Sexuality—Missing in Action At the Iowa Caucuses

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Everyone who wants to be president of the most powerful nation on Earth has to go to Iowa. Candidates go to local diners, nursing homes, and high school gyms for weeks, telling hundreds of people every day why they deserve a seat on Air Force One.

Iowa. In a few months, a half-dozen candidates from each major party will fold their tent because they didn’t get enough votes in Iowa.

If New York or California had this much power, people would complain bitterly. Like Putney Swope, Iowa is no one’s first choice for anything, and so it gets to decide who runs for president. Tradition. Iowa.

Who are these powerful people? According to the New York Times, they are “largely older rural voters who have power greater than their actual numbers.”

America’s presidential candidates are being selected by people who have never seen the ocean. Who don’t own a computer or an ipod, who don’t have kids in school, who have never watched Comedy Central, who don’t have herpes.

This doesn’t mean these aren’t good people, or that they lack judgment. It means they value some agendas more than others. Sexual rights, sexual health, sexual information, and sexual entertainment are not high on their list. Compared to the rest of America, they’re less likely to have met a gay person (as far as they know), and more likely to be monogamous (trudging miles through the snow to get to the next farmhouse will discourage you). They’re less likely to own vibrators, less likely to enjoy oral sex, and much, much, much less likely to get pregnant.

And so issues of sexual justice (except, for the first time, gay marriage) simply do not come up in the Iowa caucuses, which select the candidates for president. No one asks about the fairness of eliminating strip clubs, the immorality of denying emergency contraception to those who need it, the persecution of people who make the porn watched by 50 million Americans, the continuing federal support of religiously-oriented abstinence programs that are proven failures.

No one asks, “will you be the president who gets the government out of my bedroom?” And so no candidate has to answer the question.

Iowa, you’re blowing it for the rest of us.

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