Saturday, July 20, 2013

Marty Klein on consent

I've putting off writing about my experience at The Amazing Meeting 2013 skepticism conference because some major news events required a timely response last week, but now I have the time.

As always, I had the most fun talking to people between events and presentations. Sanal Edamaruku, the Indian secularist who challenged a holy man to kill him with a death ritual on live television, gave a great talk on the horrible grip mysticism has over modern India. Australian skeptic Richard Saunders casually used the phrase "not this little black duck" to my amusement. Keynote speaker Susan Jacoby spent a little too much time reciting off-topic left wing politics for my taste, but she was far from alone.

My absolute favorite speaker was sex therapist Marty Klein. I had seen him on and Penn and Tellers skepticism show before and was looking forward to his talk. I learned that "sex addiction" is a phony concept invented by an addiction specialist with no background in sex therapy and no evidence to support it.

The biggest takeaway from his talk was the idea of false catergories, such as "pornography and child pornography" which are two very different things that shouldn't be lumped together. Other ones included "birth control and abortion" and "human trafficking and prostitution." Readers can look forward to future posts on this topic.

What I want to write about today are what I learned from him after his talk. I went up to him after his presentation and had the chance to talk to him about consent laws and rape. This was off the top of his head and if for any reason my words are held against him I ask the reader to contact him directly to make sure I'm representing him fairly before flying off the handle.

I did my best to present "consent" neutrally and quickly. I said it's the idea that all sexual acts should be preceded by verbal permission or else they are considered rape.

While we were walking and talking Klein took my by the arm and paused the conversation. We walked a few steps and he asked me if I felt violated, as he had taken my arm without asking permission. I said no.

That, he said, was the point. Treating sex differently then any other form of human interaction is a step in the wrong direction, he said. He told me what the consent crusaders are advocating "shackles human interaction."

As I said before this was off the top of his head so please direct any angry mobs at me, your humble blogger, not him. I feel enlightened by the way Klein viewed this topic and I really hope more people are willing to speak out against this well-intentioned abomination.

Here is the beginning of my post. And here is the rest of it.

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