Sheila S. Kennedy

Fear of Fucking

Filed By Sheila S. Kennedy | August 01, 2006 12:25 PM | comments

Filed in: Marriage Equality, Politics, The Movement
Tags: abstinence education, feminism, Plan B

This morning, the Indianapolis Star ran an article suggesting that the FDA might retreat from its insistence that access to "Plan B"--the morning-after pill--be only by prescription. The agency "might" allow women over 18 to purchase it over the counter, despite deep concerns that its ready availability might "encourage promiscuity."

And I thought the Food and Drug Administration was supposed to decide whether food and drugs were safe--not whether their use was moral. Silly me!

A feminist blogger I often read says it's a mistake to look at the right-wing "family values" attacks on gays, abortion, "pornography," "non-traditional" families and the like as separate issues; at base, she says, what these people are against is sex, sexuality, and anything that smacks of acceptance of the role sex plays in human existence. The fight over Plan B would sure seem to support that analysis.

The blogger's explanation for this war on sex (she calls it a War on Fucking) is that those waging it are people who have terrible difficulty controlling their own urges, and so they assume that everyone else is having an equally difficult time controlling theirs. (As I've noted elsewhere, this theory may or may not be true, but it sure would help to explain all those child molesting cases involving pastors and choir directors.......). As a result, they live in a state of fear, and they cling tightly to the "eternal verities" provided by highly restrictive religious doctrines and punitive laws, which they see as the only alternative to social disintegration.

This is the real root of support for "abstinence education" rather than accurate and effective sex education, of the campaign against Plan B, and more recently (and incredibly) the opposition to innoculation against cervical cancer. In case you haven't read about this latter controversy, medical scientists have developed a highly effective immunization against cervical cancer. But it must be given to girls before puberty. As the Washington Post recently reported:

A new vaccine that protects against cervical cancer has set up a clash between health advocates who want to use the shots aggressively to prevent thousands of malignancies and social conservatives who say immunizing teenagers could encourage sexual activity...

Groups working to reduce the toll of the cancer are eagerly awaiting the vaccine and want it to become part of the standard roster of shots that children, especially girls, receive just before puberty. But because the vaccine protects against a sexually transmitted virus, many conservatives oppose making it mandatory, citing fears that it could send a subtle message condoning sexual activity before marriage.

This "fear of fucking," is the larger context within which we must understand the ferocious resistance to "legitimizing" gay relationships by allowing same-sex adoptions, marriage or civil unions, even laws protecting gays against discrimination.

To the folks on the Far Right, moral issues are always sexual issues; political honesty, business ethics, charitable works and the like aren't what they mean when they talk about "morality." To them, "morality" means proper sexual behavior (and "proper" usually means no sexual activity.) Because of their single-minded preoccupation with sex, social conservatives don't see the full scope of a human relationship; instead they equate any legal recognition of gays, or any approval of next-day contraception or prepubescent vaccination, with an endorsement of sex.

And an official recognition that people have sex--and maybe even like it--would be terrifying.


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Jeff Newman | August 1, 2006 3:57 PM

Nice post, and I think on the money.

Many are advocating the issue of privacy in the upcoming campaign as a key to perhaps exposing some of this and gaining advantage.

The idea is that most Americans place a high value privacy, with the exception of one group: the Religious Right. To them, privacy means people are having sex and doing other dirty little things.

Sheila, you did it again! You are right on the mark. It's as if we're back living in the Puritan days. These people are no better, conducting their own brand of witch-hunting. I would have thought that some of us were more evolved than that........

Marla R. Stevens | August 2, 2006 2:23 AM

Yes, fear of fucking and the fear of getting out of control is certainly one reason for that. But I think a deeper reason is that a religion based on Biblical inerrancy is the religious equivalent of a house of cards -- if only one is moved/proven untrue, the whole thing comes crashing down. In this case, if people can live happy, healthy lives not following their rigid sexual doctrine, their cards are a house no more.

And, as your friend alluded to, these are not people who can cope with having to live morally by their own devices. They're like cockroaches who are the happier and more secure the tighter the externally dictated, rules-bound morality squeeze they're in. They do not just want their rules to envelop them completely, touching them everywhere possible, they NEED for them to -- sometimes to the point of violence to enforce their delusions.

They are the emotionally stunted ones whose locus of control is external to the extreme because they simply cannot tolerate the Maslovian greys that define a self-actualized adult.

They need rules, tight rules, and lots of them to serve as their emotional small spaces devoid of challenges they just can't handle.

And there can only be one set of them, square-hole-in-round-peg-one-size-never-fits-all-pain-generators-for-far-too-many-notwithstanding-no-matter-how-big-a-lie-it-makes-their-claims-of-compassion, because they just can't handle choices and because choices in and of themselves define inerrancy as errant and down fall the cards, leaving them foundering on their own as so many Jesus fish out of water.

Ellen Andersen | August 2, 2006 10:33 AM

Sheila, I'm teaching a course titled "Sex and Politics" this fall, that's designed to explore the political battles over fucking: who gets to do it with whom; who gets praised for it and who gets condemned (or imprisoned); how society deals with the potential consequences of it (e.g., pregnancy). The morning after pill is a wonderful example of the ways that the spectre of sex colors the ways in which public officials make decisions and even interpret scientific data.

Ditto on the cervical cancer vaccine. Some of the reaction to it has been outrageous (hey, let's expose our daughters to a potentially fatal disease rather than inoculating them against it, because inoculating them might give them the notion that sex is actually acceptable. Because, you know, so many girls refuse to have sex because they fear that they might get cervical cancer 20 years down the line. Yep. Same reason why kids today don't smoke...

On the other hand, there are some other interesting things to note about the cervical cancer vaccine. We're proposing to give it to girls rather than all children, even though women bascically get PPV through sex with men, who transmit the virus to them. Inoculating boys would reduce PPV even further. What's up with that?