Sexual Intelligence
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Each month, Sexual IntelligenceTM examines the sexual implications of current events, politics, technology, popular culture, and the media.

Dr. Marty Klein is a Certified Sex Therapist and sociologist with a special interest in public policy and sexuality. He has written 6 books and 100 articles. Each year he trains thousands of professionals in North America and abroad in clinical skills, human sexuality, and policy issues.

Issue #88 -- June 2007



Morality in Media Gets Airsick

Ever been on an airplane and felt the movie was too sexy?

Me neither.

And yet Morality in Media, those sex-obsessed people who want to limit your choices so that they feel more comfortable, are championing the cause of a single individual who complained about this. A guy on a Delta flight complained that "Rome" wasn't edited enough for him or anyone else, and now MiM has found their shock-du-jour.

Delta has promised to edit any sexy scenes down to three seconds or less, but this merely inflames MiM even more. Says MiM president Robert Peters,

"To put that in perspective, Janet Jackson's breast was exposed for only 19/32 of a second on CBS-TV during the 2004 Super Bowl halftime show."

Yes, and we know how much that half-second damaged the Republic.

You're exactly right, Mr. Peters. You led the way in demanding that our government exert more control over television because a nipple was exposed for a half-second. It was such a damaging half-second that every news show in the country then replayed it countless times, and the public made it the most downloaded moment in internet history.

Peters complains that if someone else in the plane is watching "Rome" he can't help but catch glimpses of it. And once his gaze lands on flesh, he can't stop, and he claims his brain is "structurally changed." Don't laugh--Dr. Judith Reisman's bizarre warning that "we literally 'grow new brain' with each new visual experience" was central to the Senate's 2004 hearings on the dangers of pornography.

We sympathize with anyone who can't stand anyone else seeing a few seconds of flesh, and who are unable to avert their eyes when they desire. We urge that such people take yoga, meditation, or other training so that they don't focus on what they don't want to see.

It would improve their driving, too.



Brazil Joins Catholic Honor Roll

Brazil is the latest Catholic country to support its citizens' sexual health and welfare. The government just announced that it will provide birth control pills at 10,000 drugstores nationwide for only $2.40 per year. The government expects to hand out 50 million packages of pills each year, and will increase the number of free vasectomies done at state hospitals.

already distributes 250 million free condoms each year.

Just a few weeks ago, Pope Benedict had denounced government-backed contraception in Brazil (the world's largest Catholic country), calling it a threat to the future of Latin Americans. Sure. Increased access to contraception invariably enhances everyone's health, lowers infant mortality, increases lifespans, and raises incomes. Big threat.

Contraception use doesn't, by the way, reduce Church membership. Case studies: Italy and Mexico.

Over the years, we have noted (issues #50, 54, 56, 64, 80, 81, 82) the progressive sexual politics of Catholic countries throughout South America and Europe. Apparently, belief can coexist with the blessings of sexual choices and sexual diversity. United States, please take note.



Guns and Sex II

We received a ton of responses to our piece on the Virginia Tech shooting (issue #87).

In it, we criticized state governments that protected citizens from their private sexual choices rather than from actual danger. We said that more strictly regulating gun sales and ownership would protect Virginians more than closing strip clubs, discouraging condom use, and limiting porn.

Every response was thoughtful--no "we need guns to protect ourselves from the Commies/Al Qaeda/our own government." No one used the ridiculous "if one of those students had had a gun, he could have killed the shooter, limiting the death toll," a frequent comment on CNN following the tragedy.

Many readers criticized my ignorance of guns, which I totally acknowledge. I admit I've never touched one, let alone used one. But since the only reason most people buy handguns is to kill people--either deliberately or with the deluded hope of self-defense--I simply don't see the point of making them available to the average citizen.

And having recently testified in a trial in which a Virginia strip club owner was convicted for featuring two dancers simulating oral sex, I couldn't remain silent.

So your emails made me think and question my assumptions. Many writers suggested my objection to guns had a moral basis, which is not the way I think about it. But these writers understandably feel that such a position is hypocritical.

J. Pettitt compellingly noted,

"Many of the rights that protect our sexual freedom come from a broad reading of the Constitution. The right to abortion and privacy in the bedroom are not explicitly set out; they spring from interpreting the Constitution expansively. To interpret the Bill of Rights one way for speech, abortion, and privacy but then suddenly want a strict constructional view of the Second Amendment is hypocritical in the same way as a right-wing Christian using a prostitute."

A. Lackman also attacked what he saw as my hypocrisy:

"I find it disturbing that you to choose to be the moral police and vilify a legal object because you find it disturbing. Just as sex and sex-related items (legal devices) are demonized by those who don't understand them, you are doing the same with guns. Like sex, guns are not the problem. Ignorance and paranoia are."

Finally, P. Hibbard meshed the two issues nicely:

"The entire social system is so uptight that we find the government has to protect us from ourselves. Maybe if the government would get off the "sex is bad" kick, we wouldn't be wound so tight."

Hard to disagree with that.

As with responses to every issue (and to my blog), thanks to everyone who wrote in about this.



"F-word" Indecency

"F--- you"

Do you know what these expressions mean? Of course you do. Everyone over the age of 10 does.

And yet the American mass media continue to use these infantile symbols when they want to refer to someone using the word fuck.

U.S. News & World Report is the latest grownup magazine to coyly play it both ways.

In this week's article on how John McCain's "sharp tongue could affect the [presidential] race," they noted he was reported telling Senator John Cornyn "F--- you." Later in the story, they reminded us that three years ago, Vice-President  Cheney "famously used the "F-word"" while quarrelling with Senator Pat Leahy.

This is just too puerile for words. First they imply that using the word fuck is a gauge of a person's temperament or even his fitness for public office. Then they pretend the word is so powerful that reproducing it on the page is dangerous. But for some reason readers need to know that the dreaded syllable was uttered, and so it is, literally, spelled out for us.

What exactly is the difference between fuck and "the F-word"? The same as the difference between pasties and real nipples--the pretense of morality. The insistence that something harmless is dangerous, but that simply covering it makes us safer. The illusion that blushing makes everything OK.

If the magic word is that treacherous, we shouldn't be invited to hear it in our mind's ear. Magazines shouldn't use "fruit you" either. They should say "he said a really awful word that's too horrible to print." That would make people think, another thing from which most popular magazines seem eager to protect us.



A Hate-Filled Man Dies

One doesn't want to take shots at someone who can't defend himself. Being dead, Jerry Falwell can't. But his work, unfortunately, will live on, so it's fair game for criticism.

What exactly was Jerry Falwell's work? Frightening people about the threat of rampaging sexuality in their communities. Making people feel guilty about the sexual impulses in their hearts. Lying--yes, lying--about what others said, did, felt, desired. A man of the world, conversant with kings and princes, Falwell knew better. But his power was exactly as large as the fear and anger of those he inspired, and so he did whatever he had to to arouse fear and anger.

He also founded and ran Liberty University, which has already placed over 100 graduates in the upper echelon of the Bush Administration. Many have already been implicated in scandal--almost always in situations involving the withholding or manipulating of public information. Liberty University is not a "university" in the sense of a commitment to teaching people how to question and think. It awards degrees, but its mission is to evangelize the world--which is to say, to inspire more fear and anger about sexuality. So says its website.

With Congress recently debating a hate crimes bill, it's unfortunate that Falwell's political program will not be identified as the institutionalization of hate. Calling ideas "religious," saying that ideas are the instruction of "a loving God," should not blind us to the hate at their core. Falwell instructed people to hate a part of themselves and a part of each other. Tens of millions of people obeyed him, and will continue to do so far beyond his death. They will continue to demand that the government limit more and more of everyone's sexual choices. And they will continue to demand that everyone's children learn to hate and fear their bodies and sexual impulses.

That's Jerry Falwell's evil legacy.



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