Friday, June 1, 2012

Liberty is no more Anarchy than it is Totalitarianism

If it's true that sex is becoming more visible in our culture (and the internet makes that position at least plausible), then naturally we're going to become aware of a much wider variety of sexual tastes and practices than we otherwise might have.

Anti-sex crusaders would have us believe that inundating society with sex is a bad thing. Is it, really? I don't think so - after all, sex is natural. But these people will point to the most egregious sexual activities and say, "see, this is what happens when we don't put a stopper on sex!" But couldn't it rather be the case that we are merely seeing practices that have existed since time immemorial, and that their existence or prevalence is not a direct result of a sexually liberated attitude?

Granted, liberating my sexuality has led me to explore things I'd never have touched if I had remained a prude (although I feel happier and more fulfilled as a result), but that doesn't mean I'm of the opinion that anything goes. The fact that I have wild sexual fantasies, and like to express myself sexually in designated public areas (i.e., the internet), and am not ashamed of my sexuality, are all things that I should be allowed to do anyway. I'm very sexually open and liberated, but I still do not tolerate inhuman acts like rape (which I distinguish from rape fantasy, and consensual nonconsent), or anything else that violates the fundamental civil rights of anyone.

You see, that's what it's about. It's about rights. Each and every one of us (without exception) has the right to express ourselves in the kinkiest fashion possible. At the same time, nobody has the right to violate the sanctity of our person. It's not that there are only two opposing positions - abstinent purity on the one hand, and sexual anarchy on the other - it's that basic liberty demands that a) we be allowed to express our sexuality freely, and b) that we cannot infringe on the rights of others. And these two conditions are not incompatible; though to believe that, you'd have to recognize that while some people may be pressured into pornography, prostitution, and unwanted sexual activity, plenty of other people freely choose to engage in pornography, prostitution, and a great diversity of sexual activity, and it is absolutely their right to do so.

If you want to help the people who are being abused and exploited, taking away everyone's freedom of choice isn't the way to do that. But unfortunately, where the issue of sex is concerned, I've very seldom seen (and especially not among the most vocal and zealous crusaders and organizations) people use the "we must protect them" card honestly - too many of them do it with the hidden agenda of trying to stifle sexual expression and liberty. If you want my trust and support, then you're going to have to prove that you genuinely care about the people you want to help, and to do that, you have to be willing to stand up (publicly) and defend the basic liberty of the individual.

Which means allowing other people to engage in activities you don't like or agree with, and offering to help them the way they want to be helped, not whatever way forces them to live the life you'd choose for them. I refer you to the model of a successful therapeutic relationship: the therapist does not try to enforce his views of what is and is not a healthy way to live, he merely uses his expertise to guide his client toward the sort of life that fulfills the client's goals for himself. Social work, like therapy, is not about control (that's what the criminal justice system is for), it's about aid. And you can't truly help someone you don't honor and respect.

Support, don't protect.

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