‘war on sex’

More Religious Bullying—Around Sex, Of Course

The “First Amendment Defense Act”—who could quarrel with that? I do. Maybe you do, too. HR2802 prohibits the federal government from acting against anyone who “believes or acts in accordance with a religious belief” that gays shouldn’t marry or that sex belongs only in heterosexual marriage. Under this law, the feds couldn’t withhold tax exemptions, contracts, or loans from people or corporations defying federal laws prohibiting discrimination against GLBT people. The bill would protect a business denying time off for a gay employee to care for a sick spouse. It would protect a private school refusing a child just because…

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James Deen, Sex Workers, & Rape

You may have heard that several porn actresses have accused porn actor James Deen of sexual assault. In response, various production companies have terminated their contracts with him. Yeah, there’s bad people everywhere, even in the porn industry. If he raped anyone I hope he’s locked up for a thousand years. The case reminded me of a symposium I attended at Stanford University Law School a few weeks ago on the possible connection between sex work and trafficking, and America’s legal response to each. Panelists included a prosecutor, a sociologist, an anti-trafficking activist, and Maxine Doogan of ESPLERP (Erotic Service…

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Some gays slow to catch on to religious exceptionalism

In a recent op-ed piece, New York Times writer Frank Bruni says “I’ve been called many unpleasant things in my life…but I chafe at this latest label: A threat to your religious liberty.” Bruni is gay, and he resents people claiming that their religion allows them to discriminate against same-gender couples and individuals in arenas such as marriage, parenting, and employment. Indeed, an increasing number of bakers, photographers and other wedding vendors are claiming the right to not serve gay couples. I totally agree—it’s pathetic that adults hide behind religion to selfishly and piously opt out of our American constitutional…

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Superbowl Sex Trafficking Increase? Super Nonsense

Sex trafficking—the real thing, not the political consumer product or object of sloganeering—involves kidnapping or manipulating someone out of their community, forcing them to engage in sex acts somewhere else, and not allowing them to leave at will. It’s horrendous. It’s not simply prostitution, not even underage prostitution. It’s not making porn films, even under onerous conditions. It’s not stripping or being an escort. An increasing number of groups are intent on persuading Americans that we have a terrible and growing problem with sex trafficking. Their data is virtually non-existent, elided with words like “experts agree,” “a shameful epidemic,” and…

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Should Prison Inmates Have the Right to Masturbate?

I was interviewed about this on Public Radio yesterday. Since it’s a subject I hadn’t given a lot of thought, I prepared by reading up on it just a bit. And I was shocked. It’s actually against the law to touch yourself sexually—in private—if you’re in jail. Sounds barbaric, doesn’t it? OK, you’re behind bars, your body is no longer your own. But if you’re not allowed to masturbate, neither is your soul. Worse, if there’s any disagreement about whether you’ve done it, you automatically lose the argument. There are many cases in which guards either misinterpret prisoner activity and…

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Abstinence Sex Ed? “I’m Baaack…”

Like a bad penny—or like an abusive ex-husband, or a public policy cancer—abstinence is back, just when we thought it was gone. Through the 1970s, U.S. policy was to reduce teen pregnancy. In 1981 the goal was changed, to funding programs to reduce teen sexual activity. During the Bush Administration, $1.5 billion was spent trying to get kids to have less sex. These programs failed completely (other than transferring federal case to Bush supporters). In 2009 the federal government ended most funding for abstinence (although states and school districts continued funding abstinence programs locally), and began funding comprehensive sex ed.…

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