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Human Rights + Sexual Rights = Sexual Freedom

On this the first annual National Sexual Freedom Day, sponsored by The Woodhull Freedom Foundation, I’d like to propose something quite radical. I suggest that our sexual freedoms, here in the United States, are intricately linked to universal sexual rights. And I contend that the notion of universal sexual rights is at its core a respect for human rights and human dignity.

In a world wracked by poverty, disease and war; where we threaten our very existence with climate altering pollution, nuclear proliferation and extreme population growth; is there room to talk about human rights that include sexual rights and sexual freedom?

I emphatically answer yes! In fact, I assert that sexual inequality and oppression is at the heart of many of the world’s problems. I contend that trying to address human rights without including the essential component of sexual rights and sexual freedom is ultimately doomed to failure.

An absence of sexual rights and sexual freedom leads to domestic and societal violence; human trafficking; suicide; a rise in Sexually Transmitted Infections (STIs); unplanned pregnancies, abortion, and sexual dysfunction.

You know how we are always being encouraged to Think Globally and Act Locally? Well while we busy ourselves securing and celebrating our sexual rights here in this nation, I think we’d do well to focus some of our attention on how our struggle binds us to the rest of the human community.

I offer three examples of what I’m talking about. I invite you to consider how a myopic sexual rights and sexual freedom agenda, divorced from the overarching issues of human, economic and social rights, can be ineffectual and even counterproductive.

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In 2008 the research community was all aflutter about ‘conclusive’ evidence linking HIV transmission and uncircumcised males. While I’m certainly not ready to take this data on face value, let’s just say, for the sake of discussion, that the link is conclusive. A massive campaign of circumcision was proposed as the best means of HIV prevention. The medical community would descend on epicenters of the disease, scalpels in hand; ready to eliminate the offending foreskins from every male in sight, young and old.

But wait, there’s a problem. Most HIV/AIDS epicenters are in underdeveloped countries. In these places, access to enough clean water to drink or attend to even the most basic personal hygiene, like daily cleaning under one’s foreskin, remains an enormous chronic problem. Without first addressing the problem of unfettered access to clean water and adequate sanitation, which according to The United Nations is a basic human right, further disease prevention efforts are doomed.

I mean, what are the chances that surgical intervention would succeed—one that would involve significant and sophisticated aftercare—if there is not even enough clean water for drinking and bathing?

These well-meaning medical personnel suggest imposing a strategy that not only works against nature—our foreskins do have a purpose after all: a healthy prepuce is a natural deterrent to infection. But this intervention would also violate long-held cultural and societal norms—circumcision is abhorrent to many of these same cultures. Wouldn’t this proposed prevention effort to stem the tide actually make matters worse?

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Indentured sex work is another indicator of how human rights, sexual rights and sexual freedom are intertwined. Until the economic and educational opportunities for women throughout the world improve—which is a basic human right according to The United Nations—women will remain chattel. Families in economically depressed areas of the world will continue to be pressured to sell their daughters (and sons) simply to subsist.

Closing brothels and stigmatizing prostitutes overlooks the more pressing human rights concerns at play here. Sex is a commodity because there is a voracious market. Men from developed nations descend on the populations of less developed nations to satisfy sexual proclivities with partners they are prohibited from enjoying in their own country. Young women (and boys) in developing countries are viewed as exploitable and disposable, because they don’t have the same civil protections afforded their peers in the developed world. And runaway population growth in countries that deprive their women and girls access to education and contraception inevitably creates a never-ending supply of hapless replacements.

Addressing the endemic gender inequality in many societies is key. Equal access to education and economic resources must come before, or at least hand in hand with any serious sexual liberation effort.

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Finally, people in the developed world enjoy a certain level of affluence and economic stability which allows them to indulge in sex recreationally. Thanks to effective birth control methods we can ignore the procreative aspects of sex and replace it with a means of expressing a myriad of other human needs. Not least among these are status, self-esteem and self-expression.

If we’re trying to prove something to ourselves, or others, by the way we conduct our sexual lives, simple prohibitions against certain sex practices won’t work. If I’m convinced that unprotected sex with multiple partners and sharing bodily fluids is edgy, cool fun, without serious consequence, as it’s portrayed in porn; I will be more likely to express myself the same way. This is especially true for young people who are already feeling invincible.

Case in point: there has been a startling uptick in seroconversions among young people, particularly gay men, which indicates that disease prevention efforts, even in the world’s most affluent societies, are simply not up to the task. It’s not that there is a scarcity of resources, quite the contrary. It is more likely that these efforts are not connected to a fundamental understanding of the role sexuality plays in the general population. I believe that sexual expression and sexual pleasure are the overarching issues here. These too are fundamental human rights.

No amount of safer sex proselytizing is going to prevail unless and until we look at why and how we express ourselves sexually. As we unravel this complex jumble of motivations and behaviors, effective prevention strategies will manifest themselves clearly. We must develop a sex-positive message; one that celebrates sexuality, builds self-esteem and counteracts the prevailing media messages of sex with no consequences.

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National Sexual Freedom Day brings into focus the micro-strategies needed to combat a macro problem. But it also shows that we cannot work for and celebrate sexual freedom in a vacuum. It’s imperative that we see how global health and wellbeing is completely dependent on basic human rights, including sexual rights that include gender and reproductive rights, the elimination of sexual exploitation and the freedom of sexual expression.

Thou Shalt Not

Name: Lynn
Gender: Female
Age: 36
Location: Toronto
I’m a mother of three great kids. My oldest, who is in middle school, went to camp for the first time this past summer. A local church group sponsors the camp every year. When my husband and I asked him about his time away from home, he said rather noncommittally; “It was ok.” He seemed to like it well enough, but you know how uncommunicative kids can be at that stage.
Anyhow, yesterday I was packing away some summer stuff for the winter and discovered a pamphlet in my son’s backpack that he used at camp. It was for an “Abstinence Only” program. It was full of the most dreadful sex-negative fear and shame. It was awful. We are not raising our kids like that; my husband and I were appalled.
Now we’re wondering if this is why our son was so unenthusiastic about his camp experience. Do you think we should quiz him on this?
What gives with this kind of indoctrination anyway? I thought that those “Abstinence Only” programs had been discredited.

So wait; are you sayin’ that you think just because a social engineering strategy, like abstinence-only, has been debunked that it wouldn’t still be employed by certain factions of our culture? Oh hun, I think you oughta rethink that supposition right away, don’t cha know.abstinence_only-1

I mean, come on! There are loads of outdated and discredited philosophies still being promulgated as a means to ensnare the uninformed and gullible. I don’t know about ya’ll up there in Canadaville, but here in Amercanski land we have a whole segment of our population who believes that creationism as a viable explanation for the universe. In fact, one or another of these idiots runs for national office, even for President of these here United States, as a Republican in every election cycle.

So, as you can see, there’s not necessarily a connection between what has been discredited and what is still wildly popular in some segments of our population.

Way back in the spring of 2007, a long-awaited congressionally funded national study concluded that abstinence-only sex education does not keep teenagers from having sex. Nor does it increase the likelihood that, if they do have sex, they will use a condom.

Authorized by Congress in 1997, the study followed 2000 children from elementary and middle school into high school. The children lived in four communities — two urban, two rural. All of the children received the family life services available in their community; in addition, slightly more than half of them also received abstinence-only education.

By the end of the study, when the average child was just shy of 17, half of both groups had remained abstinent. The sexually active teenagers had sex the first time at about age 15. Less than a quarter of them, in both groups, reported using a condom every time they had sex. More than a third of both groups had two or more partners.

So if abstinence-only programs don’t work, at least the way they are supposed to; why do we still have them? Ahhh, good question. We still have them because for a large segment of the population, especially those who are makin’ all them babies, it’s easier to just tell their kids “NO” than to step up to the plate and educate their kids about sex in a wholesome and holistic way.

Bennett editorial cartoonAnother problem is that the word abstinence often means something quite different to kids than it does to adults. That’s one reason why abstinence-only programs do not have strong effects in preventing teenage sexual activity. At least that’s what a University of Washington study found.

The researchers found that interventions that encourage abstinence treat abstinence and sexual activity as opposites. Teenagers, on the other hand, don’t consider them to be mutually exclusive concepts. Like in the congressionally sponsored study, the UW researchers found abstinence-only programs are less likely to work than more comprehensive sex-education programs because they are not speaking the same language as adolescents.

The study also showed that attitudes and intentions about sex were more powerful than attitudes and intentions about being abstinent. No surprise there, I suppose.

Again, I don’t know how things are there in Canada, but down here there is no federal funding for comprehensive sex-education. But there’s a shit-load of funding for abstinence-only programs. Funding mushroomed from $9 million in1997 to $176 million in 2007. Leave it to congress to dump loads of money into a program that doesn’t work. But such is the power of the conservative religious lobby. They are the people who back these programs.

This wouldn’t be such a big issue if it didn’t hold such dire consequences. For example, the United States has the highest teen pregnancy rate among all first-world nations. The rates of sexually transmitted diseases in this country are also astronomical. If we want to keep our young people safe from the negative aspects of casual sex, abstinence-only programs are not the way to go.abstinence

However, more comprehensive programs that include abstinence as one choice are much more likely to have a more productive outcome. Besides, is it ever a good idea to try and motivate people with fear and shame? I don’t think so.

Since abstinence-only programs often only look at the negatives of sex, it doesn’t really empower a young person to take responsibility for his/her behaviors. This is particularly thorny for young women who often bear the brunt the peer pressures to be sexual. And they have way more at stake in terms of pregnancy and sexually transmitted infections (STIs).

When kids aren’t expected to take responsibility for their behaviors, especially in terms of sexuality, it cripples their ability to make good life-affirming choices. Abstinence-only programs disqualify all sexual options, even the relatively innocuous behaviors like mutual masturbation and oral sex. So if all sexual options are equally out of bounds, there’s no way for the average kid to distinguish between harmless and risky behaviors. And this is what leads to the high rate of sexually transmitted infections and unplanned pregnancies.

If we want our kids to grow up with healthy and integrated attitudes about sex, ones that will lead to more loving and fulfilling sexual relationships later in life, we ought teach from a more sex-positive theory.

Back to the other question you raise; the one about quizzing your son about his camp experience. I think that would be great. It would let him know that you care, that you don’t support this fear and shame-based approach to human sexuality and that he doesn’t have to embrace it either.

Good Luck

The Naughty & The Nice

Just in time for the holidays, here’s my Naughty and Nice list.

NICE

NAUGHTY

NICELY NAUGHTY

Happy Holidays!

First Time, Every Time

Name: Julie
Gender: Female
Age: 26
Location: Kentucky
I am a virgin. I am also just asking. How do I keep my first time from hurting? Some say lubrication in excess, but I am very small.

Yep, lots of lube is important — first time and every time.

But there is so much more you can do to prepare yourself for your first fuck. Begin by knowing your body and your sexual response cycle.

Is it safe to assume, even though you are a virgin to full-on fucking, that you are familiar with masturbation? If not, darling, that’s where you should start. If you enjoy pleasuring your body to orgasm, you will likely know the kind of stimulation you need to achieve full arousal. This is precisely the information you will want to pass on to your partner before the first fuck-fest begins as well as throughout the event.

The more you know about your body and the mysteries of your particular sexual response cycle the smoother things will go for you and your partner. Nowadays there is absolutely no need for anyone to come to their first partnered sexual encounter uninformed about sex in general and his or her sexuality in particular.

There are three main reasons why a women might experience pain during fucking — for the first time or anytime: 1) She is inexperienced. 2) Her partner is inexperienced or doesn’t know the first thing about mutual pleasuring, 3) She is not fully aroused. Right away you can see how a familiarity with your body in general and your pussy in particular will short-circuit at least two of the three main reasons right away. And while you can’t account for the sexual prowess of your partner, you will be able to direct him/her on how to touch and make love to you. And that, my dear, takes care of the third main reason.

One other thing, a lot of women don’t relax during sex…thus discomfort…because they worry about becoming pregnant. If you’re not well versed on the main methods of contraception and actually using one of them, you’re not ready to have sex. And one other thing, sexually transmitted infections ought to be a concern for both you and your partner. Don’t be a fuck-up; make sure your partner always uses a condom.

Name: Rocket Man
Gender:
Age: 31
Location: Nashville
Big Dr. Dick, Between busy work schedules, traveling and such, I haven’t had much time for sex. It was actually about a 5-week span without sex or masturbation. When my wife and I finally got together I was built up big time. I knew my response would be quick and my load would likely triple its normal oozeage. Being that it had been so long, there was not much foreplay…we just wanted to get down to the hardcore humping.

I was sitting on a couch and she climbed on top. On her 3rd down stroke, I blew like a Friday afternoon work whistle. She shot off my cock back first into the coffee table, broke it in half and received a few splinters in her ass! Should we replace this piece of furniture, or should I just make her kneel on the floor and rest my legs on her when she’s done sucking me off in the future?

You Nashville folks have all the fun! You get extra points for making me laugh. Perhaps all ya need is sturdier furniture.

PS: don’t be surprised if I steal this: “I blew like a Friday afternoon work whistle.” That’s just downright hilarious.

Name: Colleen
Gender: Female
Age: 28
Location: California
I have noticed lately that I am way more horny than normal. It is like I can’t get enough and the slightest touch gets me going. Also my natural smell from my vagina seems to be extra strong lately and sometimes after my husband and I have sex I have a clear but chunky discharge. I regularly with use Summer’s Eve wash and I have never smelled so strong as I do now. I feel like I am a dog in heat. What is wrong with me?

WHAT’S WRONG WITH YOU? Simply put, you’re 28 and you’re as randy as all get-out, darling. Sounds like you’re pert-near feral. If you were in the wild your super-strong odor would attract males from far and wide, each and every one wanting to satisfy your vixen lusts. Good for you!

And here’s a tip: quit with the over the counter douches, already, especially the ones with the fragrances. Despite the perceived benefits of douching, there is growing evidence that any potential health benefit may be outweighed by risks of douching with such products.

Douching upsets the vaginal environment in a number of ways. It shifts the pH, causes direct irritation and inflammation of the vaginal mucosa (the delicate lining of your pussy), and it washes away the good bacteria. So do not douche.

It can also drive bad bacteria up into the uterus and increase the risk of pelvic inflammatory disease. Women who douche, even infrequently are much more prone to the common vaginal infection, Bacterial Vaginosis (BV). All ‘feminine hygiene products’ (suppositories, sprays, cleansers, etc) are useless, potentially disruptive, totally unnecessary and a waste of your money. Also avoid any strong chemicals, such as deodorant soaps, anti-bacterial soaps, strongly perfumed soaps or body washes as they can all have negative effects on the beneficial flora and lead to infections and irritation.

And that “clear but chunky discharge” you’re having after the hubby bones you? If your pussy is healthy, Doll, I’d be willing to guess that’s his spooge drippin’ out of your cunt. Ahhh, youth! But if you think otherwise, why not have a physician take a look.

Good Luck, ya’ll!

Touched for the very first time…

Virginity is a very touchy issue in just about every culture. Curiously enough, it’s almost always exclusively about female virginity. This woeful double standard gives rise to emotional conflicts for both genders. But again, it is young women and girls who bear the brunt of it.

Let’s begin with Katelyn who’s 18 years old:

My boyfriend and I have been together for over a year. We’ve just started talking about having sex even though we both took a virginity pledge through our church. We love each other very much and plan on getting married in a couple of years. If we are practically engaged do you think having sex now would be like breaking our promise?

I’m pretty sure that the creators of all those “abstinence only” and “virginity pledge” programs out there like to think they’re keeping kids like you safe from the unforeseen consequences of sex. I’d probably have less of a problem with them if they didn’t have at their base some pretty rank scare tactics.

Scaring people away from sex is a time-honored means of controlling people.

If you have sex, you well surely get a disease!

If you have sex, you will surely get pregnant!

If you have sex, you will be breaking the commandments and you’ll go to hell!

If you have sex, you will be a slut and no one will want to marry you!

And my all-time favorite: If he gets the milk for free, why would he buy the cow?

These sex-negative messages only frighten, intimidate and instill guilt. They certainly don’t teach people how to behave knowledgeably and responsibly. And they do absolutely nothing to prepare even those who wind up honoring their pledge of abstinence for the inevitable sex life they’ll have later in life. And that to my mind is criminal. Young people have a natural, healthy curiosity about their bodies and the bodies of others. Stifling this natural curiosity with veiled threats and fear-mongering does very little good—and a whole lot of harm.

But before I respond to your question, I have a question for you. I hope you’re not actually thinking I might help you rationalize away your impending behavior—Oh sure honey, if you’re gonna marry the lug anyway, why not give it up now?—because I won’t go there. Have the courage to make up your own mind. If you’re old enough to be considering sex, you’re old enough to take responsibility for your actions.

If you abstain from sex out of fear or religious duress, then where’s the virtue in that? It’s just as bad as having sex because you fear losing your boyfriend. Neither option suggests to me that you are behaving knowledgeably and responsibly.

Of course, it’s always easier to decide on a course of action when one has all the information. And that’s where I can be of some assistance. I’m not gonna tell you what you oughtta do, but I can offer you some timely information about human sexuality that you apparently aren’t getting from your family, church or your community.

There are many sexual alternatives to full-on fucking. And if you want to remain a virgin, at least technically speaking, you might want to explore these options.

Are you both masturbating? If not, then that’s a good place to begin. You should both be familiar with your own pleasure zones and sexual response cycle before you launch into partnered sex of any kind. I believe that the best sex is mutual sex, where the partners knowingly and without reservation gift themselves to one another. And I don’t see how that’s possible unless you are well-acquainted with the gift…your own body.

I can guarantee that your boyfriend won’t know how to pleasure you, especially if he’s still discovering the pleasures of his own body. And you’d be a very remarkable young woman if you understood the mysteries of male sexuality. So if you’re both unversed in the joys of human sexuality, why not discover them together? Mutual masturbation—as well as oral sex—will help you appreciate the particulars and uniqueness of each of your sexual response cycles. And just think how far ahead you’ll be when you guys actually decide it’s time for full-on fucking. You’ll already know how your bodies work.

Even so, the two of you should be familiar with several different means of birth control—and practicing at least two methods. This is a precaution because, in the heat of the moment, you may decide to escalate things to include vaginal penetration. And if you do, you’ll be prepared. Always have water-based lubricants on hand, even for masturbation. These lubricants work very well with latex condoms. Oil lubricants, like petroleum jelly, baby oil or cooking oil, can cause latex condoms to break. So stay away from them.

I realize that procuring all this stuff is gonna be a challenge for young folks like you. But don’t just blow them off just because they’re not readily available to you. This is a big part of being knowledgeable and responsible about your sexuality. If you’re not prepared to go the distance in terms of preparation, you’re not ready to have sex.

Young men and boys have their share of trepidation about impending partnered sex. Here’s 18-year-old Tabor.

I feel kinda silly asking a complete stranger this, but here goes. I’m a pretty normal 18 year old. I’ve had a few girlfriends over the years, nothing really serious, though. Lately I’ve been seeing a lot of this one girl; she’s 20, a junior at my school. I really like her and we’re discussing taking our friendship to the next level, but there’s a problem. I’m a virgin. My girlfriend is way more experienced than me and that makes me a little nervous too. She wants me to decide when the time is right. My question is how will I know when I’m ready for sex?

I have a question for you, Tabor, and I hope it doesn’t sound flippant. When do you know it’s time to eat, or sleep? I know many of us eat even when we’re not hungry and sometimes we don’t sleep even when we’re tired. That aside, I suggest that the same bodily signals that alert you to hunger and exhaustion will let you know when it’s time for sex. You’ll want to have sex when you feel the desire to be sexual. I’m not trying to be evasive; I’m trying to get you to listen to your body, because that’s how you’ll know. To be perfectly frank, that’s how all of us know it’s time for sex. We get a hankerin’ for some pleasure and we pursue that till we’re satisfied. Sometimes that’s solo sex and sometimes it’s partnered sex.

If I were to advise you further I’d want to know how much sex you’ve already had with your GF. Has there been any sex play at all? Probably some, right? Otherwise how would you know you like her well enough to consider taking things to the next level?

Penis/vagina intercourse, or as I like to call it, “fucking,” can bring more intimacy and more pleasure than other forms of sex, but it’s not the be-all end-all either. Fucking also carries far more responsibility, particularly for fertile young puppies like you and your honey.

Is it safe to assume that you are well-versed in the complexities of the human reproductive system? I hope so. Not everyone is, of course, even some otherwise smart people. If you’re not clear on the whole concept, there’s no time like the present to do a little boning up, so to speak. Being responsible about sex is as important as being sexual. And being informed about health risks and contraception is the beginning of taking responsibility for your sexual activity.

Remember what I said earlier—that you’ll want to have sex when your body says so? Well, if you take the time to prepare now, you’ll not need to interrupt the moment when your body tells you I’m ready! You should discuss birth control with your girlfriend in advance of any foolin’ around. You should have condoms and lube available. Don’t expect that you’ll have your wits about you when your dick is hard. Remember, you’re not the one who’ll get pregnant if ya’ll screw up. I’ll bet your sweetheart will be impressed with your forethought, too.

Remember, even if your girlfriend is on the pill or has a diaphragm; condoms are a must. One in every ten sexually active teens carries one or more STDs or as we call them nowadays, STIs (sexually transmitted infections). You can consider dropping the condoms only when you’re in an exclusive relationship.

Good luck!

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