American culture is terribly conflicted about sexuality, and traditionally obsesses on its negative contexts, such as teen pregnancy, child sexual abuse, infidelity, STIs, and “perversion.”
But when it comes to sexuality, there’s a lot to be thankful for this season. Let’s take a moment to especially appreciate:
~ We can buy sex toys & supplies online
It wasn’t so long ago that even women’s magazines rejected ads for sex toys. Now you can buy everything from vibrators to handcuffs, butt plugs, nipple clamps, masturbators, whips, crotchless panties and cupless bras—and that’s just on Amazon. For really unusual stuff you’re limited to, oh, a gazillion other sites. There’s even a large selection on eBay (don’t worry, it’s new stuff, not used).
Like everything else on the internet, of course, when buying sexual stuff it’s caveat emptor (Latin for “are you even more careless than the average person?”). You can go to Gwyneth Paltrow’s goop.com if you want the worlds most expensive sex toys, including gold-plated handcuffs (no extra charge for the gold-plated keys, surprisingly). You can buy books showing how astrology can improve your orgasms. And of course, there are plenty of organic and vegan-friendly lubes, such as Good Clean Love.
And you can do all this from the privacy of your own home. Your only embarrassment is when you open the package and wonder what you were thinking when you spent $99 on a blindfold.
~ We have easy access to RU486 and Emergency Contraception
As we watch access to legal abortion not-so-gradually disappear, we can give thanks for the simple drug that easily and safely aborts unwanted pregnancies.
For those who realize they’ve put themselves at risk within the last 48 hours, there are a half-dozen brands of emergency contraception. These drugs may prevent or delay ovulation; interfere with fertilization of an egg; and prevent implantation of a fertilized egg in the uterus.
Taken within 72 hours after unprotected intercourse, the drug reduces the risk of pregnancy by up to 89%. Within 24 hours, it’s about 95% effective.
Because timing is so critical with this medication, every sexually active person who can get pregnant or create a pregnancy should have Emergency Contraception in their home. A large proportion of unwanted conceptions take place on weekends and holidays, so you don’t want to be frantically looking for a pharmacy open on, say, New Year’s Day.
For more information, ask your physician, or for anonymity, phone your local pharmacist and just ask about it.
~ Unmarried couples can check into a hotel together
This is easy to take for granted until you travel to a country where you can actually be detained and even arrested for doing so (primarily Muslim countries, like Saudi Arabia and the increasingly conservative Indonesia). And it wasn’t so long ago that if a couple arrived at an American hotel without luggage they would get “the fisheye from the hotel clerk,” or even be denied a room.
To put it another way, unmarried couples now have as much right to have sex as married couples.
~ Same-gender couples can hold hands in public—and even marry
Although it seems like old news, if you can read, you can remember before same-gender marriage was legalized. The 2015 Supreme Court decision was important for several reasons.
Of course, it had enormous symbolic value, declaring that sexual orientation did not undermine people’s citizenship. It also affirmed that legal rights exist regardless of any majority’s disapproval. Finally, marriage is a government contract that confers enormous privileges on people, from taxation to hospital rights, inheritance, and parenting. So withholding the chance to enter into that government contract meant denying people these privileges for no reason. This is simply called discrimination.
All of these developments are relatively new—changed within the living memory of most Americans. Indeed, there are powerful people—both within and outside of government—who are spending enormous amounts of money and energy to overturn these changes.
In just the last three years, Americans have seen terrible backwards movement in a wide range of sexual arenas: Federal funding for sex education has returned to the failed abstinence-only requirements of the Bush years. Abortion is more restricted now than at any time in the last 40 years (and is virtually illegal in half of American states). University professors can lose their jobs if just 2 or 3 students complain that a teacher isn’t sufficiently “woke” about trans issues. The feds, the states, and online vigilante groups are spending a fortune entrapping men playing age fantasy games in adults-only chatrooms.
A complete list would be depressingly long, and remember, today’s column is about giving thanks. While we’re doing so, let’s just remember how recent these developments are, and how easy it would be to lose them—as we’ve lost so many others already.
If you liked this post, you’ll enjoy my piece at www.MartyKlein.com/men-who-have-sex-with-men-not-all-are-gay/