Today my partner told me the following joke:
"What do you have when you have 200 black people in a burning airplane headed toward a cliff? A good start."
WTF partner. I know you were raised in a hermetically sealed rural white Christian homeschool enclave where couples "court" and science class explains how DNA doesn't exist and 8-hour zygotes cry when mommy doesn't love them, but WTF. Way to love thy fucking neighbor.
(And then he assumes I must be some kind of radical lefty when I get offended by such things. I'm pretty moderate and even conservative on many issues, I'm just not an asshole.)
Anyway. I've been having a lot of political arguments with my partner lately, and following a lot of political controversies on the news and the Internet, and I've noticed that a lot of them are about sexuality in some way. Censorship. Obscenity. Pornography. Prostitution. Abortion. Beauty standards. Birth control. Gardasil. Gay marriage. Date rape. Sexual harassment. Sex education. Sex scandals. Labia dye. Some of this is my personal area of focus, of course, but it does seem like sexual controversies make up a disproportionate amount of political debate.
(My personal stance tends to come down on the "pro-fucking" side of each debate, or the "libertarian" one if you want to put it like that.)
Why is this? Probably the main reason is that it's easy for people to understand. (Or at least think they understand.) I've worked in healthcare for years and I still don't know what I think of "healthcare reform," because I can never get a handle on what exactly is in the healthcare bill. All proponents say is that it'll make everything better and cheaper, and all opponents say is that it won't. Details seem scarce and it's hard for me to take a firm stance on some enormous constantly-changing document that I've never read.
But gay marriage, that's easy! That fits very comfortably in my little monkey-brain. Man make ugg-ugg with man, ugga. I feel like I can completely understand this issue, so I'm confident having a strong opinion on it. There's not much background reading to do. And this is the case with most sexual issues. We believe we understand sex and what the questions about it mean. Most people, myself included, have no idea how TARP works and a very good idea how a penis works.
Also, sex is something personally important to most people. TARP payments may be affecting my taxes I guess, or my future taxes or something, but it seems abstract and minor. It may upset me intellectually but to my monkey-brain it's basically an event that's happening somewhere else to someone else. It could just be in some book for all I really know. Whereas many of these sexual issues are about me. I might need the morning-after pill myself someday and I'm quite concerned with how easily I can get it. When someone claims that porn consumers or bisexuals are messed up, they're talking smack about me.
And sex is just intrinsically interesting. I think I speak for everyone when I say that I read the "reproductive system" section of biology textbooks first, I flip ahead to page 248 in "Clan of the Cave Bear," and I'd rather talk and think about flithy illicit fucking than high-risk mortgages. Even if I'm using clinical words and a serious tone and my panties are dry, it's still way more intriguing.
Finally, sex is something that, ironically, we don't talk enough about. At least we don't talk about it like grown-ups. We're all about the titillation and argument, but when it comes to serious levelheaded discussion I think our culture is still stuck in junior high. Sex writing is sensationalized, sex art is ghettoized, sex culture is marginalized, sex work is outlawed, sex education is haphazard, and sex itself is simultaneously a Big Damn Secret and a Big Damn Deal.
I don't want to make it sound like "oh, if everyone was open about sex they'd agree with me on everything" (although they would, I'm not stupid, I hold beliefs because they happen to be right). But if everyone was open about sex I think it would get less blown out of proportion. Sex scandals wouldn't go away but they'd be normal scandals. The abortion debate wouldn't be settled but it might lose the creepy "if you do something irresponsible you need to face consequences" undertones.
We are a nation of three hundred million sixth-graders, simultaneously fascinated and terrified by every hint of sexuality, and I count myself among that number.