I wrote this for a client who did not end up using it. That’s just life as a freelance writer and their (or my) loss is your gain.
‘Tis the season to compile lists of the best and worst of the passing year.
I hope you have your own favorites from the 2011 — a favorite new lover or sex toy perhaps — but what were the stories which made a splash on a national scale? Sometimes it’s almost as hard to gaze into the past as it is to predict the future. We have to look past the scandal of the moment, and remember what we discussed with friends at parties not just yesterday, but six or twelve months ago.
Here’s my take on the hottest, most important, or most influential sex news of 2011:
- Don’t Ask Don’t Tell Ends, Finally. Originally implemented by President Clinton in 1993, Don’t Ask Don’t Tell meant that gays could serve in the military only as long as their orientation remained secret, President Obama finally made good on his campaign promise to let gay service members out of the closet in December of 2010. However, it took until September of this year for the policy to finally end. Queer men and women rejoiced as their patriotic brothers and sisters no longer had to lead double lives and those discharged under the policy began to reapply.
- Women Slutwalk Everywhere. A quiet movement to end “slut shaming” exploded onto the global stage when a Toronto policeman advised women who wished to avoid rape to not dress “like sluts.” Before anyone could say ‘asking for it,’ women everywhere — along with supportive friends of all ages and genders — were marching for their right to be sexual, safely. Though this event was controversial among even feminists, its message was clear: no way of dressing, no amount of sexual openness, is an excuse for rape or lack of clear consent.
- Anthony Wiener Shows His… Though it sometimes seems every week brings news of some conservative politician’s hanky-panky, this year’s biggest scandal came from the other side of the aisle. The ironically named Anthony Wiener, former Democratic Congressman, fell from grace when he was caught tweeting dirty pictures to women. Sex writer Charlie Glickman pointedly asked, “have you never once in your life lied about something sexual you did?” But we hold our politicians (and celebrities) to a higher sexual standard than we hold ourselves and Wiener resigned in June.
- AplusK vs. V.V. After Craigslist shut down its Adult Services section last year, attention turned to another very public place for escorts and other sex workers to advertise their wares — the classified ads in the venerable New York City paper, the Village Voice. In a highly publicized Twitter rant, actor Ashton Kutcher (@aplusk) attacked what he saw as a hotbed of nonconsensual sex trafficking. But sex worker activists and the Village Voice fought back, asking Kutcher to “Get His Facts Straight.” Shutting down a safer marketplace for independent sex workers endangers women by forcing them to seek clients in more dangerous ways, they said.
- Does Sex Belong at College? Many a student has gone off to college to explore their sexual selves. Seeking to spice up their image while encouraging better erotic choices in their student bodies, many colleges and universities have begun hosting sex educators for special events or “Sex Week” celebrations. But in 2011 these were a source of controversy, most notably in two separate incidents. G-spot ejaculation is a very real act still controversial to some who have never experienced it, but a demonstration at Northwestern grew a little too real for some parents and pundits. And Oregon State University garnered a great deal of unfavorable publicity when it uninvited renowned educator Tristan Taormino from their Modern Sex conference because of her involvement in pornography.
All these stories highlight the ongoing battle over sex in the American culture wars. While the Internet has brought unprecedented access to both raunchy porn and sex education, conservatives push back against what they perceive to be a growing culture of promiscuity and permissiveness.
What other stories excited your passions in 2011?