Alex Blaze

The angel/whore dichotomy, sexual regulation, and Bob Allen's Florida

Filed By Alex Blaze | November 19, 2007 3:08 PM | comments

Filed in: Politics, The Movement
Tags: Bob Allen, Florida, GLBT, LGBT, perverts, public sex, sexual regulation, sexual risk, sluts, STD screening

Florida Republican state rep. Bob Allen was sentenced Friday for his bathroom sex solicitation:

Friday he was sentenced to serve six months of probation. He must pay a $250 fine, court costs and $245 restitution to Titusville Police Department.

Allen also was ordered to undergo testing for HIV and other STDs, complete a class in HIV awareness class and to stay away from the park where he was arrested.

risk.jpgOK, let's see, he has to pay about five-hundred dollars, do six months of probation, stay away from that park... and get an STD screening? What? For trying to give a blow job that never happened? Hmmmm.... I wonder if what's going on here has less to do with stopping those annoying people who harass people in public for sex and protecting public health than it does with heteropatriarchal repression of people who express their sexuality outside of the petty rules we make to punish people we don't like....

Don't get me wrong here: I'm absolutely supportive of everyone who's sexually active getting an STD (not just HIV) screening every six months, and more often if they're involved in sex work or think they need it. But the government simply doesn't require everyone who's sexually active to get screened for STD's on a regular basis, it picks out certain ones to force into it. And, for some reason, Bob Allen was picked out.

The activity that he's accused of soliciting never actually happened. And what he said he wanted from the police officer, to give a blow job, isn't really all that risky in the grand scheme of sexuality. The chart above shows the various risks that people take when engaging in different sex acts, and giving a blow job is far less risky than either vaginal or anal sex when it comes to STD transmission. And besides the fact that the relative risk is small, the fact that he was going to pay for oral sex or the fact that he was going to perform it in public don't change the risk involved. Someone giving a blow job at home is just as at risk as someone doing it in the woods, and someone bottoming bareback at home with someone they met online is taking a far greater risk than someone who pays to give a hustler a blow job. And yet it's the public blow job that never happened that's risky enough to elicit a state-mandated STD screening.

What's really at work here is not public health, it's the regulation of sexuality. Bob Allen broke one of the rules (not just the unwritten sort against gay sex, but real laws!), expressed a desire for a demonized sort of sex (prostitution, public sex, and, not one of the written rules but definitely important here, gay sex), and now he's a dirty, dirty slut who needs to be rehabilitated.

But the guise of public health advocacy gets used often just to regulate sexuality. Sometimes it's obvious, like Paul Cameron's erroneous gay life span studies and abstinence-only advocates that don't care at all about giving teens the tools they need to make responsible decisions but worry oh so much about how they're going to get diseases, and sometimes it's subtle, like banning birth control because it "hurts women's health" or believing that STD's are spread by vague, fantastic hobgoblins. But it's always first and last about punishing sex we don't like and separating those sluts and perverts who express desire publicly from the rest of us good, decent people and always ends up putting more people at risk by taking away the tools people need to protect themselves and short-circuiting thought processes that have the potential to lead to real solutions.

It sounds a lot nicer to be against STD's than it does to be against sex. The Religious Right and others who would control how everyone uses their genitalia if they could have to maintain a front that they're actually doing something beneficial instead of living in an egocentric world where they can have fun making rules for others. And, in the end, sentencing Bob Allen to an STD screening is another piece of that facade.

(Chart via lifelube)

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I couldn't agree more. This forced testing is simply another way to reaffirm the underlying belief that gay sex is dirty and disease ridden.

I wonder if Senator Vitter, who admitted to using a female prostitution service, is required to get STD testing...

While i think a lot of public health dogma is political vaccinations and such. I would have to remind you that soliciting for sex is a crime in most states and in nearly every city, including DC.

The problem as i see it is there are a number of you who see this as no big deal but you are not doing anything politically to change the laws. Why is that Alex?

I would be in favor if legal sex work as long as the sex workers and their customers paid for the STD testing and not the State. Testing every six months is not going to be good enough to stem (not prevent) the spread of STD's you would have to have mandatory testing every week. On top of that you would have to have a list of clients with contact information so they could be notified when their temporary partner turned up infected.

As you can see i am not a fan of casual sex, casual sex accounts for 95% of spread of STD's.

Like it or not long term birth contrail pill use is harmful to women, but hay men don't give a damned they wouldn't use male birth control pills if they were available anyway. Even an IUD in some women has harmful effects in the long term.

I hate to be the one to tell you this but perhaps the concept of sex as a hobby needs to be rethought.

What a concept eh....

Good posting,

Take care
Susan Robins

Don't worry, Sue, I have another hobby that keeps me from having too much sex: blogging!

I hate to be the one to tell you this but perhaps the concept of sex as a hobby needs to be rethought.

Sue, you say some funny shit sometimes.

Anyway, good post Alex. It's a difficult to believe Allen's sentencing was out of a general concern for stopping the spread of HIV considering that, had he been jailed for this offense, Allen would be denied access to condoms.

i seem to have touched a nerve, don't worry my heterosexual friends get the same diatribe on recreational sex. In the wild STD's among animals serves as a way of limiting the dominance of a particular genetic makeup amongst a given species. This prevents disease from wiping out one species by providing opportunities other genetic variations to compete. Be that as it may and considering we as humans have no mastery whatsoever over disease we shall save that for another time....

I am really curious Alex;
how would you propose to make a safe environment for both sex workers and their Johns (Janes)?

because when given the choice between Good health and Cheap thrills; Good health wins out every time as far as i am concerned.

Take care

Susan Robins

This post wasn't really about prostitution at all, but I'm game. As one individual, I don't have all the answers to that question, but a few ideas would include providing free STD screening for sex workers and free condoms and lubricant, providing condoms and STD screenings in prisons for the John/Janes/Sex workers who get locked up now, educating people about safer sex (comprehensively), giving people the tools for open discussion of sex and sexuality related issues, legalizing, decriminalizing, and destigmatizing sex work, training police officers to be responsive to the needs of sex workers, fighting against greater sexism, homophobia, transphobia, and sex-phobia, and ensuring that all people's basic needs (food, shelter, etc.) are met.

I know, it's a lot more work than forcing people who talk about blow jobs in the wrong way to get STD screenings, but it might actually help people in the end.

Hi Alex,

I understand however you did mention sex workers and I feel that like other social issues it’s not enough to just state things should be changed. My problem with a lot of what you and others have stated the “government” should do is I am part of that government. I don’t feel I should have to pay for the maintenance and upkeep of sex workers let them pay for it through licensing fees. If sex workers want to work as sex workers then let them pay for the bureaucracy to support a reasonably safe form of their activity. In other words if the sex workers want to legitimatize an illegal activity we have a way of doing that in this country through the licensing process. You have to understand a license is a document that legalizes what is otherwise an illegal act, such as driving a car. In this country the drivers support the roads, I don’t because I don’t drive or currently own a car. As a car owner I supported the highway system through the taxes I paid even though I didn’t have a driver’s license. The point I am making is I should not have to support the sex workers or sex education for that matter. That should be the job of those who engage in casual sex through the use of paid sex workers.

The business of sex education should be shared by parents who have children in schools, those of us have put our children through school should be let off the hook for all education costs including sex education. The people of this country shouldn’t be held responsible for the excesses of a few I hate to sound hard hearted however if people had to pay their own way for their actions there would be more restraint in among members of society then there is now. If a person had to pay the cost of caring for a person they passed an STD on to then perhaps that sex education would be more effective then it is. You would see less bare backing then you do these days, you would see fewer people accepting oral sex from their casual partners. I have to ask you Alex why should I have to pay for the casual sex of others when I have been careful

This country was founded as a republic where the individual is responsible for His or Her actions not the country as a whole.

These are the hard questions that need to be answered before sex work can be legal as far as I and others are concerned.

Take care,
Susan Robins