2015 was a complicated year for sex. Americans won rights, lost rights, gained some products, lost (even more of) their innocence about internet privacy, found new ways to be entertained, and were horrified more than once.
As I wrote about these and other stories, my heart rose, and fell, just like yours. I was glad to have you along for the ride. I’ll be here throughout 2016, too—promise. You can also follow my 3-times-per-week tweets at @DrMartyKlein.
Famous athlete Bruce Jenner became famous transgender role model Caitlin Jenner. And now it seems like every third person is transgender, queer, or demanding new personal pronouns, like hir and zir. But reality-show nonsense aside, the new visibility of transgenderism is historically important for the 99% of us who aren’t.
New Year’s Day hangovers were barely a memory when the War on Civilization came to Paris. The office of a little-known provocative (and often tasteless) journal was attacked by adults unhappy about a cartoon of their oh-so-wise, oh-so-peaceful inspiration. So they killed people. News outlets around the world reacted with outrage—and cowardice in refusing to run the images that many Muslims found so distressing that they supported these murders. Even today, American universities are duplicating this tragic, self-censoring mistake.
Free expression is all connected. The right to watch The Vagina Monologues or the Book of Mormon is absolutely bound up with the right to watch Butt Busters III or to draw a picture of Mohammed fingering Moses. As Lenny Bruce once said, “If you can’t say fuck, you can’t say fuck the government.”
“Pink Viagra”: Not Pink, Not Viagra
The FDA approved Flibanserin, a drug that helps a small number of women feel a little more sexual desire. The manufacturer had lobbied the government shamelessly, even inventing an allegedly feminist argument that women “deserved” it, given how Viagra had made sex so easy for men (yeah, right). Those lobbying against the drug promoted the myth that female sexuality is more complicated than male sexuality, and that women had a right to feel low desire.
In the end, neither ridiculous argument was persuasive. Money was.
Millions of people—mostly men, apparently—found themselves deceived by the Ashley Madison website. Instead of lots of lusty married people ready to meet and have sex, the website’s members found unethical business practices and poor internet security instead.
Is everyone on a dating or hookup website actually looking for sex? No.
Other big sex stories in 2015:
* Twenty-six year-old Laci Green became the world’s most popular sex educator (after the Bible). Her YouTube videos receive millions of hits per month—earning her an invitation to the White House and death threats from both transgender activists and insecure men.
* Several hundred new state laws limited the rights of Americans to get abortions. No new laws limited our rights to get unintentionally pregnant. No new laws required cities or states to take better care of newborn babies or their mothers. And it is now dramatically easier to buy a gun in America than to get an abortion.
* Playboy magazine announced it will no longer publish nude photographs, since the internet now provides more nudity and pornography than anyone could possibly have imagined even just a decade ago.
Few Americans alive today remember the magazine’s launch in 1953, or the revolutionary way it challenged the conformist, suburban, only-barely-sexual dream of the 1950s. Hugh Heffner was one of the first people to say out loud that middle-class people were interested in sex—with the courage to bet his life savings on it. Heffner also donated millions of dollars to unpopular anti-censorship causes. The grandchildren of his first readers will scoff and even spit when he dies—without ever understanding what they owe him.
* Same-gender marriage finally became legal. So far heterosexual marriage has not been destroyed, and no one has demanded the right to marry their horse, their mother, or their potted palm.