Is America losing the war on sex?

This intriguing Pajamas Media analysis by Burt Prelutsky made me wonder:

The question some people would ask [about the affair between L.A. Mayor Villaraigosa and reporter Mirthala Salinas] is whether a politician's personal code of morality should matter to his constituents. Being a right-winger, I'm honest enough to admit that I am far more willing to give a conservative the benefit of the doubt. However, there are bigger questions to consider. For instance: What the heck are the French going to say?

Allow me to explain: Back when Bill Clinton was leaving his mark on history by leaving his mark on Monica Lewinsky's dress, one of the most aggravating aspects of the tawdry affair was having our great nation being patronized by the European media. As usual, the snidest commentary came to us courtesy of the French.

They were like 80 million cats lapping up cream. Our alleged lack of sophistication is like food and drink to them. They couldn't stop snickering over our bourgeois value system. After all, their premier had a mistress. Only people as backward as Americans would make a fuss over something so natural. All the while, the French ignored the fact that Clinton had committed perjury, which many of us took far more seriously than whether he had cheated on Hillary.

But, much as I hate doing it, I'm afraid I have to admit that, for once, the French weren't entirely off base. While I regard Clinton as a national albatross for a variety of reasons, quite aside from his having sex with a young intern, I happen to think that where sex is concerned, Americans are, by and large, childish and embarrassing.

Sometimes, I swear, people are so daffy when it comes to things even slightly sexual that I almost feel like donning a beret, lighting up a stinky cigarette, and snorting through my nose.

I feel much the same way. I often wonder why so many Americans worry about what people do with their genitalia -- particularly when it isn't being done to them.

Why, for example, is there such a fiercely determined movement out to show that homosexuality (affecting a minuscule percentage of the American population) is a dire threat to all of Western Civilization?

To be fair, Burt Prelutsky notes that this same worry is probably more frequently applied to heterosexuality:

...Playboy has been displaying even prettier girls in and out of bikinis for about 50 years. Still, every summer, as predictably as the swallows returning to Capistrano, you can count on pundits endlessly kicking the topic around in newspapers and on talk shows. What's more, if I could collect 25 cents for every Sunday sermon in which some minister pondered whether this marked the end of Western civilization, I could run out and buy a new car.
He has a good point. (Playboy is, of course, a plot to turn regular guys into child molestors.)

In fairness, I think there really is a sort of war being waged against sex. (At least on sexual freedom.)

As to who's winning, I don't know. It strikes me that it's a very old war.

Not that Bill Clinton didn't have his sexual moments. But if the Republican Party is trying to position itself as the anti-sex party, and if the Democrats don't reciprocate by being the "Sex Party," (and there are clear signs they're too smart to do that) the Republicans will be portrayed as looking sillier than they already look.

While I mentioned the Playboy-makes-men-into-child-molesters crowd, and the Brokeback-Mountain-mean-death-of-Western-Civilization people, plenty of other examples could be found. Dinesh D'Souza thinks the issue is Larry Flynt, and the answer is a conservative alliance with "traditional" Muslims, while Ben Shapiro thinks the issue is the "hypersexualization" of society, and the answer is censorship. And of course, bioethicist Leon Kass has long been against licking ice cream cones. (Whatever would the 80 million French cats say about that?)

Where does this leave people who aren't sex-obsessed hedonists, but who also aren't sex-obsessed Puritans?

I just don't think it's fair that the we all have to be dragged into this war on sex kicking and screaming whether we like it or not, while all those French cats are licking and lapping!

posted by Eric on 07.07.07 at 02:49 PM



I suspect that the issue is more the idea that strong families are are necessary foundation of a well-functioning society, than it is about sex and fun. I hear no-one sounding Puritanical about marital fun. Jonathan Edwards himself was vocally and enthusiastically in favor of it.

bird dog   ·  July 7, 2007 3:18 PM

Good point, but I think that ordinary people get tired of being scolded for immorality because they might have a live and let live attitude towards what other people do in bed. Calling Playboy readers hedonists is not the best way to win elections.

Eric Scheie   ·  July 7, 2007 3:29 PM

Strong, white, Christian families. With a dog. And a Chevy. And the rhythm method.

Dennis   ·  July 7, 2007 4:50 PM

But Dennis, the rhythm method does not work!

Eric Scheie   ·  July 7, 2007 7:28 PM

The French are a very bad example. What characterizes them is rampant infidelity and collapse of the French family.

Why? Very likely the unconditional surrender the French women staged to the Occupiers during the Vichy Regime. Hard to have any respect for women after that, and those attitudes likely got passed down.

Why the dislike of homosexuals displayed by lower status straight guys? Because their status is low, comparatively, any indication that they might be gay is a threat to the few mating opportunities they get.

So ... the homophobia. Note the highest-status of them all, male rock stars, often display "kind of gay" behavior or dress as a means of double-flaunting their status. It's expensive in mating opportunities so doing that is even more a flaunt.

Jim Rockford   ·  July 8, 2007 11:31 PM

I hazard a guess that the noise made by conservatives would be quiter if there wee a way to guarantee that their children could not ever be exposed to lad's mags, gay lifestyles or abortion clinics. Perhaps not by much.

But there is that element of worry that the corruption will spread, so eliminating the contagion possibility should reduce the belligerency. The right feels that pumping sex into homes and the public (MTV music vids and R&B songs what) is imposing liberal values on their families in the same way you chafe at conservatives imposing their moral code on you.

The US could always be partitioned into the Liberal States of America and the Conservative States of America. Worked quite well for the two Koreas. But that didn't exactly work out so well for Pakistan and India, and arguable for Israel and Palestine. Probably won't work out well for Iraq either if they try it.

Scott   ·  July 9, 2007 4:24 AM

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