How the Religious Right Is Trying to Ruin Sex for Everyone

Dagmar Herzog in AlterNet:

Evangelical sexual conservatives took up some of the main concerns of the feminist women’s movement of the 1970s-1980s. An interest in intensifying women’s sexual pleasure has been a central focus of evangelical sex advice from the start. Many women’s frustration at male fascination with pornography and emotional non-presence during sex — another feminist theme — and the need to help men get comfortable with physical and emotional mutuality, have also been taken up. So too have the classic women’s movement themes of concern about domestic violence, child sexual abuse, and sexual exploitation of women. More recently, evangelicals have moved to adapt both feminist and mainstream advice about body image, in addition to generating a vast Christian dieting and addiction recovery industry. There is also an antiauthoritarian evangelical youth counterculture.

In its activism around issues of sexuality, the Religious Right has found ways as well to incorporate the insights of the New Age men’s movement in its own program to transform an Internet-ogling insecure bumbler into a virile he-man who is competent at male-male friendship and rivalry as well as hot heterosexual romance. The movement has been wildly successful in part because of its extraordinary ability to present its own program as therapeutic. None of this, however, should distract from the fact that right-wing evangelicals have also been sadistic and punitive, eager to play to the most base human desires to feel superior to others who fail to live up to the expected norms.

While the roots of the Religious Right lie in anti-black racism (a history that has now been largely overcome but still goes woefully underacknowledged), it got its start in American national politics by organizing against abortion and homosexuality.