The funny thing about sex—and by "sex" I mean a whole range of behaviors from kissing and strategic rubbing to medical-textbook-defined intercourse to showing that special someone your crotchless panties—is that it is either the nicest or meanest thing you can do to someone. Occasionally, a person wants to see/suck on/toy with your genitals, and then that magical moment when you say, "Here are my genitals, go to town!" is AWESOME. And sometimes you and another person like each other so much you can spend pretty much all morning navigating each other's bodies like a pair of sticky explorers, and by the time you've both gotten washed and dressed it's so late in the day that all the brunch places aren't serving brunch anymore. BUT! If someone doesn't want your genitals, and in fact is just sitting on the bus thinking about different ways to cook broccoli and is basically not even conscious that she and the rest of the people on the bus, yourself included, have genitals in the first place—in that case, coyly unzipping your fly and waggling your tumescent member at her is going to ruin her day in a really serious, aggressive way. And exploring someone's body when they don't want you to is an invasion, and it's not fucking cool, to put it mildly.
A lot of people write a lot of words about sexual assault, abuse, and harassment—and they should! That shit is terrible and evil!—but what doesn’t get said enough outside of R&B songs is that sex and touching, when it’s good, is really, really good. Giving someone an orgasm is pretty much the nicest thing you can do for someone, and kissing and hugging someone is pretty nice, too. So it’s pretty weird that a middle school in Florida suspended a kid for hugging his friend.
It’s pretty easy to be all, “What a lame policy! That principal’s a lame-o!” but he probably has a pretty hard time dealing with the potential sex lives of all the 14-year-olds under his care. Parents really don’t want their little pubescent angels fingerblasting each other in language arts, even if the kids want to do it, and “bad touching” incidents are so awful and necessary to avoid that the easiest thing to do about the kids’ potentially sexual bodies is to just make them off-limits to each other entirely. That way, the thinking probably goes, the school avoids any potential lawsuit-inducing tragedies. The problem is that holy shit what the fuck kind of thinking is that? You’re supposed to be teaching kids good stuff, and “don’t touch each other because your bodies are scary” is one of the worst lessons to teach. Kids know that hugging feels good (even if they don’t incidentally pop boners while doing it), and telling a kid, “That thing that feels good and doesn’t hurt anyone? STOP IT!” is so prudish and puritanical, it’s practically child abuse.
Society’s attitude towards sex doesn’t magically become healthy after the parties involved turn 21, either. A couple weeks ago, town officials in Sanford, Maine, ordered a couple to stop having sex parties in their catering hall, invoking all the usual stuff about “family-oriented communities” and claiming that they didn’t have a license to operate an “adult business”—a license that doesn’t actually exist in Sanford. Over 40 people were engaging in “all forms of sexual activity” at these parties, and no one was getting hurt. In fact, they were doing the opposite of hurting each other. But the powers that be in Sanford are apparently so terrified of the negative side of sex that they’re willing, even eager, to stomp out certain kinds of pleasure. When you frame it that way—as a ban on pleasure—it seems fucked up, and that’s because it is. It’s possible to be so concerned with making sure that no one gets abused by sex that a lot of people get abused by government.
Previously – The Right to Be a Dick