As is true every year, 2012 had its ups and downs regarding the public policy aspects of sexuality—this year, perhaps, more than many. Sadly, in 2012 it wasn’t simply diverging opinions that made the news—it was extraordinary ignorance and rejection of science. In a country where more people believe in the Rapture than in Evolution, perhaps we shouldn’t be surprised.
* Science affirms: porn actresses not traumatized
For years the myth of porn actresses as damaged goods has persisted: these women must be victims of horrible sexual trauma—how else could we account for their willingness to undress and have sex on camera? Research published in the Journal of Sex Research now affirms that these women are just like other women of similar age and background—except they started sex earlier, had more partners, and were more spiritual.
* Contraception is covered under Affordable Care Act
Contraception is now included under America’s new health care system. That is, when an employer offers health insurance as an employee benefit, that insurance has to include contraception.
The faux horror of religious groups about this shows how little they respect or trust the faith of their flock. Since no one is forced to use contraception, the Church has nothing to lose by its inclusion in health insurance. Unless, of course, Christian women choose to disobey their faith leaders and choose to regulate their fertility like responsible adults.
If there were a heaven, Thomas Jefferson would no doubt be smiling at the reinforcement of Church-State separation this insurance regulation represents. Of course, he’d be shocked that there is a heaven.
* LA voters pass mandatory condoms for porn shoots
Los Angeles County voters passed Measure B, mandating that porn shoots require condoms for anal and vaginal sex. The real story is how this proposition got onto the ballot—via a coalition of anti-porn groups that lied about a non-existent problem and a non-existent concern for performers.
Porn producers could be expected to oppose the measure, but the fact that performers were almost universally against it says it all. With a strict industry-sponsored testing program in place, there has been only one case of HIV attributable to heterosexual on-set sex. Measure B was a solution looking for a problem. If instituted, all it will do is drive porn production out of California and into Nevada.
And it won’t change the fact that you’re safer having unprotected sex with a porn star (who’s getting tested monthly as a condition of employment) than you are having sex with a stranger you meet in a local bar.
The measure would create a new layer of government bureaucracy, as sets are inspected and porn producers take mandatory blood-borne-pathogen training courses. For women who squirt or men who climax unexpectedly, guess we’ll call EMTs and first responders pre-premature ejaculators.
* 43 new state restrictions on abortion
The good news: U.S. states passed half as many restrictions on abortion in 2012 as they did in 2011. The bad news: with 2011 restrictions all in place, those 43 restrictions are still the second highest number ever. Literally hundreds of restrictions are in place across the country.
Eight states now require vaginal ultrasounds prior to abortion. That’s a doctor forcing a medical instrument into a (frequently) unwilling patient’s vagina, and requiring her to look at pictures she doesn’t want to see, so she can earn the privilege of a safe, legal medical procedure. If Iran or Russia did that we’d call it barbaric. And we’d be right.
No laws were enacted in 2012 to facilitate access to safe abortion.
* Scientists encourage birth control and Plan B
In contrast to the U.S. Congress, the American College of Obstetricians decided that women have a functioning brain, and could handle birth control pills without the blessing of a doctor. Perhaps they were looking at the dozens of scientific studies showing that illness, injury, and deaths from oral contraceptives are dramatically lower than illness, injury, and deaths from childbirth.
Similarly, the American Academy of Pediatrics showed itself wiser than America’s politicians (and fear-mongering morality groups) by recommending that Emergency Contraception be available for teens. Since hundreds of thousands of unmarried American women become unintentionally pregnant each year, it’s logical and humane to make a safe drug available to them to prevent that pregnancy. The pills ought to live in every fertile, sexually active person’s home. Anyone with moral objections to little Sally using the damn pills should make birth control free—and stigma-free.
* 50 Shades Of Gray conquers the United States
The good news: this bag of words has shy people talking about sex, tittering about (and even exploring) bondage. The bad news: the book is fiction, not a documentary, so it presents a caricature of bondage, leaving out most of what it’s really about.
The really bad news: this collection of syllables sold more copies last year than all of my books combined since 1988.
* General Petraeus loses job because of infidelity
Arguably one of the most important generals of the century, he lost his job because he had an extramarital affair—which is a violation of America’s military code. Come on, that simplistic bugaboo “risk of blackmail” is so 1950s. Let’s call this regulation what it is: a cruel intrusion into soldiers’ private lives that is irrelevant to their fitness for duty. The Taliban has taken over nuclear-armed Pakistan, China is taking over the Indian Ocean, and we’re worried about where a general puts his penis? That’s not West Point, that’s Keystone Kops.
At the moment, single people are obviously a better investment as career soldiers. In fact, gays serving openly should learn from this: if you want a military career, don’t marry.
* GOP reveals massive ignorance of female reproductive system
“Legitimate rape?” Ovaries knowing the difference between welcome sperm and unwelcome sperm? “Some girls rape easy”? A Florida bill permitting hospitals to refuse emergency care to some women on religious grounds?
As the 2012 presidential and congressional elections peaked, an amazing number of Republican politicians revealed their ignorance (and hatred) of the female body. The most disgusting include Missouri Congressman Todd Akin, Indiana Congressional candidate Richard Mourdock, Pennsylvania Senate candidate Tom Smith, Iowa Congressman Steve King, and Illinois Congressman Joe Walsh. They would flunk a high school bio class, and be blackballed at the junior prom.
* Akin, Mourdock, Smith, and Walsh lose their election
As a bonus, Ann Romney, who said that contraception was not an important election issue to women (after her husband and her party made it one), also lost. If, according to Mourdock, a raped woman’s pregnancy is “God’s gift,” at least this horrifying deity gave us Romney’s loss as well.