Monday, October 05, 2009

Bellydancing Toward Gomorrah

There are many things parents make sure their daughters pack when they're getting ready for college: clothes, toiletries, towels, and laundry soap. But parents sending their daughters to the University of Kentucky might think about adding one more item to the list: a chastity belt.

UK is considered by many to be the Best Little University in Kentucky. And lest you think it is becoming a leader in academics, the first thing you should do is look at the recent U. S. News & World Report rankings, which show a continued downward slide in relation to other top schools. No, there are other areas in which UK is becoming a leader.

This week is "Sex Week" at the university. Why does the university need a "Sex Week"? According to the Lexington Herald-Leader's Ryan Alessi (a reporter who, we should probably point out, is not serving in an embedded role on this story), the main aim of organizers is "sexual literacy." That's right. Today's college students apparently don't know enough about sex. If you didn't get that memo, don't worry, neither did we.

The organizers of "Sex Week" are apparently under the impression that our culture is prudish about sex. We should all try to remember that the next time we're treated to a television commercial for "masculine enhancement"--or the next time we find ourselves unconsciously humming the chorus to "Viva Viagra!"

Under the theory of "Sex Week"'s organizers--that more knowledge of sex is better--we should find fewer problems with things like teen pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases in times where there was more ignorance and prudishness about it. But it's a strange thing: if you look back in history, you find exactly the opposite.

But the organizers of "Sex Week" have a solution to this problem that is not really a problem: Tupperware parties for sex toys and performances of the Vagina Monologues.

That's right. And then there is Jonas Hans, UK assistant professor of Family Studies, and faculty adviser of "Sex Week," who is apparently UK's answer to Dr. Ruth: "Sexuality," he tells Alessi, "is something much broader than just sex. We love the tease of talking about sex," added the grim Dr. Hans, "but we don't like to talk about it openly and honestly and seriously." Yes, we must get more serious about sex, which is why Sex Week features ...

Bellydancing classes.

This scientific approach to the subject of sex involves getting "in tune with your body’s fluidity and sensuality" through "belly-flaunting and hip-moving." And if that doesn't cause you to reach for your notepad and laboratory smock, you can attend the "Poetry slam," where you can participate in "sexually and sensually-charged creativity flows."

Why is it that you get the idea that the people who put these things on wear tie dye t-shirts and beads, burn incense, and give their children names like "Rainbow," "Moon Beam," and "Sunflower"?

And then there is the event in which men (and I use that term here loosely) will walk down Main Street in women's heels to protest violence against women. No doubt the spectacle will drive the gorillas who actually such violence weeping repentantly into the streets--that is, if they don't fall over laughing.

I mean, if you're going to trivialize sex, you might as well trivialize violence against women too.

In fact, why not have marchers wear the wrist and ankle restraints and whip that are part of the "Beginner's Bondage Fantasy" set sold by Pure Romance, Inc., the main sponsor of UK's "Sex Week"?

That'll show 'em.

But let's give the organizers of "Sex Week" some credit here. After all, they will be showing a film on sex researcher Alfred Kinsey, an actual scientist who in the 40s and 50s gave the leaders of the sexual revolution the statistics they needed to bring down traditional social norms and sexual restraints.

Of course there's not much of a chance the film will tell UK students about the fact that 25 percent of Kinsey's data sample was made up of prison convicts and male prostitutes, or that his studies were partly based on questionable interviews with child molesters.

Such revelations might interrupt someone's sensually-charged creativity flow.

But while Dr. Hans' goal is to get serious about sex, the other, seemingly conflicting goal of "Sex Week" is to enhance the romantic appeal of sex. Now in a culture in which university students are confronted with preachy condom demonstrations, HIV tests, and sermons from "health education coordinators" (I'm thinking Ben Stein should play this role in the movie version), why would sex lack any romantic appeal?

On second thought, maybe the chastity belts won't be needed. It could be that "Sex Week" organizers will succeed in making sex either so sterile or so trivial that no one will want to bother with it any more.

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