Sex, Politics and War


978-0-8223-6367-5_prThere is a war on sex by politicians.  There has always been a war on sex by politicians.  It is the longest running war in the history of the world.  It is not a gender war but a political war.  The goal of political warfare is to alter an opponent’s opinions and actions in favor of the state’s interests without utilizing military power.  Such warfare has been waged by the state against sex since the dawn of humanity.

In the USA, we have had political wars on race, drugs, poverty, crime, and terror.  None of these wars were officially declared as military wars.  Each of these wars were unofficially declared by the US government.   Not one of these wars has ever officially ended.  The war on sex has never been acknowledged either officially or unofficially.  It has never ended either.


This fourth and final part in my series of articles on sex will look at how politics influences sexual activities  in the USA.  In my opening blog on sex, Sex from a 75 year old perspective, I used a metaphor in which I described sex as a continent that had two regions.  The Region of Permissions and the Region of Prohibitions.  There are three seasons for each region:  A Religious Season, a Cultural Season, and a Political Season.  In my second blog on Sex, The Region of Permissions and the Region of Prohibitions, I described the influence of religion on our sex lives in respect to what is permitted and what is prohibited.  In my third blog, The Influence of Culture on Sex, I discussed the Cultural Season of Sex and what impact it has on Permissions and Prohibitions relating to sexual activities.  In this fourth and final blog on sex in America, I will end this set of treatises by talking about the role that politics plays on permissions and prohibitions regarding the sex lives of Americans.


The war on sex has been waged for two reasons.  The first is power.  The second is economics.  Each of these reasons has a distinct and differential impact on what Americans may or may not do sexually.  In some cases, the influence is directed towards women.  In other cases, it has been directed towards minorities; and in fewer yet still numerous cases it has been directed towards White men.

Power and Sex:

You have all heard the following comments:  a woman’s role is in the kitchen, keep them barefoot and pregnant, or a woman must be obedient to her husband.  Love, honor and obey is the traditional marriage vows for a woman.  Women have been servants to men since Eve brought the apple to Adam to eat.  Today we are witnessing renewed attacks on a woman’s right to control her own body.  Texas and the US Supreme Court have supported legislation that would effectively gut the right to abortion for a woman in Texas.


The powers behind the “Anti-Abortion” movement hide behind the mantra that all lives are sacred.  That neither religion nor government actually abides by this mantra is easily shown by the hypocrisy of both.  Almost all organized religions in the USA have flocked to support every war that the US has started despite the numerous deaths that each of these wars has entailed.  In most wars since WW II, there is seldom any mention of the deaths of noncombatants on the opposing side.  For instance, recently 13 military personnel were killed by a suicide bomber during the evacuation of Afghanistan.  Few reports mentioned the 130 Afghanis also killed during this attack.  The deaths of our citizens and other citizens are accepted by most organized religions in the US who actively oppose abortion on the grounds that it takes the life of a human being.  The only lives they seem to care about are “unborn.”


The Catholic Church has been one of the most outspoken critics of abortion.  Displaying a gross hypocrisy, they have for centuries ignored the rights of women for contraceptive devices.  Even more egregiously they have ignored the numerous babies murdered since they were born to bishops and cardinals of the Catholic Church.  These children are often born to nuns as well as female parishioners.

In February of 2019, Pope Francis acknowledged a longstanding dirty secret in the Roman Catholic Church — the sexual abuse of nuns by priests…. “These poor women are forced to leave their order and live alone raising their child with no help,” she says. “Sometimes they’re forced to have abortions — paid by the priest because nuns have no money.” — “After Years Of Abuse By Priests, #NunsToo Are Speaking Out.”

6094292e34af8d001859bd5aMen want to control the reproductive rights of women.  It has taken the #metoomovement to start some noticeable changes in attitudes towards the rape and sexual harassment of women.  Politicians are the most notable hypocrites when it comes to the rights of women to determine what is rape and what is not rape.  Ministers do not lag far behind in this hypocrisy.  I could list hundreds of cases of politicians and ministers being outed for sexual harassment of women.  I am sure that you have seen enough of these cases in the news recently.  Nevertheless, male politicians occupy a special zone when it come to their belief that they have an unrequited right to a woman’s body.  Control is power and power is politics.  Sex is war.  Women who want the right to determine how their bodies are used are combatants in this war of sex.


However, woman are not the only combatants in the war of sex.  For decades if not centuries the White Male power structure in the US has waged a war of sex against minorities.  Asians, Blacks, LGBTQ people and Native Americans have all at one time or another faced laws that determined who they could have sex with, when they could have sex and where they could have sex or even if they could have sex.  Some theories equate sexism with racism while others argue that there were economic reasons to oppose unbridled sexuality.


“As late as the 1950s, almost half of the states had miscegenation laws. While the original statutes were directed wholly against black-white unions, the legislation had extended to unions between whites and Mongolians, Malayans, Mulattos, and Native Americans.  McLaughlin v. Florida was instrumental in paving the way for the 1967 case of Loving v. Commonwealth of Virginia. In that year, sixteen states still had laws that made interracial marriages illegal.” — Laws that Banned Mixed Marriages – May 2010

41V1UJoBQ1L._SX313_BO1,204,203,200_The battleground against mixed marriages and sex between opposing races and ethnic groups has now shifted to the issue of Gay sexuality.  I think the issues surrounding Gay rights clearly support the thesis that power is at the heart of many laws respecting sexuality rather than economics. (Economics does play a role and we will look at this role soon.) At the present time, there are no explicit statewide laws in 27 states to protect LGBTQ people from discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity in employment, housing and public accommodations. —

The powers that wanted to control sex between race and ethnic groups have clearly lost this battle, but they have not given up the war to control sex in America.  The war has been rejoined in the battle for a woman’s reproductive rights and in the battle for Gay people to have the same rights as Straight people.

prolifeblogpic1 Sex and Economics:

Perhaps the most forceful proponent of the theory that economic reasons were behind the control of sex has been the psychologist Wilhelm Reich.  Europe and the USA have always included some of the most sexually repressed nations on the face of the earth.  Reich saw sexual oppression as being a tool of the ruling class to keep people coming to work on Monday and supporting the needs of the power structure for willing workers.  Reich and many of his supporters believed that true freedom could only come about with a sexual revolution that challenged all restrictive laws against sex.  This would include laws against polygamy, adultery, miscegenation, sodomy, sex before marriage and Gay sex.


Reich came to the USA from Germany where he had been persecuted for some of his ideas and theories.  When he came to the USA, he found a number of famous and influential people who gravitated to his ideas about sexuality.  The US government was not so enamored with his inventions and ideas.  It began a second persecution which ended up in Reich being sentenced to jail where he died.  Many of his supporters thought he was harassed because of his beliefs in sexual liberation and sexual freedom.  “Ralph Nader in his book, ‘The Chemical Feast’ criticized the FDA for expending an inordinate portion of its limited resources on ‘great quack campaigns’, such as the ‘vicious’ pursuit, carried out with ‘frightening rigor’”, of Reich.”  — Wilhelm Reich: the man who invented free love

460992-sex-lies-politics-0-230-0-345-cropI read Reich’s book “The Function of the Orgasm” while in graduate school.  I was struck by his ideas and the realization of how suppressed sexuality is in our society.  We do not treat it as we would any other normal human need.  Instead, we pass many laws governing what is right and what is not right, and we allow Madison Avenue to shanghai sexuality for the use of manipulating the rest of the country into buying junk and stuff that we do not need.

I can’t say that I ever believed in the inventions that Reich promoted and quite honestly that some of his ideas did strike me as quackery.  However, it is not much of a stretch to believe that Capitalism, Fascism, Communism, and every other economic system needs people who are willing to get out of bed every Monday morning to go to work.  What if we were all truly liberated sexually?  What if it was okay to stay in bed and fornicate rather than go to work?

“You beg for happiness in life, but security is more important to you, even if it costs you your spine or your life. Your life will be good and secure when aliveness will mean more to you than security; love more than money; your freedom more than party line or public opinion; when your thinking will be in harmony with your feelings; when the teachers of your children will be better paid than the politicians, when you will have more respect for the love between man and woman than for a marriage license.”   — Wilhelm Reich

The Influence of Culture on Sexual Activity and Practices


In my opening treatise on sex, (Sex from a 75 year old perspective) I used a metaphor in which I described sex as a continent that had two regions.  The Region of Permissions and the Region of Prohibitions.  There are three seasons for each region:  A Cultural Season, A Political Season and A Religious Season.  In my second blog on Sex:  The Region of Permissions and the Region of Prohibitions, I described the influence of religion on our sex lives in respect to what is permitted and what is prohibited.  I will now discuss the Cultural Season of Sex and what impact it has on Permissions and Prohibitions relating to sexual activities.

The Cultural Season of Sex:

The Cultural Season brings influences on sex based on traditions and beliefs about what sex should be like, who we should have sex with and how sex may be performed.  Cultural practices have the over arching purpose of keeping a community viable and safe.  Throughout history whether a culture sanctioned monogamy, polygamy, abstinence until marriage or free love, the major reason for any practice was to align the goals and desires of the community.

There are two important cultural factors that one must understand about sex.  Beyond individual notions of what is proper and what is not, the cultural diversity in relationship to sex dictates that what one culture may accept as legitimate may be rejected by another culture.  Thus, in the early days of Islam, multiple wives were acceptable.  This was not the case in Judaism.  “In Judaism the Law tolerated though it did not enact polygamy; but custom stood higher than the Law. From the period of the return from the Babylonian Exile, monogamy became the ideal and the custom of Jewish married life.” — Jewish Encyclopedia.


In Islam, polygamy was the norm for centuries if a man could afford it.  “Traditional Sunni and Shia Islamic marital jurisprudence allows Muslim men to be married to multiple women (a practice known as polygyny and polygamy)—up to four at any point in time.” — Wikipedia.  Many a follower of Christianity might envy the Muslim man but given the traditions in Christianity, one can only imagine the problems of multiple wives or multiple husbands.  In the early 18th Century, there were a number of experimental communities in the United States where open relationships were practiced.  In these communities’ men and women could choose who they wanted to sleep with even if they were married.  Most of these communities eventually died out both for economic and psychological reasons.

0996E9F5-F96D-4F32-B12E-0C7772CF1AE7-e1623525310665The second major factor that one studying cultural sex practices must understand is the changing notion of what is acceptable over time.  Not more than a hundred years ago in parts of the USA and even today in some cultures, a young woman is expected to be ready to marry and have children right after puberty.  Few people in the USA today would approve of their 13-year-old daughter or son marrying.  Times change and so do expectations that address what is acceptable and what is not acceptable concerning sex.

The USA had always had very different cultural expectations governing which ethnic groups and which religious groups could have sex together.  These beliefs have changed greatly over time.  My Lutheran wife was expected to marry another Protestant or practically any other Christian except a Catholic.  Years ago, mixed marriages were more than frowned on (We will talk about laws and politics in the next blog).  Couples crossing forbidden boundaries were belittled and ostracized by their parent communities.  I was in Minnesota in the early 60’s before I ever saw a Black man and a White woman walking together.  It took many years before I knew any Black women who were married to a White man or vice versa.

Interracial stats

So what, you might be saying!  What is my point?  Where are I going with all this?  Who cares about cultural practices in relationship to sex?  I bring these issues up because sex practices are too often regarded as either right or wrong, moral or immoral, normal or deviant.  Only by looking at the history and totality of sexual practices in the world can we develop a healthy attitude towards sex.  Sex should be an occasion for joy.  Sex is not sinful as some Christians seem to believe.  If you are married and you have sex with someone else, whether it is immoral or not will depend on what you and your spouse have agreed to.  Living in a nudist colony does not make anyone a pervert.  Having sex with multiple partners may be a choice made by some married partners and perfectly moral for them.

This does not mean that various cultural sex practices will always be navigable.  No more than a trip down a river will always be tranquil and benign, sex between individuals may be fraught with difficulties.  A friend of mine once said that “I don’t know if sex will improve or hurt your relationship, but it will certainly change it.”

downloadI tend to believe that there are some biological drives that influence cultural traditions and vice versa.  In sociology classes, there was always an argument concerning nature and nurture.  Sometimes it seems that the advocates of nature have the winning argument and other times it seems that the nurture or cultural advocates win.  It is very easy to say that life is composed of both nature and nurture, but it is much more difficult to delineate the amount that each impose on a given cultural practice.  Is monogamy part of nature?  Is it built into our DNA?  Are there multiple survival benefits from a monogamous lifestyle?  Are these still valid in today’s world?


A more difficult question to answer might be how I can convince my wife to let me engage in extramarital sex with other women.  She has never embraced that idea despite my facetious arguments that men are not naturally monogamous.  Thus, in this case, nurture trumps nature.  228-2281833_husband-beaten-by-wife At least is seems to. 

“So she thoroughly taught him that one cannot take pleasure without giving pleasure, and that every gesture, every caress, every touch, every glance, every last bit of the body has its secret, which brings happiness to the person who knows how to wake it. She taught him that after a celebration of love the lovers should not part without admiring each other, without being conquered or having conquered, so that neither is bleak or glutted or has the bad feeling of being used or misused.”  ― Hermann Hesse, Siddhartha

Sex from a Seventy Five Year Old Perspective


Before you read any further, ask yourself this question.  Can a White Elderly American male say anything generic about sex?  To be quite clear, can I say anything relevant for women and men of color?  Can I say anything about sex that will resonate with women and men of other cultures like China, Indonesia, the Mid-East, or Indigenous peoples over the vast globe?  Will my thoughts on sex have any meaning for GLBTQ people?  Can I speak words of wisdom that will have any importance for those of Generation X, Y and Z?


When a writer starts talking about a subject, they start from a viewpoint that is uniquely their own.  It can be no other way.  That is what makes writing so interesting and variable.  No two people will see life exactly the same way or tell exactly the same story.  Martin Luther said, “Here I stand, I can do no other.”  A writer must have grit or ice in their veins to attempt to say anything at all.  No matter where I stand, someone will say, “You are a heretic.”

Let this tome be my heresy about sex.  Bury me with a stake through my heart if you do not like what I have to say.  I don’t have much more time to say it anyway.  Those who are offended can write their own scribbles to debunk my thoughts and theories.  To paraphrase Old Abe, the world will little remember nor long care about my ideas here.  It would be nothing but cowardice to forego one’s opinions because they might be misunderstood.  Nevertheless, I pray as the song goes “Oh Lord, please don’t let me be TOOO misunderstood.”


Sex is one of the most beautiful things in the world.  It has an appeal that goes beyond the aesthetic.  Sex is both an individual and group activity that entails five key elements.  The physical, mental, emotional, spiritual, and financial elements frame the actual conduct or act of sex.  My emotions, my physical abilities, my mental state, my spiritual beliefs and even my financial capacity will determine the breath and depth of my sexual activities.  But there is a great deal more that governs how sex is controlled in any society.


Sex can be seen as a vast continent.  The continent is divided into two major regions.  There is the Region of Permissions and the Region of Prohibitions.  Each of these regions has three seasons.  There is some overlap between each season but also some significant differences.

One season is cultural.  This season brings influences to sex based on traditions and beliefs about what sex should be like, who we should have sex with and how sex may be performed.  There is the political season.  This season establishes the legality of sex.  Who may have sex, where they may have sex and when they may have sex.  Finally, there is the religious season.  This season defines who may have sex but further informs a purpose for sex.  Sex within the religious sphere is generally assumed to be permissible when associated with procreation.

Sex may take place between a man and a woman, between multiple men and one woman, between multiple women and one man, between multiple men and multiple women, between a man and a man or between a woman and a woman and any other multiple combinations thereof.

Couple_Bed_1296x728-header-1-1296x728Some of you are already thinking that this description has gone too far.  The reality of sexual practices throughout the world would astound most individuals.  There are those who believe that some sex is right, and some sex is wrong.  If there is a right and wrong when it comes to sex, the question is not easily answered.  The seasons of sex, the regions of sex and the individual capabilities all noted above will determine what is considered right and wrong sex.

In the following blogs, I will discuss my views on sex pursuant to the following areas:

  • The Region of Permissions and the Region of Prohibitions
  • The Season of Religion
  • The Season of Politics
  • The Season of Culture
  • The physical, mental, emotional, spiritual, and financial elements affecting sex.


Who am I to talk about sex?  What qualifications give me the right to discuss the multitudinous varieties of sex in the world?  An old White guy who has been married twice.  A man who has had several but not really that many sex partners.  I read that Wilt Chamberlain had been to bed with over 20,000 women.  A man who when he was younger did not understand women very well and probably still does not.  A man of limited variety when it comes to cultural and ethnic relationships with women.  A straight guy who has had no interest in gay relationships.  These are my obvious limitations.  I suspect I have others that I am unaware of.

sex in pandemicOn the other hand, I read widely.  I think a great deal about things and what constitutes right and wrong.  I have been to 34 countries.  I am old enough to have seen many things that work and many things that do not work.  I have had friends from many cultural and ethnic backgrounds.  I am not unduly influenced by religious, cultural, or even some legal restrictions governing sex.  As for the legal aspects, I believe in the protection of young children from pedophiles and other exploiters.  However, I have long believed in the right of people to choose their sex partners regardless of ethnic background.

The anti-miscegenation laws that were passed by some states were racist laws that enforced racial segregation for marriage and intimate relationships by criminalizing interracial marriage and sometimes also sex between members of different races.  I abhor such infringements on the individual rights of people based on racist xenophobic and bigoted concepts of what is right and wrong.

In 1975, I received my B.S. degree in Health Education.  I also received a license to teach this subject in grades 1 to 12.  What I did not realize at the time was the resistance to teaching Health Education in most schools.  Many parents and even schools associated Health Education with Sex Education.  In 1975, Sex Education was a highly contentious subject.  Twenty years later in 1994 Joycelyn Elders was forced to retire from her post as U.S. Surgeon General after she said that masturbation “is part of human sexuality and perhaps should be taught.”


Sex is both the most popular subject in the world and the most taboo subject.  We will look at some of these issues when we discuss permissions and prohibitions in my next blog.  Today there are more sex education classes taught then when I received my degree forty-five years ago, but the subject is still something educators must tread lightly on.  A recent article in the New York Times discusses a progressive educator who resigned her position due to parent criticism concerning her teachings.  “A Private-School Sex Educator Defends Her Methods.”

“Twenty-eight states require that abstinence be stressed in sex education classes, and six states require that only negative information be provided on homosexuality, according to the Guttmacher Institute.”


Here I sit in the middle of one of the so-called most advanced countries in the world, and we have roughly one half of our nation that thinks abstinence is the key to sex education.  As an educator who continues to be a teacher in high schools in Arizona, I can only shake my head in disbelief.  We live in perhaps the most highly sexualized nation in the world and yet we act as though our children will practice abstinence until they are married.  One could not think of a more bizarre case of denial.

“Many Indian schools provide no sex education, leaving it to parents to talk to their children about sex and relationships. But often they are unsure what to say, sex coach Pallavi Barnwal tells the BBC’s Megha Mohan.”   —  ‘Indians don’t talk about sex – so I help them’

Americans are not alone in denial when it comes to sex.  As far as I can see, sex has what could be called mysterious parameters in every country that I have been to and many that I have only read or heard about second hand.  What is it about sex that makes it so popular and yet also so taboo?  The psychologist Wilhelm Reich had one theory which I will discuss later but it is one among many competing theories.

Next Blog:  The Region of Permissions and the Region of Prohibitions

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