Sexual Intelligence

Sex—and culture, politics, psychology—and sex

Criminalizing Oral Sex In Virginia

Virginia's government petitions the U.S. Supreme Court to criminalize oral sex

Virginia's Attorney General has petitioned the United States Supreme Court to allow Virginia to criminalize sodomy--anal sex and oral sex.

Early this year, a federal appeals court vacated the conviction—based on Virginia’s anti-sodomy law—of a 47-year-old man who solicited sex with a 17-year-old woman (who is over the age of consent in Virginia). Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli wants the Supreme Court to overturn the decision.

The hosts of the popular daytime TV show The View enthusiastically ripped Cuccinelli. Whoopi Goldberg even threatened “I’m gonna make sure your behind doesn’t become governor.” (Whoopi, exactly how much time or money are you going to donate to his opponent?)

The issue of anti-sodomy legislation has absolutely nothing to do with protecting children. The anti-sodomy law applies to adult-adult consensual sex, gay or straight. Either a human is old enough to legally consent to sex, or s/he isn’t. And like every state, Virginia has many, many laws punishing non-consenting sex as well as adult-child sexual exploitation.

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But Cuccinelli is running for Governor, and he’s turning this into a “protect the children” thing. On his website he quotes a civic leader who’s so angry and frightened she overlooks the facts; I’ve helpfully added a few:

   "At the heart of the defendant’s appeal is an effort to legalize sex acts between adults and children [NOT TRUE].
   "A crime against a child is still a crime against a child [AT 17, SHE’S OVER THE AGE OF CONSENT]….
   "For the Fourth Circuit, an inability to distinguish between consensual adult-adult sex and a sex crime committed [SOLICITING, NOT COMMITTING] against a child [17—A “CHILD”?] by an adult is outrageous.
   "For Virginia’s children, the result of this case is catastrophic.”[IT ACTUALLY HAS NO EFFECT WHATSOEVER.]"

This is a classic example of creating a moral panic, and then harnessing the resulting fear and anger for political gain. Every single reasonable person is against adults sexually exploiting children. The real-life situation has nothing to do with this issue, but any tenuous link that Cuccinelli can make between the two can be exploited for his benefit.

The question for America (yet again) is about our desperate, recurring need to create a sexual “them,” an “other” whose sexuality is drastically different from ordinary people’s, and dangerous to everyone. So even though an overwhelming majority of American couples have oral sex at some point, millions of people around the country support outlawing it.

Politicians, religious leaders, and do-gooders use oral sex—and sodomy, non-monogamy, S/M, vibrator use, and other common erotic behaviors—as code for “those people aren’t like us,” even when “those people” ARE like us. In fact, they ARE us. But creating a dangerous, degenerate, out-of-control sexual “other” is such a dependable trope for motivating people, no political, religious, or civic leader can give it up. They are captivated by the power the trope gives them.

As the word “homosexual” loses it power to terrify and galvanize (as did "Communist" before it), the political exploitation of other marginalized groups will increase. Sex offenders are the most obvious target. People into S/M and non-monogamy will also feel the heat.

There are about 6 million adults in Virginia. Say that 3 million of them vote. Whether Cuccinelli wins or loses, he will get at least one-and-a-quarter million votes. Statistics suggest that at least a half-million of these people will have oral or anal sex the month of the election. But they’ll tell themselves that the sexual degenerates Cuccinelli is aiming for aren’t them. In a way, they’re right—these sexual degenerates aren’t ANYONE. They’re a terrifying, infinitely malleable idea that’s far bigger and more dangerous than any individual could possibly be.

That’s Conservative politicians (from BOTH parties) for you—they want to shrink government smaller and smaller until it can fit under your bedroom door. And millions of Americans keep inviting them in—as the price they willingly pay for having “others” patrolled and controlled.

Marty Klein is a certified sex therapist and licensed psychotherapist. He has written five books and 200 articles about sex; his TV appearances include 20/20 andNightline. more...

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