America's War On Sex

Marty Klein

Part 4

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Another pending federal measure would forbid state or local governments from requiring any individual or inst.i.tution to perform, provide, refer for, or pay for an abortion under any circ.u.mstances. This would virtually end states'

ability to ensure abortion access for low-income women, even in cases of life endangerment, rape and incest, as required under Medicaid.

Congress and many states are now attempting to extend refusal rights to virtually anyone involved in health information or services, for any reason.

For example, a 2005 Mississippi law allows "any employee of any hospital, clinic, nursing home, pharmacy or medical school to refuse to partic.i.p.ate in counseling, diagnosis, research or administering of any type of drug, device, surgery, care or treatment by a.s.serting an objection on moral, ethical or religious grounds."40 This same law allows payers of health care to refuse to cover any service to which they object on moral grounds, which could include sterilization, HIV treatment, STD diagnosis or treatment, contraception, or even prenatal checkups for women who "shouldn't" be pregnant.

"Moral grounds." Today, that's code for s.e.x. s.e.x. "Morality" hasn't led pharmacists to demand the right to refuse to fill prescriptions for drugs tested on animals, or drugs whose manufacture pollutes the environment, or drugs that are too expensive for anyone but the wealthy or well-insured, or drugs with awful side effects, or drugs that make children violent or adults submissive zombies. "Morality" hasn't led pharmacists to demand the right to refuse to fill prescriptions for drugs tested on animals, or drugs whose manufacture pollutes the environment, or drugs that are too expensive for anyone but the wealthy or well-insured, or drugs with awful side effects, or drugs that make children violent or adults submissive zombies.

No, "moral grounds" means, "Makes s.e.x safer or more enjoyable."

Shockingly, most states now allow pharmacists to refuse to fill any legal prescription, and new laws protect pharmacists who then refuse to refer patients to other pharmacies that will help them. The American Pharmacists a.s.sociation wants to protect "pharmacists' rights to not dispense drugs they are opposed to." The Christian Legal Society's Center for Law and Religious Freedom says it's un-American to ask pharmacists to sacrifice their rights for their jobs. The Family Research Council wants the Workplace Religious Freedom Act pa.s.sed to protect pharmacists' rights to uphold their "morals" at work.

Pharmacists do not have this "right. " Your Aunt Mabel does- " Your Aunt Mabel does- in private in private. Indeed, pharmacists have the same rights as your Aunt Mabel to withhold, ca-jole, persuade, and bully in order to shape your behavior-in private.

Pharmacists and pharmacies are licensed by the state to provide health care.

As such, they must adhere to standard U.S. medical practices and serve the entire community, regardless of race, ethnicity, age, height, eye color, and shoe size. Or medication requested, or condition it's designed to treat. That's the responsibility pharmacists take on in exchange for the privileges of their license. Anyone is free to believe that some people should not have access to certain medications-but acting on this belief disqualifies a person from being a pharmacist.

Battleground: Reproductive Rights 45 Reproductive Rights 45 Discrimination is dis- crimination, whether a ENFORCING MORALITY ON OTHERS ENFORCING MORALITY ON OTHERS pharmacist bases it on Shall there be any limit on people's right to enforce your your religion or religion or his. his. Re- their morality on others? If pharmacists demand this fusing to sell medication right, what about other people demanding their rights? Re- their morality on others? If pharmacists demand this fusing to sell medication right, what about other people demanding their rights?

to help a single woman These might include: have responsible s.e.x is just as bad as refusing * a cab driver refusing to take you to a Planned Par-to sell a black family a enthood clinic; house in a white neigh- * a 7Eleven clerk who won't sell you alcohol because borhood.

you shouldn't drink; The government's job * a Bloomingdale's clerk who won't let you spend any is to set standards based money on goods made in China; on science so consum- * a toy store clerk who won't let you buy toy guns or ers, who can't possibly s.e.xy Barbies; evaluate professional * a physician who won't let you have a blood transfu-competence, are safe.

sion that's against G.o.d's will; Consumers can use any * a lawyer who won't write a will leaving your money criteria they like, includ-to your lazy son; ing moral values, to de- * a high school counselor who won't help a girl get cide which medications into MIT because girls shouldn't be scientists.

and procedures to use or Since some pharmacists demand the right to with-avoid. That's That's the Ameri- hold any medication that facilitates s.e.x-related behav-can promise. the Ameri- hold any medication that facilitates s.e.x-related behav-can promise.

ior of which they disapprove, we can also expect to hear The Bible, while silent the following rationales for being refused legally pre-on abortion, repeatedly scribed medication: demands humility and compa.s.sion. Pharma- * "No, that estrogen for your s.e.x-rea.s.signment inter-cists who won't dispense feres with G.o.d's creation of men and women."

EC to a woman who has * "No, you're gay, and you'll use that v.i.a.g.r.a to have only a few hours left to abominable gay s.e.x."

prevent an unwanted * "No, treating your v.a.g.i.n.al infection will allow you to pregnancy need to have resume s.e.x-which, since you're single, you shouldn't their v.i.a.g.r.a prescrip-be having."

tio * "No, that medication will relieve the pain of a vasec-n denied, their blood to pressure medication de- my you shouldn't have had."

layed, and their eyegla.s.s * "No, antidepressants will make you a more feisty prescription confiscated.

woman, disrupting family harmony."

Since their religion * "No, Prozac will make it hard for you to e.j.a.c.u.l.a.t.e, hasn't taught them com-indirectly limiting your family size."

pa.s.sio * "No, testosterone will increase your postmenopausal n, perhaps these s.e.x drive, and there's no need for that."

experiences would.

Chapter Five.

The s.e.xual Disaster Industry There is so much money to be made scaring the h.e.l.l out of Americans about s.e.xuality that no one on this gravy train can afford to slow it down. Any outsider who questions this juggernaut is immediately labeled insensitive, anti-family, immoral, or a pedophile.

The s.e.xual Disaster Industry (SDI) involves federal and local government, conservative religion, so-called morality organizations, right-wing think tanks, victim-parade daytime talk shows like Montell Montell and and Maury, Maury, and news programs looking for a b.u.mp ("Isn't it awful the way people go to strip clubs? Film at 11!"). Honorable mention goes to the psychotherapy profession (current motto: "You're and news programs looking for a b.u.mp ("Isn't it awful the way people go to strip clubs? Film at 11!"). Honorable mention goes to the psychotherapy profession (current motto: "You're sure sure you were never molested?") and to the nighttime adrenalin-rush crime shows like you were never molested?") and to the nighttime adrenalin-rush crime shows like CSI CSI.

Acting independently (while reacting to common cultural imperatives and personal anxieties), these inst.i.tutions daily overstate the amount of s.e.xual violence, s.e.xual danger, s.e.xual immorality, and s.e.xual freakiness freakiness around us. They've created the illusion of an enormous s.e.xual "other" living in our midst-tens of millions of s.e.xual predators, bis.e.xual sadom.a.s.o.c.h.i.s.t anarchists, satanic molesting s.e.x educators, wanton husband-stealing strippers, and malevolent shy-ster p.o.r.nographers. around us. They've created the illusion of an enormous s.e.xual "other" living in our midst-tens of millions of s.e.xual predators, bis.e.xual sadom.a.s.o.c.h.i.s.t anarchists, satanic molesting s.e.x educators, wanton husband-stealing strippers, and malevolent shy-ster p.o.r.nographers.

The Industry is continually inventing and warning us about new s.e.x-related disasters in the making. And although government, religion, and civic groups are working overtime creating more and more solutions, everyone agrees that our safety and peace of mind is further away than ever. It would seem that our s.e.x-related problems are just too big, that American s.e.xuality (actually, human s.e.xuality) is just too degenerate. That's why programs need more money, citizens need to be more vigilant, people need to give up more rights, and government has to pa.s.s ever-stricter laws.

There's a better explanation.

The contemporary American narrative of s.e.x-as-danger is a rich one. In this well-known tale, our country is filled with pedophiles and date rapists; p.o.r.nography drives people to destroy their marriages and to commit 48 48 violence and perversion; s.e.xual entertainment damages communities; s.e.x education seduces children into having s.e.x; premarital s.e.x leads to STDs, pregnancy, depression, and suicide; contraception leads to promiscuity, ruining lives; and abortion leads to breast cancer, sterility, and crippling guilt.

Almost all s.e.xual choices are morally wrong, physically dangerous (for self or others), and economically and politically disastrous. Managing one's own s.e.xuality, or the s.e.xuality of one's neighbors and community, therefore, involves reducing anxiety and minimizing danger, not maximizing intimacy, self-exploration, pleasure, or spirituality. It's a full-time job.

The SDI translates this abstract cultural narrative into tangible problems that frighten real people. Some of the alleged threats they've recently cooked up that will require our anxious attention include people watching p.o.r.n videos in the backseats of SUVs; couples who go to s.e.x clubs to meet other couples; a vaccine that could prevent cervical cancer, which will, of course, encourage teens to have more s.e.x; the Gay Agenda, which intends to abolish heteros.e.xual pair-bonding and childrearing; kids hearing swear words on network and cable TV; and Amazon.com selling s.e.x toys as if they were just another consumer item. Every single one of these has been criminalized or is the target of a powerful "morality" pressure group.

Government hearings periodically bless the latest problem from which we must defend our families. Some of Washington's recent crusades involve "promiscuity," cybers.e.x, and alleged over-reliance on contraception (in the country with the highest rate of unintended pregnancy in the industrialized world). The idea that the U.S. Senate would hold hearings with t.i.tles like, "The Science Behind p.o.r.nography Addiction" and "Open Forum on Decency"

sounds like a Jay Leno gag. If only.

The government selects the witnesses to these hearings who wil provide the exact outcome it wants. Junk science, like Judith Reisman's antip.o.r.n delusion about "eroto-toxins," is common. The basic qualification of many who get to testify is that they're real y real y upset. Or a reformed pervert. So ex-p.o.r.n junkies like Phil Burress create Citizens for Community Values, and demand action about p.o.r.n addiction. Concerned Women for America lectures senators about contraception causing promiscuity. Donna Rice Hughes washes out as Gary Hart's eye candy and is reborn as an expert on abstinence and Internet p.o.r.n. It's like credentialing someone as a doctor because she's real y worried about il ness, or choosing an accountant because he's flunked several audits. upset. Or a reformed pervert. So ex-p.o.r.n junkies like Phil Burress create Citizens for Community Values, and demand action about p.o.r.n addiction. Concerned Women for America lectures senators about contraception causing promiscuity. Donna Rice Hughes washes out as Gary Hart's eye candy and is reborn as an expert on abstinence and Internet p.o.r.n. It's like credentialing someone as a doctor because she's real y worried about il ness, or choosing an accountant because he's flunked several audits.

Oh, for some actual expertise: s.e.xologists, sociologists, psychologists. But expertise would contradict the media-religion-civic group-politician Disaster Axis (religion and the media terrify people, civic groups offer solutions, politicians fund them). Science, statistics, historical perspective-they might tell us that our kids, our property values, and our bodies are safer than we think.

Americans don't want this good news. Given our guilt and shame about s.e.x, The s.e.xual Disaster Industry 49 The s.e.xual Disaster Industry 49 problems and anxiety make more sense. So problem-oriented faux expertise ("Look at me, I know how dangerous s.e.x is") carries the day.

Every industry promotes basic a.s.sumptions about the world in which its customers live, and how its products improve lives. Despite a lack of evidence-despite contradictory contradictory evidence-the SDI has effectively persuaded Americans that the fol owing (unproven) beliefs are principles of modern life (which, of course, justify the very existence of the Industry): 1. Kids are damaged by exposure to s.e.xual words, pictures, and concepts. evidence-the SDI has effectively persuaded Americans that the fol owing (unproven) beliefs are principles of modern life (which, of course, justify the very existence of the Industry): 1. Kids are damaged by exposure to s.e.xual words, pictures, and concepts.

2. America is ful of s.e.xual predators-and the situation is getting worse.

3. Ultimately, people can't explore s.e.xuality safely.

4. People interested in s.e.xual stimulation, exploration, or unusual stuff, are "them," not "us."

5. Eliminating venues for s.e.xual experiences wil eliminate s.e.xual behavior.

6. Feeling scared about s.e.xuality is responsible citizenship and common sense.

Together, these six a.s.sumptions create a landscape of danger and powerlessness, in which suspicion of one's own and others' s.e.xuality is sensible. Surrounded by this much danger and potentially explosive eroticism, fear (and resentment) isn't just plausible, it seems responsible.

This is the context for the SDI's marketing of its products: programs, laws, investigations, new psychological diseases. Al egedly designed to make our lives safer, in reality they make people more frightened. And when people are more frightened, they don't ask questions about whether programs are making them safer-they just want more more of them. The constant reminders of the Amber Alert system makes parents feel more afraid, not less (while rescuing a tiny handful of kids); date-rape awareness cla.s.ses make dating scarier, not easier (while date-rape reports increase). of them. The constant reminders of the Amber Alert system makes parents feel more afraid, not less (while rescuing a tiny handful of kids); date-rape awareness cla.s.ses make dating scarier, not easier (while date-rape reports increase).

And so regardless of the al eged problem being addressed (p.o.r.n addiction, stranger abduction, date-rape drugs, blight surrounding strip clubs), the Industry's solutions (its product) always involve the same things: des.e.xualize the environment, reduce the opportunity for s.e.xual expression, increase the costs of s.e.xual activity, increase community anxiety, divide people into the s.e.xual y "safe" (us) and "dangerous" (them).

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The true product of the SDI isn't safety, but fear. If it were safety, the Industry would encourage: * condom use among men and women; * comprehensive school s.e.xuality education; * regular, ongoing parent-child discussions about s.e.x; * preventing or relieving childhood guilt about masturbation; * widespread understanding that most childhood s.e.xual exploitation is done by familiars, not strangers; * making the new HPV vaccine routine for all preteen girls; 50 50 * funding actual research into the cause and treatment of childhood s.e.xual exploitation; * including s.e.xual orientation in national antidiscrimination law; * training marriage counselors and psychologists to understand, rather than demonize, p.o.r.nography use; * licensing swing clubs instead of driving them underground.

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