It’s Thanksgiving, so let’s give thanks for sex.
Not just the huffing and puffing, the in-ing and out-ing, the sloshing around and drying off. Let’s give thanks for all the sexual rights we enjoy here in the U.S.—which billions of people in Russia, the Arab world, and many parts of Asia and Africa will never enjoy in their lifetimes.
Most of these rights have to do with privacy and autonomy. These always look dangerous to repressive or religiously-driven regimes. Science and technology look pretty frightening to such regimes when they can be applied for sexual purposes—which they inevitably are, throughout history.
So let’s give thanks for the many ways we are allowed to use privacy and autonomy to express our sexuality, and to use science and technology to make sex safer and more life-affirming.
Still, we should remember that these rights are stained by the many limitations that our local, state, and federal governments place on our sexual expression. In an era when tens of millions of Americans are calling for “smaller government,” it’s especially bitter that many of these same people are calling for more government intrusion into private sexual expression.
So let’s give thanks that here in America…
* You can buy birth control in almost every community.
…Although an increasing number of pharmacists claim they are exempt from state laws requiring licensed pharmacists to fill all legal prescriptions. Christ or Napoleon: does it matter what reason they give?
* Sex toys have become so acceptable that you can even buy them via Amazon.com.
…Although most marriage counselors, clergy, and physicians are licensed without ever learning a single thing about them.
* The internet offers almost unlimited opportunities where people can fantasize about alternative sexual universes and personae.
…Although our federal and state governments spend a huge amount of our tax money entrapping and prosecuting men who enjoy fantasy age role-play in adult chat-rooms.
* You can get tested for many common STDs without having to give a lot of explanation. You can get tested for HIV anonymously and confidentially.
…Although anti-pornography groups continue to lie that the adult film industry is a hotbed of STDs, and have targeted the industry for scrutiny by government safety inspectors.
* Emergency Contraception is now available over-the-counter across the U.S..
…Although many desperate anti-choice activists lie and call it an abortion pill.
* In most big cities, you can still go to swingers clubs, strip clubs, and dungeons.
…Although more and more cities are using emergency ordinances and discriminatory “sexually-oriented business” statutes to close these adult businesses—without having to prove they’re dangerous.
* The Supreme Court ruled, in Lawrence v. Texas, that morality alone cannot be the basis of American laws criminalizing sexual acts, such as sodomy.
…Although powerful and well-financed Christian groups continue to demand—and get—laws to curb “indecency,” “smut,” “secularism,” and “the homosexual agenda.”
* Many states have developed “Romeo & Juliet” laws to reduce or eliminate penalties for consensual teen-teen sex if the kids are close in age.
…Although most states still treat teen sexting as the felony of child porn distribution.
* Women can dress any way they like without fear of religious or state-supported violence.
…Although men and women still get arrested every year for being topless or nude in America’s parks and beaches—unlike our cousins in Europe, where toplessness and nudity are normal at public beaches and parks.
* Senior citizens like Bruce Springsteen, Goldie Hawn, Meryl Streep, Neil Young, Dolly Parton, and Mick Jagger are still performing, showing exactly what sexuality in old age can look like.
…Although sexuality for residents of nursing homes is still tightly controlled and sometimes punished.
I also give thanks for my 7,000 readers and 4,000 twitter followers, and for your encouraging messages of support throughout the year. You can always reach me at Klein AT SexEd DOT org.