The Invisible Web

Your Trip Into the Chapel Perilous

Jesus Loves You — And Your Orgasm

Posted by invizweb on July 10, 2008

Thanks to Ralph Bernardo @ Disinfo

Louis Bayard writes in Salon:

The religious right is celebrating sex to stroke its conservative message. Liberals better rise to a secular defense soon.

July 8, 2008 | “My worst one was right on the money.”

The subject is orgasms. The speaker is pretty clearly a man. (Woody Allen, to be exact.) And the time is just as clearly the late 1970s — that cresting point of sexual liberation when orgasms were an unqualified good, no matter who was having them.

Those really were the days. In our modern times, suggests historian Dagmar Herzog in her new book, “Sex in Crisis,” the twin titans of Viagra and Internet porn have made the orgasm so large an imperative that we can no longer consider ourselves complete without one — which has naturally resulted in making us less likely to achieve one. Today’s man must, at every available moment, be rocking his partner’s world. Today’s woman must demand nothing less than to be rocked.

Small wonder, then, that we have become an anxious nation — forever wondering if we’re having enough sex — or good enough sex. What if our orgasms really aren’t right on the money? “Never have so many Americans,” writes Herzog, “worried so much about whether they really even want sex at all.”

Being a man, I tend to think sex will shrug off this particular slump and come roaring back for next year’s pennant race. But I wonder exactly how many Americans are, as the author claims, on the verge of swearing off coitus. (Is one of them my partner?) Herzog never offers much in the way of hard answers. Which makes the starting thesis of “Sex in Crisis” — that we are in the midst of a “sexual revolution,” or more properly a devolution — look pretty damned soft, even by the loose standards of sociological treatise. The good news: Herzog has a more interesting agenda up her sleeve than critiquing our ejaculations. She wants to anatomize the subtle and unsubtle ways in which the Religious Right (a rubric that, in her cosmos, must always be capitalized) has warped our sexual politics and forced even the most hardened secular humanists to sing from the Christian hymnal.

“For liberals, sex has become the problem that has no name; one simply does not hear liberals articulate a defense of sexual rights. Instead, what we have witnessed is a coalescing of conservative evangelical and mainstream secular perspectives on sex. The conversation on sex in America — when sex is discussed in a serious and earnest way at all — tends largely to adopt the parameters set by the Religious Right.”

Assuming this to be the case, how exactly did it happen? Herzog’s intriguing and deeply researched thesis is that evangelicals, over the last couple of decades, have beaten liberals at their own game by adapting liberal rhetoric for conservative ends.

As recently as 2003, for example, a certain public figure was arguing that voluntary prostitution was “despicable” because it “demeans the value of women” and promotes “the severe degradation and exploitation of women, the literal rape of countless women around the globe.” Was it Andrea Dworkin? Catharine MacKinnon? The correct answer: pro-life Rep. Smith, R-N.J., whose distinctly illiberal purpose was to limit AIDS outreach efforts to prostitutes and sex workers in developing nations.

Read more.

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