2013 in Review: SAA’s Top 5

saa12302013(12/30/13)  It’s been a fast and furious year at Sex Across America and our parent company, Fallen Angel.  We’ve really enjoyed bringing you a weekly look at sex trends and breaking news this year and we want to take this opportunity to thank everyone for the wonderful encouragement we’ve received throughout.

It’s truly a labor of love for us and, since we would like to keep this a free resource for all, the only viable way to grow is through the generosity of readers who take a few moments to pass along our quirky banter and help spread the word throughout their circles.  We deeply appreciate the tremendous support we’ve received in that regard and hope that everyone has gotten something useful from our coverage.

With 2013 drawing to a close and as we plan our editorial calendar for next year, we thought it might be nice to review which topics trended highest during the year so that we can better focus our upcoming coverage.  Since it’s been said that there are, “…three kinds of lies:  Lies, bold-faced lies and statistics,” we really didn’t want to over think this little exercise, but rather have it result in more of a “Hmm.  Maybe I missed something that others thought was interesting” kind of thing for you while helping us to refine our planning.

(Actually, and against our better judgment, we were forced to feed our statmonkeys in order to get them to crunch the numbers for us.  Fortunately we had some cookies left over from the holidays so here’s what the now-happy bunch came up with.)

SAA’s 2013 Top 5 Trending Topics (in reverse order):

# 5:  Kickin’ a Sex Bucket

# 4 (tied):  SAA’s Salute to Nelson Mandela and SAA’s Salute to the National Coalition for Sexual Freedom

# 3:  The Millenial Generation

# 2:  The Swinger Scene

And (drumroll please)–coming in at # 1:  SAA’s Recommended Reading List

While we try to ensure that all of our topics are as timely and pertinent as those that trended to the top, it’s also extremely important to us that our coverage includes subjects that have a personal connection to you–our readers.  Towards that end, we hope you’ll let us know if there’s something you’d like us to cover or events for your organization that we can help publicize and we’ll do our best to add it to our upcoming schedule.  Just drop us an email and we’ll take it from there.

Once again, thank you for all of the encouragement and support this past year and please accept our best, heartfelt wishes for good health, much happiness and great success in 2014.

Happy New Year, everyone,

Luc & Alexandra

Erotica Across America

saa12232013(12/23/13)  What is erotica?  Is it art?  Is it porn?  Is it neither or both?  Some say the answer lies with the intent of the subject while others opine that it’s whatever the social majority says it is.  If you randomly ask any 10 people, you’ll likely get about 47 different answers.  Defining erotica is very much like firing a floppy rubber band at an ever-zipping target.  The definition not only fluctuates depending on where you happen to be at any given moment, but also when that given moment happens to be.  You would think that something that’s been around since cave dwelling days might be more solidly classified by now, but if anything it’s become fuzzier in the modern era.  Perhaps that’s not such a bad thing though.

Paraphrasing Supreme Court Associate Justice Potter Stewart’s famous 1964 statement supporting the Court’s overturning an Ohio obscenity conviction, “…I shall not today attempt further to define the kinds of material I understand to be embraced, but I know it when I see it.”  It’s one of those rare, elegant occurrences where intentional ambiguity and sharp precision collide in a way that’s just perfect.  By leaving the “erotica bin” deliberately vague, much more freedom is preserved when it comes to what’s Constitutionally protected as free expression.  That said, the political and legal skirmishes hardly ended there.

In 1973, the Supreme Court ruled in a California obscenity case, resulting in a three step assessment to resolve whether a written or visual artwork was Constitutionally protected or classified as “obscene” and therefore not covered by the First Amendment.  The so-called “Miller Test” offered these guidelines:

1.  Whether the average person, applying contemporary community standards would find that the work, taken as a whole, appeals to the prurient interest;

2.  Whether the work depicts or describes, in a patently offensive way, sexual conduct specifically defined by the applicable state law, and;

3.  Whether the work, taken as a whole, lacks serious literary, artistic, political, or scientific value.

While many states still have laws that would apply in defining obscene material, the issue of “contemporary community standards” is both vague and constantly changing.  As they’ve essentially become more liberal over the years, particularly with new and expanded forms of media, the Miller Test has increasingly helped to protect many forms of erotica when challenged in the justice system.  Accordingly, the uberstuffy types had to up their creativity when instigating clashes, but not necessarily achieving the intended results.

In 1989, for example, Robert Mapplethorpe‘s art exhibit, publicly funded by the National Endowment for the Arts, came under attack by conservative special interest groups under the guise of opposing public subsidies for art that they deemed obscene.  Applying powerful lobbying tactics, they managed to influence withdrawal of support for Mapplethorpe’s show along with a subsequent obscenity prosecution of a venue that proceeded with the exhibition.  While their strategy initially appeared to succeed, it ultimately backfired massively when the venue (the Contemporary Arts Center in Cincinnati, Ohio) was found not guilty in the resulting jury trial and the entire escapade elevated Mapplethorpe to celebrity status, significantly increasing both the exposure and monetary value of his art.

These days, erotic artists are thriving as the mainstream has widened its view of what is considered–and accepted–as art.  This isn’t to say that opposition camps have dissolved completely, of course, but it does seem that a greater degree of tolerance is now in the air.  It’s a positive trend that not only solidifies freedom, but ironically owes itself to the lack of a clear, universal definition.

However, you do know it when you see it.

S.A.A. Salutes: Nelson Mandela

SAAgraphic12162013(12/16/13)  The world has lost a giant.  More importantly, the world has lost a friend.

Nelson Mandela was laid to rest yesterday, but his legacy lives on brighter than ever.  Though known mostly for his triumphs in civil rights and social justice, his sphere of influence–and inspiration–on a multitude of other issues reached so much further.  Among these was his steadfast commitment to expanding global HIV/AIDS awareness and championing substantial prevention strategies.  As we’ve listened to and read many of the recent poignant tributes in his honor over the past week, we’ve noticed a distinct absence of coverage regarding his efforts in this area.  Accordingly, we would like to offer our thoughts with a bit of focus on what’s been missing.

With all of the emphasis on Mandela’s courageous battles against injustice and his hard-fought victories in transforming a nation, it’s easy to understand why some aspects of his leadership might be overshadowed, but it should never be said that any of these are subordinated because they were somehow less important.  Indeed, though hardly ever the headline, Mandela made it a priority to voice his concern about HIV/AIDS and take direct action where he could.  Joining alongside other high-impact organizations such as the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and Philip Harvey’s DKT International, the Nelson Mandela Foundation was formed specifically with the mission to promote HIV/AIDS awareness and prevention campaigns.  Though one might think that he would have centered his efforts specifically on his native South Africa where, according to the United Nations, there are more than 2 million orphans due to the disease, he made it a point to leverage his global statesmanship as broadly as possible, particularly in the years following his presidency.  As a direct result of these efforts and partnerships, along with inspiring other organizations worldwide, the number of new AIDS cases dropped by about 1/3rd over the past decade.  With an infected population of over 35 million people globally, obviously there is still a lot of work to be done, but at least there is a glimmer of positive progress.

A glimmer, but progress nonetheless.  Throughout his remarkable life, Nelson Mandela proved that every little thing adds up.  A key lesson that he left us with is that no problem is insurmountable if everyone does something, even if small, to make humanity better.  So, although the world is now a lesser place without his presence, we hope that many will honor his memory by becoming active in organizations such as those noted above and supporting their efforts in whatever ways possible.  Through such action, even if small, you’ll be helping to ensure that his legacy becomes even brighter–and you’ll be making the world a better place.

Sex Across America Salutes: The National Coalition for Sexual Freedom

(12/9/13)  Last week, we featured a piece on Kink Aware Professionals, a directory of medical, legal, therapeutic and administrative professionals who understand and support various sexuality concerns and lifestyle choices.  In that article, we noted that this program is managed by the non-profit National Coalition for Sexual Freedom (NCSF) and, accordingly, we thought it important to expand our coverage to include a little more about this unique organization.

Founded in 1997, the NCSF’s purpose is straightforward:  They champion sexual freedom and privacy rights.  They accomplish this through direct action as well as by affiliating with social organizations, academic institutions, businesses and synergistic political action groups such as the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU).  Through their activism, advocacy and educational programs, they seek to improve the political landscape as it relates to equal rights for consenting adults who enjoy alternative forms of sexuality, particularly in kink/fetish, swingers and polyamory communities.

Unlike other activist organizations who only respond to crisis situations as they arise, the NCSF has developed an ongoing, proactive platform geared towards educating communities, legal systems and media outlets at local, state and national levels.  For example, the group recently sponsored an interactive event at the Leather Archives and Museum in Chicago featuring legal experts (including a sitting District Court judge) that provided an overview of issues related to federal and state laws used to prosecute consensual sexual activity among adults.  Through activities like this, they help to prevent potentially adverse situations through better understanding of facts instead of knee-jerk reactions to common myths or biased groupthink.  By building a stronger knowledge foundation along with well-informed public opinion on a widespread basis, the organization has successfully shifted both the response to and coverage of several high-profile cases regarding sexual freedom in recent years and diluted the efforts of many organizations who seek to restrict adult rights.

In short, the NCSF is an organization that’s not nearly as well known as it should be, but has had–and is having–a solid impact when it counts.  If you would like to get a better idea of some of their ongoing projects, we recommend a visit to their official website along with a quick stop at their YouTube channel where you’ll find some brief videos.  Additionally, to help increase the support and attention they both need and deserve, please take a moment to share this article throughout your circles.