betrayal, and disaster. They give us sexuality, American-style: wildly vacillating between impossible glamour and moralistic tragedy, portraying nothing (such as normality or health) in between.

Of course, a woman who knows her man is off to Hooters for dinner and handles it matter-of-factly is of no interest to the media. It's a dog-bites-man story with no sizzle. Jen and Ben set a wonderful example when they told everyone to just get over it.

The uber-plot here is that some people have to talk about their sex lives as part of tending their careers. It's enough to make someone give up shaking their booty. If only stars would use this platform to spread a positive sexual attitude: "Yo, I'm JLo. Wanna be like me? You need more than a big, shapely ass. Talk to your guy about sex honestly, and ask him to do the same. And on behalf of all the good folks at Sexual Intelligence, use birth control when you have intercourse."

You have your JLo fantasy, we have ours.

2. Senate Fights For Wrong Privacy

The Senate has unanimously approved a bill (S. 1301) to punish video voyeurism.

The bill would make it a federal crime to knowingly "capture," via videotape, film, or photography, an "improper image" of someone, "without the consent of that individual, of the naked or undergarment-clad genitals, pubic area, buttocks, or female breast..."

As sponsors explain, the explosion of micro-camera technology has fed a growing phenomenon of video voyeurism. Hidden cameras have been discovered in bedrooms, bathrooms, locker rooms, and other places, all aimed at filming unsuspecting people in various states of undress.

It's a law every politician will support; who's willing to say "I'm in favor of covert voyeurism"?

The Congressional Budget Office says that this law "would apply to a relatively small number of offenders," but that hasn't kept the usual suspects from jumping on this popular bandwagon. The National Center for Victims of Crime, for example, strongly supports this bill (calling it "ground-breaking legislation"). They actually liken voyeurism to stalking. This is part of an ongoing, powerfully effective attempt by the sexual anxiety industry to scare everyone, portraying life as far more dangerous than it is.

We aren't dismissing the growing problem of electronic voyeurism, just attempting to put it in perspective. Ideally, no one would be filmed without their consent--but in a world of multiple threats and wounds, some thoughtful triage is essential. Predictably, any social challenge involving sexuality is pushed to the forefront regardless of its actual harm, and regardless of what else currently needs attention.

The real danger today is that Americans seem more concerned about protecting the privacy of their genitals than of data detailing their finances, health, and travel--not to mention the books they buy or borrow and videos they rent.

As long as people demand public policy driven by their fear, they will be manipulated. Of course, not every fear is equally useful to those in power. By stoking our discomfort with sex, government focuses us on the alleged sanctity of our genitals. It makes visual violation of that sanctity a big crime (although we remain fundamentally unharmed by it), while giving the government and major corporations data on our most intimate reading habits, video viewing, telephone calls, and email (which does affect our lives profoundly).

Thus, our culture comes full circle in its erotophobia--establish people's fundamental distrust of sex, then show them something sex-related to be afraid of, distracting them from real, non-sexual danger. This is what John Ashcroft calls domestic security.

3. Porn'd Church Must Be Purified

All religious ceremonies have been halted in the village church of San Vicenzo, Italy, after the discovery that it was used as a porn film location.

The local bishop says he will have to re-bless all weddings, christenings, and funerals that have taken place there since 1998. A congregation member alerted police when he spotted the church in the porn film "The Confessional Box." The scene showed a man dressed as a priest having sex with a bride.

Our first question, and perhaps yours, is, what about the guy who discovered this--isn't he in trouble for watching porn? Or does his good deed wipe out his sin of lust?

Moving on to more serious questions, logic demands that if a porn shoot defiles a church, what about a real priest sexually exploiting a real minor? Shouldn't every church in which this occurred be closed and re-purified?

On the other hand, it's sad to see Father Ferrini's narrow interpretation of the sacred. A church isn't holy because of its bricks and paint, which this priest suggests have absorbed satanic vapors from contact with porn. A church is anyplace where people go to commune with the Divine. People can still do that in San Vicenzo--if they can hear the Divine above the sanctimonious roar about porn dirtying a House of God. All too predictably, this priest is damning sexual pleasure, demanding that people choose between the erotic and the sacred. This false dichotomy is driving people crazy, which is the real sin.

Cynics might suggest that the church is feeding the scandal, rather than being its victim. It would be a great way to get people back into the church--"...and over there, Gino, is where she lifted her dress…" Others might wonder if their now un-blessed marriages mean they've been living in sin, or if their now un-baptized soul is in mortal danger until the church is re-dedicated. If so, now's the time to party down, villagers, since you're going to hell anyway.

With the lowest birthrate of any industrialized country, it's clear that Italians know how to enjoy lust that isn't approved by the Church--and yet they're still committed to the Church. Mainstream Italians clearly understand something about God that their bishops don't.

4. Missouri Mistrusts Its Own

Residents of Missouri lost one of their rights the other day, as the state legislature passed a mandatory waiting period before people can get abortions.

In a stunning display of contempt for the judgment of its own citizens, the state has decided to intervene in this formerly private, still-legal, healthcare decision. Abortion is now treated as more dangerous than any other health care procedure, including open-heart surgery, amputation, and electro-shock therapy.

This is a cynical, disgusting game--Missouri can't ban the simple procedure, so they make it as difficult as possible for those who want it. As long as abortion is legal, Missouri and other states should get out of the bedrooms and healthcare decisions of its people altogether.

How about some logic for a change? Does the Missouri legislature have the guts to create a waiting period for other life-changing events that affect the rest of the community--like marriage or conception? For that matter, what about people buying expensive cars that will undermine their ability to provide for their kids, or the decision to start taking addictive medications like oxycontin or halcyon that undermine entire families?

Missouri, please spare us the "pro-life" rhetoric. Last month you also passed a bill allowing people to get permits to carry concealed weapons in public buildings--permits that would not be in the public record. Background checks would not be required for renewal, making them permits for life.

The mandatory pre-abortion waiting period isn't pro-life--it's anti-choice.

5. Alabama's Indonesian Cousins

Non-marital sex, infidelity, oral sex, and homosexuality will soon become serious crimes in Indonesia if the Justice Ministry has its way. The Ministry proposes to criminalize acts currently legal but considered "morally unacceptable."

For example, the new code would send a couple guilty of cohabitation to jail (presumably separately). Although Indonesia has no state religion and its version of Islam is tolerant, violent activists have started demanding that strict Islamic law be imposed in various parts of the country.

The logic of the proposed code should appeal to those in Alabama who recently tried to institutionalize the Ten Commandments as the basis of American law. Readers (#43) will recall the 5,000-pound monument installed in the state's judicial building, the subsequent legal challenge to it, and the hysteria surrounding its court-ordered removal. Those who treated the statue as an idol are after the identical thing as Indonesia's Justice Ministry--a consensus on spiritual beliefs, and the enshrinement of that consensus in law. This moral fascism undergirds the terrorist societies with whom we are currently at war--both abroad and at home.

Can no one see fundamentalism's dangers when it wears a baseball cap instead of a turban, quotes the Gospels instead of the Koran, and tries to control women's wombs instead of hiding their faces?

When Christians and Muslims insist on forcing people to live their way, they are simply sects of the same coercive, unholy faith.

6. Letters About Issue 43

* About Alabama's Courthouse Battle:

"I love your newsletter but you forgot us, the Southern Poverty Law Center. We worked with the ACLU and AU to sue for the Ten Commandments' removal. Our legal team has worked hard and the protesters are all across the street, so it's been pretty stressful."
--Kacie Mixon

It's a pleasure to recognize the SPLC. It was founded in 1971 to win equal rights for minorities and the poor by taking high-impact, risky cases that private attorneys wouldn't tackle. It monitors hate groups and extremist activity, opposes discrimination through education and litigation, and publishes material for teachers and parents. For more information, see

The Alabama case was an important one for the SPLC. "We believe that Chief Justice Moore's conduct threatens the very values of tolerance and justice that form the core of the Center's mission," said chief trial counsel Morris Dees, who headed the Center's legal team in the case.

* On the question of legal vs. religious marriage:

"There are now religious leaders who advocate separating the legal and religious functions of weddings. Rev. Bill Sinkford, President of the Unitarian Universalist Association, says he will no longer sign marriage licenses when he performs ceremonies until he can sign licenses for the same-sex couples he also marries. Other clergymembers have followed suit.

"The religious and legal functions really are discrete. Despite the fact that during the ceremony the officiant says, "with the powers invested in me by the state of X, I now pronounce you husband and wife", the couple isn't legally married until the officiant signs the license and mails it in. Many clergy are now performing same-sex unions with the approval of their denominations. Change is happening!"
--Rev. Debra W. Haffner
Religious Institute on Sexual Morality, Justice, and Healing

7. Media Coverage

SI and publisher Marty Klein made a little media splash this month.

For more information, see,, and SIECUS and Utne also have print versions available.



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