Archive for July 13th, 2011

13
Jul


Our popular culture offers a constant, apocalyptic vision of sexual danger: AIDS, teen pregnancy, date rape, sexual violence and now cyber sexploitation. Add the anxieties of religion, medicine, psychiatry and the law, and it’s easy to understand why many Americans can’t discuss sexual issues rationally.

With our sexuality poisoned by our history, culture and unrealistic expectations, most of us don’t want fantastic orgasms or unending sensual pleasure — we just want to feel less threatened, less inadequate. As a strategy for reducing sexuality deemed abnormal, censorship appears to provide a solution.

Censorship is more than closing a show or jailing a publisher. Its targets include sex education, contraceptive advertising, sex surveys, the Internet, adult bookstores, public nudity and high school libraries.

Censorship has two primary goals: defining what is sexually normal, and announcing which private decisions relating to sex are of public concern. Historically, censorship has been used to control the sexuality of the less powerful: women, youth, and those whose behavior challenges the status quo. No smart feminist would support censorship, not even of pornography.

Those who censor invariably say they can be trusted to judge wisely. This is false as well as illogical. Societies censor because they fear and thus wish to control. There is no limit to what people fear; therefore there is no limit to what they might wish to control.

Don’t be fooled into thinking that as long as your favorite toy, position, book, Web site or store is tolerated, censorship doesn’t affect you. When others have less freedom of responsible self-expression, our own freedom is more fragile. When public policy is based on judgments that demonize others, each of us is vulnerable to being demonized ourselves.

Living in a world that insists certain forms of sexual expression are dangerous, affects us unconsciously. We sense that we are one erotic choice away from being “abnormal,” one song or video away from being a pervert. What’s truly dangerous is when our culture has us mistrusting ourselves.

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