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The GOP presidential field's sex problem
America is getting ever kinkier, says Tracy Clark-Flory at Salon. So why are Republican politicians such prudes?
Rick Santorum leads the Republican pack in prudence, says Tracy Clark-Flory at Salon, but the rest are not far behind.
Rick Santorum leads the Republican pack in prudence, says Tracy Clark-Flory at Salon, but the rest are not far behind.
Rainier Ehrhardt/Getty Images

"The Republican primaries have been a decidedly unsexy affair," says Tracy Clark-Flory at Salon. "Candidates have passionately spouted rhetoric against premarital sex, gay sex — even non-procreative sex within marriage." Michele Bachmann, the race's recent dropout, pledged to ban pornography. But Rick Santorum may win the prize for suggesting that states should be able to outlaw birth control because contraception offers "a license to do things in a sexual realm that is counter to how things are supposed to be." Polls show a majority of Americans are pro-abortion rights (with reservations) and pro-gay marriage. In their private lives, Americans continue to get kinkier and kinkier. So why are the Republican presidential candidates "such prudes"? Here, an excerpt:

Republican voters, especially evangelicals, have been trained to listen for candidates' "dog whistles" — language that goes over the heads of those who aren't listening for it. They're especially attuned to code words. "People read Republican policy statements metaphorically," says Marty Klein, a sex therapist and author of America's War on Sex. ...

The right-wing of the Republican Party, he adds, is extremely adept at "talking about emotions, feelings, the subjective emotional experience of people. When they talk about sexuality, people are hearing, 'Yeah, I'm worried that my 14-year-old is going out into a sexual world that seems to have no boundaries whatsoever.'"

Let's be honest, though: Religious conservatives aren't the only ones who fall for the anti-sex rhetoric. Klein points out how fear-driven American politics has become: "It's a way of getting money — nobody gets public money if somebody is slightly annoyed. You have to be terrified." And sex freaks people out like nothing else, regardless of political persuasion.

Read the entire article at Salon.

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