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Comments for Sex in the Public Square

Critical reactions to sex in the news, and other rants and raves

Last Build Date: Tue, 18 Aug 2009 01:14:06 +0000


Comment on About by Elizabeth Wood

Tue, 18 Aug 2009 01:14:06 +0000

Some years after writing these words I'm now seeing them repeated out of context and it occurs to me that there is one important thing I should clarify about consent. Consent is a legal concept that applies only to humans. We even establish ages at which a human is considered competent to give consent. What I wrote about zoophilia means that I think that kind of sex can happen in nonabusive ways.

Comment on Why we need more explicit sex talk in courtrooms by Scott

Sun, 19 Oct 2008 04:22:46 +0000

As a husband and father (of an 8 yr old girl) I was absolutely appalled when I read Tory Bowen's story in People. Two of my best friends (in high school), my first wife and my present mother-in-law were all victims of sexual attacks of various kinds. I don't pretend to understand what something like that can do to someone, but I DO understand that Ms. Bowen has been violated twice. Once by Safi and once by the Idiot Judge (Bill O'Reilly where are you when you're needed? Pillory this judicial sub-moron!). I believe that judges should have some lee-way about which words can be used in testimony; OJ Simpson was recently convicted here in NV by an ALL white jury after the prosecutor was allowed to mention the murders for which he was acquitted 13 years ago. This is in no way a defense of OJ, but he was clearly convicted for the murders and not for the very fishy set of events alleged by the prosecutor. In such a case, the judge should have banned any mention of OJ's previous trial, acquittal or the murders in any way. In Ms. Bowen's case barring her, or anyone else, from using the word "rape" at trial is horrifically Kafkaesque. Consent is almost always an issue in rape cases (true "stranger" rapes being, thankfully, relatively rare), so the judge's rationale, whether it fit the letter--but clearly slaughtered the spirit--of his discretionary power to ban certain words is clearly ridiculous. One thing is clear: Tory Bowen is getting the same kind of "justice" that the victims of former Nebraska football player and rapist Christian Peter: "Shut up, lay back and take it".

Comment on The Foreskin Dialogues by norm

Fri, 17 Oct 2008 22:20:07 +0000

i would like to point out that no parent or anyone else has the right to have part of a babies penis removed surgically except in the case of a life saving situation / serious disease arising ,the penis should be left untouched and if the baby wishes to be circumcised when he is an adult then thats his choice .circumcising a defencless baby should be considered as a hostile act toward that baby. i can also say from experience keeping an intact penis clean is not that hard to do and it has more parts to play with. as for hiv protection this is not as good as it sounds the surveys carried out are not conclusive and a few other surveys have found circ not to be an advantage at all so we will see it could all be exagerrated,after all the u.s. is largely cut and has the highest hiv figures in the west and the other countries dont normally circumcise so work that one out .also why is it the u.s. is driving the surveys and promoting the idea that circ reduces hiv cos thats suspect in itself ? i too had a tight foreskin as a teenager which took a good while to work loose and had a few cuts or rashs but i was patient and it streched ok . no if i have a son he will not be touched by the sickos with their knives.

Comment on About by Melissa Gira » Blog Archive » The Future of Sex Ed

Wed, 08 Oct 2008 04:48:42 +0000

[...] So, what’s our place in all of this? If there’s no need for “experts,” what do sex educators do, then? Online, anyway, our expertise is absolutely essential when it comes to the future of sex ed. That’s in Curation, Collaboration, and Community. We need to gather and explain what sites most impact us, and why. When we see that this job is too big for one educator alone, we need to be unafraid to collaborate with others to do it. And working together, we build trust and intimacy. We share ownership over this work. We build a commons of sex knowledge. [...]

Comment on “Middle School Girls Gone Wild”… Really? I think the boys are wilder! by db

Wed, 27 Aug 2008 22:48:07 +0000

So well written. As an 8th student teacher for two weeks now, I must say that both genders of a certain maturity level seem to exhibit similar behaviors. Girls wear tiny tight shirts and pants and boys wear pants that show their entire behinds and writhe while walking with pants around their knees. I would imagine that their parents buy them their clothes. Although I have given it all the benefit of the doubt by thinking that both of these practices make hand-me-downs and used clothing cool, there is definitely an equal amount of the same type of outward expressive behavior occurring in both genders.

Comment on Melissa Farley in Scotland: Trivializing prostitution and trivializing violence against women by bluebell

Tue, 26 Aug 2008 04:40:16 +0000

I'm confused by your post. I read the Scotland study and participated in public debates in legislative circles in Scotland. Melissa Farley is a highly-regarded researcher in field. From what I can see, you have done no research whatsoever. In fact there seems to be a cottage industry of people trying to make an academic reputation out of slamming the research of others, particularly Farley. We would be happy to take a look at your research, but where is it? Mr. Goodyear's site is a collection of links to people, many of whom seem to share a career plan based on destroying the reputation of a solid and careful researcher. Their "research" is usually a literature review. I assume you know the difference. It is high time for sex worker advocates to prove their point or risk coming off as simple sex industry advocates with big vocabularies but no depth. Does prostitution harm women or not? Do johns respect or despise sex workers? Is legal status really the problem causing harm to sex workers or is the work itself damaging? These are straightforward questions that legislators need answers to. Attacking the only credible researcher in the field is not the equivalent of providing actual facts and numbers from peer-reviewed, standards-based questionnaires administered by highly trained researchers. Do the work or get out of our hair. We are working for public safety. What is your interest?

Comment on The Foreskin Dialogues by vikinggirl

Sun, 10 Aug 2008 18:07:33 +0000

Elizabeth i really liked your comments about labia and i too relate these parts to the foreskin, which i love. I'm a woman with a lot of sexual sensation which i attribute in part to being blessed with rather large dangly labia which i love to have manipulated by my partner in lots of different ways. You can't help but notice though that people who are less comfortable with themselves or with sex itself find large labia dirty and ugly (many women in the US and UK are now having them cut off and plastic surgery specialists are using their websites to encourage a view of the labia as dirty ugly and prone to infection - google labiaplasty or labia trimming if you want to check this.) I do make a point of going to the bathroom to wash (although i shower each morning) before anyone gets near them but i feel that's enough just as it's enough to wash a foreskin regularly. Lou in the comments points out that foreskin is delicate tissue that can be damaged in rough sex providing an entry point to HIV and that its sensitive mucous membrane can also provide an easier entry for HIV. He/she suggests damaging the male parts by exising the bits which are most delicate. Well that's one option Lou, but if it's such an exciting development to find that making the genitals smoother and more leathery, more like the skin on your arm and less like sexual bits, protects against HIV, why not push for an investigation of the benefits of a parallel degree of damage on female genitals? After all male circ, whatever you think of it, protects women not at all, and in some cases puts them more at risk. As for the general value of foreskins to sex, as a woman i just want to say, they are great. I don't experience orgasms with circumcised men, but with my intact partner (as with intact others) i have a simultaneous orgasm almost every single time. This makes biological sense as the dorsal ridges of his retracted foreskin rub on the ridges of my gspot. I can't believe that nature DIDN'T intend the most sensitive part of the penis and vagina to collide in this way. When i encounter a man who has been circumcised without reason or informed consent (this includes most medical circs) I feel sorry for him, because he's lost something really special. And when i read of men who feel freaky because they've grown up with a foreskin in a puritanical society bent on its excision i feel enraged. With a foreskin you can experience magical sensations that a circ'd man will never have. Such as having someone run their tongue around the underside of the foreskin while it's pulled up over the glans in erection... My final comment is in relation to one by Jack - he thinks if a child's foreskin hasn't retracted by 8 it should be forced or cut off. WHAAAT? The mean age of first foreskin retraction in societies with a normal healthy attitude to the male body is 10.4. Many young men experience a normal happy first retraction much later - just as many girls have their periods start at ages ranging from 10 to late teens. No one thinks, oh my 12 year old hasn't started yet i must have a fiddle around down there and then subject her to surgery. It's a pretty sad state of affairs that after millenia of enjoying foreskins, thanks to a few nutty Victorian doctors many people now haven't a clue how to deal with them or why they are there and in the absence of knowledge they become fearful and choose pre-emptive assault....

Comment on The Foreskin Dialogues by Jack

Wed, 16 Jul 2008 03:12:33 +0000

Having a foreskin is great unless like me, you have severe problems. At about 8 years old I started to have problems retracting and could not wash properly because it hurt to pull back the skin. My father was overseas in the service and I lived with my stepmother and stepbrother. My stepmother was a R.N. and when she learned of my problem we went into her bedroom and I had to drop my pants and let her examine me. Unknowen to me she made an appointment with a OBgyn who was a personal friend of hers. This lady doctor was supposed to just examine me. After arriving at the clinic, I was given a small pill to take and my stepmother helped me into a paper gown. I was instructed to lay on the examination table. I became very sleepy and could barely remember the gown being pulled up and my legs being put into the stirups. After I started waking up I soon felt the bandage and knew something had occured. My stepmother told me later that she had instructed the doctor what she wanted. My frenulem and almost all loose skin had been removed. I had been in such pain before the surgery that I was just glad that everything was over. I healed up OK and that was the end of any trouble of that sort. Personaly, I am pleased with being cut and when erect, the skin is streched but still comfortable. Sometimes it is just nessasary to have this surgery. Often boys and men have to have it later.

Comment on Q: When is a vibrator more dangerous than a gun? by 11:30pm, Feb. 25, 2007. (i.e. much later the same day) « Al Fin del Mundo

Wed, 11 Jun 2008 00:11:46 +0000

[...] please send me an email and i’ll go ahead and email it back to you. Also, I thought this blog entry on sex toy vs. gun sales in Alabama was very interesting and that the author made some good points : ) Possibly related posts: [...]

Comment on The Foreskin Dialogues by Wannabe Amazonian

Wed, 04 Jun 2008 17:49:29 +0000

While living in Brazil at the start of their marriage, my parents purchased an illustrated coffee table book about an Indian tribe in Amazonia. The adult Indian men were photographed wearing loincloths, but prepubescent boys were naked and sported tapered foreskins. I remember leafing through that book before I could read and being deeply puzzled by what I much later learned was the foreskin, because I was the only uncut male in my family of origin. Unlike most boys, I dutifully looked at classic painting and sculpture, with its many male nudes sporting the tapered look. Why did I look like the little boys in the Amazon jungle, like Michaelangelo's David, like the infant Jesus in Renaissance depictions of the Madonna and Child? Why was I embarrassingly different from the flesh and blood males around me, my father and brothers, my schoolmates and playmates around me? Why did I encounter a tiny number of exceptions? My parents went to their graves without ever saying anything to me about why I was intact. I was too embarrassed to ask a doctor, and no doctor who examined me volunteered any information. For years, I dreaded the prospect of having to undress and shower in front of other boys after high school gym. I was never teased after age 8 or so, when I learned to pull my foreskin back before urinating and while undressing. I was deeply shocked to discover in my teens that every boy was born with a foreskin, and that nearly all males around me had had it cut off at birth. The resulting confusion in my mind lifted only when I started reading 20 years ago about the movement to stop routine infant circumcision in American maternity wards. Very recently, I chanced on a webpage, put together by a pro-circ group, that included a number of testimonials by men and medics who had been in the Service in their youth. These testimonials made clear that many Army docs during the Cold War were blatantly hostile to the foreskin. The page reproduced an extract from a medical journal article, written by Army docs, claiming that inflamation under the foreskin was rampant among soldiers, especially under combat conditions. The authors were of the opinion that their experience fully supported making infant circ routine. This could explain why it indeed became routine in the 1940s and 50s, when the prestige of the US military was much higher than it was post-Vietnam. But I also have trouble making sense of this claim. If a soldier has a canteen with drinking water, he can wash under his foreskin 1-2 times a day, easy as pie. To unzip a fly, pull the tool out, skin it back, and rinse off the end in clean water is really no big deal at all. (For a woman to rinse off her labia requires that she undress below the waist and towel off afterwards.) Also, I know of no other national military that concluded that the foreskin reduced one's effectiveness as a soldier.

Comment on The perils of posting naked pictures if you have tattoos, are not thin, and are married to the chief of police by wkhai

Tue, 20 May 2008 22:06:58 +0000

"In the end one person’s freedom was curtailed, unnecessarily and unjustly, by the outspoken voices of a few and the silence of many." "... more of us need to challenge the silence by speaking up for ourselves an by speaking up for those.... " AGREE! AGREE! brings to mind something i read 3 years back!.... skip to the bottom and read Hangman by Maurice Ogden...

Comment on Melissa Farley in Scotland: Trivializing prostitution and trivializing violence against women by Anthony Kennerson

Sun, 04 May 2008 15:35:27 +0000

Excellent takedown, Elizabeth...and hardly surprising that Farley and her allies would exploit the usual mainstream pruiency and tabloid journalism to promote their "research". It shows the collapse of basic fundamental common sense that a "paper" that would fail even the most basic high school standards of statistics and research, is being accepted as fact....mostly because it mimes popular anti-sexual prejudices. And, it's good to see that real scientists and researchers are speaking out against this nonsense...let's see if they get the publicity that Farley does. Anthony

Comment on Will the “Washington Madam” Scandal Help Destigmatize Sex Work? by A Labor Day Call to Johns « Sex in the Public Square

Sat, 03 May 2008 14:07:02 +0000

[...] remember what I’d written about. My breath caught in my throat when I found that I’d written this, also about Deborah Jeane and about my speculation that perhaps the exposing of high profile [...]

Comment on More harm than good by JJ

Sun, 27 Apr 2008 03:50:21 +0000

All this 'hysteria' over sex and the draconian legislation that follows, is nothing more than a hypocritical response to the Boomer's and, to a lesser degree, Gen-X guilt over their wild youths. STOP THE MADNESS!!! "Sex is natural, sex is fun, sex should be for everyone"(past puberty) -George Michael 'I Want Your Sex'

Comment on But will Medicare pay for lube? by john

Fri, 11 Apr 2008 22:31:37 +0000

Having been prescribed one of the medical versions of penis pump after prostate surgery and eventually not needing it, my heart goes out to anyone who has to deal with one of those things. I am ever thankful that those nerves finally healed. And, yes, lube, condoms, etc. should be included. Welcome to the life of the human animal. For those who are uncomfortable, please, get therapy, take long walks, meditate, do whatever you have to, but get over it. Everyone has sexuality (as my 11 year old son explained to me after completing a Planned Parenthood sponsored program.) Of course it isn't just the government that gets strange when it comes to sex. That big study of sexual behavior of people over 57 that was published in the New England Journal of Medicine last August reported that only 38% of respondents had talked with a doctor about sex related issues since they were 50! I mentioned that to my doctor here in Boston and he said he'd bet it was about half that in New England. I am sorry that they got ripped off on the penis pumps because of the potential for ridiculing the expenditure as frivolous, making it easier for the denial and repression to keep wreaking havoc with our ability to take care of ourselves. All of ourselves.