America's War on Sex

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If you’re uncomfortable about blacks, you’re racist; uncomfortable about Jews, you’re anti-Semitic. But today, if you're uncomfortable about sex, you're a civic leader.
—Chapter 8, "Battleground: Adult Entertainment — Feverish Dreams, Real Estate Nightmares"[1]

America's War on Sex: The Attack on Law, Lust and Liberty is a 2006 book by sex therapist Marty Klein.Wikipedia's W.svg It describes the sustained efforts of the American Religious Right to eradicate and outlaw all forms of sexual activity other than vaginal intercourse between married couples,[note 1] and details their effectiveness in conditioning the American population's attitude towards sex — and directly threatening secular democracy — over the last several decades. The book contains over 400 footnotes documenting and supporting the arguments made by Klein. 

Summary[edit]

You're the Target: Why a War on Sex?[edit]

This introductory chapter describes, in general terms, the ways in which the Religious Right and its supporters have framed the debate to give the illusion that they are championing legitimate causes such as families, "morality", protecting Americans, protecting the children etc., when these are nothing but smokescreens for the titular War on Sex: even the use of words and phrases such as "culture war" paint a false equivalence between two very unequal sides, one of which (the "erotophobes") is aiming to remove the choice and agency of the other side (the "erotophiles"), who are not trying to encroach on anyone's agency and simply wish to be left to live as they see fit. The author emphasizes that anyone who enjoys, engages with, or experiments with sex in any shape or form is a prime target for the erotophobes.

Battleground: Sex Education: Where Children Come Second[edit]

Children are described as prime fodder for the anti-sex camp, who paint themselves as the ones who fight to keep kids "pure" and protect them from the evil, unwholesome influence of sex education, and who, through such means, are actually the ones harming children. Among other things, Klein deconstructs  abstinence-only sex education and the potential effects of withholding from adolescents important knowledge about their own bodies and sexuality, and shows how much more of a challenge the ideology of "virginity-until-marriage" is in this day and age than it was in bygone eras that enjoyed later puberty and had earlier marriage ages.

The Most Powerful "Minority" in the United States[edit]

This chapter delves into the widespread persecution complex of the powerful Religious Right, who engage in a variety of DARVO tactics to paint themselves as being oppressed by the evil gays, kinksters, transgender folks, or anyone who uses birth control.

Battleground: Reproductive Rights[edit]

Klein describes the absurdity of those who care about whether or not strangers use condoms or other forms of birth control, and their pathological obsession with the idea that "birth control causes promiscuity" and that the only legitimate purpose of sex is procreation, demonstrating how all this is yet another excuse for controlling the sex lives of everyone else.

The Sexual Disaster Industry[edit]

Klein gives an account of how the anti-sex forces — including conservative religious groups, "morality" organisations, government and lawmakers, and even daytime talk shows — work together as an industry to condition Americans to fear sexuality, while demonizing those who protest this.

Battleground: Broadcast Indecency[edit]

This chapter explores the moral guardian behaviour of those who do not wish you to be exposed to television content that they find personally offensive, such as sexual themes, nudity, and profanity: to wit, pretty much everything on TV. Once again, they justify their stance through alleging that it "corrupts" viewers.

Yes They Really Said That[edit]

A collection of demonstrative quotes from certain politicians, lawmakers and celebrities showcasing the phenomena that have been described so far.

Battleground: Adult Entertainment — Feverish Dreams, Real Estate Nightmares[edit]

Klein explores the puritans' crusade against their fellow citizens' recreational activities falling into the "adult entertainment" sector.

How They Do It: Ammunition in the War on Sex[edit]

An exploration of the tactics used by the anti-sex camp, which includes dishonest fearmongering, cash flow and policy collusion between religious groups and the government, self-promotion as the voice of morality, specific framing of the debate through loaded language etc.

Battleground: The Internet[edit]

An account of how the internet — just like all past innovations in communication — has been used for sexual purposes, as well as being co-opted as a tool in the War On Sex.

America Does Not Guarantee Your Right to Be Comfortable: The Lowest Common Erotic Denominator[edit]

A discussion of the push to remove even oblique references to sexuality from public spaces, with the bogus idea of a "right to be protected from discomfort" being used to trample legitimate rights.

Battleground: The War on Pornography[edit]

Klein describes how, among other things, the push to restrict pornography has been driven by a disinformation campaign that has been supported not only by the usual Religious Right suspects, but also by journalists, feminists (read: SWERFs) and ostensible left-wingers.  

Extreme Religion and Public Policy[edit]

The illegitimate incursion of religious premises into lawmaking, despite this being in direct violation of the US Constitution, is described, as is the extent to which the anti-sex zealots attempt to trample on the individual rights of others.

Battleground: Sexual Privacy and Sexual Minorities — Civil Rights or Immoral Privileges?[edit]

This chapter explores the ways in which an individual's rights (e.g. custody of children, inheritance etc.) hinge on bogus factors such as sexual orientation, and basically summarises the systematic oppression of LGBT people.

Revolutionizing American Government: Bad News for Democracy[edit]

A summary of how demonization, shame and the fear of exposure prevent large numbers of people from protesting the trampling on their sexual rights by the anti-sex brigade, making it all the easier for the latter to undermine democracy itself.

Reception[edit]

The book was awarded the title of Best Sexuality Book of 2006 by the American Association of Sexuality Educators, Counselors and Therapists,Wikipedia's W.svg[2] and has received endorsements from numerous high-profile figures such as Pepper Schwartz,Wikipedia's W.svg Lawrence G. Walters,Wikipedia's W.svg Susie Bright,Wikipedia's W.svg Robert T. FrancoeurWikipedia's W.svg and Barry W. Lynn.Wikipedia's W.svg[3] A review by author Darrel RayWikipedia's W.svg in The Humanist, reposted on the blog of Hemant Mehta, chillingly observes that "Reading America's War on Sex, you may find that you're actually buying into the religious right's strategies, enabling them to undermine your own sexual rights."[4] Lance Eaton writes that "Guilt, fear, and shame are the tactics of erotophobes, and Klein puts forth positive reinforcement, facts, and explanations in response."[5] while in the aftermath of Donald Trump's election in 2016, Niyati Evers and Robert King write that "Essentially, (Klein) argues that governmental interference and authoritarian control into our private lives is ongoing and a socio-culturally sanctioned, eroto-phobic war with our most intimate impulses. If you think it’s been rough sledding so far, given the current election results, you ain't seen nothing yet."[6]

See also[edit]

External links[edit]

Notes[edit]

  1. Preferably in missionary position, fully clothed, and with the lights off.

References[edit]