Sexual Intelligence
Marty Klein pic

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 #95 -- January 2008



New Hampshire Adds Civil Unions; Chaos Follows

At midnight on January 1, New Hampshire became the fourth state to legalize same-gender civil unions. Amid the New Year's Eve hoopla, twenty-three couples tied the knot on the State House steps.

As predicted, the world did more or less come to an end:

* Heterosexual spouses across the state were disappointed with each other. While the sources of dissatisfaction were many, sex was a recurring complaint.
* Horses and goats around the state asked for civil unions with their farmers or farmers' daughters (depending, of course, on the gender of the horses and goats).
* Children showed various effects. There were many reports of peculiar behavior such as inattention in school, disobeying parents, and spending way too much time in the bathroom.

The other states to previously legalize gay civil unions are Vermont, Connecticut, and New Jersey. Only Massachusetts has legalized same-gender marriage. Some people see a sinister force at work, as the state's Boston Celtics are having a supernaturally good season-thus far winning over 90% of their games. In fact, no has been able to prove that the citizens of Massachusetts have not sold their souls to the Devil.

As proof that God disapproves of homosexuality, several clergy members cited the unusual weather during the civil ceremonies--cold, with snow and some wind, despite the fact that it's January.



Texas Taxes Tassled Titties

The Texas legislature needs a lesson in American government 101.

On January 1, the state started taxing strip clubs $5 for every customer who shows up to watch some bare flesh. That's bad enough, but the state plans to use most of the money it raises to help rape victims.

This is a shocking abuse of power, and a repulsive attempt to link two completely unrelated activities--strip club attendance and rape. There is no data anywhere that people who do one are more likely to do the other. Members of the legislature should be ashamed at their obvious pandering to the public's emotions. Who's going to say "I'm against helping rape victims"?

The 2007 bill was sponsored by State Representative Ellen Cohen (D-Houston). (She's also the president of a women's center that could receive financing from the new law.) Her bizarre "reasoning" insults the intelligence of anyone within earshot: "This is an industry that largely employs women, and [the tax] gives them an opportunity to raise funds for a crime that affects women," Cohen said.

Other industries that routinely employ mostly women include supermarkets, hospitals, and nail salons. Why not tax them extra, giving them the same "opportunity"?

The strip clubs, of course, are protesting the tax as an infringement of their right to free expression. According to American law, legislators can't single out expressive activities they don't like--such as nude dancing--and burden them with special taxes. Jonathan Turley, a constitutional law expert at George Washington University notes that "Laws like this would expose any unpopular industry to punitive taxes. It could be abortion clinics." Or stores selling Western shirts to overweight non-cowboys.

While the Texans who want to tell everyone else how to live fume over the rights of those evil club owners, and everyone ignores the rights of the dancers who will lose their jobs because smaller clubs can't pay the tax, what about the consumers?

Consumers of foreign cars yell loudly when the government tries to raise import duties, and consumers of Chinese products yell loudly when it's revealed that they're made with near-slave labor. What about strip club consumers? Where is their voice, as their recreation is smeared as a precursor to rape, and their clubs are slapped with vicious million-dollar tax bills?

Increasingly, if you want a lap dance, you have to be willing to stand up and demand your right to buy one. Of course, if you're hiding your hobby from your wife, or your employer thinks your periodic private pleasure makes you unfit to work, you'll be pretty slow to identify yourself and air your grievance.

And there's the failure of democracy when it comes to sexual rights. The marketplace of ideas only works effectively when people can discuss things on a level playing field. The decency police who want to dictate the way everyone lives are counting on their victims feeling intimidated and silently bending over as their rights are removed.

Anatomically, you lose your lap when you stand up. Ironically, Texans will lose their lap dance if they don't stand up.

Deluded puritans like Ellen Cohen expect that discouraging men from going to strip clubs will somehow discourage them from raping women. And what will men do with all that extra time? Undoubtedly, they'll start reading romance novels and sharing their feelings more.



What I Wanted for the Holidays

The holidays have come and gone. Happy New Year. Other than some rest and great home cooking (my own), I didn't get one single thing I wanted.

What was on my list? All I wanted was for everyone to receive their basic sexual rights. That, of course, would allow me to have mine. Here are a few things I was hoping Santa would deliver to my country:

* Free condoms
Every time someone uses a condom it benefits everyone, so let's make them free. They should be available everywhere: gas stations, ATMs, the place you rent skis. In fact, there should be a dispenser in the wine/beer/booze section of every supermarket and 7-11. Government should supply the condoms, and require a dispenser if you want a license to sell alcohol.

While we're at it, could we please start packaging condoms in non-slippery containers?

* Encourage the study of child porn & pedophilia
"Everyone" knows child porn is increasing, it's horrible, it ruins lives, etc.--except that no one knows anything.

The government won't let anyone study child porn. All we know is what "morality" groups scream at us, and phony numbers like "X number of children exploited and abused" (what does that mean?) and "Y number of children sexually solicited on the internet" (most of whom are teens, contacted by other teens).

People who make or use child porn can't be studied because anyone who listens to them can be forced to disclose their identity and activities. So society is stuck with stereotypes like "all molesters look at child porn" and "everyone who looks at child porn is a molester"--both of which are obviously untrue.

The government should establish a license permitting individuals and institutions to possess and study "child porn." A background check and project proposal would be required, along with a description of what will be accessed and for how long. Similarly, legitimate investigators should have immunity to study specified populations for specific projects.

Of course, fewer and fewer Americans actually believe, much less understand, science. But science is the only way to get the facts about this supposedly widespread phenomenon that frightens and angers so many people.

* Publish the criteria used in internet filtering software
The makers of filtering software claim the criteria for blocking sites is proprietary, like the formula for Coke.

But this blocking software is now a quasi-public utility, as libraries, schools, and government offices are increasingly required to use it. Corporate lawyers are seeing the software as good insurance, too.

So the public has a right to know--how does the software decide what to block? If it blocks breast cancer sites, youth soccer league sites ("boys under 14"), Middlesex County, and my blog, can we really say these sites "block porn"? More importantly, the media should stop saying that people against mandatory filters are "against protecting kids from porn."

* End the legal concepts of "obscenity" and "indecency."
Sex is not dangerous. Sexual words and images are not dangerous. Limiting access to these words and images doesn't necessarily increase a community's "morality," just as expanding people's access doesn't necessarily decrease "morality."

The idea that our local, state, and federal governments can actually prevent us from reading, hearing, or seeing certain words or pictures for any reason is actually staggering. Here are just some of the governmental agencies screening your life for "obscenity" or "indecency":

~ Federal Communications Commission
~ Justice Department
~ Commerce Department
~ Customs Service
~ Department of Homeland Security
~ Department of Alcohol, Tobacco, & Firearms
~ state alcohol control commissions
~ city & county zoning commissions

I'll tell you what's obscene: people who would rather prevent me from watching South Park than use the "off" button on their TV remote. Darn those people.

* Sexual rights as human rights
Being able to take that for granted would be a wonderful, life-affirming gift. I hope you--and all of us--get this very, very soon. Happy 2008.




Sexual Intelligence in India

From November 22-December 13 I toured India, an amazing adventure. Here are some thoughts from the trip. For my complete travel blog, see


India's Ancient Erotic Sculpture

In the coastal state of Orissa, I went to several 1,000-year-old Hindu temples. They are well-preserved, gorgeous, spectacular. At the enormous temple in Konark, every inch of the stone exterior is carved with scenes from local and palace life from 10 centuries ago.

And so today's visitor sees wonderfully-preserved scenes of battles, animals, musicians, families...and sex. Lots of sex, in just about every position. Same-gender sex, threesomes, group sex, oral sex--you get the picture.

Well, perhaps not. Here, sitting in a park, is this display of explicit erotic behavior bigger than the Lincoln Memorial. And people from across the country come to see it--many, of course, with their families. There are dozens of smaller temples like this throughout the area. You celebrate life, you celebrate sex--that's the way it was here a thousand years ago.

It's not like that here anymore, of course. Sexually, India is quite conservative on the usual measures, such as contraception, sex ed, and pornography (legally, you can't even show pubic hair). Even modern women here dress modestly, and while TV and videos do feature a sly, sexy tease, you certainly won't find the bare breasts of German TV or the coarse sexual lyrics of American music videos.

Where India does differ from the U.S. is in allowing--actually encouraging--public access to monuments like this across the country. At one site I saw a gaggle of soldiers on leave, praying in a still-active temple that depicted fellatio and other sexual delights carved on its outer walls. Ironically, many of them had probably never seen an actual, fully-nude woman in their own bed.
Honorable mention goes to the Victorian-era Brits. Thanks for not destroying the temples depicting erotic themes onto which you stumbled 100 years ago, despite your disapproval of them. The Taliban, the Vatican, and Morality In Media should take note.



Male & Female In India

Here are some observations on gender and male-female relations in India.

* First, it really matters which India we're talking about--Muslim, Sikh, Kerala, tribal, etc.. For example, most women in the south are so liberated, even Catholics use birth control; in Orissa, by contrast, a friendly adolescent girl said I couldn't take her photo because "my husband wouldn't like it."

* Regardless of location, though, India remains a sexually conservative country. Clothes don't reveal women's bodies. This seems normal after just a short while here, and then any Western woman wearing a revealing top or exposing her legs looks dramatically provocative.

* Couples simply do not hold hands in public. This is made even more obvious by the fact that women hold hands with their girl pals/cousins, and men hold hands with their male chums/cousins. One never sees couples of any age kissing or even nuzzling.

* In America, all women wear jewelry, although real gold is reserved for the well-off. Here, even the poorest woman wears gold earrings and/or bracelet every day of her life. Her home may lack hot water, her village may lack reliable electricity, she may be washing her few clothes in the river, but she wears gold while she's doing it. It's a matter of family honor. In some areas the custom is silver rather than gold, but it's real, beautiful silver jewelry.

* The families of girls and young women still pay dowries to the family of the man she is marrying. Sometimes dowries have to be borrowed, which can set back a girl's family for years. And sometimes, the groom's family demands a second dowry payment a year after the couple is already married. Imagine the problems that creates for everyone.

* Most marriages here are arranged or semi-arranged. Newspapers are full of ads looking for suitable marriage partners. Unlike in the U.S., the looks and social class of both parties are explicitly discussed.

* Little moments: it's funny (albeit sensible) to see able-bodied men walking with open umbrellas in the blazing sun; it's amazing to see women, young and old, working road construction (shoveling gravel, carrying bricks, etc.)--while wearing full-length saris.

* The saris are, in fact, beautiful--colorful, flowing, absolutely nothing like western clothes. And young women wear them as much as their mothers and grandmothers--they're not in any way considered "old-fashioned."

But they certainly limit mobility and a whole range of physical movements. You simply cannot effectively run in one. In this respect saris are like the bustles, corsets, and other complex dress of Western women until just a few decades ago. In America's wild west films, the primary symbol of independence for women is pants.

* As in Islam, Christianity, and Orthodox Judaism, Hindu religious duties--which is to say, Hindu religious privileges--are segregated by gender.

* Aborting female fetuses because they will become girls is actually increasing here, as gender identification technology becomes cheaper and more available. This has enormous ramifications for many parts of society, including marriage, economics, and arrangements for the aging. Everyone decries it, and it's even against the law. But how do you criminalize technology in a capitalist, democratic country?

In America, religious people have criminalized technologies like stem-cell research and abortion in an attempt to impose their moral vision on others, or to create "a more moral society"--both clearly unacceptable in a democracy.

But in India, criminalizing gender testing and gender-oriented abortion is based on avoiding a scientifically demonstrable problem--which makes it a more complicated issue. Still, it's troubling to criminalize technology for any reason. And it opens the door to banning other troublesome technologies, including, say, chemical food preservatives, the distilling of alcohol, and of course boom boxes that play any music that I don't like.


You may quote anything herein, with the following attribution:
"Reprinted from Sexual Intelligence, copyright © Marty Klein, Ph.D. ("