Because I periodically appear in court as an expert witness, and consult with lawyers and people in trouble, I’ve learned a bit about what attorneys and judges know about sex. Like physicians, physical therapists, and psychologists, it’s very little. They really need to know more.
Not about fallopian tubes and HIV, but about the role sex plays in real peoples’ lives. About how they actually make decisions. And about how Americans are more similar to each other in the bedroom than the overheated rhetoric of Bill O’Reilly and the abstinence-only crowd suggests.
The justice system gets involved with sexuality on an almost daily basis. Sex comes up, for example, in custody hearings, domestic violence cases, questions about the legality of one teen having sex with another, claims by Wal-Mart photo developers that a bathtub shot is child porn, and demands that a public statue be taken down because it’s “offensive.”
In order to make our justice system more fair and less punitive, here are just some of the things I wish more lawyers and judges knew about sex:
* Many people who lie to their mates about sex are, in every other way, good partners.
* People into kinky sex can be perfectly good parents. In fact, millions of good parents are into kinky sex. Think only bad parents buy butt plugs and wear see-through blouses?
* Knowing what porn a person looks at, or what their sexual fantasies are, doesn’t tell you anything about that person.
* Even the most conservative-sounding people do outrageous sexual things at home.
* With 50,000,000 Americans watching porn each month, you can’t predict anything about someone based on whether or not they watch porn.
* There’s a dramatic difference between violence and S/M. Violence is coercive. S/M is consensual. Violence is done to someone. S/M is done with someone. The victims of violence don’t control its boundaries. Participants in S/M determine its boundaries together. In summary: there are no “victims” of S/M, even if someone’s choice is ill-advised for them.
* Most women who act in porn films either don’t mind or actually enjoy it. Those who do it just for the money prefer this way of making a living to their other options.
* When talking to their doctors, therapists, clergy, pollsters, and the media, adults lie about what they do in bed. When they do, they almost always understate the variety and frequency of what they do, and the number of people they do it with.
* There’s no such thing as sex addiction. There’s people making poor sexual decisions all over the place (there’s big news!), but almost all of them could make different choices if they really, really wanted to. To indulge our cravings may not be wise, but it’s rarely sick.
* Science has never shown that people who watch porn behave any differently than people who don’t.
* The majority of kids sexually exploited by an adult know the offender. Therefore, protecting kids from being molested by strangers is a huge waste of money, time, and attention that could actually be used to help make kids safer.