Archive for category Sex

Is anyone surprised an anti-abortion Republican is afraid of research into abortion?

To be honest, there are so many gob-smacking details in the story it’s difficult to know which deserve the most mockery.

Let’s start by noting that the Missouri state senator involved is chair of the Missouri senate’s interim Committee on the Sanctity of Life.  Let’s just pause and let that sink in.

What the actual fuck?!  The state of Missouri’s senators are so far gone that they actually have a Committee on the Sanctity of life. The duties of said committee are spelled out here and are genuinely stunning in multiple, utterly nonsensical ways: Read the rest of this entry »

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The Purity Culture’s Stew of Terror and Misinformation Boils Over

I’ve been trying to make sense of the antics on display at the Omaha Public School hearing about making changes to their thirty year old sexuality education program.

It had the hallmarks of a moral panic:

A moral panic is a public panic over an issue deemed to be a threat to, or shocking to, the sensibilities of “proper” society. This is often fanned by sensationalistselective reporting in the media and exaggerated accounts offered by “moral entrepreneur,” a category that includes politicians on the make and activists in search of a cause. Moral panics can result in what is a real phenomenon being blown way out of proportion, or in what is not a real phenomenon in the first place being widely believed to be real. Moral panics often feature a caricatured or stereotypical “folk devil” on which the anxieties of the community are focused, as described by sociologist Stanley Cohen who coined the term in his study Folk Devils and Moral Panics, which examined media coverage of the mod and rocker riots in the 1960s.[1][2]

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What We Teach About Women and Consent

Lets be clear for a moment. Rush Limbaugh is one of the most disgusting pieces of raw sewage to ever be flushed through the pipes of the waste system that we call American conservatism. There is no good reason for his continued existence, let alone his being allowed on Armed Forces radio. To refer to him as a waste of good air assumes that he breathes, rather than just drawing power from the festering pile of ignorance that he stores where others have a soul.

But he said something right the other day. Something worth quoting. Something disturbing.
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Offered without comment: 800 Irish Orphans in a Mass Grave

The revelation that a home for unwed mothers and their children was home to an unmarked grave holding the remains of 800 infants and children.

The registrar came back with a list of 796 children. “I could not believe it. I was dumbfounded and deeply upset,” says Corless. “There and then I said this isn’t right. There’s nothing on the ground there to mark the grave, there’s nothing to say it’s a massive children’s graveyard. It’s laid abandoned like that since it was closed in 1961.”

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BYU-Idaho Anti-Fapping (Maybe) Video Goes Viral

You can view the view here on BYU Idaho’s student life youtube channel (most places you try to embed or play it, you get the message it’s been removed due to copyright claims by BYU Idaho).

The video was widely mocked online.

This morning, The Deseret News published an article discussing the video (which is why I included the “maybe” in my headline): tried to clear up the misperception that the video was a “war on masturbation” by publishing a lengthy Q&A with BYU-Idaho President Kim Clark on Thursday. The piece includes a long description of LDS doctrine.

“Neither my talk nor the video has anything to do with masturbation,” Clark said. “There’s nothing in the video or in my talk about that. We were really focused on addictions, pornography, things that are really damaging spiritually to people.”

Between Clark’s “church voice” commentary, the imagery and the apparent anti-masturbation message, the video plays into widely held perceptions of Mormons as painfully earnest, prudish and a bit naive.  Of course it went viral.  It reinforces cultural stereotypes about Mormons and Mormonism.  The serious tone, the painfully earnest church voice commentary by Clark, the obsession with sexuality, even the clearly well meaning purpose of the video plays into stereotypes of Mormons.  It’s all there.

It’s also another example of the cultual chasm between the culture of the faithful in the Mormon corridor and the rest of America.

I’ll turn the floor over to the cult of Dusty so he can offer insightful and foul-mouthed commentary:


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Mike Huckabee apparently thinks 99% of American women are sluts

It very often seems that whenever conservative Republicans talk about women and anything to do with sexuality, they manage to be oafish and offensive.  Mike Huckabee gives us our latest entrant into the hall of shame.

In an effort to defend Huckabee, the folks at the American Family Association added context, because the missing context was the problem, right?

Huckabee’s statement didn’t start off that bad:

“Women I know are smart, educated, intelligent, capable of doing anything that anyone else can do. Our party stands for the recognition of the equality of women and the capacity of women. That’s not a war on them; it’s a war for them.”

So far so good, right?  But then his next sentence was:

“If the Democrats want to insult the women of America by making them believe that they are helpless without Uncle Sugar coming in and providing for them a prescription each month for birth control because they cannot control their libido or their reproductive system without the help of government then so be it! Let us take that discussion all across America because women are far more than the Democrats have played them to be.”

There is no coherent connection between the two ideas – how do you move from “women are capable” to “they can’t control their libidos”?

Now, as Paul Waldman pointed out:

Huckabee’s position is that saying “Democrats are treating women like dirty sluts by saying they should have access to birth control!” is very, very different from just saying women are dirty sluts. He feels he’s been falsely accused of saying the latter, when he was really just saying the former. I’m sure that he thinks that if women just understood the full context of his statement, they’d realize he respects and honors them. What he doesn’t get is that women actually want and need contraception, and 99 percent of women who have had sex have used some form of contraception at some point in their lives. So when he tells them that contraception is for sluts, what they hear isn’t “Because I care for you, I don’t want you to become a slut,” what they hear is, “You’re a slut.”

Waldman’s insight only takes us so far, though.  Huckabee’s statement sets up two opposite positions – birth control and self control.  In his statement, Huckabee assumes the need for birth control is caused by lack of self control.  He is saying that only sluts who can’t conrol themselves need birth control.  And since 99% of American woman use birth control, he’s saying almost every American woman is a slut.

There’s not a positive spin on that statement.


Are We Doing Young Persons a Disservice by Teaching them No Means No?

I’ve been teaching sexuality education to teens for a decade now.  In that time, I’ve seen a huge shift in the way young women respond to the issue of date rape, although almost no change in the way young men respond.

The date rape lesson in Our Whole Lives for high school students takes the form of the story of a date told from the perspective of each person.  Participants divide into two groups, each with one version of the story, which they read aloud.  The basic facts of the date are the same in each account – they go to dinner, drink a bottle of wine, go back to his room at the frat house, drink some more, play music, dance, get partly undressed, make out.  It’s at this point the stories diverge radically – his version ends with them having sex, her version with her being raped.  After reading the story, participants answer a series of questions which include “What could he/she have done to change the outcome of the evening?”

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College Life, Rape and Public Discourse

There’s a major discussion happening right now about sexual assault on college campuses (i.e. it’s made the NY Times; some other posts and articles here, here, here and here).  The basic shape of the conversation can be described fairly simply:

Rape and sexual assault are already underreported crimes.  Students on college campuses are victims of rape and sexual assault on a regular basis; college campuses nationwide engage in efforts to minimize reporting of sexual assault on campus and take minimal actions against perpetrators.  New regulations are shining a light on the situation.

The consensus seems to be that colleges aren’t doing enough to protect students from sexual assault and aren’t doing enough with regard to punishing perpetrators; it seems to me the worst a college can do is expel a perpetrator and even then they run risks they may prefer to avoid.  As I think about this issue, it seems that colleges are trying to thread the needle with regard to legal liability – in the absence of specific knowledge about specific threats to a student from/by another student, they can’t take any action; they can’t expel a student because he might rape someone.  Without evidence, they can’t punish a student.  In many cases, victims can’t identify the perpetrators. Read the rest of this entry »

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The Republicans Passion for Pelvic Politics Takes a Turn for the Toxic

Via of Ed Kilgore at Washington Monthly, this report about Kansas Republican legislators’ latest attempt to micromanage women’s magical lady parts:

The Kansas legislature is advancing an omnibus abortion bill that would, among other things, define life as beginning at conception in the state constitution and place unnecessary restrictions on abortion providers in the state. HB 2253 has already passed the House, and looks poised to gain enough support to sail through the Senate — but only after Republicans rejected several key amendments to soften the measure, including a provision to add exceptions for rape and incest to the state’s existing abortion restrictions. Top Republicans decried those provisions as “little gotcha amendments.”

There’s an interesting dynamic at work here.  Conservative Republicans jump up on their sanctimonious high horse over abortion.  Then they get tangled up in the conversations about rape and incest because of course abortion isn’t as black and white as anti-choice forced birther folks like to pretend it is.  Rape and incest are the obvious first stumbling blocks to the anti-choicers simplistic moralizing.  Having invested significant time and energy into sentimentalizing fetuses, the forced birthers cannot now pretend that the sentiment only applies to some fetuses.  So they’re forced to make incredibly cruel arguments – women who get pregnant as a result of rape or incest shouldn’t punish the fetus by having it aborted; they should instead see it as a blessing.  It’s an awful argument but it flows directly from the logic embraced by the anti-choice movement.

Enmeshed in their own arguments, the anti-choice people wind up unable to make coherent arguments about abortion, contraception or reproduction.  They end up buying into various myths (for instance the debunked claim that abortion causes breast cancer or that women’s magical lady parts prevent conception when they’re being raped).  In this instance in Kansas, they’re forced to pretend any objection to their forced birth agenda is nothing more than politics. 

And despite wanting desperately to avoid the topic of rape, Republicans can’t seem to steer clear of it.  And so the unpleasant dynamic sucks them into a discussion they want to avoid.  And they end up saying things that make them sound like sociopaths.  In response, they propose even more toxic and authoritarian rules concerning the ladyparts.

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Rape Culture, Sexual Assault, and Domestic Violence

EJ Graff has been on FIRE at the American Prospect with a series of posts about the rape culture, sexual assault, domestic violence and ways to confront and change the world.

I don’t think it’s stretching things to say that sexual assault and domestic violence are linked.  Before I go to far, I want to point out that women can be perpetrators of both sexual assault and domestic violence.  And, importantly, men who commit both sexual violence and domestic violence are the minority.  The goal eliminating sexual assault and domestic violence no matter the gender of the victim.  Women are far more likely to be victims of both than are men.  In a recent post, Graff addressed the Steubenville case and called for a move from rape culture to respect culture.

Some background is necessary on Steubenville.  The basic outline feels all too familiar.  A group of local school athletes have been accused of raping a 16 year old.  The case went viral when a video surfaced:

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Purity Culture Is Rape Culture

EJ Graf’s title says it all.  Her article at American Prospect is powerful.  The money quote:

“Rape culture,” as young feminists now call this, isn’t limited to India. It lives anywhere that has a “traditional” vision of women’s sexuality. A culture in which women are expected to remain virgins until marriage is a rape culture. In that vision, women’s bodies are for use primarily for procreation or male pleasure. They must be kept pure. While cultural conservatives would disagree, this attitude gives men license to patrol—in some cases with violence—women’s hopes for controlling their lives and bodies.

It’s a culture that sees women’s sexuality as property of men.  It’s a culture that values women according to their supposed sexual purity.

A culture in which women must cover up or be threatened is a rape culture. You’re thinking of hijab and burquas, right? Think also of the now well-known SlutWalks, which were launched after a Toronto police officer told young women that they could avoid rape by not dressing like “sluts.” The protests, which have spread worldwide, make the point that no matter how we dresswomen are at risk; and no matter how we dress, our bodies are our own.

Purity culture is a culture that is threatened by female autonomy.




Stuart Reid Uses Bad History Draws Bad Conclusions Yet Proposes Decent Policy Proposal

Utah State Senator Stuart Reid recently floated a proposal that would create a program to educate parents about sexuality in the belief they would turn around and teach their children at home.

“My belief is the discussion really should be about parental responsibility,” said Sen. Stuart Reid, R-Ogden, who plans to sponsor the bill. “Our first instinct shouldn’t be to turn this over to the education community … It should first start in the home.”

Reid said it’s not that parents don’t understand sex, it’s more that they don’t know how to teach certain concepts to their kids or at what ages to begin. Reid said he envisions the State Office of Education holding training sessions across the state once or twice a year where parents would be given codes to access the online program. Reid said Monday he did not yet know how much it would cost the state to implement such a program.

There’s much to laud in Reid’s proposal. One of the major challenges facing parents is a lack of confidence and skill in discussing questions of sexuality with their children. Empowering parents with education and specific techniques is a good idea, especially since so few adults actually received good comprehensive sexuality education as young people. While I can foresee a host of problems in the way the adult program could be created and implemented (this being Utah with its attendant hangups about sexuality) nevertheless, the policy itself is a potential step in the right direction. Emphasis should be placed on the potential since Reid is operating from flawed knowledge of history and a serious misreading of current events.

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