Alexandra Katehakis and Center for Healthy Sex (CHS) have released their Annual Best/Worst Sex List for 2012. While there were not as many spectacular sexual implosions this year (remember 2011's Charlie Sheen, Dominique Strauss-Kahn, Herman Cain, Schwarzenegger and Weiner,) still there were significant political and social developments that will have healthy sexual implications for years to come.
Why do these stories matter, and why do we care how sexuality affects society? Because eroticism is a fundamental, connective energy that can fulfill all our most heartfelt desires. Relational sex is more than a symbol of whether we play well with others, it's literally how we relate. Most of us lack adequate sexual education, which has become politicized to the point of incompetence. We sexually develop in the shadows. So by exploring our erotic values together we transport this personal, powerful, wholehearted, carnal energy into the light.
"We tend to think of the erotic as an easy, tantalizing sexual arousal. I speak of the erotic as the deepest life force, a force which moves us toward living in a fundamental way."
-- Audre Lorde
At Center for Healthy Sex, we believe that Healthy Sex is consensual sex between adults and yields pleasure and personal growth. Everyone has the right to experience healthy sex free from trauma, abuse, violence, crime, lies, secrets, judgment, shame, guilt and regrets. Sexual rehabilitation begins with stopping problem behaviors and leads to a meaningful life of emotional and sexual intimacy over time.
With that in mind, here are the top stories of 2012, and why they matter. We hope you find these picks provocative and ideally even erotically enlightening for the 10 best sex stories, the 10 worst sex stories, and 5 honorable mentions for good measure!
It was a long and contentious election, but in the end the critical mass of voters' conscience tipped toward social progress preventing a major rollback of civil (sexual) rights. The Republican party profess support for less government except when it comes to definitions of rape, LGBT rights, reproductive rights and sexual healthcare - all which they'd seek to legislatively limit or deny with assuredly devastating consequences. Instead, 2012 ushered in four more years of progressive sexuality during which there will likely be all-important Supreme Court vacancies to fill that are sure to have an impact on sexual freedoms. In related news, the 2012 election gave us 20 female U.S. senators in 2013, the highest number ever. Wisconsin's Tammy Baldwin became the first openly gay person elected to the U.S. Senate. Gay rights legislation prevailed at the polls (more on that next.)
Why this matters: Perhaps an unexpected pick for best sex of the year, but the revelations and ensuing results of this election cycle caused the single greatest contribution to healthy sex for the entire world to contemplate this year. You don't see many therapists (like my colleagues and myself) sounding off on politics. We accept and honor multiple points of view to treat people of all beliefs and faiths. The two political parties in our country are increasingly polarized, and when one of those parties clearly attempts to oppress the sexual health of its people, we need to speak up.
Unless you were living under a rock, you have to know 2012 was a banner year for gay marriage. For the first time, a sitting president came out in support of marriage equality as Democratic leaders voted to include a gay marriage plank in the national convention's party platform, another first. Also Homeland Security set new deportation guidelines defining same-sex couples as families; voters supported marriage equality bills in Maine, Maryland, Minnesota and Washington; and DOMA was ruled unconstitutional by a federal appeals court. The Supreme Court announced the decision to weigh in on that ruling along with the constitutionality of Prop 8 in 2013. Barney Frank became the first sitting congressman in a same-sex marriage, the DADT repeal occasioned the first gay civil union ceremony on a military base, the White House hosted multiple same-sex marriage proposals, X-Men comic book characters got gay married, and Jet magazine featured their first same-sex couple. Wow, what a year!
Why this matters: The more our society moves toward acceptance of homosexuality and the less acceptable it becomes to marginalize homosexuality, the greater the opportunity for all relationships to develop a more authentic and healthy sexuality beyond social programming. Marriage equality is more than a civil right, it's an acceptance of reality. People really are homosexual. The righteousness of homosexual orientation and expression is as real whether by birth or choice (but we say "born that way.") People have many different beliefs, gods, principles, and values. Mature relational development requires accepting others for who they are, as well as for what they believe, without trying to force ideological values through harmful, prejudicial rules unfairly applied.
California voters became the first in the nation to block caretakers from forcing minors into reparative therapy, the harmful treatments that sometimes include shock therapy in attempts to change the sexual orientation of LGBT children. In a widely contested move, California also voted to mandate condom use in porno shoots in an effort to curb the spread of HIV and STDs for both performers and viewers. Although both votes likely will be revisited by the courts, the results were historic. In another first, the California state assembly passed a bill to allow the recognition of multiple parents per child to accommodate unique family structures, which was vetoed by the governor who objected to possible implications due to poor wording and insufficient foresight.
Why this matters: There's a saying that as goes California, so goes the nation. These bills have many legal hurdles ahead of them, but the ripples they send across the country and even around the globe will surely inspire some interesting legislation to confront challenging sexual health issues in years to come. Reparative therapy in particular has never been less popular. The World Health Organization released a report this year calling reparative therapy "a serious threat to the health and well-being - even the lives - of affected people." We've known for too long that the lives of LGBT teens are at great risk, as they face bullies in their schools, neighborhoods, and community leaders. With legislation like this, California stands up to the bullies.
In June, the first openly transgender person was invited to testify before a Senate committee. Kylar Broadus, founder of the Trans People of Color Coalition, testified in support of the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA) seeking to end workplace discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity. Gender identity protections were added to ENDA in 2007, which has been introduced in every Congress but one since 1994, but has yet to pass both the House and Senate. In related news, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ruled to protect transgender employees from discrimination. The APA removed Gender Identity Disorder as a mental illness diagnosis, now redefined as Gender Dysphoria, or stress attending gender identity. There were also many visible transgender personalities this year, including Matrix director Lana Wachowski who received Human Rights Campaign's Visibility Award, and beauty contestant Jenna Talackova who, after a controversial disqualification, was allowed to compete for Miss Universe.
Why this matters: Gender identity issues affect everyone from the moment we're born until our last breath. Gender expectations, good and bad, play a huge role in childhood development and adult psychological health. Many children now enjoy greater freedoms to explore and experience life beyond assigned roles thanks to progressive parents and educators; and today, transgender children have more resources and support than ever. Transgender rights are human rights, and we all personally and publicly benefit from honoring and defending the diversity of gender identity and expression.
In July, the FDA approved the OraQuick In-Home HIV Test, and in October the $40 tests were available in convenience stores and online for over-the-counter purchase. OraQuick is the first rapid home HIV test - results appear in 10 minutes. The test includes a 24-hour help line and resources for dealing with a positive result. In other health news, a nasal spray to increase sexual arousal for women called the "Female Viagra" started clinical trials. The drug is called Tefina and its intended to treat Female Orgasmic Disorder (FOD.)
Why this matters: Approximately 50,000 people become infected with HIV each year, and one in five living with HIV is unaware of their infection. Like home pregnancy tests, a home HIV test will make it easier for people to privately manage their sexual health. Already there are reports of people asking partners to take these tests before becoming sexually intimate. Female sexual dysfunction also affects many women; it's estimated up to 43 percent of women suffer from some form of sexual dysfunction. These two advances are game-changers in the field of sexual health.
Before Republicans blocked the reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act, Wisconsin Congresswoman Gwen Moore courageously revealed her history of being sexual assaulted as a child and raped as a young woman in a powerfully moving speech. Multiple campaigns this year raised awareness of rape including the gay/straight-themed "Men Can Stop Rape" campaign in January, the "Real Men Get Raped" campaign on London billboards in February, and the "We Believe You" campaign in March. As the year went on, there was a groundswell of public outrage over multiple unthinkable comments from Republicans like Todd "Legitimate Rape" Akin, Richard "Rape Pregnancy is a Gift from God" Mourdock, and Roger "Some Girls Rape Easy" Rivard; who, with other key "Rape-ublicans" referred to as "Team Rape," lost almost all their elections and may even have swayed the public against their party in the general election.
Why this matters: Sexual assault affects men and women of all sexualities, but still too often the victim is blamed, and the tragedy of male rape is denied. There is far too much sexual violence around the world, such as the India gang rape victim who died this week, and for any public official to politicize the issue by parsing definitions only contributes further to global resignation toward rape. Language affect Laws affect Lives. When brave people like Gwen Moore speak up about the reality of rape, or whenever real people share their personal stories of rape, it mobilizes citizens to reflect, to defend, and to act.
The coming out stories keep on coming. Orlando Cruz, currently ranked as the 4th top featherweight in the world, became the first openly gay professional boxer when he came out in October. Athletes in particular had a revelatory year as former NFL player Wade Davis came out in June, and an unprecedented 23 openly gay athletes competed in the summer Olympics. LGBT allies like Minnesota Vikings punter Chris Kluwe memorably came out in support of gay marriage, and many professional sports teams joined the "It Gets Better" anti-bullying project including the San Francisco 49ers, the Pittsburgh Pirates and the Oakland A's. Other momentous coming out stories included newsman Anderson Cooper, actor Matt Bomer, chef Anne Burrell, and musician Frank Ocean who made waves as the first mainstream hip-hop artist out of the closet.
Why this matters: Quite simply, the more out and about LGBTQA personalities, the better it gets. As prominent people become empowered to stop hiding and live authentic lives in the public eye, others are empowered to join the party. Assumptions are reassessed. Stereotypes are shattered. The rapidly increasing public support for LGBT issues doesn't happen in a vacuum - it's on the backs of these courageous personalities who risk everything for truth and honor. There really needs to develop some kind of celebratory event or commemorative medal for coming out, because it always marks such a hard-won, transformational inner process. You have to wonder what fields are still left to have their first gay outings in 2013?
This year, American scientists successfully created embryos from two women and one man for the first time. While so-called "designer babies" are as yet an impossibility, the advance of a three-way embryo finally promises a cure for certain genetic conditions, pending a complete study of potential side effects. Other interesting sex-tech advances include computerized vibrators for long-distance lovers called LovePalz, which give a whole new meaning to the term "hooking up." The vibrators come in pairs for straight, gay or lesbian mutual masturbation action -- synchronized over an Internet connection so the device mirrors your partner's actual movement. Also TrueCompanion apparently released Rocky the sex robot this year, a male counterpart to Roxxxy who was released in 2010. Rocky costs around $1500 (an extra $100 for pubic hair) and is programmed to provide indiscriminating men or women with cold, synthetic pleasure.
Why this matters: Innovation often precedes generational trends in sexual health. Science and technology find discoveries in the grey areas beyond the black and white thinking of fundamental morality, and function like sex therapy in this regard. If a person is attracted to a unique style of consensual sex, there is almost always someone willing to fulfill that need. Similarly as there is a demand for healthy embryos, or long-distance vibrators, or sex robots, then there are scientists and developers willing to fulfill these needs. Regardless of the number of people who might object to such innovation on moral grounds, it only takes one inventor to change the course of history.
A married father of two was awarded $255,824 in compensation after a prescribed drug turned him into a compulsive "gay sex and gambling addict." In his claim against a British pharmaceutical company, Didier Jambart of France revealed he started taking Requip to treat Parkinson's disease and within two years had developed an "uncontrollable passion" for gay sex and gambling. During this period, he attempted suicide eight times. When he discovered a website that linked the drug with hypersexuality, he stopped the medication and apparently this stopped his uncharacteristic compulsions. In other legal news, former Penn State assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky was sentenced to at least 30 years for child sex abuse. While sexual assault charges were dropped against Dominique Strauss-Kahn last year, this year he came under investigation for "aggravated pimping" and alleged involvement in a prostitution ring.
Why this matters: More and more, the terminology of sex addiction is gaining legitimacy in the courtroom. For a court to recognize gay sex addiction as a potential side effect of a medication has certain ramifications and raises many questions. To what degree does brain chemistry account for behavior? Under what circumstances might a person be absolved for their behavior? This is a core argument with sex addiction -- such as, is a sex addict responsible for sexual acting out? In treatment, the answer is usually yes, any addict must take responsibility for their behavior, and also yes, they are powerless over the addiction that drives that behavior, and require medical, therapeutic, or 12-Step intervention to recover. What do you think drives sexually compulsive behavior, what's the difference between a sex addict and a sex offender, and is any of this treatable?
Sex in the media is nothing new, but there were several important works that explored sexual issues, advanced sexual freedoms, and stimulated sexual frenzy this year. In film, The Sessions showed us naked therapy sessions between a paraplegic and a sex surrogate, drawn from a moving real life story. In television, The New Normal broke new ground for prime-time broadcast TV with a gay couple at the forefront who invite the surrogate mother of their child and her family into their home. And in books, 50 Shades of Grey presented explicit BDSM erotica between a student and a wealthy entrepreneur, while setting the record as the fastest-selling paperback of all time.
Why this matters: Many decry sex in the media as the cause of loose morals but truthfully, many people rely on entertainment as their primary source of sexual education. How else would most people learn about sex surrogacy, or show people that anyone and everyone is deserving and capable of sexual intimacy and expression as in The Sessions? We've referred clients to sex surrogates here in Los Angeles, and while the therapeutic process is more involved than presented in the film, still the scenes of careful sexual exploration captured glimpses of the healing process, albeit in Hollywood style. And where else might Middle America watch two attractive daddies kiss and cuddle in bed reciting dialogue at turns cutting, clichéd, eye-rolling, or hilarious - just like their straight counterparts - but on The New Normal? LGBT characters are steadily becoming more visible and familiar, and two male leads in bed might be the final frontier. Finally sales don't lie - many, many people are sexually curious and titillated by erotic exploration as evidenced by the popularity of 50 Shades of Grey, irrespective of the writing quality. Apparently rope sales, as well as libidos, were on the rise this year.
The World Health Organization (WHO) and the Center for Disease Control (CDC) announced early this summer that gonorrhea outside the U.S. had become resistant to all but one class of antibiotics, raising concerns of potential mutation into an untreatable "superbug." Gonorrhea is the second most commonly reported infectious disease in the U.S., infecting an estimated 700,000 Americans a year and 106 million people worldwide.
Why this matters: Could this become the epidemic of the 21st century? Men and women infected with gonorrhea often show no symptoms, and are unaware of transmitting the disease. If left untreated, gonorrhea can cause infertility and infections that spread to other areas of the body, including the brain and heart. Gonorrhea increases susceptibility to HIV infection. People can protect themselves by being monogamous and practicing safe sex using condoms for vaginal and anal intercourse, as well as for oral intercourse (the first known case of this superbug involved pharyngeal or throat gonorrhea.) If you haven't got the memo by now, condoms aren't just a precaution against pregnancy and HIV. By absolute necessity, safe sex and the awareness of personal and partner sexual health must be a way of life.
The Oregon Supreme Court ordered the release of 20 years worth of secret documents kept by the Boy Scouts of America, known internally as the "perversion files." 14,5000 pages of records were opened in October revealing a widespread, systematic effort by organization officials to cover up allegations of child sexual abuse against 1,800 scout leaders. Records show that about one third of the sexual abuse cases weren't ever reported to local law enforcement. While most of the reported offenders were barred from the Boy Scouts, there were still many pedophiles to continue in their position at the request of community leaders or Scout officials. Tellingly, there's scant information about any care shown toward children molested, the primary focus in the files concerns saving the face of the Boy Scouts of America.
Why this matters: This was the year the Boy Scouts reaffirmed their gay ban blocking "open and avowed homosexuals" from membership, leadership, or employment. 300 Eagle Scouts returned their badges in protest. It seems the Boy Scouts ban doesn't apply to their secret pedophiles and enablers. First the Catholic Church, then Penn State, now the Boy Scouts. There's an increasingly evident correlation when the leaders who perpetuate institutional homophobia are the same leaders covering up sex crimes. This brings to mind the gay bully trying to ward off his own homosexual tendencies with every outward attack, but on a massive scale. It's a societal sickness, the terrible consequences from denying the integrity and inclusion of LGBT sexuality.
Mitt Romney made waves when he referred to "binders of women" describing his efforts to find qualified women for posts. In another year, the casual remark may have slipped unnoticed but too many sexist cases had amassed. The Komen controversy set the tone as the world's largest breast cancer charity announced in January it would no longer fund breast cancer screenings by Planned Parenthood. Pundits and public opinion asserted Komen had bowed to political pressure in the so-called "war on women," with Planned Parenthood a key target. Komen reversed course purging many top staff, but not before permanently damaging their mission and reputation. In related news, Wisconsin governor Scott Walker repealed his state's Equal Pay Enforcement Act and signed into law a bill forcing doctors to meet three times with patients before prescribing the medical abortion pill or be subject to felony charges. Congress voted on the Blunt amendment to allow exemptions for employers to refuse contraception coverage for their female employees. The amendment was defeated, but not before Republican Congressman Darrell Issa convened a memorably stacked all-male panel to discuss female sexual health coverage, disallowing the inclusion of the sole proposed female, Sandra Fluke, a law student whom Rush Limbaugh infamously called a "slut" and "prostitute." In 2012, fierce opposition by conservative Republicans contributed to Congress' failure to renew the Violence Against Women Act of 1994.
Why this matters: We look around the world and witness so much violence against women. One in four women has experienced domestic violence in her lifetime. The human race isn't made up of men and women, we're a people. Most of us wouldn't define ourselves by genitals or chromosomes, so why the war on women? The trauma of misogyny is an inherited and inbred trait, and who knows if it first emerges from within the individual or from without via the culture. Relational dysfunction affects us all as individuals, and it's no wonder our personal relationships often lack balance and reciprocity when our leaders can be so divisive and punishing in their legislative tactics and power plays.
Hypersexual Disorder was rejected this year by the American Psychiatric Association (APA) for their "bible" of mental health, the fifth version of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual (DSM-5). The deciding board cited the inability to make uniform assessments, while critics of Hypersexual Disorder have falsely accused supporters of creating a fake condition for profit or to enforce sex-negative morality. It's hard to know what role the fierce politics played in the APA's decision, but the lack of diagnostic inclusion will have ramifications for decades. The APA is no stranger to flawed decisions -- in fact, homosexuality was listed as a mental disorder as late as 1974 when it was controversially modified to "ego dystonic homosexuality" or unwanted homosexual arousal until 1986 when the diagnosis was removed entirely. "Shell Shock," known today as PTSD, was dismissed as cowardice in 1915 and took 65 years to gain legitimacy in the DSM-3.
Why this matters: The exclusion of Hypersexual Disorder or any comparable diagnosis in the DSM-5 not only prevents insurance coverage to treat sexually compulsive behavior, but also crucial funding for further research leaving therapists without tools for improved assessments. In stark contrast, sex addiction continues to proliferate due to ever-evolving technological accessibility, while the psychological health of our culture has also evolved so that sexually addicted behaviors are no longer as emotionally tolerable to addicts and partners as times past, irrespective of morality. Certified Sex Addiction Therapy (CSAT) or Advanced Training in Problematic Sexual Behavior (ATPSB) are specialized fields, and all bona-fide sex addiction therapists could have lucrative careers at the identical pay rate as non-sex addiction therapists (as their detractors often do.) A sex addiction therapist continues to pay for education, even after certification. Unlike other therapies, sex addiction treatment is typically short term or else it's not working. The idea that financial opportunism or moralistic ideology created the field of sex addiction flies in the face of the real state of affairs, and ignores the devastating effects on those who are most suffering.
Several men filed lawsuits against actor John Travolta alleging sexual assault and similar crimes. In May, separate lawsuits were filed by a masseur in Beverly Hills and a masseur in Atlanta claiming in explicit detail how he exposed himself and inappropriately touched them. According to one claim, Travolta had been banned from a Los Angeles spa for similar behavior. Both men dropped their lawsuits later that month. In June, a third man filed an assault-and-battery claim against the actor for a 2009 alleged incident on a cruise ship where Travolta purportedly dropped his bathrobe, propositioned the man, and rubbed up against him. A masseur in New York and a gym employee made similar claims to the press. And in December, his former personal pilot filed a lawsuit claiming he was threatened by John Travolta's representatives after disclosing details in August of an alleged 6-year romantic relationship with the actor. Travolta's attorney dismissed every single one of these claims as opportunistic attempts "to get 15 minutes of fame."
Why this matters: Who can know the truth behind closed doors in Hollywood? Exhibitionism is certainly not a victimless crime. Sex addiction is a progressive disease, which many times involves greater and greater risk-taking that may bring shame and ruin on the individual and their family. People in power too often use sexuality as a form of intimidation, perhaps as an unconscious method to process their own feelings of debilitation. The all-too-common desperation of almost getting caught and covering up sexual compulsion prevents recovery for a very treatable condition, and can even become a ritualized aspect of the addictive cycle.
Tragically the day after the Tampa Bay Times published Gretchen Molannen's personal account of living with Persistent Genital Arousal Disorder (PGAD), she committed suicide. Multiple stories broke this year about women who suffer from PGAD, which can result in hundreds of orgasms each day caused by the slightest friction. In August, Kim Ramsey from New Jersey spoke out to The Sun about her condition. The documentary 100 Orgasms a Day aired in the UK in September, featuring Rachel from Atlanta who revealed at times experiencing orgasms every 30 seconds for up to eight hours.
Why this matters: Thousands of women are estimated to suffer from this condition, an offshoot of Vulvodynia or chronic pelvic pain. Chronic sexual pain affects men and women of all sexualities and backgrounds. Like many sexual afflictions, PGAD is not recognized currently as an official condition by the medical community, but should be included in the DSM-5 (see above.) Any sexual dysfunction, disorder or condition has real physical or psychological causes that can be treatable but many people lack comprehensive healthcare or are too fearful, embarrassed, or repressed to seek out professional help, and so suffer the sometimes uncomfortable, sometimes heartbreaking, sometimes deadly consequences.
In December, Germany's lower court passed a ban on bestiality - making sex with animals, the "pimping" of animals, or training animals for sex with humans a punishable crime with a $31,000 fine. Why would this even be necessary? Apparently since the Animal Welfare Act of 1969, bestiality laws have been off the books and recently so-called "erotic zoos" or "animal brothels" have been setting up shop where "people can visit to abuse animals ranging from llamas to goats" according to The Daily Telegraph. A bestiality group called Zoophile Engagement for Tolerance and Information (ZETA) announced plans to mount a legal challenge. According to the group Veterinarians Against Zoophilia, thousands of Germans exchange information online about sex with animals.
Why this matters: People who have sex with animals are psychologically disturbed individuals. Typically attachment disorders or relational trauma are involved, the arousal template may involve replaying the emotions of traumatic events at crucial stages in sexual development. Like pedophilia, bestiality (or "zoophilia") is always non-consensual because a child or an animal does not have the comprehension, capacity, or foresight to make informed choices involving sexual activity. That various conservatives compare homosexuality to pedophilia or bestiality indicates they do not have a moral or legal concept of a "consensual relationship," which must be somewhat unsettling on some level for their companions.
In political sex scandals, Tennessee Republican Congressman Scott DesJarlais was re-elected this year on a pro-life and "traditional marriage" platform, despite a woman's claims that he pressured her into having an abortion as the result of an extramarital affair. The week after his victory, a judge ordered the release of his divorce transcript revealing the fact that he had multiple affairs with patients and co-workers at his medical practice, as well, he supported his wife to have two abortions. In a recent radio interview, DesJarlais disclosed that "God has forgiven me." This was the year of the Secret Service scandal involving prostitutes in Colombia, multiple sex scandals in China, and the Jimmy Savile scandal in the UK involving a vast conspiracy from government officials (allegedly including a former prime minister) to BBC network execs who covered up possibly hundreds of cases of child sexual abuse committed by the popular children's entertainer who died in 2011. The Petreaus scandal, which dominated the airwaves in November and effected the resignation of the CIA director after the revelation of an extra-marital affair, seemed tame by comparison.
Why this matters: There are always political sex scandals. These sex scandals too often involve conservative politicians acting against professed values, sometimes directly counter to their political platform. For whatever reason, it seems liberal politicians are forced from office, while conservative politicians find "forgiveness from God" and continue to enforce policies that belie their increasingly hypocritical positions. Hypocrisy is a societal affliction that begins as a familial complex. When caretakers practice double standards ("do as I say not as I do") this creates confusion and resentment in children, who often struggle to reconcile the rules with the reality. In extreme case, these children will grow up to either perpetrate or tolerate extreme acts of hypocrisy.
In small-town sex scandals, Paul Babue is the conservative, anti-immigrant Republican Sheriff of Pinal County, Arizona. He's the youngest sheriff in Arizona, and last year was named the National Sheriff of the Year by the National Sheriff's Association. In 2011, he formed an exploratory committee to run for Congress, but those plans were dashed when his undocumented Mexican immigrant boyfriend of ten years publicly outed him during a bad breakup, accusing Babeu of threatening him with deportation. This November, he was re-elected Sheriff for a second term. In another small-town scandal, the City Commissioner of Boynton Beach, Florida, a Democrat named Marlene Ross, resigned from office when an investigation became public after she alleged a lobbyist had blackmailed her to change her votes or he'd reveal her sexual relationship with a first cousin, a convicted felon.
Why this matters: The issues that play out in small towns are the same issues that plague the national stage. Most of us will never know what it's like to be embroiled in public controversy, but we all have work to do around defining and living up to our true values. There's a common saying in recovery that "if you spot it, you got it." From the outside, these stories seem so unthinkably corrupt, almost clichéd. A leading anti-immigration sheriff is having a gay affair with an undocumented immigrant? Wha- ? Rather than pointing fingers, these examples are opportunities to recognize the way we all play by different rules and make exceptions that may compromise our professed values in order to get what we want. Personal sexual health doesn't involve wagging fingers to shame others. The more we identify with others in thoughtful empathy, the more we will heal what's blocked in our own sexual energy.
William H. Masters III, the son of famous sex researcher Dr. William H. Masters of Masters & Johnson, in May was arrested for masturbating in Central Park, and again for indecent exposure in September. His neighbors described him as a "warm, sensitive, compassionate person." In similar news, Jason Russell of Invisible Children and KONY 2012 was arrested for public indecency in March, actor Fred Willard was arrested for masturbating in an adult theater in July, and actor Nick Stahl was arrested for investigation of lewd conduct in a private booth at a porno store this past week. Less-prominent cases included a man arrested for breaking and entering in order to masturbate to online porn, a woman arrested for masturbating at a Starbucks, and a man arrested after caught hiding beneath a trailer for a week masturbating while secretly videotaping a mother and her children as they undressed. Of course, there are many stories of this nature every year.
Why this matters: These sexual perpetrators include well-known, well-liked personalities -- the son of one of the top sex experts in history! If convicted, most crimes of this nature require registering as a sex offender for life. Why do these people risk their livelihood, families and reputations for sexual gratification, and not exactly erotic-sounding sexual gratification at that? How do we help anyone recover from clear signs of sexual addiction, when there is so much denial that it even exists?
In April, Mao Sugiyama auctioned off his severed genitals, which he cooked and served at a banquet for $250 a plate in Tokyo. A self-described "asexual," Sugiyama underwent elective genital-removal surgery in March and kept the body parts on ice. He announced the auction in a tweet: "... I am offering my male genitals (full penis, testes, scrotum) as a meal for 100,000 yen ...Will prepare and cook as the buyer requests, at his chosen location." Although Sugiyama carefully followed all laws, there was even a licensed food preparer in the kitchen, he has been charged by authorities with indecent exposure.
Why this matters: Many people identify as asexual or agender (respectively the lack of sexual interest/orientation or gender identity.) Although perfectly valid, this is not a sexual realm that is easily understood, and it's possible this feast of amputated sex organs plays into a certain shock and horror about the sexuality. Sugiyama has referred to his event as a performance intended to raise awareness about "sexual minorities, x-gender, asexual people." But many people might not see past the cannibalism.
A Hong Kong tycoon offered $65 million to the man who could successfully woo and marry his daughter. Sounds almost like a common fairy tale plot, right? Except that his daughter, a lesbian, already eloped with her wife to France this year. In a similar story of financial exploitation, a documentary filmmaker paid over $20,000 to two young adults to auction off their virginity online. The first, a Brazilian 20-year-old woman, sold her viriginity for $780,000, while her 23-year-old male counterpart from Russia sold his virginity for $3000.
Why this matters: To objectify and sexualize people, particularly women or young adults, cannot help but result in relational disconnection. Although Gigi Chao, the lesbian bride, publicly supported her father's actions referring to them as "sweet," the outdated offer of a marriage dowry comes with complications, especially as a manipulative attempt to change a daughter's sexual orientation. Marriage bounties are a widespread problem in many countries where women have little rights or recourse. The dream of amassing money in exchange for something as simple as sex, love or marriage reveals how little value sex, love or marriage have to offer many people whose early models may have thwarted worthy ideals.
So there are people who post so-called "creepshots" to the Internet as a hobby. They take voyeurisitic photos, mostly of women unaware. There was a forum on Reddit called CreepShots devoted to images of women uploaded without their knowledge or consent. Reddit has banned CreepShots and similar subReddits called CreepyShots and CreepSquad. On Tumblr, a blog called Predditors was created that started posting personal information about CreepShot contributors. As a result, a financial services employee was fired from his job within 24 hours after being exposed as a CreepShot troll. A teacher was fired from his job for posting CreepShots of his underage students.
Why this matters: According to the FBI, voyeurs are likely to demonstrate some characteristics that are common among serious sexual offenders. Certain voyeuristic fantasies, urges and behaviors are listed in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders as a paraphilia. Like exhibitionism, voyeurism isn't a victimless crime. In the U.S., voyeurism laws are related to invasion of privacy laws, but can be difficult to prosecute. Video voyeurism, secretly filming sexual acts or nudity with a hidden camera, is an offense in nine states and may require the convicted person to register as a sex offender. It's possible a correlation exists between the availability of hardcore online porn and the increase in voyeuristic activities that objectify women.
Hollywood couples who called it splitsville in 2012 included Kristen Stewart and Robert Pattinson, Rhea Perlman and Danny DeVito, Will Arnett and Amy Poehler, Heidi Klum and Seal, Katy Perry and Russel Brand, and Glee's fictional gay couple Klaine, which sent tweens spinning.
Why this matters: Relationships are challenging. They require work, attention, and care. But all the right action in the world is no guarantee for matrimonial bliss. Of these notable breakups, the reaction of Twilight star Kristen Stewart was most remarkable. US Weekly photographed the 26-year-old actress in a secret rendezvous with a 41-year-old married man, her Snow White and the Huntsman director. Within hours Steward issued a public apology confessing to the affair, causing a predictable media frenzy. According to current statistics, 60 percent of men and 40 percent of women become involved in extra marital affairs. Healthy intimacy requires transparency. In this age of denial patterns playing out with every scandal, it's a little surprising to witness anyone on the public stage accept responsibility for their actions.
The so-called "Buff Stop" park in the Castro District of San Francisco started attracting public nudity activists soon after its creation in 2010, becoming the first non-beach, urban clothing optional park in America. As a result of increased complaints, the city's Board of Supervisors voted for a city-wide public nudity ban (prompting a "nude-in" as demonstrators stripped in the board chambers at City Hall.) The mayor is expected to sign the ordinance, which doesn't apply to street fairs, parades or other permitted public events. In somewhat related news, grainy snaps surfaced of a naked Prince Harry playing strip billiards in Las Vegas, soon followed by topless photos of Kate Middleton sunbathing at a French chateau. Royal controversies ensued.
Why this matters: Nudity is a most basic attribute. We love our bodies, we hate our bodies. We adorn, expose, bind, flaunt, and hide our naked bodies. It might seem impossible to separate nudity with sexuality, but they are different aspects of our humanity worth exploring. It's true, the immature attitude toward nudity in our culture is easily evidenced. And it's understandable not everyone wants to share a subway seat with a sweaty ass. What's your own nude 'tude?
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