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Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Sex And Gay Marriage In The School Library


"Mrs. D., why is it that all everyone talks about is sex?"

I turned to face Alex, one of my juniors doing research in the library. I heard the scrape of chairs as half the kids at computers pushed back to see what my reaction would be. Patti, one of the librarians, smiled behind him. Quickly, I scanned Alex's expression: his face was open and inquisitive. He wasn't trying to start something.

"Well, are you referring to the research topics in class, Alex? Remember, everyone in here chose a controversial issue, so topics like gay marriage, whether or not homosexuality is genetic and things like that are issues that your colleagues chose to research. That's why they're being discussed," I said.

"No, I didn't mean in here," he said. "I mean, like, everywhere. On tv, in the news, in commercials. It's sex, sex, sex. There's just a lot of it being debated everyplace. Why is that?"

Allow me to state here, for the record, that for the first time in many days, I had everyone's full and undivided attention. And believe me, I paused and thought before I answered. A. Lot.

"Well, Alex, first of all, let me say that I think you're right," I told him. "There is a lot of yammering about sex on television and everywhere else. And I think part of the reason for that is the same reason every single one of you is listening to me right now--and way more than when I talk about commas or symbolism or how to do a citation. Because sex is very interesting to pretty much everyone. Right? Sex sells. So if a show is about sex, people will watch it and then advertisers will buy spots so products make money. Sex is now the lowest common denominator. It's like, not everyone will get a political joke, but a sex joke? Everyone gets that. It's sad, really. At least, I think so."

Another student, Brittany, chimed in. "I think it's sad that some people think that someone else's sexuality is their business. I mean, my topic is gay marriage. Who cares if gay people want to get married? It's not like someone is forcing someone to be gay and get married."

Alex said, "This is what I'm talking about. I'm uncomfortable with this discussion. I don't want to think about it."

"You brought it up, dude," said Tyler, amiably from his computer in the corner where he was researching whether or not minorities are unfairly represented in textbooks. "I'm all for live and let live. My people have been persecuted throughout history. I'm not about to do it to someone else just because they happen to want to marry someone who has the same plumbing."

"Exactly!" said Brittany. "My godfather is gay. I love him. If he wanted to get married, I'd be the first person at his wedding!"

"Hmmm," said Alex. "What did you wish for?"

"What in the hell are you talking about?" asked Brittany, looking at Alex as if he had just landed from another planet.

"I just figured, if you had a fairy godfather..."

please note, photo credit

14 comments:

  1. Good Lord Nance. Sigh.

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  2. oh my. a fairy godfather. not a very nice thing to say but really funny. now i want to know, did you laugh?

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  3. Ortizzle9:11 PM

    I was all for saying "Hooray, Alex, you are so right, the media is bombarding us with sex, etc., etc." And then I read his comment about how he was "uncomfortable" with the discussion. And then the fairy godfather wisecrack.

    So here's my take on the Library Deliberations:

    1. Tyler has a good point. ("You brought it up, dude.")

    2. Brittany is spot on.

    3. Alex... well, maybe he needs to come out of the closet.

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  4. "What did you wish for?" That is so smartass kid clever! And quick! But I would like to know, too, what yours and the classes reaction was to the remark.

    And I'll say it again--TV Guide!?!? Holy Crap Woman! That is the coolest!

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  5. This is something I've actually thought a lot about...sex..why are people so preoccupied/obsessed with it? It's a fair question...

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  6. PotU--Oh, it was definitely a fair question, just not one I expected to have to answer in the middle of the school library during the last period of my day. In a class of 16 boys and 3 girls. Sigh.

    J.--Holy crap. Was the AP story in the print TV GUIDE !?

    Now, as far as my reaction and the class's...I immediately looked at Brittany for my cue. See, I was impressed with Alex's quickness, too. He's not...well, usually very "clever." Not too speedy on the uptake. The fact that he was able to synthesize like that and come up with that comment floored me. Brittany rolled her eyes and grinned and shook her head. She was not offended at all. A few kids were naturally looking at me, and a couple were already heehawing all over the place. I said reprovingly, "Alex!" And then I did the exact same thing as Brittany and then walked away to help someone on the computer who had not been paying much attention to the whole discussion. I know that the remark was politically incorrect, but I honestly don't think Alex was being malicious or was doing any gay-bashing. He doesn't have that kind of personality. He saw the opening for a chance to be funny, and he took it.

    Ortizzle--Alex is "uncomfortable" about a LOT of things. He's working through a variety of issues, I think. Sometimes, I worry about him.

    Nina--You know what it's like at The Rock. Sometimes, it's not so much WHAT is said, but WHO says it, WHEN, HOW...

    Tera--I know. They could never pay me enough.

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  7. The fairy godfather thing is priceless. I think that burried in there is the interesting juxtaposition of GODfather and homosexuality. (can you tell ive been writing term papers?)

    also, the obsession is its easy. i mean selling it is easy. it sells, people want things that are perceived as sexy, they want to be sexy and at least a a subconscious level...whether they realize it or not, regardless of age, the idea is that having sexy things that other sexy people ahve will make you sexy and make people want to ahve sex with you. and everyone likes that idea...whther they themeslves are interested in the sex or not, its always nice to be thought of in some sort of flattering manner.

    --JPD

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  8. Nancy9:33 PM

    Alex is a man after my own heart!

    A fantastic quip at short notice is his speciality.....

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  9. Yes indeed! The PRINT version of TV Guide. Next week's issue under "The Hot List". My mother-in-law spotted it and called us. If you're on the list you MUST be hot!!!

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  10. That's priceless. I love when people come up with witty quips when you're least expecting them!

    Also, love the AP article!

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  11. jenomena--thanks re: the AP article. i thought it came out well, and that the writer really 'got' not just The Report, but me,too.

    J.--holy crap. The Report just keeps on rolling. LOL. This morning, I did a radio interview for an FM station in Portland, MAINE! It's hilarious.

    Nancy--What was really disconcerting was that a quip on short notice is really NOT Alex at all.

    JPD--wow. did you type that with your feet? LOL. XXOO

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  12. I swear I've heard a joke with that punch line before, but it seems unlikely that the whole discussion could have been staged.

    My word, Nance, you're on TV Guide's Hot List!! My sister saw the AP article in our local newspaper, too. ;-) Soon, I'm thinking you just might be on Entertainment Tonight or (far) better yet, actually on BW's broadcast!

    BTW, I love that illustration!!!

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  13. Shirley--Oh, believe me, this discussion could not have been staged. if Alex had heard a joke that allowed him to use the punchline, i can believe that; as i said, he's not known for being clever. As far as the TV Guide...it's just a riot, isn't it? I think BW is assiduously avoiding mentioning "his site" on The Nightly or on his blog at MSNBC to avoid being cast as self-aggrandizing. And, BTW--I owe you an email. I'm trying to juggle so much around here lately. I promise to get better on my personal correspondence.

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  14. Why is sex such a big topic of conversation and debate in America? Because Christian/Catholic America keeps it forever on everyone's radar.

    Sex is just sex. If it doesn't involve kids or animals or non-consenting adults, who cares?

    I think America's religious traditions inadvertently feed Americans obsession with all things sexual. It's the lure of the forbidden and the conflict between what we feel and what we think we *should* feel that keeps sex a hot issue in the culture wars and makes sex a political issue.

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