Here’s Why People Are Freaking Out About An Expo On Sex And Porn Heading To Dallas.

I’m hoping to get to walk through my first picket line this weekend. Exxxotica is coming to Dallas, and so many people have their panties in a wad about it, I can hardly believe it. We have homeless people melting in 100-plus-degree heat. We have hungry people who can’t feed their children. We have people who have been out of work for months on end. We have young people killing themselves because of bullying. And Dallas is upset because porn stars and sex toy purveyors are going to be descending upon our fair city and (gasp!) helping people to improve their sex lives.

Conservatives are, as usual, using their favorite weapon of choice: Distraction. Instead of saying what they really mean — “We’re prudes and we want to control what consenting adults can have access to because we want everyone to follow our religious agenda” — they start shouting hot-button issues that they know will incite liberals and conservatives alike. This round’s distracting issue of choice: sex trafficking.

Very few social issues horrify me more than sex trafficking. It’s a despicable practice of the lowest degree — degrading, humiliating and dehumanizing to women and children. Those involved in it should be prosecuted to the full extent of the law and those victimized by it should be rescued and sheltered and supported in every way to help them recover and resume a normal life.

But sex trafficking is not the same as sex between consenting adults or even pornography. This is not a conference about how to sign up to be sex-trafficked. It’s a conference about sex and having sex and what it’s like to be in the adult industry — to choose to be a part of the adult industry. It’s like saying fast food is disgusting, so I can’t go to any kind of restaurant any more.

Personally, I can’t wait to go. I’ll have a booth there where I’ll be signing my new book about how to have killer orgasms. I’ll be doing three seminars: one about my new book O Wow: Discovering Your Ultim-ate Orgasm, one about my old book, Open: Love, Sex, and Life in an Open Marriage and one about — go figure — sex positivity in the media.

As a lesbian and outspoken feminist, you might expect me to be opposed to pornography. But I see what happens at events like Exxxotica differently. Everything I will be doing and talking about will be about sex positivity and consenting adults. In a way, it’s designed to help avoid things like trafficking by bringing sexuality out of the darkness and into the light where it belongs. If we supported people’s natural urges instead of shaming them, there would be less of a need for prostitution and trafficking in the first place.

I hear so many people say that they go to prostitutes or even strip clubs or — if nothing else — cheat on their partners because they are unable to be their whole sexual selves because they are ashamed to talk to their partner about what they want. The goal of expos like these is to educate people and empower them to be able to communicate and play with their partners. Sure, there are going to be porn stars of nearly every variety and genre and some extreme stuff that not everyone will be interested in. But, who cares? Take in what interests you and leave the rest and, for God’s sake, stop taking it all so damn seriously. It’s sex.

And if you don’t like the expo, here’s a solution: Don’t go. Problem solved.

It’s basically going to be a perfectly innocent weekend of dirty fun, including contests where you have to name as many sex positions as you can in 15 seconds to win a trip. A twerking contest. A little kink and fetish and bondage. A little fun. Exactly what sex is supposed to be.

Newsflash: sex is not just for making babies. It’s supposed to be enjoyable. It’s supposed to be wet and noisy and silly and raucous and romantic and thrilling and any combination of all of those things. What it is not is lurid and disgusting and something to be ashamed of. It’s a healthy, natural behavior that is being attached to appalling criminal behavior in order for conservatives to continue to push their Bible-banging agenda and, honestly, I can’t take anymore. I find nothing more boring and exhausting than hypocrisy.

Conservatives want to tote their guns and shoot our lions and control what women can do with their bodies. They want to teach their creation fantasies in our schools and not pay taxes. But they don’t want people to use their brains and live authentic lives and have hot sex that just might include a little porn and more than a few batteries.

So, I’m going to go something every political this weekend. I’m going to attend Exxxotica. I’m going to speak at Exxxotica. And I’m going to promote healthy sexuality at Exxxotica and not be distracted by noise being create to serve other people’s personal political agenda.

Oh, and I’m going to get my photo taken with Jesse Jane. I just love her, don’t you?

By Jenny Block for Huffington Post

‘Sphinx’ Is An Erotic Novel Without Genders.

Boy meets girl. Or boy meets boy. Or girl meets girl. In Anne F. Garréta’s novel, gender is beside the point.

In Margaret Atwood’s classic, cheeky short story “Happy Endings” she takes a swift jab at the tropes we rely on when we tell stories — love stories in particular.

“John and Mary meet,” she writes. “What happens next? If you want a happy ending, try A.” She then reveals a myriad of outcomes that can occur between John and Mary’s budding relationship: they grow old together, Mary’s love goes unrequited from a selfish John, Mary uses John for personal gain. Etc., etc.

Though Atwood is demonstrating that a life can’t be reduced to a formula, she’s also suggesting that there are only so many possible arcs that John and Mary’s life can follow — at least if John and Mary are fictional characters, crafted within a fictional story.

Enter Anne F. Garréta, a French author whose experimental tricks aim to make readers question the strictures we apply to our love stories. In particular, she’s interested in how gender influences how we write about romance, and her newly translated novel, Sphinx, avoids gendered descriptors altogether in its characterization of its two protagonists.

The story begins with a nameless narrator drifting away from a sturdy academic life as a religious studies student (in France, or at least in the world of the book, racking up ample education is not what drifters do, it’s what ambitious people do), and towards a pulsing, sensuous nightclub scene. Disillusioned with the rigidity of school, he or she begins frequenting the Apocryphe, where tragic happenstance turns into a regular DJing gig. The narrator quickly discovers a knack for fluidly mixing tracks, a hobby that serves as a distraction from a newfound love interest: A***, a desired cabaret dancer.

The relationship begins with one-sided lust. The narrator pines after A***, who’s described as having slender, strong legs and a cat-like face (hence the novel’s title, which refers also to a song starring a coy, capricious sphinx). Shallow outward differences are pointed out; one is black, while the other is pale from always holing up inside studying. Beyond that, physical attributes — or at least those that can be rattled off in straightforward description — factor little into the pair’s coupling. Although A*** is mostly concerned with kinesthetic pursuits, such as dancing, exercise and sunbathing, the narrator is unconcerned with physical particularities. The sheer fact of A***’s sensual nature is appealing, as it offers a distraction from the tedium of school.

But, as the narrator realizes that their differences make cohabitation a struggle, and A*** realizes that the narrator’s infatuation may be shallow and fleeting, their connection slowly weakens, and each is forced to reconsider what their once-strong bond meant. The set-up is such a classic, relatable tale of falling in — and out — of love that one wonders why gender has always been such a huge factor in how we discuss relationships, in fiction and otherwise.

Constructing such a story would be laborious enough had it been written originally in English — crafting a romance, and fully realized characters with fully realized ambitions and desires, is unfortunately difficult to remove from our learned roles as men and women. But in French the job is even harder: many verbs, including “go,” are gendered in the past tense. So the words the author opted for to convey the narrator’s actions — wandering, roaming, visiting — were genderless, and shaped who he or she was as a person.

Emma Ramadan, who translated the book into English, wrote in a note at the end: “Garréta believed that equality could not exist within a language that puts the two genders in opposition to each other.” So, the author, and the translator, created their own language, championing love and desire over power and difference.

The bottom line: The author tinkers not only with language, but also with social norms, to reveal that gender isn’t essential to how we talk about love.

Who wrote it? Anne F. Garréta is a French author. Sphinx is her first novel to be translated into English. She belongs to the same experimental literary group as Georges Perec and Italo Calvino.

Who will read it? Those interested in feminist or LGBT literature. Those interested in experimental writing or love stories.

Opening lines: “Remembering saddens me still, even years later. How many exactly, I don’t know anymore. Ten or maybe thirteen. And why do I always live only in memory?”

Notable passage: “The machine was running on empty, racing, turning out a fortune without producing an iota of delight: no one enjoyed themselves in the least in these clubs, and I started to doubt whether anyone ever had.”

By Maddie Crum Books and Culture Writer, The Huffington Post§ion=gay-voices&ncid=fcbklnkushpmg00000050

Why Is Incest Porn So Popular?

Eddie Redmayne and Julianne Moore in ‘Savage Grace,’ which tells the story of the incestuous relationship between an heir and his mother

When it comes to mind-fucks, few things top incest.

Inter-familial relations have become topical recently following a New York magazine article about genetic sexual attraction (GSA) and a detailed Q&A about consensual incest between a woman and her biological father. The general consensus was, “There’s not enough :(‘s in the world for this,” because incest is a phenomenon so taboo we barely have the language for it.

Naturally, as with pretty much any other sexual or societal taboo you can think of, there has long been a market for “incest” scenes in porn—”daddy-daughter” scenarios, for example, acted out between two perfect strangers for the titillation of masturbators who want to go a bit… darker. But that audience has—in certain areas of the US, at least—grown.

A report by leading multimedia-adult-content providers revealed a 178 percent average increase in the consumption of “family role-play porn” between October 2014 and January 2015. The stats show Utah had the highest increase with 765 percent; Michigan (698 percent), New York (669 percent), Alaska (524 percent), and Arkansas (452 percent) made up the five states where incest porn was growing in popularity the fastest.

According to GameLink, the ten most popular family role play porn titles are: Father’s Forbidden Fantasies, Friends and Family 4, Mother’s Indiscretions #3, Keep It in the Family, Brothers & Sisters 2, Mommy and Me #9, Lesbian Family Affairs, Father’s Day, Digital Sin, Sibling Sex Stories, and, most sinister of all for some reason, Our Father.

That’s an awful lot of studios making an awful lot of incest action. I reached out to Dr. Chauntelle Tibbals, author of forthcoming book Encore: A Sociologist Explores Sex, Society, and Adult Entertainment, for some kind of explanation.

Tibbals assured me that the stats don’t show an increase in “incest porn,” as such, but rather a “rapid growth” in “faux-cest porn”—content that casts two performers in a family scenes. She attributed the popularity of such porn in certain geographical areas to those “states that are a bit more on the sexually repressive side,” marking New York as an anomaly.

She also suggests that the appeal of faux-cest pornography can be found in the “interesting mix of commonplace coupled with marked taboo.”

“Intimacy between step-relations is very taboo in contemporary US culture, and yet many people live in step-blended families,” she says. “There’s something about stimuli for such a highly taboo topic simultaneously being so commonplace that may resonate with some people. In terms of ‘why now,’ certainly technology, accessibility, and the availability of the content itself all play a part.”

A lot of “incest” porn takes great pains to make sure viewers know the sex may be real but the relationships aren’t. Take Mommy and Me 9 (2014), for instance. At the start of each scene, the performers issue a disclaimer saying that they’re not related. Before the first scene, Chasey Lain says, “This is in no way my daughter, we’re not related in any way.” Audrey Aguilera replies with, “And this is not my mother. I just met her today.”

Lain ends the fourth-wall-breaking intro with the following words: “We’re giving the fans what they want— Mommy and Me 9.” But is incest really what the fans want? Or is it just what the porn industry is peddling?

In 2013, Jon Milward produced Deep Inside: A Study of 10,000 Porn Stars and Their Careers, and his analysis threw up some interesting facts and figures. Out of the 20 “most common female roles that appear in film titles, ranked by frequency of use, the sixth-most common role for actresses is “daughter.” The tenth is “sister.”

One of the movies included in Milward’s study would have been the 1980 classic, Taboo. The plot, in truly the loosest sense of the word, heavily features father-daughter and mother-son incest. Taboo is regarded as a classic and went on to be the first of many in a series spanning 27 years and knocking out—if you will—22 sequels.

It feels like quite a stretch to assume that someone just typing in the most taboo sexual scenario they can think of into a porn search engine actually wants to fuck a family member.

Evidently, incest porn is nothing new. But as with all modern day smut, its ubiquity goes beyond the usual channels of adult content. Search online for “incest” and you’ll find tons of filth: Reddit forums with 44,000 readers (with the following disclaimer: “Owing to the general lack of ability to verify content, all stories should be assumed to be fictional unless proven otherwise”), incest erotica, even the portmanteau “wincest”—which refers to fan-fiction depicting “a romantic or sexual relationship between Sam and Dean Winchester,” from the sci-fi series Supernatural.

The more you look, the deeper the rabbit warren goes. Could content of this kind really be reflecting our subconscious desires? If we think back to college psychology classes and consider Freud’s Oedipus complex theories, you could argue that watching incest porn is simply an act of wish fulfillment. Still, it feels like quite a stretch to assume that someone just typing in the most taboo sexual scenario they can think of into a porn search engine actually wants to fuck a family member.

However, in his notorious Penthouse article from 1977, Incest: The Last Taboo, Philip Noble suggested that there’s much more actual “untraumatic” incest happening than we care to accept. Yes, it was the 70s, and yes, he relied heavily on the idea of “previously suppressed material” from the original Kinsey interviews that “tells us that incest is prevalent and often positive,” but he was right when he said that “incest will be a major social issue in the 80s”—the decade that spawned the Taboo series.

A sinister explanation for incest-themed porn was offered in psychologist Sharna Olfman’s 2008 book The Sexualization of Childhood, in which she suggests that there could be a correlation between father-daughter gonzo and what she calls “pseudo child pornography” (PCP).

“We can explore,” she writes, “how these sites may act as socializing agents for their users by constructing a particular set of ideologies that normalize children as legitimate sexual partners for adult men.” The norms and values circulating in society that define adult-child sex as deviant and abusive are wholly absent in PCP, she argues, and in their place is a “cornucopia of sites that deliver the message that sex with children is hot fun for all.”

Olfman’s argument is gut-churning, but if we’re talking specifically about the films readily accessible on PornHub/XHamster/YouPorn, etc., we are not talking about actual incest. That much is made clear in the disclaimers. But it doesn’t make the titles or pseudo subject matter shocking. There’s a base, primal curdling of the stomach that happens when you see any kind of mother-son or daughter-dad set-up, even if you know it’s fictional, and it’s precisely that reaction that an industry gorging itself on the extreme feeds upon. From rosebud to gokkun, incest-themed porn is just another obscenity to get customers through the doors.

Dan O’Connell, founder of Girlfriends Films—a company that produces one of incest-themed porn’s most popular and successful series in Mother-Daughter Exchange Club (now on its 36th edition)—says it’s all just about pushing boundaries.

“Producers of adult movies are among the greatest mavericks of society,” he says, without a whiff of irony. “It is their nature to leave the realm of conventional sex and depict the very outer edges of sexual behavior. Today, every unsupervised kid with an online connection can look at all the sex they want.”

That might be true. But what about the implications of those kids then going on to crave something more outrageous than the last thing they saw? Isn’t that kind of one-upmanship precisely what the porn industry is feeding? How can it be right that they’ll somehow end up viewing fictional scenarios between mothers and sons?

O’Connell is ambivalent. “The industry does these movies because that’s what sells.,” he says. “And, very simply, they sell for their taboo factor.”

By Gareth May for Vice

Watch Caitlyn Jenner’s Emotional ESPYs Acceptance Speech.

As her family looked on proudly, Caitlyn Jenner took the stage at ESPN’s ESPY Awards Wednesday night in Los Angeles to accept the Arthur Ashe Courage Award.

In response to the tribute video that played shortly before, Jenner joked, “I have to speak after that?,” before launching into an emotional speech about her journey from Olympic athlete to transgender activist and Vanity Fair cover girl, one that touched on both the deeply personal and broader cultural shifts that have led Jenner to captivate so many.

“It seems like every time I turn around in life,” Jenner said, “I’m putting myself in these high-pressure situations: competing in the games, raising a family. But I have never felt more pressure than I have in my life than over the last couple of months.”

She paused from her more serious tone.

“Picking out this outfit, O.K., girls, I get it,“ she said. ”You gotta get the shoes, the hair, the makeup, the whole process. It was exhausting. And next? The fashion police. Please be kind to me, I’m new at this.” (Jenner need not have worried, her elegant white wrap dress was already a hit with the people over at E!.)

After giving a quick shout out to the U.S. women’s soccer team’s recent World Cup victory—player Abby Wambach had just presented her with the Ashe award—Jenner went on to address issues affecting the global transgender community.

“They’re getting bullied, they’re getting beaten up, they’re getting murdered,” Jenner said, before relating specific examples of the hardships facing her community.

Then things got very personal. Addressing the assembled Jenner-Kardashian clan in the audience, she said, “Here comes the tough part; I’d like to thank my family. I never wanted to hurt anyone else, most of all, my family and my kids. I always wanted my children to be so proud of their dad for what he was able to accomplish in his life. You guys have given so much back to me, you’ve given me so much support. I am so, so grateful to have all of you in my life. Thank you. And last but not least, my mother…I always thought that I got my courage and my determination from my dad, who landed on Omaha Beach and fought all the way through World War II. But you know, I’m realizing now, Mom, I think I got all of those qualities from you.

Jenner concluded by addressing the transgender community, her allies, and those who questioned the giving of the Ashe award to her.

“If you wanna call me names, make jokes, doubt my intentions, go ahead,“ she said. ”Because the reality is I can take it. But for the thousands of kids out there coming to terms with being true to who they are, they shouldn’t have to take it. So for the people out there wondering what this is all about, whether it’s about courage or controversy or publicity, it’s about what happens from here. It’s not just about one person. It’s about thousands of people. It’s not just about me. It’s about all of us accepting one another. We’re all different. It’s not a bad thing. It’s a good thing.”


10 Sex Tips Inspired By Game Of Thrones.

Are you drawn to the passion, violence and sex of Game of Thrones? Well, you aren’t alone. There is a legion of you. I’m ashamed to admit that I have never seen Game Of Thrones. But, after reading this list of sex tips composed by Cosmopolitan, I know what comes next on my binge watch list:

1. Do it doggy-style. Really, this could be all ten tips. Do the Westerosi even know that other sex positions exist? Bonus points if you can find a ruined castle to use as the setting for your assignation. Try to make sure the son of your enemy isn’t watching through a window, though.

2. Incorporate strange foods. The only thing the people of Westeros love more than a good roll in the hay is a fat helping of suckling pig. So why not incorporate the two and say, eat some lemon cakes off your partner’s body? If you’re feeling really committed, you could up the foreplay ante by devouring a still-beating horse heart in a room full of your closest friends and family. (Guys, I’m kidding, don’t ever do that).

3. Go cave-diving. And by cave-diving, I mean have someone go down on you in a cave. Don’t worry, it’s totally what the lords do to their ladies in the south. Just don’t forget to finish up by flirtatiously saying, “You know nothing, Jon Snow.”

4. Use sex as a bribe. A Lannister always pays their debts — with sex. Make like Cersei and start trading sexual favors for household chores (or spots on the Small Council, if that’s what you’re into). “I’ll trade you one blow job for one cleaning of the bathroom,” for example, or “You go down on me and I’ll finally dust the TV set.”

5. Go outside. Do it like the Dothraki do: in the middle of the desert. If a desert is unavailable, your backyard might work, or a secluded beach. For added accuracy, call each other things like “moon of my life” and “my sun and stars.” It’s cheesy, yes, but if it’s good enough for Daenerys Stormborn, Mother of Dragons, it’s good enough for you.

6. Don’t use your words. Pretend you are Hodor for a night, and don’t say anything aloud except “Hodor.” You’ll only be able to understand each other by listening to subtle changes in intonation. This could be super sexy, or super hilarious, but either way, a fun night is guaranteed.

7. Take a bath together. If one of you has been tasked with returning the other to your nemesis for ransom, great, because that will really give the whole situation a nice “forbidden fruit” vibe. Optional: tie one hand behind your back so the other person has to help you wash.

8. Give a detailed lesson describing exactly what you want done to you. You know, “Touch here first, then here, then over there, then bring me a glass of Dornish red and pour it all over my breasts.” It helps if you do this in a brothel, and the entire conversation is actually a metaphor for your relationship with a political frenemy.

9. Utilize fire. The night is dark and full of terrors, so best light a fire to protect yourself/set the mood. Just make sure you use protection, because R’hllor knows you don’t want to deal with any accidental shadow babies.
10. Have sex on your period. Boom! Your very own Red Wedding.


Bill Cosby Said He Got Drugs To Give Women For Sex, Gave To At Least One.

Bill Cosby testified in 2005 that he got Quaaludes with the intent of giving them to young women he wanted to have sex with, and he admitted giving the sedative to at least one woman and “other people,” according to documents obtained Monday by The Associated Press. The AP had gone to court to compel the release of the documents; Cosby’s lawyers had objected on the grounds that it would embarrass their client. The 77-year-old comedian was testifying under oath in a lawsuit filed by a former Temple University employee.

He testified he gave her three half-pills of Benadryl. Cosby settled that sexual-abuse lawsuit for undisclosed terms in 2006. His lawyers in the Philadelphia case did not immediately return phone calls Monday. Cosby has been accused by more than two dozen women of sexual misconduct, including allegations by many that he drugged and raped them in incidents dating back more than four decades. Cosby, 77, has never been criminally charged, and most of the accusations are barred by statutes of limitations. Cosby resigned in December from the board of trustees at Temple, where he was the popular face of the Philadelphia school in advertisements, fundraising campaigns and commencement speeches.

Posted on Local 12 News YouTube


Sizzy Rocket’s ‘Bestie’ Music Video Explores Bi-Curiosity In Friendships.

When you’re queer, drawing a clear line between friends and lovers can sometimes get tricky.

Queer musician Sizzy Rocket’s new video “Bestie” explores this reality, inspired by a one night stand the singer had with her best friend. The video is humorous and campy, referencing “unintentionally erotic” ’80s workout videos — a move that Rocket says is intended to subvert the male gaze.

The Huffington Post chatted with Sizzy Rocket this week about her inspiration for “Bestie.”

The Huffington Post: What inspired this video?
The song was inspired by a real night that happened between me and my best friend, and the video idea just popped in my head while I was writing it. I really wanted to showcase a campy aesthetic and embody the male gaze while pointing to it in a tongue-in-cheek way, and exercise videos in the ’80s are a perfect place to draw from because they’re unintentionally erotic. It’s purposefully over-sexualized, and Dorian, the director, really took it to another level with the watermelon and the banana sit-up. It’s meant to make you laugh but also show you how easily and even unknowingly we exploit femininity and the female body.

How does the person who inspired this song/video feel about it?
She’s the coolest and she loves it. We laugh about it together, which is what you really should do about situations like that. Laugh it off and dance it off.

How would you describe your musical style/aesthetic?
My style, especially on my record “THRILLS” which will come out later this year, can’t really be pinned down to any genre. I’m inspired by New York electroclash like Peaches and Scissor Sisters, but Drake and Frank Ocean were also huge influences. I’ve been listening to a lot of Perfume Genius. I like everything from aggressive hip hop to bubblegum synth pop, but the beauty about a classic song is it can transcend genre. Queen comes to mind — they’re my favorite.

What’s next for you?
I’m going to start playing a lot of shows and keep making unexpected visuals. I’m putting my second single out in July that will come with a zine, and I just wrapped my album. I’m just excited to be putting a record out in the world — who knows what’s next!

By JamesMichael Nichols for Huffington

Miley Cyrus Makes A Statement In More Ways Than One At The amfAR Gala.

It’s hard to pinpoint exactly when Miley Cyrus shifted from attention-loving pop star to someone who was using their platform for the betterment of others, but it’s pretty clear that any attention Cyrus is drawing to herself these days is doing the world a lot of good.

The 22-year-old recently launched the Happy Hippie Foundation to help homeless and LGBT youth, and this past week, she teamed up with Instagram to launch a revolutionary campaign called #InstaPride, which spotlights people whose identities span across the gender spectrum.

On Tuesday night, Cyrus brought that pride with her to the amfAR Inspiration Gala in New York. Her date for the evening was Tyler, who she described on Instagram as a “queer, biracial, agender person, whose pronouns are they/them/theirs.” And together, they killed it on the red carpet. Cyrus went for the over-the-top glam route in a bright red gown covered in sequin hearts with a massive bow on the back, while Tyler wore a plunging black dress paired with red Doc Martins.

Both the singer and “Watch What Happens Live” host Andy Cohen were honored at the event for their fight against AIDS.

By Stephanie Marcus for Huffington Post


See The First Promo For Caitlyn Jenner’s E! docu-series, I Am Cait.

Caitlyn Jenner’s E! docu-series is called I Am Cait, the network revealed on Wednesday.

“So many people go through life and they never deal with their own issues. No matter what the issues are. Ours happen to be gender identity,” Jenner says in new promo for the show (which can be seen below). “How many people go through life and waste their entire life because they never deal with themselves and be who they are?”

The teaser also includes the 65-year-old talking about how challenging life can be for women. “You start learning kind of the pressure women are under all the time about their appearance,” Jenner says.

The I Am Cait trailer ends with Jenner driving out into the world for the first time as herself. “Isn’t it great that maybe someday you’ll be normal? Just blend into society?” she asks. After a friend in the car assures Jenner that she is normal, the former Olympian replies: “Put it this way: I’m the new normal.”

I Am Cait premieres July 26 at 9 p.m. on E!


The Duggar Family Is Part Of A Sex Cult.

Last week, Ted Cruz made headlines by accusing “the left” of being “obsessed with sex”. It was self-evidently a hilarious bit of projection, because it’s clear that the people in this country who are obsessed with sex are conservatives. It’s conservatives who put anti-abortion restrictions before all other legislative priorities. It’s conservatives who are so worried about who is fucking who when that they want to involve your boss in your birth control decisions. It’s conservatives who are so stuck on what gay couples do in bed that they want to deny them marriage because of it. This is really obvious.

But I feel like that retort is a little inadequate, because it might accidentally feed into the idea that there’s a “right” amount of thinking about sex and that if you think about it more than that, you’re somehow broken or perverted. And my problem with religious conservatives is not that the first thought on their minds when they wake up, their every waking thought during the day, and their last thought when they go to bed is thoughts of other people fucking. A lot of people think about sex a lot, without it being a problem. My problem is that this thought enrages them and makes them feel entitled to punish you for it. It’s quality, not quantity, that is the problem. It’s not like abortion restrictions are any easier on women if they fall to docket item #3 or #4 on the agenda, instead of always being #1.

But watching this Duggar scandal unfold, I have come to realize there’s a difference between merely thinking about something a lot and an obsession. (Or at least when it comes to touchy issues like sex.) What makes the conservative attitude about sex obsessive is the way that sex is seen, in their eyes, as a demonic force that haunts the world and how this leaks into everything, distorting and perverting it. It isn’t that they think about sex a lot, but how they the think about it, in other words.

This whole Duggar situation really exposes how true that is. The enforced wholesome thing has always had an air of perversion about it, of course: The chaperones, the ugly “modest” clothes, the aggressive pretending that you’re not thinking about sex when it’s all you clearly can think about. Sex is seen as a scary, evil force and they give it all this power that it really doesn’t have if you have a healthier attitude about it. And because of it, there’s this real inability to understand that other people really don’t feel like we’re constantly walking a tightrope, about to fall into the abyss. You don’t see attitudes like the one displayed by Michael Seewald, the father-in-law of one of the Duggar girls, who defended the Duggar family’s cover-up of this crime.

There are many who seem shocked that a child from a Christian family would do such things. While it is always alarming when we find out about our children’s sins, we should not be surprised. Christians (and many other reasonable people) believe that we are all born with a sinful nature. David, king of Israel spoke of his inborn sin like this when he was repenting of his adultery and murder by proxy: “Behold, I was shapen in iniquity; and in sin did my mother conceive me.” Psalm 51:5. The prophet Isaiah concurs. “But we are all as an unclean thing, and all our righteousnesses are as filthy rags; and we all do fade as a leaf; and our iniquities, like the wind, have taken us away.” Isaiah 64:6. While not all of our sins find a way to manifest themselves externally we all know the corruption that is present in each of our hearts.

It is a mercy of God that he restrains the evil of mankind otherwise we would have destroyed ourselves long ago. Many times it is simply lack of opportunity or fear of consequences that keep us from falling into grievous sin even though our fallen hearts would love to indulge the flesh. We should not be shocked that this occurred in the Duggar’s home, we should rather be thankful to God if we have been spared such, and pray that he would keep us and our children from falling.

Ah, no. You get the strong sense reading this that the implication is that we’re all barely able to stop ourselves from sexually assaulting someone and it’s only the fear of getting caught that is holding us back. As PZ Myers noted, however, that’s just not the case. “I was also the oldest of a large family of six kids, and surprise, I was never even tempted to molest my sisters. I did not have to pray to resist. I was not restrained by religious fears,” he writes. “They were my family, and I saw them as people, friends (sometimes, briefly, annoyances). This corruption that Seewald sees as an intrinsic part of our existence was simply not there.”

I don’t want to make too much of this, since child abuse happens in all sorts of homes with all sorts of religious backgrounds. But setting aside this specific instance of abuse, what we’re seeing here is an attitude is that makes the religious right functionally a sex cult, especially when it comes to the far-right enclaves such as the Duggar’s. Sex is a demon that haunts their world, and everything in their lives is structured around trying to hold the evil at bay. Sex isn’t treated like a normal part of life that people just do, but this force that controls us and which traps people into a lifelong struggle of self-hatred and fear. Even when they’re trying to put a positive spin on it and talking up the sex they are allowed to like—between married couples—this fear-laced obsessiveness leaks out.

Take, for instance, this interview Cosmo had with the Duggar girls:

Jessa: My parents are pretty good kissers! They very much like to show their kiss in public places, so they kiss in front of us all the time.

Talking about “their kiss” as if it’s an object and not an action? Treating it as an object of display instead of a way to show affection? There’s no authentic pleasure or joy here. It’s just the neurotic behavior of people desperately trying to show their mastery over a force that haunts them day and night, and failing.

The weird part is that this is all a self-created problem. For healthy people, even if sex is a big part of their lives, it doesn’t rule them in this way. Most of us think of it as a fun way to spend time, a good way to share affection, and a physical desire, but it’s not some kind of overpowering force that we can barely get a handle on. Even if you’re really horny! It’s like food or your hobbies or even your job: An important part of your life that you want to give a lot of attention to, but it’s not all-defining in this way.

Seewald mocked the idea that this is “a result of sheltering and repressing human desires”. Well, yes. This obsession with “modesty” and “purity” is a sex obsession. All this forbidding this and that drives up curiosity and creates obsession. Sex becomes the ring from Lord of the Rings and fundies are all a bunch of Gollums. Sex is an important part of life, but it’s not some kind of all-encompassing force that will ruin you if you let it. And I think this whole debacle really drives home which “side” has the healthier understanding of sex.