As the California primary beckons, bringing the season to a climax, the would-be candidates have been asked questions about practically everything. I suppose we should be grateful that Hillary hasn't been asked about the size of her hands.
As usual, there have been almost no questions regarding sexually-oriented policy. In our continuing effort to educate the media and politicians along with the public, here are 10 questions that serious candidates should answer:
* Will you encourage states to have a humane policy about sexting by minors? Especially if a state has an age of consent under 18 (half the states do)—so that people who can have sex legally can't be prosecuted for taking nude selfies?
* Will you make sure that there's enough funding so that anyone can get tested for an STI or potential pregnancy confidentially and anonymously within a two-hour bus ride of their house?
* Will you encourage the Congress to pass a law requiring all sex education to be medically accurate? After all, we expect geography and chemistry curricula to be accurate.
* Will you state that there is a clear difference between abortion and contraception, and that while people may differ about the ideal availability of abortion, science shows us the difference between the two? And that as a country we stand squarely for people's access to contraception?
* Will you instruct the DOJ, HHS, and other relevant agencies that clitoridectomy of anyone under 18 (which is 100% of the cases) constitutes child neglect-abuse-endangerment (take your pick), and let every religious and ethnic community know this is American law? (Let's not confuse the issue by bringing up circumcision, please.)
* Will you take sexual violence on campus seriously enough to come up with dependable, replicable figures on its occurrence—not the bizarre, demonstrably inaccurate "1 in 5" meme that your predecessor, some Senators, and so many activists toss around?
* Will you challenge state attorneys general to require local communities to prove they have a good reason to shut down strip clubs, swing clubs, and sex toy stores? Will you instruct the Department of Justice to examine the legality of cities inventing a Sexually Oriented Business category to create punitive zoning and taxation policies? Taxing a strip club differently than the ballet is clearly unconstitutional.
* Will you instruct the FBI to treat violence committed against clinics that offer legal abortion in the same way that they treat any organized violence against legal enterprises—i.e., as potential racketeering activity?
* Will you challenge the Department of Education to give new instructions to college campuses, requiring that all cases of alleged sexual violence be referred to local police and due process judicial proceedings, rather than instructing colleges to throw together "courts" of non-trained administrators to, um, do their best?
* When consulting religious figures about policies involving so-called morality issues—such as pornography, unwed pregnancies, taxes on condoms—will you consult representatives of the atheist/humanist community? (And will you promise never to say, on behalf of our nation, "Our prayers go out to the victims and their families"?)
I started publishing Sexual Intelligence monthly in 2000, which included an annual Awards issue.
The following year my pal Betty Dodson introduced me to an enormous, vibrant, and very talented blues singer named Candye Kane. I loved her music, she loved my books, and we became friends. I went to many of her Bay Area shows; when I did, she'd invariably introduce me to the crowd as her favorite sex therapist, always as a preamble to one of her many songs about sexuality.
In 2005 Candye Kane was honored with a Sexual Intelligence Award.
Last week she died of cancer, a defiant, talented young woman of 54. As her obituary, here's the announcement of her award.
2005 SI Award winner: Candye Kane, Red-Hot Musician
A voice like Janis Joplin, a life story like Billie Holliday, a soul like Etta James, and the eroticism of the girl next door–if the girl next door is a 200-pound bisexual ex-stripper.
Born in East Los Angeles, taught by her parents to shoplift at the age of 9, Candye Kane has lived the classic blues life. At 16, she abandoned a music scholarship when she became an unwed mother involved in gang culture. On welfare to support herself and her young son, she became a sex worker. She appeared on the covers of skin magazines such as Hustler, Juggs, and Floppers.
But she never lost her devotion to music. Using money from her lucrative sex work, she hired musicians, wrote songs, and booked studio time. In 1986, Kane finally signed a development deal with CBS and recorded a demo. But the label dropped her when they found out about her "inappropriate" experiences. Managers and agents encouraged her to lose weight, renounce her past, and reinvent herself as a wholesome country singer.
Kane continued writing songs, and accidentally discovered brash blues women like Big Mama Thornton and Bessie Smith. She found a universe where women had colorful pasts, and were often plus-sized like her. Most had grown up in oppressive circumstances, which they turned into passionate music, celebrating their sexuality. Candye Kane found a home in the blues.
With even more resolve not to change or hide her Dionysian character, Kane finally recorded her first commercial CD in 1994–and has made six more since then. She has played with or supported B.B.King, Ray Charles, Etta James, Johnny Lang, Jerry Lee Lewis, k.d. lang, Van Morrison and many more.
Candye's live show honors the bold blues women of the past and today's modern sexual woman (and man). She delivers barrelhouse blues and soulful ballads, often laced with sexual innuendo. She sometimes says she's a black drag queen trapped in a white woman's body; in her low-cut gowns, she sometimes strides over to the piano to "play the 88s with my 44s." No one in the audience can miss her message: everyone needs love, everyone deserves respect, and everyone should enjoy their body and sexuality. No wonder she's especially loved by the disenfranchised, such as bikers, porn fans, the overweight, the kinky, and the misunderstood.
At this point, Candye Kane doesn't apologize for anything–and offers the best damn blues show money can buy. She sings about sex, love, sex, loss, sex, desire, and sex, never far from the many forms of sexual imagination. When she sings that she's 200 pounds of fun, she obviously means it (although she passed 200 a few years ago). Unwilling to renounce her sexuality as the price of a career, building her success around her sexual integrity (sure, a fantastic voice and band help, too), feeling and being sexy in her own way–no matter what she looks like or what we think–those add up to Sexual Intelligence, which we're glad to recognize.
For some good clean fun, catch one of her shows or albums. Her website is www.candyekane.com.
In a world where jealousy seems "normal," and where so many men talk about women who cheat, there's another kind of man. He's the one who fantasizes about his wife or girlfriend with another guy. He may even try to make it happen in real life.
Call them cuckolds or hot-wifers (as in, 'hey guys, check out my hot wife'); these guys are generally not really swingers, because they aren't usually after another sexual partner for themselves. There's more of these guys out there than you may realize.
With some cuckolds, humiliation is part of the desired experience. The script may include demeaning hubby's penis, his lovemaking, or his attractiveness. The other gentleman may be prompted to tease him cruelly as well. In some cases, the husband may be "forced" to suck the other guy's penis, lick his semen, or submit in other ways.
Hot-wifers, on the other hand, like to feel proud rather than degraded. They like to show off wifey, sometimes in exhibitionistic games (such as deliberate wardrobe malfunctions or exposed body parts). Unsuspecting gas station attendants, room service delivery guys, even nearby drivers or freeway truckers may get a surprised eyeful. Glass hotel elevators were made for these couples.
So why do men do this? Why do they yearn to see their wives have pleasure (or intimate talking, or even consensually rough treatment) with someone else?
Freud would have a field day with these guys: repressed homosexuality, low self-esteem, fear of rejection or abandonment (and unconsciously arranging to feel in charge of it), performance anxiety (and out-sourcing responsibility to the other guy).
And in a minority of cases, maybe the guy actually doesn't care for his wife.
On the other hand, it can be a gift to the woman, or a demonstration of trust. It can make the couple feel closer by sharing a taboo adventure (fantasy or real). It can be the ultimate treat for an actual voyeur—not just watching, but watching something meaningful, with no fear of getting caught. It can be a way of creating a safe environment for wifey to have flings with others, whether friends or strangers. There can be a sexy emotional bonding between the two men, not to mention tangible erotic possibilities.
As the saying goes, it's all fun and games until (unless) someone gets hurt. Wifey might become too enthusiastic about non-monogamy to suit her husband. Hubby might push wifey to do things she later regrets; she may feel his voyeuristic pleasure was more important to him than her comfort or safety. Some innocent bystanders might protest that they're being used without their consent. And of course there's always the chance that the extra guy turns out to be a little nutty.
Content people rarely go to therapy, so the couples discussing this in my office are generally in conflict. Frequently, it's because he can't take 'no' for an answer. That's generally not about sex—when people can't hear the word 'no,' it's typically about power. And if the 'no' is about something you really, really want? There are ways to discuss it collaboratively rather than being a huge pain in the butt. And if two people can't work something out, eventually someone has to let it go or leave the relationship. Or quarrel about it forever.
Another reason people come to therapy about this is because she wants to 'understand' his quirky thing. When he explains it, she may still not get it–and then imagine it's because he doesn't love her enough to be possessive. Or that he secretly wants the same privilege—one or more outside partners—for himself, and won't say so directly.
Some guys don't want any more men in their bedroom, but they love talking about the fantasy: what would it be like? What would you wear for the guy? What would you like him to do? Wouldn't it be great if he had a huge erection, or a skillful tongue?
While some women enjoy playing the fantasy game, others find it intrusive and distracting. Or artificial and theatrical. Worse, they may assume it's because they're not sufficiently attractive on their own, and hubby needs to imagine and talk about crazy scenes to get excited. No one likes to think that's true.
Some women would be fine about the fantasy game occasionally—they just don't want it every time they have sex. That's understandable, as so many people are trying to get away from routine in sex, rather than reinforcing it. And some women would be fine about the fantasy game if they felt confident it would stay on the fantasy level. But they're suspicious that while they're getting accustomed to the fantasy, hubby is plotting the next move in a longer project—ultimately acting out the fantasies they discuss.
Couples who come to see me about this subject often think they're the only ones dealing with it. My first contribution is to be non-reactive, accept what they're saying, and treat it like any other couples conflict. I help them talk, help them listen, help them express their fears that they won't be able to work this out. I don't tell them what to do, I don't take sides, and I don't say that these ideas are either 'normal' or 'not normal.'
That's never my job. People never need my help in arguing about who's the normal one, who's the kinky one, and who's the selfish one. My job is to gently wean them off those unproductive conversations and onto more honest and productive ones.
That's my fantasy.