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'08 Authors Insider Tips


Everything About Epublishing
by Angela James
Epublishing: A Different Way
Choosing an Epublisher
Your Milage May Vary
Understand Your Contract!
Reasonable Expectations


FictionCraft
by Louisa Burton
The Publishing Biz
Critiquing: To Give and ...
Commerical vs. Literary...
Antiformalism for Fun &...
So You Want to Write a Novel
The Story Idea
Planning Your Novel...


The Write Stuff
by Ashley Lister
5 Steps to Success
Inspirational
Opening Passages
Let's Get Critical
Writer's Block
Learning Lessons


Two Girls Kissing
by Amie M. Evans
Be a Finisher ...
Listen to Your Characters
Conferences: Act Now ...
Starting an Erotic Story
Exercises & Writing Prompts
Revising & Rewriting
Copy Editing
The Manuscript Critique
How to Submit Your Work
Reading as Craft


Guest Appearances

Adventures in e-Publishing
by Lisabet Sarai

For the Love of Man
by Laura Baumbach

How to...Influence Editors
by Alison Tyler

Marketing your e-Book
by Brenna Lyons


2008 Smutters Lounge

Ashley Lister Submits
by Ashley Lister
Role Play
Busy Doing Nothing
Picture of a Fish & Chip...
What I Did With My Summer


Cooking Up A Storey
by Donna George Storey
Naughty Cookies...
Tie Me Up, Please …
The Smut-Writer’s Holiday
Never Trust the Narrator ...
Compare and Contrast
Following the Pen
Naked at the Farmers Market
Iím Easy, But Iím No Slut
Good Girl Gone Bad
Pleasures of the Dark Side
Slow, Spare and Sexy


Get All Worked Up
with J.T. Benjamin
Raising Daughters
Jamie Lynn
Utopias
Lust
The Good Old Days
Election '08
Traditional Marriage
Campaign 2008
Free Will


Pondering Porn
with Ann Regentin
Masturbating on SSRIs
Sex and Disability
Besides Ourselves
Adjusting our Contrast


Sex Is All Metaphors
by Jean Roberta
Sex Is All Metaphors
Turn-ons and Squicks
Sexual Truth
Fickle Muse
Porn, Erotica & Romance


Provocative Interviews

Between the Lines
with Ashley Lister
Alison Tyler
Ashley Lister
Debra Hyde
Donna George Storey
Jeremy Edwards
Kristina Wright
Rachel Kramer Bussel


Erotic Hot Spots
by William S. Dean
Interview with Tilly Greene
Interview with Devyn Quinn


Getting Graphic
with William S. Dean
New Times for Readers...
The Future in Words ...
Interview with Fantagraphics


On Writing Erotica

The Accidental Pornographer
by Lisabet Sarai

The End of Innocence
by Lisabet Sarai

Get Them Off in High Style
Helena Settimana

So, You Want To Write Erotica?
by Hanne Blank


Web Gems
Hot Movies For Her

Get All Worked Up About The Good Old Days
by J.T. Benjamin



J.T. BenjaminAs I advance into my forties, most of the people with whom I associate tend to fall into what I call the “nostalgia trap.” They stare dreamily into space and remember the past, when the world made sense and when things were in a more or less well-structured order. Everyone behaved themselves, the newspapers weren’t full of shocking misbehaviors and scandals, and life on earth was simpler, kinder, more innocent and, frankly, better.

I have not fallen into that trap. When most people talk about Jamie Lynn Spears and Eliot Spitzer and Amy Winehouse and gay pride parades and reality TV shows and YouTube videos of violence and sex acts and gossip-mongering and hip-hop music and mud-slinging political ads and internet porn and profanity all over the place and sex, sex, sex everywhere you look, they usually go, “Tut, tut. The world’s gone to hell in a handbasket. Things were better in the good old days,” my response is usually one word long.

Bullshit.

Back in the “Good Old Days,” infant mortality rates were higher, life expectancies were lower, more people lived in poverty, fewer people graduated college or even high school, and life was fraught with all manner of terrors which we can’t even comprehend today. In the first half of the last century, smallpox, cholera, malaria and syphilis were terrifyingly commonplace. The flu wasn’t something that was treated with antibiotics or a shot, but was a terrifying disease that killed millions upon millions of people. Racial, religious and labor disputes were settled with lynchings, gunfire and detention camps.

I believe that when we look wistfully at the past, fondly recalling when things felt more innocent, naïve and simple, we tend to think that’s because the world was more innocent, naïve and simple, and not that WE were more innocent, naïve, and simple. When we take off the rose-colored glasses and actually look at the past as it really was, we tend to find that in the “good old days,” life was just as full of beauty and ugliness, sin, scandal, and triumph, truth and deceit, victory and loss as it is today. A cold, hard look at the past as it really was tends to show that things were just as messed up back then as they are now. In fact, a closer look will usually find that things are generally BETTER now than we recall that they were.

Take sex, for example. (Why thank you, I believe I will. Two, please, if you don’t mind). When you look at the history of sexual expression and contact, it’s a miracle anybody ever got it on at all. Back in the Good Old Days, sex was an activity fraught with potentially punitive and sometimes even frightening consequences. Engaging in homosexual acts was considered a felony in most states, and when homosexuals weren’t being prosecuted in the “Good Old Days,” they were being treated for mental illness. The American Psychiatric Association considered homosexuality a mental disorder until 1976, treatments for which included institutionalization, shock therapy, and even lobotomies.

Heterosexual sex was also fraught with potential penalties. Until 1965, a doctor could be prosecuted for prescribing contraceptives to married couples. That’s right, married couples, even. Margaret Sanger and other advocates for birth control faced criminal charges, death threats, acts of violence, and constant persecutions by the government and anti-choice advocates.

But sex didn’t always involve the threat of jail time. Until the last three decades or so, a man accused of rape couldn’t be prosecuted in most states if he happened to be married to his alleged victim. In fact, in the supposedly more innocent Good Old Days, accused rapists successfully argued that they were not guilty for such reasons as the victim was “asking for it” by inviting her attacker into her apartment, or for wearing short skirts or for dancing provocatively. Until “rape shield” laws began coming into effect in the late 1970’s, a woman’s past sexual history with other men could be used as character evidence against her credibility. You say you’ve been raped, lady? Don’t bother bringing charges if you’re a slut. You had it coming.

Then, of course, there’s the big sexual red flag topic, abortion. Most anti-choice advocates seem to think the procedure wasn’t even invented until after Roe v. Wade came down in 1972. The truth is that terminating pregnancies were much more common, and much more dangerous, than most people care to admit.

According to Modern Marriage and Birth Control by Edward Griffith, Twentieth Century Sexuality, a History by Angus McLaren, and When Abortion Was a Crime, by Leslie J. Reagan, estimated averages of two million abortions were performed every year through the late 1960’s and early 1970’s. Once abortion was legalized in 1972, the number of abortions has averaged somewhere between 1.2 and 1.3 million per year, with a peak of 1.6 million in 1990. Keep in mind that the U.S. population has almost doubled since the first half of the Twentieth Century, too.

I bring all this up because when I have discussions with most of my conservative friends and acquaintances, they tend to fall back on the Nostalgia Trap, especially those friends whom I would characterize as “Holy Terrors:” fundamentalist religious conservatives who think that, among other things, the current state of moral degeneracy is a sign that the Endtimes are at hand, that the Four Horsemen are saddling up to ride and that the Apocalypse is nigh. I think a critical element of that belief is the notion that things are so bad now compared to the Good Old Days that we simply MUST be in the Last Days.

However, to quote my favorite Gershwin tune, “It Ain’t Necessarily So.” By keeping an open mind and turning off the vomitous rhetoric of the Holy Terrors and Fox News and actually studying the facts, maybe things aren’t so bad these days after all.

For me, the catalyst for this discussion came up a month ago, when I was arguing with one of my conservative neighbors about the evils of pornography and graphic displays of sexuality in the media. He argued that one of the consequences of all this ready access to tits and ass was an explosion in the teen pregnancy rate in these United States. I countered with my usual riposte, “Bullshit. Teen pregnancies have been steadily declining since the 1950s. All the media fascination with sex has actually caused more people to openly talk about sex, which means more people are educated about sex, and more teens are avoiding those nasty little ‘accidents.’ Jamie Lynn Spears is the exception, not the rule.”

My conservative neighbor argued, “No, I think you’re wrong. Teen pregnancy rates have gone up in recent years.”

Since neither one of us had ready access to the Internet at that moment, the argument had to end there. However, I promised to dig up some facts to either support or disprove my contention.

And what are those facts? According to the Centers for Disease Control website, teen pregnancy rates have been in a long-term steady decline since…(drum roll please), 1958. At that time, the rate of live births to girls between 15 and 19 years was around 98 per 1,000. The birth rate fell to around 50 per 1,000 by the year 2000.

However, in the interests of full disclosure, I have to add that since Dubya’s “Ignorance Only Sex Education” campaign kicked into gear at the beginning of the 21st Century, the teen birth rate has actually begun to climb again.

Win some, lose some.

J.T. Benjamin
jtbenjamin.blogspot
May-June 2008


Get All Worked Up with J.T. Benjamin in ERWA 2008 Archive.

______
"All Worked Up" © 2008 J.T. Benjamin. All rights reserved.

About the Author:† J.T.Benjamin says, "I'm a generalist. I write about what interests me, which is just about everything." His resume reflects the diversity of his interests. He's been a disk jockey, insurance salesman, private investigator, journalist, college professor, child advocate, political activist, truckdriver, thief,...doctor, lawyer, Indian Chief. He's currently trying to start a hippie commune in the Denver/Boulder area.
Email:† J.T. Benjamin



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