Episode 1: Dr. Marty Klein: “America’s War on Sex: The Attack on Law, Lust, and Liberty”
Marty Klein, Phd. - Author of “America’s War on Sex: The Attack on Law, Lust, and Liberty”
This program brought to you by PersonalLifeMedia.com is suitable for mature audiences only and may contain explicit, sexual information.
Chip August: Welcome to Sex, Love and Intimacy. I'm your host, Chip August.
Today's show we're going to be talking to Dr. Marty Klein about public policy, about sex and sexuality. We're going to be talking about sex therapy, what is it and who's it for and how does it work and who benefits from it; and we're just going to be in, general, talking about sex and sexuality today.
Dr. Marty Klein: People never expected to live to be 75 or 80 years old up until recently. People didn't expect to be in love that long until recently. People didn't expect to have hot sex when they were that old until very recently. It's only in the last 30 or 40 years that people expect we're going to be 65 years old, we're going to be together for 40 years, we're going to be monogamous and we're going to have hot sex.
Chip August: Dr. Marty Klein's been a licensed marriage and family counselor and a sex therapist for 26 years. He's aimed his entire career toward a single set of goals: telling the truth about sexuality, helping people feel sexually adequate and powerful, and supporting the healthy sexual expression and exploration of women and men.
Marty's published over 100 articles and he's written six books. He's been an expert witness, consultant and invited defendant in numerous first amendment anti-censorship and family law trials. He's a popular guest on Electronic Media, and a really fascinating guy to talk to.
Welcome, Marty Klein.
Dr. Marty Klein: Hi.
Chip August: Marty, today I hope we're going to talk a little about sex therapy and what you do and what is meant by that and I hope today we're also going to talk a little bit about your work in the public policy arena, and just learn a lot more about human sexuality.
I want to start by just asking you, could you talk a little bit about your work as a sexual therapist, what that is, what it means, who you work with, and that kind of stuff.
Dr. Marty Klein: Well, the way I look at sex therapy, a sex therapist is a therapist, a psycho therapist who's not distracted by sex. So about half of my case load is about sexual issues, such as erection problems and low desire, and people who are concerned about their fantasies, and affairs and things like that; but the truth is, a lot of people who come in who think that they have a sex problem, or who want to talk about sex, sex is not the thing that I really want to focus on with them, because I think that what's really going on with them involves power issues, or low self esteem, or some difficulties that they have with intimacy, or some
incorrect mythology that they have about love or relationships. So I think what a good sex therapist does is not just talk about sex, but also a good sex therapist knows when not to talk about sex, or a good sex therapist knows when to look beyond sexual issues to other more fundamental issues of human relating.
Chip August: When you talk about power, what do you mean exactly?
Dr. Marty Klein: Well, for example, some couples come in and they say, "We don't have sex anymore because, or we fight about sex all the time because I want it in the morning and he wants it at night, and we can't seem to agree on that." And they think that's a sex problem. I don't think that's a sex problem. What I say to that is something like, "Well, when you guys want to go out to dinner, and one of you wants to go out for Italian food and the other wants to go out for Chinese food, how do you make that decision?" Or, "When you're in bed watching tv together, who's got the remote?" So, sometimes when people--when couples have power issues, when couples are, without being aware of it, fighting over who's going to be in control or who's going to feel controlled, sometimes that comes out in sexual stuff. Sometimes it comes out in other ways. But that's a good example of people may think they have a sex problem, whereas I don't think it's a sex problem.
Chip August: So when you're working with people and you're noticing that the problem they're presenting, they talk about it as sex, but you hear problems underneath that, what do you do? How do you help--I mean, do you just get people to talk and talk and talk and hope that something will get better in the conversation? I mean, what really can you do?
Dr. Marty Klein: Well, as we used to say at Planned Parenthood, "Hope is not a method." No, we don't just talk and talk and hope that something happens. I will talk with people and, sort of, get a sense of where we need to go.
I ask people to tell me what their vision is of their relationship that they want to have, or the kind of life experiences that they want to have, because I work with individuals, as well as couples; and I have people talk about how they feel about being stuck where they are, and I have people talk about where they want to be, and then we talk about how to get from here to there; and I have people talk about--or I have people focus sometimes on what are the assumptions that they have about themselves or
about their partner, or about sexuality, or about men or about women; because, as you know, Chip, a lot of people have these stereotypes, say, about men and women. They'll believe things like: well, you know, most women, they really don't want to have sex, or, most men, they really don't want to be intimate, or, relationships, sooner or later, they're more trouble than they're worth, or, sex is really for young people, or, whatever it is; and most people who have those assumptions, either they're not aware of what those assumptions--that they have those assumptions, or, they're not aware of how those assumptions actually affect them in a very practical way. This is not abstract, this is very practical.
So one of the things that we do in sex therapy or couples therapy or psychotherapy is, we focus on, ok, what are some of the beliefs that people have that are keeping them exactly where they are. It would be kind of like, let's say you wanted to run a marathon, but you believed that Jews are never going to be good at athletics, or you wanted to run a marathon but you believed that well, nobody over 30 could really do all that training, or you wanted to run a marathon but you believed that if anybody trains a lot to run a marathon it will, inevitably, get their partner mad at them.
If you believed any of those things, no matter how much you intended to train, no matter how much you yearned to run a marathon, it would be very difficult; and you might not know that you had those beliefs.
So one of the things that I do, and here's where a lot of my training in sociology comes from, I help people notice the assumptions that they have about themselves or sex or women or men that they didn't realize they had and how it affects them.
Chip August: So, in a way, you're saying, seeing isn't believing, believing is seeing, and that as you help people change their beliefs, you actually change their experience of their life?
Dr. Marty Klein: Well, certainly beliefs will shape the way that we see things. If you think that, for example, all women are basically neurotic and whiney and trying to manipulate men, if a woman says, you know, "It's my mother's 80th birthday and I'd really like for us to go to Florida to the birthday party", you may feel like, "Oh, great, I'm really double-binded now". You know, "If I go I'm going to have a lousy time and if I don't go I'm going to have to pay for it." That's not helpful. That would prevent you from negotiating with your partner about, "Ok, I don't want to go, you want me to go, what am I going to do?" Instead you might lapse into hopelessness, or you might go but be hostile about it, or you might refuse to go and then that would cause a big fuss. So the way that people believe the structure of the world is really affects the kinds of decisions that they're able to make; and that's what therapy is all about, it's all about--whether it's about sex or anything else, it's about helping people expand their vocabulary of their decision making.
Chip August: How does someone decide that the problem they have, or the difficulty they're having warrants them coming to a therapist? How do they--I mean, what kinds of--is it just that they get so desperate that they feel like they need you? How does somebody make that decision?
Dr. Marty Klein: Well, in the real world nobody comes to therapy as their first intervention. Most people come to therapy as their last intervention. You know, "I've tried everything else, now I guess I have to go to therapy." That's not necessarily a bad thing.
It would be nice if people who were in the process of destroying their relationships came to therapy a little sooner, so that we had a little bit more to work with. It's kind of like, do you take your car to a mechanic when it first starts making that little grinding noise, or do you wait until you've completely destroyed your engine before going to the car mechanic?
So, in my experience, different people come to therapy at different stages of things. If you really can't figure out what else to do, therapy is certainly a good place to go next, the sooner the better.
What sometimes happens is that one person in a couple wants to go to therapy way before the other one, and that's very sad. When I hear, "I wanted to come to couple's therapy but my wife wouldn't come." Or, "I wanted to come to couple's therapy last year but my husband refused to come", that's kind of sad.
It's sad to think that one person could say to the other, you know, "I really want us to do this because I'm really frightened about what's happening with us", and the other person would say, "Nah, I don't want to do that, it's all your problem." That's kind of sad.
Chip August: I imagine, though, that there's got to be a certain amount of shame associated with--I just notice that anything that has anything to do with sex or sexuality, feels like for a lot of people there's a lot of internal story they have about how they should be and how easy it should be; and it must feel like one of the biggest things you work with is people's shame.
Dr. Marty Klein: That's true. It's really funny that everybody seems to think sex ought to be natural, as if anything else in our lives is natural. Like, listening to a pod cast is so natural (laughs) or driving 75 miles an hour on asphalt is natural. Sex, these days--I mean, sex can't be natural. Sex hasn't been natural for five thousand years.
When you're watching, you know, Britney Spears, you know, without underwear cavorting on the internet, I mean, sex can't be natural. When we're talking about trying to squeeze in 20 minutes of sex in a day where people are working 70 hours a week, sex can't be natural.
So the idea that, "Oh, I'm so pathetic because sex isn't natural for me", or, "What's wrong with me? I can't talk about sex like Dr. Ruth does on television", or whatever, not only is it not a healthful belief, but it's really out of touch. I mean, there is nothing natural about sex in this culture anymore, and that's not necessarily a bad thing, I mean, because we want things out of sex that people didn't want five thousand years ago.
You know, we have, for example, we want to limit the size of our families and we have technology to do that. So that's something that people five hundred years ago, or five thousand years ago, that wasn't a consideration. Or we have these ideas about, "Well, both parties should have an intimate experience." Well, that wasn't the norm in, you know, medieval Germany, or we have this idea that people should communicate during sex. That hasn't always been the case. So, the kinds of--plus, plus we have this idea that 66 year old people should be having great sex. Well, that is certainly not a natural idea.
I've lectured in other countries outside the US. For example, in Morocco, people know that once a woman goes through menopause, well, of course, she's not interested in sex. They think the idea we have here is just kind of silly. So, it's true, Chip, that people do have shame about what's wrong with me that I don't have this great, natural sex life; but the truth is that the cards are stacked against us between the mass media and certain kinds of religious beliefs and certain kinds of ideas about men and women in this culture. I always think it's a miracle that anybody has any kind of a decent sex life.
Chip August: We're going to take a short break to give a chance to give a little support to our sponsors. This is Chip August and I'm talking with Dr. Marty Klein, and we'll be right back.
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Chip August: We're back. I'm Chip August and I'm talking with Dr. Marty Klein, and we're talking about sex and sex therapy and human sexuality; and before we took the break, Marty, we were talking a little bit about people's shame, and what kinds of things people come to you for. I'm just wondering have the problems that people bring to you changed over the years? Has the--are people asking you different things than they were asking you twenty years ago?
Dr. Marty Klein: Well, as you know, I've been doing this work now for 26 years as a therapist and the answer is, for the most part, I don't think that the problems that people are bringing in have changed that much. People are still concerned about erections, people are still concerned about orgasms, people are still concerned about desire. If there are any changes, one of the changes is that there's more people talking about pornography now than were talking about it 25 years ago, partly because with the internet, pornography is so much easier to access, and people feel more comfortable talking about it, whether as a
good thing or a bad thing; and people are more concerned now about, so-called porn addiction, or sex addiction or love addiction, none of which I personally find to be helpful categories, but--so people are talking about that, which they weren't talking about it 25 years ago because it hadn't been invented.
Patrick Carnes, a prison psychologist, invented the term "sex addiction" back in the mid 80s; and Patrick himself, I was on a panel with him, he admits that he has no training in human sexuality. So he invented sex addiction in the mid 80s. So when I was practicing as a sex therapist in the early 80s it hadn't even been invented yet.
Other differences, more people are talking now about S and M, and going to sex clubs, and other kinds of, what some people call kinky stuff. We say that without any judgment, it's just sort of a description. So more people are talking about that, as I think more people are experimenting with that stuff; and experimenting with same gender sex, if they're heterosexual or being involved in different kinds of role playing, wearing blindfolds, things like that. So more people are talking about that.
In terms of the actual human relationships, it's pretty much the same in the last 25 years. People are frustrated about, "My partner doesn't understand me", or "My partner wants sex way more or way less than I do", or, "My partner doesn't like that I look at other people when we're out on the street." Some people talk about finding it difficult to be sexually monogamous when they've promised that they will. Those things have stayed pretty much constant over 25 years.
Chip August: This whole question of love addiction has always confused me a little bit. It's hard for me in my own mind to tell the difference between the symptoms of true love and addiction, in that, if I really love my partner, and I do really love my partner, when she's unhappy, I get unhappy. It makes me happy to do things that make her happy. It feels like the difference between co-dependency and true love is that I really like true love and co-dependency just makes me miserable. So I get confused about what even love addiction means. So when I hear you say, well, your own, sort of, skepticism about it, could you just say more about what it--what do people mean by that?
Dr. Marty Klein: Well, you know, Psychologist Larry Hedges says that true love is a psychotic state. So--and that's why that kind of crazy love, that crazy, intense, "I'm in love with you, I can't live without you", that state in healthy people, perhaps with you being the exception, Chip, that state for healthy people can't last for years and years and years.
I mean, imagine going back to being 17, where you were cutting classes to be with your girlfriend or boyfriend, where you were sneaking out of the house, where you were spending 47 hours a day on the telephone. I mean, it's great when you're 17, but you can't function like that when you're 40 years old.
So if you love someone and you want to have a healthy life, and not everybody wants to have a healthy life, you know, some people they like that psychotic state so much that they're willing to sacrifice everything else. Not that they make that decision explicitly, but, you know, some people, that's the organizing principle of their lives, you know, being with their loved one and staying up all night having sex or talking or watching tv together or going to clubs.
Anyway, if you want to have a healthy life, love has to make some sort of transition; and different people have different ideas about what healthy love looks like. When we talk about categories like love addiction or sex addiction, we have to remember that these are just categories that we've invented to understand and talk about certain phenomena.
There's no such thing as a borderline personality. There's no such thing as a co-dependant. There's no such thing as a porn addict. These are just categories. These are just expressions that we make up to talk about certain things; and the question is, are those categories helpful, what are the implications of those categories, etc. So, in some circles, there are diagnostic categories such as: Has been invaded by the devil. In some circles there are categories--there used to be the finest scientific lines of the time just a few hundred years ago had categories like: ill humor. So those were categories that now we have
discredited. Those are categories that we say, "Well, you know, there are certain advantages to the category of 'Has been invaded by the devil', but there are so many disadvantages to that category we're not going to use it anymore."
I predict that the category of sex addiction is so destructive and so moralistic and so not healthful, that in 40 or 50 years, hopefully, people will look back and say, "What were they thinking? That's just a really unhealthful category."
So when I hear people talk about love addiction or sex addiction, you know, when I was being trained, the idea of addiction was very simple. Addiction was the consequences of your body going through a certain kind of process where your body changed in it's ability to metabolize a certain substance, alcohol or heroin or whatever it is; and there was some very clear consequences of those physiological changes in a person's body, and it was a very healthful category. Alcohol addiction was a very healthful category, and it replaced very unhealthful categories like: Hopeless drunk or immoral slut. Immoral slut, not a very healthful clinical category; but, you know, in the 1920s if somebody drank so much that they couldn't go to their job, that was the category that people used, a drunk, a bum, a hobo, a slut, a tramp. Those are not very healthful categories.
So now we have alcohol addict, or alcoholic. That's a very healthful category because it helps explain a lot about that person's decision making. When we sloppily transfer that language to shopping addict or a porn addict or love addict, I think it loses its value quite a bit. The truth is that if you look at people who label themselves or who are labeled by others as sex addicts, frequently it's not about sex at all, and frequently there's nothing wrong with their sex life, and frequently what they're saying is, you know, "It's just too painful psychologically to not do what I want to do, and, therefore, I'm going to keep doing it."
Now, that's a pretty grown up thing to admit. It's a lot easier to say, "Well, I'm just a sex addict and I've been captured by this disease that just keeps driving me to have affairs." So I think that we want to be really careful about using these newfangled categories that pathologic sex, that pathologic certain kids of sexual decision-making and that see certain kinds of sex, such as monogamy, as better than other kinds of sex, such as consensual non-monogamy.
Chip August: Well, I notice this desire to pathologic. It feels to me sometimes like everybody wants to be a victim, and we're all searching for the right name for the thing that victimized us: "Oh, I was raised by an alcoholic parent." "Well, I was abused as a child." "Well, I'm being humiliated at work." "Well, I'm being"-- you know, and it sort of feels like there's a cultural moray that says that you're not really a complete and well rounded American unless you can be a victim of something.
I just--I wonder, do you find that also, or is this just sort of my cockeyed view of the world here?
Dr. Marty Klein: I think that's really accurate, and I place the blame for that squarely on the shoulders of one individual, and that's Oprah Winfrey. I think Oprah has single-handedly launched the victim industry in this country, with the help of Patrick Carnes who invented sex addiction; but I think you're absolutely right, that in the 60s and 70s we saw the rising consciousness that there are some groups of people who have been institutionally disadvantaged, women and blacks for starters, gays later on, that there are certain groups who have been institutionally disadvantaged, and we have to repair those problems in the society, in the culture, in the political system, so that those people are not so disadvantaged anymore. So far so good.
That was then taken way further than it should have been, to the point where now we have hate speech laws on college campuses all over the country, to the point where people are saying, "While I gave my consent to a certain behavior three years ago, or three days ago, I now realize that I shouldn't have given my consent, and I can't imagine that it was really consensual"; and that's just so dangerous, it's so dreadful. If you go to colleges today, for example, there are young women who, they go to fraternity parties, they get drunk, they have sex, and then a week later they complain that they were taken advantage of. This infantilizes women. This is going backwards to say that women can't be held accountable for their choices
just because somebody got them drunk. You know, if somebody, you know, pries open your mouth and forces alcohol down your throat, that's one thing; but if you go to your average fraternity party, people are drinking quite voluntarily.
So the idea that--I'm working on a court case right now in New York City, where someone was in an S and M relationship for a couple years, and the bottom in that relationship, the submissive, changed their mind, I'm deliberately leaving out the gender because it doesn't matter, the bottom in that relationship changed their mind and said to the top, "I don't want to do this anymore", and the top said, "Oh, please, please please, let's keep going", and the bottom said, "No, I don't want to keep doing it", and the top said, "Please, please, please, let's keep going", and the bottom said, "Oh, ok"; and then the bottom went to the police and said, "I can't get out of this relationship, and, in fact, it's never been consensual ". Even though there's letters between the two of them, and there's all kinds of indications that the thing was totally consensual, the bottom is now claiming, "I'm a victim of my own decision making"; and the attorneys for the government in this case are claiming that this person is a victim of rape trauma syndrome, that once they've been submissive in a relationship for a while, their capacity for their own decision making is so diminished that they can no longer be said to be acting consensually.
This is crazy, and it's demeaning to people to say that even though you're an adult, we're not going to hold you accountable for your own decision-making.
Chip August: Yes, and yet I also get that consent can be a pretty gray area that-- I agree with you the girl who goes to a fraternity party, or the guy who goes to a fraternity party and is going along and playing along, at one level definitely has already given consent, but I also think there is a moment when, if I'm getting somebody drunk to have sex with them and they are in a state where they are no longer capable of really making consent, you know, they're just sort of lying there in a stupor and I have sex with them, it's not the person I'm having sex with's fault. You know, at some level, we also need some rules about civility.
Dr. Marty Klein: Well, yes, civility. Now, for one thing, civility is not a legal category, it's a moral category; and I totally agree with you that people should act with civility. I just don't want the government enforcing were these people acting with civility.
Now, if you go back over your question, your question was if I'm getting someone drunk. Now that's an interesting way to conceptualize it. What were you doing to get someone drunk? Now, you can say, "I was manipulating them." Ok, do we want to make manipulating other people against the law? That has very serious consequences.
You know, as you know, Chip, everything is compared to what; and if it were up to me, nobody would be having sex when they were drunk, or to put it another way, nobody would be getting drunk and then having sex. You know, I agree with that; and nobody would manipulate anybody else. No one would ever say to anybody else, "I love you" as a strategy for getting them into bed. Nobody would ever manipulate somebody else into bed.
However, if you make that illegal in some way, the consequences of that, the consequences of criminalizing manipulation are much worse than the consequences of letting adults make their own decisions however bad those decisions are.
Chip August: I couldn't agree with you more.
We're going to take a short break to support our sponsors. This is Chip August. I'm talking with Dr. Marty Klein and we'll be right back.
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Chip August: We're back. This is Chip August. You're listening to Sex, Love and Intimacy. We're talking with Dr. Marty Klein, and we've been talking a whole lot about sex and sexuality.
I want to talk a little bit about some of the new areas that you're moving into. I can't help but notice that you seem to be getting more and more involved with public policy, and public policy around sexuality. I was wondering if you'd want to talk a little bit about that?
Dr. Marty Klein: Well, thank you, Chip.
I've been involved with public policy pretty much from the beginning of my career. I started with Planned Parenthood. In fact, the way I got into the sex field was through Family Planning; and I noticed that young women were coming back for pregnancy tests after having been prescribed diaphragms, or having been given condoms; and when we asked them why they talked about, "Well, I didn't want my boyfriend to think I was a slut", or, "I didn't want to go to a bar and then whip out a condom the first time I got into bed with a guy because I didn't want him to think I was expecting sex".
So from the very beginning I've had these public policy interests. As you know, my original training is in sociology. About eight years ago I started publishing "Sexual Intelligence", which is a monthly--at that time we called it a monthly electronic news letter, I guess now we'd call it a blog; and it's at Www.sexualintelligence.org, in which I write in what is, apparently, a witty way, about issues about sex in the news and the kinds of laws that the government is passing and the kinds of things that are going on around restricting American's rights to read what they want to read or do what they want to do. Occasionally there's a book or a movie review there. Our first movie review eight years ago was American Beauty, that great movie that starts out with Kevin Spacey saying, "Here I am jacking off in the shower again." So anyway, so I've been involved in public policy that way.
My new book America's War on Sex is, in fact, all about public policy. It's--public policy sounds so boring, doesn't it? The subtitle to the book is The Attack On Law, Lust And Liberty. Maybe that's a little more interesting sounding. In the book I talk about the various fronts in America's war on sex the way that local governments, state governments, federal governments and the Religious Right are working together to limit the kinds of sexual expression, sexual entertainment, sexual information, sexual healthcare, sexual rights that people have.
The book, which is out now, America's War on Sex, the book talks about the ways in which our rights are being taken away and is both abstract ideas, or general ideas, as well as very specific cases. The fact that it's against the law to sell vibrators in Alabama, the fact that in the state of Georgia there are communities that have passed laws against selling alcohol in strip clubs even when there are no strip clubs in those communities, things like that.
Chip August: I read with interest your comments about Janet Jackson's half time show at the Super Bowl a couple of years ago.
Dr. Marty Klein: Yes, well, interestingly enough--well, you know, people are watching the Super Bowl, and then Janet Jackson exposes her nipple for roughly one half second. One half second is the time that it takes to say a syllable in a sentence. So for one half second we get to see this nipple and, of course, if you're not paying really careful attention you can't see it.
So there was this enormous outcry about how horrible this thing was. Horrible in what sense? Horrible that it was just so dreadful for people, and yet people, whoever people are, then make this the most downloaded moment in Internet history, which is kind of interesting. I mean, how horrible could it be? And it was on the news. I mean, it was such a horrible thing that people had to run it on the news over and over again to make sure everybody knew how horrible it was.
My problem--my only problem with the thing was that the lighting was not good enough to really see her nipple clearly. That's my problem with the thing. And what we've seen over and over again is the government declaring that certain kinds of things are awful, and then people rush to get access to it.
Chip August: Now, from my perspective it seems like there's been a huge increase in government as a watch dog over our morality in the last six years or so versus time before. Is that also your perspective?
Dr. Marty Klein: Well, yes. Not only is it my perspective, I actually document that into the book, the way that, for example, the Food and Drug Administration, this enormous federal edifices, one of the great wonders of the modern world, America's Food and Drug Administration, was originally set up to guarantee the purity of the food and the drugs that Americans took. That sounds like a pretty good goal, and there are scientists staffing the thing. So far so good.
Six years ago, when the Bush Administration took over, they started to transform the FDA into a moral watchdog. So when certain kinds of medical products became available, the Food and Drug Administration decided well, how is that going to affect people's sex lives. So, for example, promiscuity, and the prevention of promiscuity, became an important goal of the FDA. How do we know this? Well, when emergency contraception became available, this incredible modern miracle that you could take a pill the morning after unprotected intercourse, and it would protect you from an unintended pregnancy, a modern miracle, the FDA decided, well, you know, if that becomes available to Americans, they're more likely--now, this is without any scientific data, they're going to be more likely to have more sex, we don't want that, and so we're going to keep this drug off the market. That's unbelievable. That's a very practical thing. That's not an abstract thing at all. Or, RU486, which helps people end unwanted pregnancies without having to go to doctors where now it's kind of dangerous. You know, abortion itself is safer than childbirth. What's dangerous about getting an abortion is getting through the picket line of the right wing, or, you know, hoping that you're not going to get shot by some right-wing fanatic while you're in the middle of getting an abortion.
So RU486, another drug with a proven safety record that the FDA meticulously withheld from the American public simply because they were afraid it would encourage promiscuity, or increase the number of abortions in the United States. It is unbelievable that the most technologically advanced society in the history of the world has in place administrative units like the FDA that withhold scientific technology from the American public on moral grounds. That is unbelievable and is completely unacceptable in a secular country like the United States.
Chip August: Well, I notice that--it feels like it has, for a long time, been American policy to enforce ignorance and fear around sexuality. You know, just going back to when they changed the movie ratings from, you know, from "M" for mature to the whole system of PG, PG13, and that somehow or other, it was ok for children 13 years old to see people with machine guns pretty realistically mowing down hundreds and hundreds of people, violence, killing, it was all fine; but that somehow if a child saw an erect penis that would completely destroy them, that would somehow--like that a penis was more dangerous than a machine gun; and that's, you know what, 20, 25 years ago already. So it does feel like there's a strong trend in American government to somehow protect us from the fact that we're sexual beings.
Dr. Marty Klein: Well, yes, that's true. American society has been moralistic for hundreds of years. It's gotten worse in the last ten years, no question about it. Not just with Bush though. I mean, Clinton was the president who signed the original Internet censorship bill that is still being debated in the courts even today.
There are two very strong competing strains in American culture. One is the culture of individualism, which is stronger here than anywhere else in the world; and the other is the culture of moralism, where people are afraid of their own sexuality and so they want to repress other people's sexuality. This is
a country where some people say, "I don't want to go to a nude beach, but it's not enough that I don't go to a nude beach, I have to prevent you from going to a nude beach also"; but the question about, you know, is it dangerous for kids to see penises or nipples or whatever it is, it's never, ever, ever, ever, ever been shown that children seeing images of sexuality is bad for children; and going back to the Janet Jackson nipple thing, you know, people were--a lot of people were saying, "I don't want to have to explain to my kid what a nipple is"; and I think, you know, there's a really good word for that, it's called "parenting". You know, you ought to have the obligation to explain to your kid what a nipple is; and, by the way, if you don't get hysterical when Janet Jackson exposes her nipple, your kid won't either. Kids have to be instructed that there's something wrong and bad about nipples.
Now, a lot of people in America say, "Well", you know, "what would happen if children did have access to lots and lots of imagery about sexuality, or lots and lots of access to nude bodies?" There's an experiment that's already been run on that. If you go to Europe, there's a nude beach in every country in Europe with a coast line, which is almost every country, in fact, more than one nude beach. In fact, virtually every beach in Europe is a nude beach, which is to say people are allowed to go topless if they want to, people are allowed to take off--especially women, are allowed to go bottomless if they want to; and that's been
going on for a century. So for a century, European children have been seeing naked boobs; and if you go to a beach today in Italy or Croatia or Greece or Montenegro, you know, the kids walk around eating their popsicles and, you know, mom's laying on the beach with her breasts uncovered, nobody seems to be freaking out there.
So, it's not like we have to speculate what would happen, we know what happens; and what happens is nothing. The idea that six or eight or nine year olds go nuts if they see some pubic hair or something, it's just a silly, frightening fairy tale; and, unfortunately, people who believe in those fairy tales are in charge of the American government; and we're seeing very destructive results as a consequence.
Chip August: We're going to take a short break and give a chance for our sponsors to support us. I'm Chip August. This is Sex, Love and Intimacy. We're talking to Dr. Marty Klein and we'll be back in just a moment.
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Chip August: Welcome back. This is Chip August. You're listening to Sex, Love and Intimacy. I'm talking to Dr. Marty Klein. We've been having a really wonderful conversation here and we're coming down to the end of our time together, and I was just wondering, Marty, you've been involved in sex and sex therapy and helping couples for decades now, like, what's your favorite piece of advice? When a couple comes to you and says, "Well, we've been together for a while and things are a little boring", or, "We just want to be better. We're not broken, we just want to be better", do you have a favorite tip or a thing that you think would be good advice for pretty much any couple that was looking to get better in their coupleness?
Dr. Marty Klein: I guess the first thing that I would say is to reiterate what I said a little while ago, that the expectation that sex is going to be easy is itself part of the problem. It's not part of the solution, it's part of the problem. Let's remember, the idea that people would live a long time and have hot sex monogamously into old age is a brand new idea in the history of the world, in the history of the world. People never expected to live to be 75 or 80 years old up until recently. People didn't expect to be in love that long until recently. People didn't expect to have hot sex when they were that old until very recently. It's only in the
last 30 or 40 years that people expect we're going to be 65 years old, we're going to be together for 40 years, we're going to be monogamous and we're going to have hot sex.
This is a brand new idea. It's a miserable failure as an expectation. No one's ever done this on a mass scale before. I don't think people ever will do this on a mass scale. So I would say that, that expectation is the very first thing that needs to be challenged. It's not that it's literally impossible for every single person in the world; however, that expectation, and the expectation that, that is going to be easy and simple, that's a big part of the problem, and it's reinforced every single day. So that's the first thing that I would say to people, is to stop assuming that, and stop criticizing yourself that it's going to be easy to do.
I guess the second thing that I would say is that people should examine their decision making around sexuality, and realize that if they have lousy decision making in the rest of the relationship, they're probably going to have lousy decision making around sex; and the third thing that I would say, and in this I'm not an innovative person at all, the third thing that I would say is, if you're heterosexual, to de-emphasize intercourse, and to realize that sex is much bigger than intercourse; and that intercourse is not something that people should do to get excited. If you're not excited before you have intercourse, intercourse is not going to get you excited; and if you're not excited yet, do some more stuff, and if you get to intercourse, fine, and if you don't that's ok too; but the idea that intercourse is real sex and everything else is just preparational fooling around, that's a problematic belief as well.
Chip August: Marty, we're coming to the end of our time, and I think people would like to know a little more about how to purchase your books and how to read your blog.
Dr. Marty Klein: Thank you, Chip. Well, my new book is America's War on Sex, with an introduction by Nadine Strossen, the president of the ACLU, and people can get more information about the book by going to AmericasWarOnSex.com, no apostrophe, all one word, AmericasWarOnSex.com; and, in fact, people who buy the book through that website can get a 10% discount. Just use the discount code "CI-- that's for Chip, "CI10", "CI10" as a discount code will give anybody 10% off who use that discount code because they've come through this broadcast.
My other work, of course, my blog, SexualIntelligence.org, that's an award winning blog that we've been publishing for 8 years now; and the rest of my books are available on SexEd.org, www.sexed.org.
Chip August: This brings us to the end of the show. I want to thank you for listening. For text and transcripts of this show and other shows on Personal Life Media Network, please visit our website at PersonalLIfeMedia.com. That's all one word, PersonalLifeMedia.com. If you have questions or comments that you'd like to send to me, you can send them to me at [email protected] I'll hope you'll join us again next time. Thanks for listening.
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