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Southern California Schools Take Back Dictionary

January 28, 2010 Books, Culture, Freedom, News No Comments

A couple of days ago we reported on a Riverside County district that had banned the dictionary because of the graphic manner that it defines oral sex (“the ora stimulation of genitals”).

According to the Huffington Post, a committee of parents, teachers and administrators decided this week to allow the kids at Oak Meadows Elementary School in Menifee to use Merriam-Webster’s. The school enables parents to opt to have their kids use an alternative dictionary.

Common sense prevails. Small victory in an epic battle.

Information via the Huffington Post.

Southern California Schools Ban Dictionary

January 26, 2010 Books, Culture, Freedom, News, OMGWTFBBQ 4 Comments

I wish this was a joke or a statement about how the three people who hit on me at the coffee shop this morning seemed to only use monosyllabic words and so liberally sprinkled the word “like” in statements that nothing they said made too much sense.

It’s not. Some schools have in fact banned the dictionary.

Why? A parent complained the definition of “oral sex” in Merriam Webster’s 10th edition, common in fourth and fifth grade classrooms (populated by nine and 10-year-olds), is too graphic.

It describes oral sex as “the oral stimulation of the genitals.”

The Press-Enterprise reported on the incident:

“It’s just not age appropriate,” said [district spokeswoman Betti] Cadmus, adding that this is the first time a book has been removed from classrooms throughout the [Manifee] district.

“It’s hard to sit and read the dictionary, but we’ll be looking to find other things of a graphic nature,” Cadmus said. She explained that other dictionary entries defining human anatomy would probably not be cause for alarm.

I AM ASHAMED OF THIS STATE TODAY. ASHAMED.

Information from The Guardian and Press-Enterprise.

Slippery Slope: Government Regulation of Sex Toys

Last month in Canada, Dr. Carolyn Bennett, a Liberal Minister of Parliament, sent a letter to the Conservative Federal Minister of Health, Leona Aglukkaq, expressing concern about the sex toy industry and asking the government to take action in regulating sex toys.

The letter, which you can read in its entirety here, read, in part:

I am writing to express my concern for the urgent need for responsible regulation in the adult toy industry. In Canada, we are not yet doing enough to protect women against the very high concentratuons of materials linked to reproductive and other health issues.

… Our current legislation is insufficient. There are safe alternatives to pththalates and [bisphenol A] that are readily available.

It sounds like a good idea, right? Like they say on Facebook: It’s Complicated.

I’m gonna turn it over now to Cory Silverberg, blogger at About.com’s Sexuality Guide, who’s written about this topic at length:

In order to regulate sex toys first one needs to define the product category for proposed regulation. What qualifies as a sex toy? Currently in the U.S. sex toys are defined legally in some states (often as devices intended for genital stimulation). But they don’t exist as a defined category by health regulators. The same is true for many other countries where the term “sex toys” won’t be found in legal or regulatory documentation.

Even among sex toy retailers and manufacturers terms like dildo, vibrator, penis ring, butt plug can mean very different things. Is a sex toy defined by how it’s intended use? How it’s commonly used? Is a sex toy defined by who uses it or what kinds of bodies it gets used on? There is no generally agreed upon taxonomy of sex toys. There isn’t even an organization or body (public or private) that would be in a position to develop such a taxonomy.

But until we’re there, I’m certainly not comfortable with a government deciding what is and isn’t a sex toy, and regulating the products they think are while ignoring the products they decide aren’t.

And that’s just the beginning. Read his impassioned piece Why Government Regulation of Sex Toys Is a Bad Idea.

I’m with Silverberg on this one. I believe in educating consumers and leaving the government out of as much as humanly possible. But then, I’m a conservative. That’s just how we roll. Or used to. Yeah, yeah.

Love Pollution: How Loud Is Too Loud?

November 30, 2009 Freedom, News 4 Comments

howl

Time for a horrifying, overshar-y confession. When I was in college, my ex and I moved into a house together. Because we had the extra space, we didn’t hesitate to let some mutual friends move in with us.

It was a happy house, with most all of us being geeks and spending hours silently in front of our computers in the Hush room (where, literally, we had a “do not speak; if you need something, send an IM,” rule). Well, one of us wasn’t a geek, but snorting copious amounts of cocaine off the kitchen counter doesn’t make that much of a racket. Not that I knew anything about this at the time or condone this behavior.

Anyway. One day, I was walking to the kitchen when I overheard a conversation between my ex and a male roommate go down as follows:

ROOMMIE: what the hell do you do to AV, man? You sound like you’re killing her every night. It’s horrible.
EX: yeah? At least you’re in the next room. Imagine having that in your ear.

I can’t tell you the complex I got over it. Even long after we were over, I thought about this.

I do think about the aesthetics of sex–I’m a visual person and I like mirrors, so coordination has become a involuntary thing. But to think about what noises I’m making on top of it? Is there any room left over for actually, oh, I don’t know, enjoying the moment?

It’s a crowded world, and while I’ve moved away from having roommates and keeping lovers who don’t appreciate my, um, emphatic verbal appreciation, many still deal with the issue of noise pollution.

A most recent example is a UK couple were actually handed a noise abatement notice for boinking so loudly they disturbed their neighbors and people on the street. The Telegraph reports: “Caroline and Steve Cartwright’s love making was described as ‘murder’ and ‘unnatural’ and drowned out their neighbours’ televisions.”

The city went as far as to install a decibel-meter in their home to get an idea of the sort of noise they were making. According to the device, the couple reached 47 decibels at the highest (which, Anna North at Jezebel is quick to point out is below the level of normal conversation).

For this disturbance, the Cartwrights received an order to refrain from “shouting, screaming or vocalisation at such a level as to be a statutory nuisance.” When they failed to cease and desist, the couple were convicted of violating the ban. Now, Caroline Cartwright is taking the judgment head on, calling it a breach of human rights.

Now, I believe in common courtesy and feel for their neighbors, but the idea of a city telling me how loud I can scream during sex makes my libertarian leanings growl and hiss.

Exploring Cartwright’s appeal to the conviction that she cannot help making these noises, Jezebel’s Anna North, does some research:

Well, folks, I Googled “women’s sex vocalization” so you don’t have to (though if you’d like to know what a) rats, b) mice and c) brunettes sound like while engaged in intercourse, by all means go ahead), and I came up with a book called The Male Sexual Machine, by Kenneth Purvis. The book’s overview makes the specious claim that “the practice of gynecology has brought millions of women to a greater understanding of their own sexual health, its male counterpart, andrology, remains largely an unexplored field” (sounds a little like a certain Onion article), but it does offer some semi-intriguing evolutionary explanations for women’s sex sounds. Apparently a woman’s moans speed a man’s ejaculation, possibly improving the odds of simultaneous orgasm and thus of conception. And somewhat more upsettingly, female moaning may have evolved to attract more male partners to the area, back in monkey-times when most sex was group sex. All of Purvis’s arguments seem like they deserve a pretty big grain of salt, but it is possible that women’s sex noises have a biological basis. And while most of us can keep them in check when we’re, say, staying at our parents’ houses, there’s an element of the involuntary in the sex moan, and it’s not hard to believe that some people might have trouble stifling it.

I’m with North–moaning is not only not “unnatural,” it’s also better than other things–like people fighting.

In fact, I’ve been known to turn down my music to take in the sounds of a couple truly enjoying themselves.

But what do I know, I’m a sex blogger and confessed howler.

Either way, the News section of this site just got a Freedom subsection.

Image by Tambako the Jaguar. Information from The Telegraph, via Jezebel.

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Sex and the 405 is what your newspaper would look like if it had a sex section.

Here you’ll find news about the latest research being conducted to figure out what drives desire, passion, and other sex habits; reviews of sex toys, porn and other sexy things; coverage of the latest sex-related news that have our mainstream media's panties up in a bunch; human interest pieces about sex and desire; interviews with people who love sex, or hate sex, or work in sex, or work to enable you to have better sex; opinion pieces that relate to sex and society; and the sex-related side of celebrity gossip. More...