My return speaking engagement at GW’s Human Sexuality class
Two weeks ago, I returned for my somewhat annual speaking engagement with George Washington University’s graduate Human Sexuality class. The class primarily is composed of students who want to be psychological counselors.
Why are humans the only animals who need psychological counselors, self help books, and even doctors for that matter? One might be tempted to say that humans are so much more advanced than other animals that we need such help to reach our full potential. A colleague suggested part of the answer may be because we live long enough to need such help. However, we must also listen to our intuition and true nature as part of solving problems and achieving our potential. Otherwise, health care professionals and self help books become a crutch without our taking a close look within ourselves and sufficient personal responsibility about how to tackle obstacles and to seize opportunities.
Humans are sexual beings, despite the efforts of too many religious and moralistic leaders– even Mohandas Gandhi — and tracts warning people that very active sexuality and sex other than within marriage, can make us no better than other animals. Such blather makes too many people ashamed and uniformed about their sexuality, leading to dysfunctional views on sexuality, stunted sexual relationships and embarrassment to seek advice and counseling for improving those relationships.
My legal work with sex has included defending people charged with crimes including soliciting and providing prostitution services, peeping Tom activity, touching others’ intimate parts without consent, soliciting underage people for sex, child pornography, incest, and rape. I strongly support legalizing prostitution. The remaining crimes listed above are big problems for society, but does jailing people for this and other crimes help society much more than to remove people from doing such crimes during their incarceration periods? Releasing people from long prison terms can be nearly as startling for inmates as removing a fish from water, unless former inmates are sufficiently assisted with improving their lives and education skills while in prison, and with transitioning back to life outside prison. Instead, most prisoners are caged with other inmates running from kind to benign to stealing and conniving to vile to violent and twisted, left in fishbowls to fend for themselves, isolated from connection with and developments in the outside world, deprived of romantic intimacy unless they choose to have such relationships with fellow inmates, and thrown back out on the street at the end of their incarceration term in worse shape than they started.
I would prefer to have a time machine to send perpetrators of such crimes back to before the crossroads point that led them on this path, to work out their issues that contributed to such behavior, and to get them into supportive and loving environments and relationships rather than having the current situation of too many people who grow up abused, underprivileged, and with almost nobody giving a damn about them.
My legal work with sex has also included defending the right of the adult entertainment industry — adult cabarets/strip clubs, adult entertainment stores, and adult webmasters — to go about its business just as with any legitimate business. I have also consulted with adult filmmakers, sexual escorts, and clubs and organizations for those following the bondage-domination-sado-masochism and swingers lifestyles. The more that consenting adults’ rights to private sexual activity are protected, the more are my rights protected to live my life as I want. I do not need to be interested in bondage-domination nor swinging (I am not) to support the right to pursue such lifestyles, just as I do not need to be interested in smoking marijuana (I am not) to support legalizing marijuana.
With the Human Sexuality Class, I discussed numerous items in this handout, and more items beyond that. I recalled to the class that when I attended a pre-college summer course program at Cornell University in 1980 (when all but one or two of these students had not yet been born), we early on attended a mandatory birth control orientation/refresher led by two earnest women from a local family planning organization — summoned because of so many pregnancies among the program’s attendees in the previous year –and I giggled at one of the presenters’ repeated unintended pun that "Sex is a beautiful thing. Don’t screw it up." Mutually consensual adult sexual activity can be a beautiful thing, but in fact too many people do screw up sexual activity, not only its participants, but also too often the government, in outlawing prostitution and obscenity, and in clamping down on the operational freedom of strip clubs and adult entertainment stores. (I used to call them adult video stores, but the Internet has likely led many stores to need to add sex toys, magazines, and lingerie, for instance.)
I pointed out that dysfunctional sexual activity and sex crimes are a continuum from less severe to more severe.
I urged the students to think twice before putting themselves into jobs and assignments where they will need to give opinions to courts on whether a prison inmate convicted for a sex crime is likely to offend again, because if such a psychological fortune teller gets it wrong against the inmate, that can spell out many more year or even a lifetime of additional incarceration (euphemistically called civil commitment, about which there is little that is civil at all).
In introducing me, the professor, Carole Hoare, told the students they might hear some disturbing things during my talk. I do not know whether she meant my information about criminal behavior might be disturbing, or whether my views about the criminal justice system ( broken and needs a major overhaul) and on human sexuality might disturb some. Then again, preaching to the converted does nothing more than reassuring them about their conversion and providing them talking points to convince others of their views.