In a recent radio appearance, I was asked a question that caught me off guard. I am accustomed to and barely miss a beat for the normal inquiries about achieving orgasm or frustrations with inconsistent libido but no one has ever asked me before which way to vote for sexual health. The caller wondered which political party or candidate was more sexually healthy and promoted values consistent with sexual health. My political views are probably not a secret to anyone who reads my columns and knows that I make my home in the most liberal of small towns in the northwest. Yet regardless of your political affiliations, considering sexual health, your own and our nations as you cast your ballot this week, may not be such an unreasonable consideration.
Anything repressed tends to disfigure and take on a life and personality more akin to the repression than the thing itself. This is an accurate and tragic testimony about the state of sexual health in our nation. ‘Just say no’, the current administration’s policy on teen sexuality education denies the vital truth about our human identity as sexual beings. Our sexuality is a part of who we are, not just a reflection of what we do. Worse than the increase in sexually transmitted diseases that could be controlled through education, or the rise in teen pregnancy rates during this ‘just say no’ policy, is the empty space that we have left to be filled by pornography and the adult entertainment industry as the sole source of available sexuality education for both kids and adults. I don’t know about you, but this is not the basis of intimacy and sexuality that I want my children to model their futures on.
Obama was attacked earlier in the campaign for suggesting that young children be educated about appropriate touch. Here is another, let me jump out on a limb, educational effort that might actually revolutionize the sexual health world we inhabit. The rate of incest and sexual abuse among young children in this country is reported between 10 and 20 % depending on the study with a recognition, that many cases of familial incest is never reported. How utterly revolutionary to give children the permission, the skills and the language to protect their sexual identities.
Sexual health is not just for kids either. Recent reports of the impact of the depressed economy’s affect on the public’s intimate life are grim with both adultery and divorce on the rise. Economic uncertainty and stress magnify the challenges of building and maintaining a healthy intimate life. There is little education or cultural recognition that a solid relationship is actually the very best of life and preservers when the going gets rough. Hundreds of medical studies confirm the increased physical, mental and emotional health benefits of a vital intimate life which reduces the experience of stress and worry.
Sexuality is a complex experience and members of both political parties have demonstrated poor judgment and had their bad decisions about their intimate lives publicly exposed. These experiences reflect the truth in the rhetoric of overcoming our differences and realizing that in our sexuality and in our humanity that we are more similar than we are different.