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2004: The Year Of Perversion 

And it came from the right's obsessions

What a shame, a sham. When sex morphs into America's daily news staple, is part of our political barometer, and is, according to the right, our only moral compass, you know you survived an election year. As President Bush's Revival sends shudders throughout the world -- certainly over poor women stripped of reproductive health services -- corporate media continues to slam "sex as moral values" down our throat. I am so friggin' glad to dump 2004 like a bad date who doesn't understand the meaning of No. Don't. Stop!From a fixation on abstinence to Super Bowl's Nipplegate to "The queers are coming to get you," conservative politicos and pundits have made sexual perversion an art form. Sex as distraction. Sex as distortion. Sex as defamation. All non-marital sex, in fact, as death, disease and destruction. Sex, according to them, is far away from what is good and right and beautiful, from our gift to pleasure, to touch the divine.

As the mother of the most beautiful 2-year-old boy in the world, some would say it's typical for my interest in sex to wane. So despite seeing the retro right's sexual train wreck barreling down upon truth and integrity, I had better things to do in 2004 than keep up with sex smears against liberals. Instead, I indulged in such liberal, loony-left deviances as breastfeeding and otherwise caring fulltime for my son; traveling with my husband's work to keep the family together; and buying a new home closer to Jared's papa, surrounded by great schools, trees, trails and kids.

Obviously, I'm way out of touch with Real Americans who vote their values, which apparently mostly involve other people's groins, wombs and fallibility.

Not that conservatives can't be considered fallible. Many of them after all, are gay. Have gay parents, or daughters named Mary. In late August, a gay blogger posted a taped phone message allegedly of Rep. Ed Schrock (R-VA) soliciting sex from men. Considered the second most conservative member of the US House of Representatives, Shrock was the co-sponsor of the proposed Constitutional amendment to ban same-sex marriage. The practicing Baptist soon dropped his re-election bid and went into seclusion with his wife and son -- until he was offered a job last week by fellow Congressman, Rep. Thomas Davis III (R-VA) as the top staff person for a subcommittee of the Government Reform Committee.

He still won't be able to personally carry out America's mandate of his Constitutional amendment -- a commitment renewed by Bush immediately after November 2 when 11 states voted for such state amendments -- to protect, of course, the sanctity of marriages like Shrock's -- and Britney Spears'.

In one year, the world's most famous Lolita pop tart and self-professed virgin wedded and divorced during the same Las Vegas trip, and then blissfully became Mrs. Federline just after new hubby's old live-in gave birth to their second child. See, between breaking up families, raunchy photo shoots, and stripper stage moves, Britney is a vocal Bush supporter and a proponent of traditional values, especially of saving, kind of, yourself for marriage.

Ah, abstinence. Bush launched the year with a wink to America's reigning family dogma nonprofits by pledging in his State of the Union address to double funding for unproven abstinence education, thus fattening even more faith-based coffers. Although short of his pledge, Congress found another $170 million for 2005 while slashing most domestic spending, including college financial aid. Almost 1.5 million low-income students will suffer the loss, but at least Bush appointed another chastity crusader as Secretary of Education, the formerly divorced Margaret LaMontagne, who now goes by the name Margaret Spellings.

With a third of our HIV prevention consisting of billions promised to anti-abortion Christian-based groups, America is now exporting white weddings as a social panacea from here to Africa. Masters of misinformation, theo-conservatives have spun abstinence successes into justification for their bulging billion-dollar entitlement. Abstinence works, they say, seizing upon 2004 data showing a big drop in teen pregnancy during the 90s -- attributing 25 percent to abstinence and 75 percent to increased contraception use.

Duh. Abstinence from intercourse avoids pregnancy. And 30 years of peer-reviewed research says that comprehensive sexuality education delays first intercourse and reduces risky behavior once one is sexually engaged. Not only does the data say nothing about the impact of abstinence programs, but President Clinton's abstinence dollars under Welfare Reform didn't reach states until 1998. Bush's more restrictive abstinence didn't hit the streets until 2001. Recent preliminary results actually show that abortion has increased since Bush has been pandering to his sex-obsessed base.

But it's all about perception. Though almost no one does it -- that is, sex only with one's spouse until death do you part -- the retro right has mainstreamed abstinence, which obscures its larger agenda to legislate a biblical worldview. Think The Handmaid's Tale, or at least strict "man on top" gender roles and reinstituted enforcements of sexual morality.

But 2004 proves once again that purity politics works. In October, Bush spotlighted "real families" in Iowa when signing the Working Families Tax Relief Act. After Bush celebrated Mike and Sharla Hintz' 13th wedding anniversary, Mike -- a youth pastor and father of four -- told reporters: "Where we are in this world, with not just the war on terror, but with the war with our culture that's going on, I think we need a man that is going to be in the White House like President Bush, that's going to stand by what he believes."

In December, the First Assembly of God Church fired Mike Hintz for sexually exploiting a 17-year-old girl in his church youth group.

Still, conservatives perpetuate their perceived stand for moral absolutes as a salve from our sex-saturated culture, and their opponents as promoters of moral relativism, or even perversion.

In the aftermath of 2004's greatest smirch upon America, the Abu Ghraib prison scandal, the conservative Heritage Foundation -- source of strict abstinence-only language driving funding and intervention throughout the world -- syndicated a column that actually linked the Iraq prisoner torture to liberal rot:

"With the non-judgmental, sex-crazed, anything-goes culture that we have become at home, it seems that America has set herself up for international humiliation. Our country permits Hollywood to put almost anything in a movie and still call it PG-13. We permit television and computers to bring all manner of filth into our homes. We permit school children to be taught that homosexuality is an acceptable lifestyle. We allow Christianity and the teaching of Judeo-Christian values to be scrubbed from the public square. We allow our children to be taught how to use condoms in school, rather than why to avoid sex."

In one distorted swoop, conservatives discredit proponents of sexual health and justice by somehow linking them with the sick, the bad, the ugly of Abu Ghraib.

But Abu Ghraib marked just one occasion for conservatives to paint liberals into the perv corner. During Super Bowl halftime, Justin Timberlake rips bare Janet Jackson's breast in mock sexual aggression. The Free Speech Coalition -- an adult film industry advocate -- denounces the stunt as inappropriate. And although the incident was more a symptom of unfettered free-market capitalism doing anything for a buck, liberals still get saddled with this new cultural low (one the media is forced to digitally blur and, of course, repeat over and over again in slow-mo for outraged Americans everywhere).

The right's latest oppositional snuff campaign surrounds the Oscar-nominated Alfred Kinsey biopic. Through distortions and lies, traditional attack dogs slime as a pedophile the decades-deceased pioneering sex researcher, whose blasphemous conclusion was that American men and women are diverse sexual beings.

But in the Age of Abstinence, sexual health educators and researchers are easy targets for dumping all that is wrong in the world. Last year Bill O'Reilly had multiple field days sliming a Kansas University sexuality educator attacked by a Republican state senator. After enduring months of pedophile accusations and death threats, a formal university investigation cleared Dennis Dailey of all wrongdoing. Swiftly killing his own scandal this fall, O'Reilly settled sexual harassment charges involving masturbatory phone sex and falafel shower fantasies. His ratings shot sky high. Recently, Dailey -- who refers to his wife of 43 years as his "partner" -- announced he's retiring.

The good guys don't always win. The worst perversion of 2004 is the retro right's march to ensure that sex does, in fact, lead to death, disease and despair. Pushing traditional values, abstinence advocates have lowered condom use by inflating its failure rate, blocked emergency contraception from over-the-counter status and from rape victims at hospitals, allowed pharmacists to refuse filling contraceptives based on moral grounds, and again de-funded the United Nations Population Fund, a family planning and health lifeline in more than 140 countries.

So, sick of today's sexual perversion, I yearn for the days of simple toe-sucking. My New Year's resolution is to balance my personal mom duties with my more public responsibility to keep the newly emboldened moralizers out of my pants and their hypocritical crap out of my kid's head.

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