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 #96 -- February 2008



Obsessed With Asses, FCC Screws America

The Federal Communications Commission's five members--all college-educated adults over 40--continued exposing their obsession with sex and women's bodies, fining ABC TV stations $1.4 million for showing 2.5 seconds of a woman's bare butt.

  • The show: NYPD Blue
  • Air date: February 25, 2003 (yes, 5 years ago)
  • Scene: woman disrobing to take a shower
  • Episode: the difficulty a single parent has when hosting an overnight guest
  • Number of complaints: "not a lot," according to the FCC
  • FCC charge: 1) Displaying sex organs 2) to shock or titillate 3) thus offending contemporary community standards

You can view the offending butt-clip here. It's a rear view of a woman taking off her robe to shower. A kid accidentally walks in on her, and they're both embarrassed. She covers up her boobies and woo-woo with her hands, and the kid retreats as fast as he can. It's charming, it's real, and it has nothing to do with sex.

Except to the dirty-minded FCC commissioners, for whom everything is sexual. The FCC's bizarre description of the NYPD Blue scene includes phrases like "a full view of her buttocks and her upper legs" and "graphic depictions of sex organs."

Everything is sexual to the Parents Television Council as well, who obsess over every hell, damn, and suggestion that adults have bodies. In praising the FCC ruling, PTC says they "demanded action" over "the graphic display of female nudity." Such a breathless, overheated experience of two butt-seconds is pitiful. PTC censors must have replayed the clip over and over, creating the video equivalent of a sticky favorite page on dad's old Playboy mag.

Our government has institutionalized its love of censorship by claiming the FCC can and should respond to even a few complaints over a show watched by 10 or 20 million people--and the PTC is the "public" voice it now depends on to complain about anything that unsettles deeply neurotic or guilt-driven people. The PTC's cowardly rationale for punishing the innocent shots of two people facing one of life's occasional embarrassments--without a single note of titillation? "We are thankful that the FCC has finally taken a stand for children and families," said president Tim Winter.

Note all the safeguards surrounding the broadcast of this adult TV drama:

  • A dozen warnings before and during the show that it contained adult material;
  • It aired at 9PM in the Midwest, 10PM on the coasts, when adults could best supervise who in the house could watch it;
  • It came with a Mature/Language rating that could be read by the v-chip installed on every TV sold in America, so easily-offended people could avoid the show in advance.

And, in case you've forgotten, NYPD Blue had ten years of history as a ground-breaking, distinguished drama with realistic language and situations. Everyone knew what they were getting when they tuned in. That's why they tuned in.

The FCC is empowered to fine broadcasters for harming the public with indecent programming. So what harm resulted from this 2003 episode? Forcible rape declined that year. So did teen pregnancy.

The primary harm to the country following its glimpse of Charlotte Ross's butt is that three weeks later, America invaded Iraq. The FCC didn't protect America from that indecency by challenging the government lies and media cheerleading that flooded TV and radio.

No. But five years later, our Republic in shambles because of a war sold primarily through media propaganda, the FCC is still "protecting" us against the supposed indecency of two seconds of a woman's butt.

The FCC can't serve America because it has its head up a woman's ass. There's the obscenity for you.



Stoppard's "Rock 'N' Roll" & The Politics of Sex

I love Tom Stoppard's plays and I adore 1960s rock music. So I was thrilled when I unexpectedly found myself in New York last week, and scored an aisle seat to Stoppard's current play, Rock 'N' Roll.

The play explores the centrality of rock music to the 1968 Prague Spring and subsequent fall of Communism in Czechoslovakia 21 years later. The Czech government felt so threatened by the passionate attachment of young people to their "decadent" music that it brutally cracked down on bands and their fans. Predictably, this created a backlash and drew more resistance--and more rock music.

Which drew more crackdowns. Which drew more people to resist.

Unfortunately, Stoppard shows us what happened without really exploring why. Perhaps he assumes we know all about the Summer of Love, and understand the liberating effect of that year's radically different kind of music ("There's a whole generation with a new explanation," sang flowers-in-your-hair Scott McKenzie).

In case you don't remember (meaning you were probably there), or weren't born yet, people moved their bodies to that new music in new ways. And that helped them think differently. Which encouraged them to challenge the order of things. And that's when it all got really interesting.

But Stoppard left something out of his 1968, of its new music and brave political action that followed. He left out the sex.

We need to remember--as often as possible--that the sex of 1968 and beyond offered profound political insights and challenges. Yes, it was fun (and sometimes stupid or exploitative), but it was also a vehicle for personal exploration. The stereotype that women were uninterested in sex didn't collapse from an intellectual argument, but rather from millions of men and women experiencing female desire and satisfaction every Saturday night.

And every time someone touched their own penis or vulva during partner sex for the first time, one more person seized ownership of his or her body, the ultimate political act.

The positive experiences that came from having sex that was against the rules made it clear that the rules were ridiculous. And just like allegiance to rock drove political consciousness, so did allegiance to sex.

If you weren't there, it's hard to imagine how angry the grownups became about teens and young adults having the audacity to seize sex for themselves.

Hard to imagine unless you see how angry some grownups are today about the same thing. "Morality" groups, many churches, and our government are enraged by young people who expect access to contraception, abortion, sexual entertainment, treatment for STDs. These grownups are, to use a word my generation invented, freaking out that today's young people experiment with same-gender sex, have 'friends with benefits,' and post nude pics of themselves on MySpace.

I hope today's young people are gaining political consciousness through their sexual experimentation, and becoming radicalized (another old-fashioned word) as they realize their oppression by the Sexual Disaster Industry.

It would be a shame if all they get from sex is a good time (and, inevitably, some heartaches and maybe an STD). The most important part of sex, especially when you're young, is the invitation to look at things a whole new way.



MySpace + Phony Categories = Fearmongering

We have to stop traffic problems like double-parking and drunk driving, wouldn't you agree? And resolve America's financial issues, like unpaid fines for overdue library books and corporate embezzlement.

Something wrong here? Of course. While everyone's in favor of reducing traffic accidents and financial problems, most us don't see double-parking and drunk driving as comparable risks. Similarly, no one worries about library fines and embezzlement quite the same way.

It's a common strategy in public policy discussions--creating a category that lumps two dissimilar things together, and decrying the more serious of the two. We're all in favor of preventing hangnails and heart attacks, aren't we? We MUST do something about that!

Public discussions of sex suffer dramatically from this treatment. Morality groups, the media, and politicians often complain about the 'serious problem of x & y.' Even worse, they'll say 'the rate of x & y is increasing,' without admitting how much of each is involved.

This is sloppy thinking and manipulative fear-mongering. Popular examples of phony categories are:

  • "porn and child porn"
  • "prostitution and trafficking"
  • "S/M and violence"

This week's example involves social networking sites. MySpace has agreed it has some problems, and it's enhancing safety features for its young members. That's not a bad thing, but its narrative contributes to the current hysteria about online danger. Here are excerpts from a recent article in one of America's most liberal, tech-savvy, high-quality newspapers:

  • These sites are too easily exploited by sexual predators and cyberbullies
  • Investigators posed as 12-14 girls and soon received sexual advances
  • Facebook agreed to better investigate complaints of nudity, porn, or unwanted advances
  • Young people can be exposed to abuse, pornography and bullying online
  • There are reports of teens being assaulted, exploited and abused by adults they met on MySpace.

Notice how scary this all sounds--without telling us exactly what's going on. Words like "abuse," "exploitation," "advances," and "bullying" drive the public's fear, morality groups' demands, and politicians' posturing.

"Bullies" and "predators" in the same category? Only in a no-thinking zone. And most of the "sexual advances" kids receive online are from other kids--but you'd never know it from reports like this. And so society has another set of reasons to fear and repress everyone's sexuality.

The desire to protect children is not the same as thinking. It's certainly not the same as actually protecting them. Once again, the multi-billion dollar Sexual Disaster Industry is way more interested in parents' fear than in childrens' safety.



"Morality In Media" Trashes Their Hotel Room

The President of Morality in Media, Robert Peters, has thrown yet another hissy fit. He demands to know when Bill Marriott (yes, the Mr. Marriott) is going to stop offering pay-for-view adult films in hotels across the country.

In an open letter, Peters says he stayed at Marriotts in Massachusetts and California last month and was shocked--shocked! With the careful attention to detail of a good lover, he lists eighteen titles (like "Please Pump My Wife," "Slutty Older Women") that he had the option of renting in his room. Ironically, Peters spent more time documenting the porn than many people spend watching it.

Peters describes why Marriott should stop offering adults the option of renting these movies. To summarize his position: men watch porn. Then they rape women, destroy their marriages, and bankrupt their families. Not satisfied, these men then watch kiddie porn and support the sexual trafficking of women and children.

Peters lies.

"Decency" groups across the country say that 50,000,000 men look at porn each month. If doing so is that destructive, how is it that America has any marriages left, any women who aren't prostitutes, any children who haven't been raped or sold into slavery?

Morality in Media isn't just anti-porn--they're anti-fact. They don't trust their beliefs enough to rely on the truth--which is that they believe that porn is evil. Instead, they take a handful of titillating crime stories, mix in apocalyptic warnings of perversion, season with Americans' phobias about their kids' safety, and create a witches' brew of fictions about how porn is destroying our country.

Peters' final insult is to demand that Bill Marriott live up to his obligations "as a Mormon"--by banning rent-a-porn in his hotels. Indeed, just a few years ago, the American Family Association bombarded Brigham Young University with thousands of emails. Upset that Marriott hotels offer adults pay-per-view porn, the AFA wanted the Mormon college to refuse future donations from Marriott (whose family has already given BYU twelve million dollars).

More than most Americans, Mormons should know how important democratic pluralism is. At one time, communities gave themselves the right to ban Mormon churches and to discriminate against Mormons in jobs, housing, and police protection.

But in a democracy, certain things are beyond voting. Cities can't vote to exclude Mormons, reinstitute slavery, or require a tax to vote. Every Mormon should celebrate America's golden promise of leaving people alone to pursue their private life as they wish--by extending this promise to hotel guests.

Otherwise, the next open letter we see will demand that Marriott discontinue its other features:

  • in-room mini-bars: Mormons and Muslims are against alcohol; besides, that $5 Snickers is hard for dieters to resist at midnight.
  • health club: Sooner or later, someone will have a heart attack in there.
  • TV: You know how much time people waste watching the weather channel?
  • hot showers: People burn themselves in there every year. Besides, what do you think people do after they have sex with hookers?



Catholic Hospitals Should Stop Playing God

Is a hospital more like a public utility or more like a car dealership?

As long as you pay your bill, the Water Department supplies you with water whether it likes what you do with it or not. If the Water Department refuses to supply, say, Jews or Blacks, these people can't simply take their business elsewhere.

So why is it legal for hundreds of American hospitals to discriminate against some people because of "religious beliefs" if they're not allowed to discriminate based on inconvenience, discomfort, or hate?

California's Seton Medical Center refused Charlene Hastings breast enlargement surgery because, said a surgical coordinator, "God made you a man." (Hastings has previously had sex reassignment surgery elsewhere, and is legally a woman.) Using this logic, the hospital should also refuse to provide anyone chemotherapy because "God gave you cancer."

If you want to talk about a health-care crisis, focus on the fact that hospitals affiliated with the Catholic Church are the nation's largest group of non-profit (i.e., taxpayer-supported) medical facilities. They operate some 600 hospitals, almost 400 nursing homes, and dozens of healthcare systems.

If their only sin were their boring lobby decor it wouldn't matter, but the Church intends to limit the health care options in the communities they're supposed to serve. Don't take my word for it--take theirs.

These publicly-supported medical facilities actually forbid their employees from providing certain health care and medical information. If a rape victim comes crawling to their door, doctors are forbidden from mentioning the existence of emergency contraception, much less prescribing the medication. If a pre-marriage physical reveals that someone has herpes or AIDS, nurses are forbidden to discuss how he or she can use condoms to protect their new spouse from the disease.

And it's getting worse, as affiliates of the Catholic Church are buying local hospitals across America. Between 1990-1998, 127 secular hospitals merged with church-run facilities. Nearly half of the merged hospitals immediately terminated some or all reproductive services.

Since the Catholic Church is obsessed with sexuality, their hospitals are obsessed with sexual health care. If their billion-dollar corporation wants to operate grocery stores, they are free to stock their shelves however their medieval prejudices dictate. But if they want the privileges and status of operating public institutions, they should be required to serve the public--regardless of race, gender, and medical needs.

The Church's claim to "freedom of religion" inevitably translates into an aggressive demand to limit others' sexual expression and sexual rights. It's only because Americans have been so traumatized about their own sexuality that they tolerate this oppression.

Oh, the name of the Catholic order running the hospital that refused Hastings medical care? The Daughters of Charity.



New Hampshire Adds Civil Unions; Predictable 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 90% of their 30 games. Thus far, 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.



Sexual Intelligence Awards™--Please Nominate!

As we've done every year since 2001, next month we'll give our annual Sexual Intelligence Awards. These honor individuals and organizations which challenge the sexual fear, unrealistic expectations, and government hypocrisy that undermine love, sex, and relationships--and political freedom.

Previous winners include:
* Henry Waxman, Congressman
* Catholics for a Free Choice
* Laura Kipnes, Author
* Bill Taverner, Sex Educator
* Ricci Levy, Administrator & Activist
* Frank Rich, Columnist
* Candye Kane, Red-Hot Musician

Please send your nomination, with a paragraph about him/her/it/them, to Klein AT SexEd Dot org. URLs of nominees are welcome but not mandatory. Nominations are due February 26.



Sexual Intelligence Blog Continues

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