School for scandal

Clinton's woes give America a crash course in sex ed.

Published August 28, 1998 8:54AM (EDT)

Instant Karma's going to get you, Mr. President. You and Hillary think this
Starr-crossed investigation is all a right-wing conspiracy -- and of course
your evidence is impressive. But at the moment, I'm not thinking of
anything so deliberate as a conspiracy. I'm talking "reap what you sow."
I'm talking about the Great Cosmic Joke that is dominating your lives at
the moment.

Everything President Clinton touches -- and then tries to deny -- becomes bigger
than a balloon at the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade. He told gays in the
military to keep quiet, and then look at what happened to every
heterosexual in a uniform ... they all became raving fornicators! Join the
Army -- be all the adulterer you can be! "Don't ask, don't tell" became
"fuck, publish and litigate" faster than you could say "A few good party

The president scored again when he canned Joycelyn Elders because she had
the nerve to suggest that masturbation was a fitting topic for public sex
education. "Children should not be introduced to masturbation in the
classroom!" shrieked the televangelists -- and Clinton looked so pious
when he asked for her resignation.

Well, to hell with little children discussing masturbation in the classroom
-- now they get to discuss blow jobs, cheating, cigar dildos and how to
dry-clean semen stains right in their very own living rooms!! I personally
think teaching about masturbation is the foundation of any good sex-ed
program, but clearly Clinton felt like the nation's families needed to plow on
ahead to the heavy stuff.

For a president who has reigned over the most backward sex-education
policies we've seen in decades, Clinton certainly has done his subversive
part to make sex a top priority in our nation's political discourse. I know
some people complain about the "bad taste" of all this, but I don't agree.
But then, I'm the sort of person who thinks "bad taste" is when you condemn
a mentally retarded man to death by lethal injection just to show everyone
what a tough guy you are.

It's actually in our national best interest to talk about the issues Bill,
Monica, Hillary and Ken have brought to our dinner tables. Yes, I've heard
parents say they're upset that their kids are asking them about oral sex.
Hey -- if your children are asking you serious sex questions, you should
consider it an honor. They actually think that you might have a credible
answer, and they are trusting in your reply. This state of affairs isn't
going to last forever unless you take an informed, sensitive approach from
the moment the lurid headlines land on your front porch.

The first thing you should say when your grade-schooler asks you what "an
unusual sex practice" means is, "I'm so glad you asked!" And if you don't
know the answer, remember what your parents used to recommend: Look
it up. Turn the occasion into a reason to visit the library.

Children are only half the explanation for why so many people are squirming
and protesting that they don't want to hear any more details about Bill and
Monica. Personally, I'd give my eye teeth to eavesdrop on the bedroom
conversations American couples are having about the nature of their
commitments to each other.
Thanks to a little navy blue dress, we've been pushed to think, in
excruciating detail, about all the forms that sexual pleasure takes, and
which of any of them are meaningful. We've debated whether it's ever
appropriate to lie about sex and what our motivations might be when we do.
We have been led to examine our own ethics as lovers.

As the Clinton family has demonstrated beyond a doubt, adultery doesn't
spell the end of the baby-boomer world. In real life, few marriages sink or
swim on the point of physical infidelity, and it's about time someone
admitted that in rational conversation. Love, loyalty, dependability,
practicality and above-the-neck intimacy are the far more crucial elements
that keep marriages together.

Finally, speaking on the most meta level as a sex educator, my hat's off to
the Big Creep for driving a stake into the mandate for penis-vagina,
missionary-position sex. For years, sex therapists have been counseling
lovers that there's more to erotic satisfaction than one position/one
erection and the ol' in-and-out. We may have convinced some of the curious
and imaginative -- as well as those who were desperate -- but our message
has otherwise fallen on deaf ears.

But now, direct from the Oval Office, we have proof positive that you can
have the hottest, most crazed sexual affair ever and never even exchange
bodily fluids! If this isn't a safe sex message for our time, I don't know
what is. Girls, next time that horny boy next door checks you out, you
don't have to say "no." Just tell him you're interested in "unusual sex
practices," and ask him what he can come up with.

When I hear about citizens pleading for an end to the disclosures, I sneer
triumphantly and say, "It's too late." You are not going to stop this
erotic topic, and you can't keep it away from your rightfully curious
children. You also can't keep sexual controversy from leading to
confrontations in your own relationships.

As Wavy Gravy once said during another famous cultural turning point,
"There's always a little bit of heaven, even in a disaster area." This is
the best conversation we've had in public life since Reagan's attorney
general gave us the Meese Report. This time, though, it's so much more
personal. Instead of people testifying behind darkened screens, talking
about how pornography ruined their lives, we have the commander in chief
speaking right to us with nothing to cover him save a layer of pancake
make-up. Joycelyn Elders and all the homosexuals in every branch of the
military couldn't have accomplished this in a million years.

By Susie Bright

Susie Bright is the author of the new book "Full Exposure" and many other books, and the editor of the "Best American Erotica" series. For more columns by Bright, visit her website.

MORE FROM Susie Bright

Related Topics ------------------------------------------