Ten prominent researchers in adolescent health and sexuality sent a letter to Congreswoman Nancy Pelosi and Senator Harry Ried explaining why it is wrong to continue funding abstinence-only education.
Not only is it ineffective, it also puts teens at risk for disease and pregnancy, and, as Marcotte points out, it puts schools in the business of disseminating propaganda instead of fostering critical thinking skills and putting a high value on complete and accurate information.
What timing! Just as Chris was reviewing Rober Jensen's newest anti-porn treatise I was talking with Tristan Taormino about her most recent addition to her "reality porn" series, Chemistry 3 . We thought it would be interesting to expand our discussion of pornography, widening it to include our community here. We'll start with Tristan Taormino and see where we go from there!
To get us started, I emailed Tristan a set of questions, mostly about the making of her newest addition to the Chemsitry series. Those questions and her answers are posted below. Please feel free to leave your own questions and reactions in the comments. She'll be checking in regularly to participate in the conversation.
Happy Thanksgiving, in the "day of gratitude" sense of the holiday.
It is easy to be pretty depressed about this country's sexual state of affairs. Much of the news and politics we cover here is of the sort that provokes outrage and activism. Less often does it prompt celebration. But today is a day for reflection and for gratitude, and there are, in fact, some bright spots in the past year. I'll start us off. Add your own reflections in the comments.
The US Congress -- both houses -- voted to repeal the global gag rule. We wrote about it here.
Oh, and of course, this site was born, and had its coming out party. See the photos! We're grateful for Rapture Cafe and its amazing crew, and for the super-talented writers and performers who celebrated with us! And I'm very grateful for Chris Hall, the most amazing collaborator I could have.
So, what sex-related events or news or goings-on are you thankful for?
The cranberries are destined for our table later in the day.
Much as this week's "Sex Advice from..." feature on Nerve.com might make you think otherwise, I have never been to a cuddle party. Nor can I call myself a cuddling enthusiast. I mean, I like cuddling as much as the next person, or at least as much as the next person who likes cuddling, but "enthusiast?" Well, that makes cuddling sound like something one develops a certain skill in, or treats as a hobby of sorts. Me, I just cuddle on the couch rather without technique or style.
Here is what happened:
You are sitting in a car with your exboyfriend. You want some pictures back. You are planning to marry someone else. Suddenly your car is attacked, you and your ex are both kidnapped, and both raped.
When your case goes before a judge you are punished, along with your attackers. You are sentenced to 90 lashes for being out alone with a man who is not a member of your family. Your attackers are sentenced to prison terms ranging from 10 months to 5 years and to 800 to 1,000 lashes.
On appeal their sentences are increased but so is yours. Now you are sentenced to 200 lashes and 6 months in jail.
Now, it seems, you are being punished for appealing in addition to being punished for talking to your exboyfriend.
This is the case of a woman in Saudi Arabia, one of our "allies" and the only good thing to report is that it has, according to the New York Times, "provoked a rare public debate about the treatment of women" in that country.
Even lawyers have spoken out, some on television, objecting to the sentence and pointing to other cases where women were not treated so harshly.
In "See no evil, see it everywhere: The cloak of invisibility renders child pornography more terrifying and harder to do anything about," I wrote in support of journalist Debbie Nathan's call for journalists and researchers and the like to have examine exisiting child pornography for the purpose of investigating government claims about the scope of the problem and also for the purpose of examining evidence in criminal cases.
Nathan will be interviewed on the Brian Lehrer show on WNYC tomorrow, November 16, at about 11:40. If you're in the New York City area, tune in to 93.9 FM or AM 820. You can also listen live online at WNYC.org, or click here for a link to the show's web site, where you can hear podcasts of the latest shows.
The Employment Nondiscrimination Act (ENDA) was voted on by the House of Representatives today. It passed by a vote of 235 to 184 with 14 not voting. It needed 212 to pass.*
It passed by the skin of its proverbial teeth. So, why are we not celebrating?
1. ENDA does not really protect gays, lesbians and bisexuals. Even though the debate about including or not including protection for gender identity or expression was framed in terms of protecting the transgendered, really those provisions would have protected gays, lesbians and bisexuals better than simply stating that, as the bill that passed the house does, that you can't fire or refuse to hire someone because of his or her real or perceived sexual orientation.
That is like saying "Fine, so we can't fire you for being a lesbian as long as you aren't too butch." If you're "too butch" all bets are off.
HRC is announcing that tomorrow, Wednesday November 7, the House is scheduled to vote on ENDA.
Please call Tammy Baldwin and urge her to offer her amendment and not to withdraw it. Then call your representative and urge that person to support her amendment.
If representatives are given the chance to avoid going on record about gender identity they'll take it. I, for one, don't want them to have that chance.
Click here to find contact information for your congressperson or use the Speak Out!! section on the left.
Oh, and happy election day.
UPDATE 10:00pm NOV 6: This is not such good news as it first appeared. This is the notation from GovTrack.us about the schedule debate and vote:
Nov 5, 2007: Rules Committee Resolution H. Res. 793 Reported to House. Rule provides for consideration of H.R. 3685 with 1 hour of general debate. Previous question shall be considered as ordered without intervening motions except motion to recommit with or without instructions. Measure will be considered read. Specified amendments are in order. All points of order against consideration of the bill are waived except those arising under clause 9 or 10 of rule XXI.
So, maybe one of you can help decipher this but I read this to mean that the "previous question" (a yes or no vote on the bill as presented) will be considered without any other motions (e.g., amendments) except motions to send it back to committee.
This makes it sound like Tammy Baldwin's amendment will not be offered.
Tune in tomorrow to see what the debate sounds like.
Meanwhile, expect an ENDA without gender identity included. In other words, expect a largely ineffective ENDA that reflects the needs of elite gays, lesbians and bisexuals but does not meet the needs of most of us.
So you might have been following the ENDA stories and known that it was scheduled to come up for a vote in the House last week or the week before. And you might have noticed that that didn't happen. And you might have been waiting for news about that. I even tried to put a legislation tracker on the site so we could more easily keep up with bills like ENDA. (Aside: you'll probably have noticed that so far it is only working in Safari browser.) Even with all that, I'd noticed that, well, nothing seemed to be happening. So, I've been poking around trying to figure out what's going on, and I just came across this, from October 31, by EJ Graff at TFM Cafe:
The latest news on this front: ENDA, which had been scheduled for a House floor vote this week, has been taken off the table.
The official reason that ENDA won’t come up for vote: it’s been pushed aside by other business. The generally accepted reason is the split between the Barney Frank faction and the Tammy Baldwin faction.
What has happened to the Prevention First Act (H.R. 819/S. 21)? Why are these bills stuck in committee while the Democrats are INCREASING funding for abstinence-only education? Don't they at least have an obligation to hold the line on such misappropriate of funds? We're talking about the spending of 141 million dollars on programs that we know don't work and that actually put our communities at risk. And we're talking about the party in control, the one that is supposed to be friendly to smart sexual health policy, granting this increase in spending and as a result teaching kids that abstinence-until-marriage is the only legitimate approach to sexuality and that condoms don't work well.