‘sexual politics’

Film Review: Fellini’s “Amarcord” (“I Remember,” 1973)

Today I had the great pleasure of watching the masterpiece “Amarcord” again. The film is a charming series of vignettes set in Fellini’s seaside hometown during his childhood in 1930s Italy. A warm and gentle comedy, it lovingly skewers the platitudes by which everyday people manage their daily lives. Although Fellini is ever the romantic, he is also honest. And so a film about early adolescence includes story after wry story of adolescent sexual fantasy. We see daydreams of erotic conquest, braggadocio that cannot be fulfilled (including the largest breasts on this earth), boys lovingly tailing the town’s glamorous hairdresser,…

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Everything is Now “Potential” Child Porn

It’s official—every picture with a minor in it is now “potential” child porn. Imagine this perfect storm: * A mean-spirited Sheriff’s Department with too much time on their hands; * A school run by spineless bureaucrats; * A population of compliant students’ parents * Detectives who apparently think “innocent until proven guilty” is SO over. They all came together last week at Big Bear Lake High School in Southern California. After the school’s annual yearbook had been out for a while, someone discovered, in the background of a photo of a school dance, a couple in which a young man…

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Anthony Weiner’s “Bad Judgment:” That is SO Not the Point

I wouldn’t want to be Anthony Weiner right now. Because everyone can see he’s conflicted about sex. But c’mon, aren’t you? Isn’t everyone? As Somerset Maugham wrote almost a century ago, “There is hardly anyone whose sexual life, if it were broadcast, would not fill the world with surprise and horror.” Would you want your mental sexual architecture exposed? Of course not. And that’s the problem: Everyone in America is conflicted about sex. But only people with certain kinds of sexual conflict get caught. Some people conflicted about sex never masturbate, never ask a woman what time it is just…

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Criminalizing Circumcision: Self-Hatred As Public Policy

Full disclosure: I’m circumcised. Too much information? Tell that to the people—well-meaning or otherwise—who have actually created a ballot measure to criminalize circumcision in San Francisco. Yes, this fall, San Franciscans will vote on whether or not babies (and all minors) can be circumcised. In the wake of the ban’s (unlikely) passage, one can imagine the surgical equivalent of speakeasies or underground abortion clinics to which families bring little Joshua, Omer, or Justin. In the law’s hostility to Judaism, one recalls the 1492 Expulsion ordered by Spain’s Ferdinand & Isabella. But hostility to religion is only one impetus for the…

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Trusting Artists To Tell The Truth

Last night I spent $100 on a theatre ticket in New York. I saw “Sleep No More” off-Broadway, a site-specific, avant-garde show. Just for the record, I didn’t love it. But its use of sexuality and nudity did make me think about the artist’s responsibility to the audience, which is primarily to tell the truth. Well, some truth. For in every story, there are many truths. When Macbeth kills King Duncan, is he being selfish, a weakling caving in to an ambitious wife, or simply playing out the destiny that a witch has foretold? When Oedipus kills his father and…

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Commitment to Excellence Becomes Commitment to Ignorance

If Germany can teach courses on the Holocaust, and Egypt can learn to love democracy, and China can realize that capitalism is necessary to grow their economy, can’t the U.S. actually tolerate the teaching of human sexuality? The latest American institution to answer “no” is Northwestern University in Chicago. Generally an excellent, almost progressive institution, they’ve abruptly canceled one of the most popular courses on the entire campus, Professor Michael Bailey’s class on Human Sexuality. The cancellation is the climax of what started as a small, harmless—and unusual—lapse in Bailey’s judgment. Because it involved sexuality, of course it was transformed…

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