‘civil rights’

Giving Thanks for Sex…With a Bit of Melancholy

It’s Thanksgiving, so let’s give thanks for sex. Not just the huffing and puffing, the in-ing and out-ing, the sloshing around and drying off. Let’s give thanks for all the sexual rights we enjoy here in the U.S.—which billions of people in Russia, the Arab world, and many parts of Asia and Africa will never enjoy in their lifetimes. Most of these rights have to do with privacy and autonomy. These always look dangerous to repressive or religiously-driven regimes. Science and technology look pretty frightening to such regimes when they can be applied for sexual purposes—which they inevitably are, throughout…

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Science Shows What Sexual Repression Actually Looks Like

With the recent election still echoing in everyone’s ears, and pundits pundificating about how conservative the country really is, this is a good time to remember the major study done about online pornography subscriptions just 18 months ago. As reported in the Journal of Economic Perspectives, * The rates at which people buy pornography are not wildly different from state to state; * States where people vote for conservative candidates buy more porn than states in which people vote for progressive candidates. And yes, this is after adjusting for factors including broadband access, income, and population. According to credit card…

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Abortion & Birth Control: How Humans Actually Behave

There’s belief and there’s science. When it comes to sexuality, American public policy is terribly prejudiced toward the first, while too often ignoring the second. Election season invariably exaggerates this unfortunate tendency. And so, for example, people actually fear that gay soldiers will be humping while being shot at. Or that they’ll seduce straight soldiers in the shower—who will be powerless to just say no. Love that close-order drill! New data about pregnancy, contraception, and abortion were just released. While I don’t expect this to influence too many decision-makers, when considered together these facts are intriguing: * Reducing the cost…

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Judge Criminalizes Strip Club, Patronizes Stripper

A 67-year-old guy is arrested by the FBI for illegally using marijuana, cocaine, and prescription painkillers with a stripper over many months. In addition to purchasing lap dances and sex with her at a strip club, he had a sexual relationship with her outside lasting many months. Nothing unusual about this. A lot of victimless crimes, but crimes nevertheless. It turns out that the guy is a longtime federal judge, appointed by Ronald Reagan. That’s certainly uncommon—most people aren’t federal judges—but judges are human, subject to the same impulses and narcissistic sense of invulnerability as the rest of us. So…

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Is There Such A Thing As Kinky Sex?

Last week I keynoted the annual conference of CARAS (Community-Academic Consortium for Research on Alternative Sexualities). I presented “Clinical, cultural, and personal narratives about alternative sexualities.” My goal was to examine the common ways people think about “alternative” (or “kinky”) sexuality—and how that affects everyone, no matter what kind of sex they’re into. The general attitude about kinky sex and its practitioners among the media, civic organizations, and medical-psychological professions is pretty negative. They accept or even promote horrible misinformation (“Perverts want to recruit teens into their lifestyle”). They use glamorous but bizarre cases to condemn ordinary choices (“S/M scene…

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CraigsList, Sex Trafficking, & The Next Moral Panic

Ladies & gentlemen, get ready for America’s new moral panic—sex trafficking! Yes, CraigsList has bowed to pressure from law enforcement, non-profits, and CNN, and has blocked access to its “adult services” section. They’ve replaced the link with a black bar stamped “censored.” CraigsList has been pummeled with criticism for allegedly facilitating prostitution and “sex trafficking” in the U.S.. Some of the CraigsList adult classifieds are used for coyly-disguised adult prostitution—a predictable development in an age when all commerce has taken to the internet. OK, prostitution is illegal in 49 states, and so some of these ads promote an illegal activity.…

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