Whether it’s for special people or material abundance, giving thanks is a good idea—even now. Today I wrote my county health officer and county district attorney notes of appreciation—a welcome change, I bet, from the insults and death threats that are now part of such jobs.
America’s approach to sexuality is far from perfect, but it’s better than it was as recently as 50 years ago, and it’s better than most nations’. Here are a few things in the world of sex for which Americans can be grateful.
They should be free and aren’t, but it’s fairly easy to get condoms, IUDs, pills, and other safe, effective forms of contraception at very low cost. Slightly more expensive but still available in most places is the morning-after pill, sold under nine different brands. It prevents, not destroys, pregnancy, and should be in millions of homes as a form of insurance.
If you find yourself unintentionally pregnant, the non-surgical abortion pill RU-486 is pricier, but available in every state. For permanent contraception, we can be thankful for vasectomy and tubal ligation, safe and straightforward procedures available for single as well as married people.
Why intelligent people still take risks and become unintentionally pregnant is no mystery–but it does reveal some sad truths about human nature and America’s culture of sexual shame.
Americans today are allowed a range of sexual behaviors that we take for granted, although they were criminalized here fairly recently, and still are around the world.
For example, adultery is legal here (although it can get you Dishonorably Discharged from the military). It can cost you almost everything you care about, but it can’t land you in jail—unlike in most Muslim countries, where adulterers are tortured (“flogged”) and even executed.
In 2003, Lawrence v Texas decriminalized sodomy—which, legally, is any sex other than penis-vagina intercourse. So if you like oral, anal, handjobs, or BDSM (consenting, of course), you’re not breaking the law here.
As every American knows, same-gender sex is now legal. Not just “gay sex”—all sex between two people of the same gender, who may not necessarily be gay. In contrast, almost one-third of humanity lives in a country that criminalizes two men or two women having sex.
Americans are free to decide their gender and sexual orientation. They may face social disapproval and even threats if the wrong people are offended—but that’s true about many other personal choices, such as interracial dating, unpopular political positions, even doing one’s public-facing job with integrity (such as lawyers defending detested clients. In other countries, “pretending” to be your non-natal gender is a capital offense.
In America, sex involving more than two people at a time is legal if done in a private home and no money exchanges hands. Once it occurs in a commercial space like a swing club or a private home that offers memberships, it gets more complicated—and often depends on the whim of the local District Attorney or Purity activists.
Adult porn is legal (porn actresses and actors have to prove they’re at least 18, and producers are almost never fooled).
Vibrators, dildoes, butt plugs, nipple clamps, and other sex toys are not only legal, they’re available on Amazon and Walmart. Not too long ago you couldn’t advertise a simple vibrator even if you offered to pay a zillion bucks.
Viagra and its brethren, of course, are freely available (too freely, as most young men who want it don’t need it, and can become psychologically dependent). Products to remove pubic hair are easily available, as are studios who will do it for you (full disclosure—getting a Brazilian hurts, regardless of gender).
At least these things work; unfortunately, you can also buy products to enlarge your penis, increase the amount you ejaculate, or rev up your orgasm (none of these work). You can also pay to have your anus bleached or your labia trimmed (both do as they claim, but whywhywhy do either?).
Science knows and tells
Science can discover many things about sexuality—and in America, we have access to plenty of knowledge. Going back almost a century, giants like Kinsey, Calderone, Sherfey, Masters & Johnson, and Hite have been telling us about ourselves. While some of us have listened and learned, others have shut their ears, and continue to enforce sexual ignorance on their children and communities.
Congress still refuses to require that school sex education in the U.S. be “medically accurate.”
Whether people listen or not, we can be thankful that science has discovered, and verified, that
- Fantasy does not equal (in fact, rarely predicts) desire
- Older people can desire and have satisfying sex
- Couples can be happy and intimate without being sexual
- Adults attracted to children are born that way, and more than 50% never touch kids inappropriately
- Comprehensive sex education leads to better adolescent sexual decision-making
- There isn’t a huge sex trafficking ring in the US
Facts. Science. Proven.
When it comes to sexual expression, Americans have a lot to be thankful for. Which is to say we have a lot to protect. And a lot that shouldn’t be discarded simply because our laws or culture aren’t perfect.
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And check out my video quickies at YouTube/c/DrMartyKlein1