Tuesday, October 08, 2013

Conventional Prejudice Isn't Reality -- and Neither Is "Reality"

NPR's Weekend Edition Saturday (5 October) featured an interview with Erica Jong concerning her classic book Fear of Flying. For the most part it was good, but I had a couple comments which I'm submitting in the letter below.

Thank you for the interview with Erica Jong. But no thank you for the way you prefaced it.

Your statement that it was "not appropriate for children" flies in the face of all scientific evidence. Nowhere has it been demonstrated that there is any age before which hearing about sex is harmful to people. In fact, clinical history-taking has indicated that people with violent psychosexual disorders come disproportionately from families which denied them information about sex. You do the public a great disservice when you repeat this harmful antisexual superstition.

For further information, I recommend that you read the National Coalition Against Censorship's amicus brief concerning the Child Online Protection (sic) Act, which can be found at http://www.fepproject.org/courtbriefs/ashcroft.pdf; and Susan Levine's book Harmful to Minors: The Hazards of Protecting Children from Sex.

On another point, Jong did not make clear on what she based her notion that young women aren't getting any satisfaction from hookups. The only fact she cited is that what she sees on hookup "reality" shows doesn't turn out well.

I don't watch "reality" shows, but one thing I know about them is this: they're not reality. Individual lines may be improvised, but the story lines are scripted, and the scripts are based on conventional social assumptions. Since it's a conventional social assumption that women can't get satisfaction from casual sex, it's no surprise that they don't do so on these shows. That's because they aren't reality but "reality."

Further, particularly in connection with casual sex, "discretion" tends to be more important to women, because of the sexual double standard. So, a woman who would enjoy casual sex under real-life conditions may well not do so when a camera crew is following her around.

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