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-=[ The War on Sex ]=-
Speaking of elections, one phrase that continually pops up is “culture war.” This familiar expression is actually part of the problem. You see, the phrase suggests there are two sides of equal strength lined up, honoring more or less the same rules of engagement, wanting to conquer each other.
But what is called a “culture war” is nothing like that at all. Those who fear and hate sexuality (erotophobes) are attacking those who appreciate or tolerate sexuality (erotophiles). Erotophiles are not attempting to force erotophobes to live more sexually adventurous lives. In fact, erotophiles aren’t trying to make the erotophobes do anything they don’t want to do. However, erotophobes demand that both sides -- everyone -- live according to their anti-sex (erotophobic) values. For example, erotophiles say, “If you don’t want to go to a nude beach, don’t go, but don’t shut it down to prevent me from having that choice.” Erotophobes respond, “I don’t want to go to a nude beach, and I don’t want you to have the option of going either, so it must be closed.” In a similar way, erotophobes want to control and mitigate the sexual rights of those they fear. For example, erotophiles say, “If you’re against gay marriage, don’t marry one.” Erotophobes respond by waging campaigns of hate against the LGBT community.
While erotophobes recognize there’s a huge range of opportunities for erotic stimulation, satisfaction, and imagination, they want to deny everyone, not just themselves. Ironically, erotophobes (like most conservatives) claim to be the victims in this culture war.
They say they are the ones who are being attacked, their values undermined, and their way of life destroyed. From their paranoiac perspective, they see so-called indecent entertainment, changing fashions, recent court decisions, internet access, and a range of contraceptive technologies as an intrusion -- as being force-fed sex. They can’t, they wail, turn on a TV, go to a mall, boot up a computer, or even go to work without being assaulted by sexual images. Furthermore, they claim, even when they are not being literally confronted, they are still forced to abide others’ sexual activity next door and all over America -- behavior that is immoral, disgusting, and sinful.
I have no doubt this is true for them. However it is irrelevant to the governance of the U.S. Nowhere in our founding documents is there mention of regulating anything considered immoral, sinful, or disgusting. On the contrary, the United States was founded on the idea that people should be able to choose what to do and with whom to associate based on their personal values and ideals -- not those of a king, feudal lord, or religious hierarchy. Nor even, as James Madison declared, the tyrannical majority in their own town, state, or nation.
When erotophobes demand that we eliminate entertainment, fashion, medical technology, bedroom activity, and businesses that are in their estimation “immoral” or “sinful,” they are calling for a dismantling of the core values our nation was founded on. Such changes would result in governance that would bring us closer to modern Saudi Arabia, the former Soviet Union, the Taliban in Afghanistan, and Nazi Germany.
Historically, the U.S. has tried to balance the rights of individuals and community responsibility. Therefore, for example, while you enjoy the freedom of speech, you don’t have the right to yell “fire” in a crowded theater. Another fundamental U.S. is that the law should address actual crime and actual victims, and it should be drafted in ways that limit negative unintended consequences when solving a problem.
Today’s culture war seeks to disrupt that balance, and it has already succeeded in many ways. Historically, it was against the law for someone to actually kill your cow, or doing something makes you worried about someone killing your cow. Attempting to criminalize abortion isn’t enough for conservatives, they also attempt to ban over-the-counter availability of emergency contraception, saying such availability would “encourage promiscuity.” Progressives respond with scientific data that clearly shows it won’t, and in that way, one more battle is joined. Erotophobes respond that (as is usual) they have no data, they have “concerns” and “feelings,” which are now considered seriously in public policy debates.
Although our country makes cars safer in case of accidents, has school athletes wear helmets in case they fall awkwardly, and establishes poison control centers in case toddlers get into cleaning supplies, these sexual jihadists don’t want to reduce the consequences of unauthorized, unprotected, or unfortunate sex. They say that doing so encourages bad sexual choices. That’s like saying seat belts encourage dangerous driving and poison centers encourage sloppy parenting practices.
Forget that children who learn abstinence-only have as much sex -- only they use condoms less often. Erotophobes have manipulated the American public into fighting sexual expression, not sexual ignorance or poor sexual decision-making.
Let’s be clear, a large part of the culture wars is really about the pathological need to control sex. Erotophobes fear sex. They fear sexual expression, sexual exploration, sexual arrangements, sexual privacy, sexual choice, sexual entertainment, sexual health and sexual pleasure. They want you to fear it as well. Today’s conservavie/ fundamentalist political movements present a horrifically distorted picture of sexuality. It’s a narrative of danger and fear; a narrative of sin and, therefore, of self-destructiveness. While erotophobes typically describe their fear in socially acceptable terms (i.e., “protecting children,” “defending marriage”), what they really fear is sexuality as they understand it.
The outcome of these battles will determine how our children will live for decades to come. It will determine what books they will be allowed to read, what they will be taught to fear, what they know about their bodies, and how much control they will have over their own fertility.
Millions of Americans are afraid of sex. Some admit it, some don’t. Millions more hate sex, and some have declared war on it. America’s pluralism is despised by fundamentalists around the world -- including those right here on our soil. If you’re interested in sex, you’re part of this war whether you like it or not. If you watch TV, use a sex toy, go to the movies, need an abortion, enjoy dirty online chat, want a physician trained in sexual medicine, or have a child in school, the guns of the culture war and the war on sex will be pointed at you.
It is imperative that we begin asking the right questions, right now, because the answers will matter.