Today I woke up to a lovely, lovely thing in my inbox. It was a Google Alert that pointed me to an article called S&M, Ivy-League Style published today by FrontPage Magazine, which I’d never heard of before now. It looks like Conversio Virium, the Columbia University-supported BDSM education group that I have done a lot of volunteering at, has piqued the interest of conservative author and psychiatrist Miriam Grossman. Of course, even though Grossman has very few positive things to say about us, this kind of warms my heart because it’s concrete evidence of the impact I’m having on the world.

The article Grossman wrote is a prime example of political rabble-rousing, a do-nothing, say-nothing example of sensationalist reporting that uses that ever-convenient excuse, “just to warn you about the danger, wink wink.” Strewn throughout the article are not-so-cleverly disguised threats designed to frighten uninformed readers while doing absolutely nothing to actually impart some kind of knowledge about the issues at hand.

As usual, Grossman doesn’t miss the opportunity to lump all kinds of sexual practices into one steaming pile of “beware of dog!”, including threesomes and swinging, right up there with BDSM. Oh, and let’s not forget the repeated association with STDs. (“Only sinners get STDs!”) The fact that the only thing these three sexual activities have in common with one another (aside from the fact that they are all valid examples of human sexual behavior) is that they’re unpopular with the author is conspicuously missing from this article, which sarcastically purports to tout “awareness” as a noble goal:

“What does BDSM have to do with health?” I asked.

That, by the way, is exactly like asking “What does sex have to do with health?” but I’ll give Grossman the benefit of the doubt for the moment and assume she’s simply ignorant about the subject, in which case I’ve got an extensive reading list for her to peruse.

In any event, the article continues:

“Well,” I was told, “it’s just good to be aware. Just so you’ll know what it means if it comes up in conversation.”

Princeton students seeking further “awareness” may turn to another Ivy League resource. Columbia University’s popular is staffed by health educators. […] You’ll find queries here from outside the Columbia’s community as well, including high school students.

Oh noes! This means that high school students are asking sex questions. Why is that news to anyone? And more topically, why shouldn’t they be asking sex questions? Also, why is it that the kinds of questions high school students are asking are the same kinds of questions college students are asking? Has Grossman stopped to consider that perhaps this is so because neither high school nor college students are getting the kind of exposure to sexual health information that they need to get their answers? Questions such as “how do I tie someone up safely” that the educators at and Conversio Virium have answers to.

For “real” answers and “awareness” I suppose we should read Grossman’s book, Unprotected: A Campus Psychiatrist Reveals How Political Correctness in Her Profession Endangers Every Student, which is described on her web site like this:

Our campuses are steeped in political correctness—that’s hardly news to anyone. But no one realizes that radical social agendas have also taken over campus health and counseling centers, with dire consequences.

Psychiatrist Miriam Grossman knows this better than anyone. She has treated more than 2,000 students at one of America’s most prestigious universities, and she’s seen how the anything- goes, women-are-just-like-men, “safer-sex” agenda is actually making our sons and daughters sick.

Dr. Grossman takes issue with the experts who suggest that students’ problems can be solved with free condoms and Zoloft.

I have to agree with her on the point that all health problems cannot be solved by giving out free condoms and Zoloft pills, but I don’t think any safer-sex educator I know is doing only that and nothing else. Furthermore, the implication that they are is once again an attempt at harmful fear-mongering. The evidence to the contrary is, ironically, in her own article, which actually quotes (but does not link to) the CV web site, as well as choice tips of practical advice from the Go Ask Alice column. Minutes browsing either of these web sites will reveal useful, practical resources, something that is unsurprisingly lacking in her own articles.

Instead of practical advice, what does Grossman offer?

HPV, herpes, and chlamydia are silent epidemics; for each person with symptoms, there’s at least one without.

Just so you’re aware. In case it comes up in conversation.

Well, gee, Dr. Grossman, thanks for playing “who wants be a big scary monster.” And you know what, you’re sadly right about that fact. Those STIs are silent epidemics, and who do you think we have to thank for that? That’s right, viewers like you.

Grossman uses medical facts to restrict people’s choices, enslaving them, instead of empowering them as she claims to want to do. This is an exemplary circumstance of conservative hypocrisy at work. Scare scare scare, shun shun shun, it’ll free you and you’ll be so much happier when your only choices are the ones I’ve pre-screened for you!

In her press releases, she writes about the biochemistry of bonding, and specifically of the role of oxytocin in making people (well, women) feel trust. Young men, of course, naturally release enough testosterone to save us from the Pavlovian effect of injections of oxytocin that sex produces:

You could say that we are designed to bond. Neuroendocrinology is suggesting that Heather’s feelings about her “friend” are based in her biology and that inadvertently she has attached in a powerful way with someone whose last intention is to bond.

So according to Miriam Grossman, women (poor, tender, fragile females) are biologically more emotionally vulnerable than men, and that’s not a politically-correct thing to say. How, exactly, is that not a gigantic leap of faith rife with assumptions about women’s emotional makeup proven incorrect by the vast diversity of emotional responses women have to sex? Furthermore, how is that not politically correct? Stating that women are more sexually vulnerable than men is the definition of the politically-correct attitude towards women! However, blaming that sad fact on biology and discouraging sexual freedoms for women only makes things worse.

But wait, there’s more:

In all her years of sex education, Heather never heard of oxytocin. When she logs on to Planned Parenthood or the popular health Q&A site, she finds a celebration of sexuality—as long as it includes latex, of course. She’s led to believe that when it comes to sexual urges and desires, experimentation and exploration will only increase her self knowledge and well-being.

This approach is not based on hard science. Instead it reflects the presence of social agendas in the fields of health and counseling. These social agendas promote the ideology that anything goes between consenting adults, that latex protects, that men and women are the same, and that abortion is basically a benign medical procedure. It’s not PC to challenge the hooking-up culture or to demonstrate that we may be hard-wired to attach.

At first brush, it might seem like Grossman wants social ideologies out of psychiatric practice. That sounds reasonable. Upon closer examination though, she’s managed to touch on no less than six (6!) social agendas herself in just these two paragraphs. These are namely,

  1. that sexual self-exploration is dangerous and to be discouraged,
  2. that only approved forms of sex should be allowed between consenting adults,
  3. that the free distribution of condoms contribute to negative sexual experiences,
  4. that women and men should be treated differently based on their sex,
  5. that abortion is bad, wrong, and unsafe,
  6. and that monogamy is the One True Way to Love®.

Wow. Way to be a sexist hypocrite. She could win contests. Somebody give her an adorable Kelly green Chlamydia plush toy. It’s her favorite.

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