Sexual Hypocrisy Makes the Personal Political
Randall Tobias abruptly resigned as head of the Bush
foreign aid programs Friday after he was implicated in an investigation
of high-priced call-girls.
Ho-hum, another married Republican outed as--gasp--participating in non-marital, non-monogamous sex.
The moral failure of yet another Bush appointee would hardly be worth mentioning, except that Tobias directed the Agency for International Development (USAID) and America's global AIDS relief programs. In those capacities, he was personally responsible for implementing a condom-is-the-last-resort policy for AIDS prevention. He implemented America's shameful international blackmail scheme--you want family planning money, you have to vigorously oppose prostitution, while promoting abstinence & monogamy.
Two years ago, Brazil (with the developing world's most successful anti-HIV program) rejected $40 million of that money. Last year DKT International (which sold 400 million discounted condoms to sex workers in 11 countries) sued USAID for withholding an HIV prevention grant for Vietnam after DKT refused to sign the anti-prostitution pledge.
So Tobias has been responsible for a lot of bad international policy, policy that attempted to narrow the developing world's sexual expression as an ostensible way of combating HIV and unwanted pregnancy. And now he's been caught doing exactly what he's been trying to prevent hundreds of millions of non-Americans from doing.
It's easy to have contempt for this hypocritical man, this man who thought he knew better than the adults whose lives he tried to control, this man who demanded a moral purity he did not choose for himself.
But it's also appropriate to have compassion for the guy. Like so many social and political conservatives (many, of course, devout Christians), his vision of human sexuality is so distorted, it hardly leaves room for real people. When you believe that sex is inherently bad unless redeemed within extremely narrow, arbitrary limits, sexual feelings, desires, and communication are dangerous.
While it's not unreasonable to expect that adults will tell the truth and keep their promises, people who decide that their core is evil have a much, much harder time doing so. They live in fear--fear of discovering that they're worse than they should be, and fear that as a result they will lose what and who they value.
Tobias implemented global policies that tried to limit the bad sexuality he saw out in the world (and, obviously, in himself). Instead of accepting the diversity of the human family's sexuality--including his own--he worked hard to get people to conform to his shame-based, guilt-ridden vision. Most people didn't. He certainly didn't. That's why real sex education is so crucial--to combat the guilt, fear, and ignorance that drive people to repress others' sexuality.
Tobias' failure isn't going to massage parlors, or even lying to his wife. It's violating the inhumane rules he forced on others--poor, uneducated, desperate others. Tobias is a poster boy for the tormented version of Christian charity that has been soiling our country for 6 years.
Protecting People From Themselves, Not Guns
There will always be depressed, suicidal, and psychotic people
among us. No democratic country can completely shelter us from the occasional
outbreak of mental illness we saw in Blacksburg 10 days ago.
But a disturbed man was able to fire 170 shots in 9 minutes. He could only do that by owning a special kind of gun that holds special ammunition. The Virginia legislature should be ashamed that it hasn't protected Virginians from these weapons of mass destruction.
What have local legislators been doing to protect Virginians?
- Passing legislation to limit where adult bookstores can locate
- Limiting the hours strip clubs can operate, criminalizing lapdances, and raising the minimum age of strippers (you can now be old enough to marry but not be old enough to strip)
- Arresting small business people for selling magazines and videos showing happy people having sex
- Attempting to criminalize all abortion if the Supreme Court cooperates
- Attempting to persuade teens that condoms don't work, and that sex is bad for you.
In other words, the government of Virginia is working hard to protect its citizens from themselves, rather than from actual danger out in the world. Virginia could criminalize semi-automatic weapons. Virginia could put more than a few token dollars into the diagnosis and treatment of mental illness. Virginia could instruct its peace officers to ignore victimless crimes, rather than paying them to go to strip clubs night after night collecting "evidence."
The responsibility for Seung-Hui Cho's killing spree lies with him. But there's also blood on the hands of Virginia's sex-obsessed government.
Nature's Annual Orgy
April 15 is a day of pain for most Americans, but at my house, it's
a day of looking out the window and seeing sex.
Although our orange trees create fruit all year round, mid-April is when the oranges get sweet enough to make juice every morning. And mid-April is when our plum and apricot trees show their tiny little green fruits, making their annual journey to summertime lushness. And mid-April is when our bright red tulips come out of the ground and preen, shaming the simpler yellow daffodils that have already come and gone. Mid-April is when the freesia start coming up, bathing our yard with the finest perfume on earth. And mid-April is when we plant our $2 tomato plants, wondering why we bother, knowing that in 85 days we'll taste exactly why we bother.
It's all about sex. Fruits, vegetables, flowers--it's all about sexual reproduction. We don't have any pets, but I hear the whole kitten and puppy thing is about sex, too.
Sex--it doesn't just make the human world go 'round, it makes the world go 'round, period. It's something to celebrate every year at tax time. If you don't have trees of your own, just go out and smell a few where you work or shop. That's right, put your nose in someone else's sex. It's really OK.
It's fine to celebrate sex the rest of the year, too. That's why people who fear or hate sex sound so frantic: they have a big, 365-day-a-year job on their hands.
We don't have to "have" sex to celebrate it. Just marvel at the many, many ways nature makes love with itself all over the place. It's enough to get a person excited.
Ohio Cares About Its Young
Ohio is the latest state to refuse federal funds for abstinence-only sex "education."
Five other states have announced the end of their participation: Wisconsin, Connecticut, Rhode Island, Montana and New Jersey. California, Pennsylvania, and Maine already don't participate.
The reasons for refusing the federal money are simple:
- the money can only be used under extremely narrow circumstances-e.g., no mention of condoms or of contraception's success rate;
- programs with these criteria don't work to substantially reduce teen pregnancy or STDs-according to the U.S. Government Accountability Office;
- the required matching state funds can be put to better use, enhancing teen sexual health and contraception use.
At a time when the federal budget is being squeezed by almost limitless
demands for domestic "security" and the military in Afghanistan and
Iraq, President Bush has asked Congress to increase funding for
abstinence programs next year by $28 million--over 17%--to $191
million. All to teach kids that sex before marriage "is likely to have
harmful psychological and physical effects."
The response from Leslee Unruh, president of the South Dakota-based Abstinence Clearinghouse, was sadly predictable.
"There are kids who don't want to know how to put on a condom, because they don't want to have sex," she said. "So why can't kids who want to abstain have equal time, funding and education in the classroom as kids who are having sex?" Yes, and kids who don't want to use math don't need to learn math, and kids who don't use history don't need to learn history. And of course what 13-year-olds plan to do when they're 17 is a great predictor of what they actually do.
Unruh would never admit that sex plays a central role in the lives of America's young people. She and President Bush care much less about young people's health, safety, and empowerment than about their ideological agenda of suspending everyone's sexuality until-and unless-they marry.
The abstinence crowd knows that nineteen-year-olds are for making war, not for making love.
Dishonoring the God of Mercy
Top lawmakers in South Carolina are supporting a proposal that
would require women seeking abortions there to view an ultrasound image of
their fetus before they could have the procedure.
The governor, a congressman, and various state legislators say they hope it will discourage women from getting abortions--a public policy goal that violates the sanctity of our secular nation. Some hypocritical legislators say a woman deserves complete information before making such an important choice; their concern doesn't include requiring women to look at videos of open-heart surgery or hysterectomy before those far-more dangerous procedures.
This kind of thing underlines the real danger about the availability of abortion--not that it will become illegal, but that it will become so difficult that people will give up trying to get one. There are already fewer facilities offering abortion, fewer medical students learning the procedure, and more restrictions on who can get an abortion, when, and how, than there has been for decades. When the nearest abortion provider is 300 miles away, and there's a mandatory 24-hour waiting period after you get there, and you already work two jobs and have to borrow a car for the trip, abortion might as well be illegal.
Some supporters of the South Carolina law propose an exception for pregnancies caused by rape and incest. This is another hypocrisy--if abortion is murder, why the polite exceptions? Because they make such punitive laws politically palatable. Anyone who proposes to restrict abortion of any kind should be intellectually honest and demand that all abortion be prohibited.
South Carolina--not enough commitment to eliminate the murder of actual humans, not enough caring to educate its actual children, not enough compassion to give families free contraception and medical care. But enough empty rhetoric, blind religious devotion, disrespect for true democracy, and hatred for sexual expression that it can focus its attention inside women's wombs. As dawn breaks on this year's Easter, God is surely weeping.
Awards for America's War on Sex!
My new book, America's
War On Sex, has been recognized as the year's Best Professional
Sexuality Book by AASECT--the
American Association of Sexuality Educators, Counselors, &
It was also a runner-up for the Consumer Book Award of SSTAR--the Society for Sex Therapy and Research.
Clearly, it's a book that goes both ways.
To celebrate, we're having a sale--use discount code SI10 and take 10% off the price of ALL my books and CDs.
We're still waiting to hear from Jon Stewart & Bill Maher (sigh...).
Still Bloggin'--And People Are Coming
It's just been up a few months, but my blog has
already been selected as a "growing blog" by Wordpress three times.
We're apparently getting lots of visits by non-subscribers,
creating a new audience for material that critiques sexual issues in
politics, culture, and the media.
I'm averaging a new blog entry twice each week. Next month I'll bump this up to three times per week. So check it out when you have a spare minute, or you need a boost of sexual intelligence: www.SexualIntelligence.wordpress.com. Of course, please tell your friends, or list it as a link on your own blogroll.