It's also worth noting in Zeek that sex radicalism was, is, and should continue to be a Jewish form of protest. First, the attack on women's bodies and lives comes--need I or Woody Allen remind you?--from the agenda of Christian conservatives to whom the term queer Jewish sex radical is a four-word redundancy. Heretical.com, a right-wing online magazine, alleges that "Jews dominate the production and distribution of pornů[and] accounted for most of the leading male performers of the 1970's and '80's."
As the site is quick to point out, many leading sex educators, porn stars, and pornographers-Nina Hartley, Al Goldstein, and Susie Bright, for instance-explicitly connect their sex activism with their Judaism. The site links these identifications with the rebellious and subversive nature of many Jews: "While few Jews are radical, many radicals are Jews, writes (non-Jew) Ernest van den Haag in his book The Jewish Mystique, adding that "the most important result of the domination of [secular] Jews in [the media] is their war on traditional values."
Even without xenophobes like van den Haag, if, as Jews, we identify with the oppressed, the marginalized, and the stranger rather than with the powerful and the xenophobic, then we have a reason beyond our common enemy and our own suspected sexual deviance to support women, queers, and sex radicals right now. But let's prove van den Haag right! While we should not oversimplistically equate Jewishness with marginality of all kinds, it is still fair to argue that both Jewishness and sex radicalism posit alternatives both to the particular normative ethic being imposed by the theocratic Bush administration and the general notion that a normative ethic must be imposed at all. Ashcroft's incursions on civil liberties are of a piece with his sexual Puritanism. Bush's warmongering is connected through his very public religiosity to his institutionalized homophobia and intolerance. Resistance to one side of the equation is resistance to the other. We are living in a time of the unthinkable: wiretaps without warrants, a president who believes that God is on our side, enriching the rich at the cost of the poor, and throughout, a justification of God, family, and country of which heteronormative, monogamous sexuality ("family" as understood by the Right) is a central part.
Like Emma Goldman in 1915, we're at the dawn of a new kind of global militarization, a new Western theory of war that will affect us for years or decades in ways we do not yet understand. Like Goldman and her comrades, who would soon face new sedition acts and vigorous political persecution, we face encroachment upon all of our civil and human rights, currently including the rights to e-mail privacy, due process, health care, abortion, and the right to have any variety of consensual sex without fear. As in the 1910's, encroachments are not applied equally-it's women, people of color, the queer, the nonmonogamous, the poor, the kinky, and those in the Third World whose pleasure, health, and lives are most expendable. In recognizing the physicality of oppression for those vulnerable to assault, unwanted pregnancy, HIV and AIDS, bad health care, and malign neglect, it must be recognized that the right to pleasure and the right to health and life are inseparable. An ethical Judaism, therefore, one that identified with the persecuted among us and around us, might say that this is not only a strange but also a promising, a hopeful, and a righteous time for sex radicals and our allies, if only we will grasp it.
For more information on sex radicalism, see:
"it's a tiny village..."
Dick Cheney and the New Age
Life beyond the idea of limits
Tips and advice from my first gay year
At college art classes, looking for the real art among the posing.
If the desert feeds the spirit, and Paris delights the senses, what does McDonald's do? May, 2002
Frederick Wiseman takes us inside the pervasive, sinister institution of
The best guarantor of democracy is subversive, oppositional
Zeek in Print
Spring 03 issue available here
Shtupping in the Shadow
of the Bomb
The Mall Balloon-Man Moment of the Spirit
Beats, Rhymes & Nigguns
Matthue Roth & Juez
Susan H. Case
Josh Gets his Checkup
The Ritual of Family Photography