I was titillated today to see Red Room's topic of the week: "Sex, Religion, and/or Politics." It's true that like many of us, as a child I was taught that whenever my parents had company, religion and politics were to be avoided-well, avoided if that meant our guests had a difference of opinion from my father's. If the guests were conservative and Republican, there was an inspired vocal quorum in agreement around the kitchen table condemning those who held a different point of view. Often, I would quietly escape in order to save my head.
As for "sex," that was a subject matter that my mom broached in hush hush tones when I was about sixteen or so and it was basically to remind me the importance of remaining a virgin before marrying.
So, many years later when my mother came upon the few non-gratuitous sex scenes in my novel Without Grace and realized her daughter had written them, her only response was a disapproving shake of her head. For the most part, though, compared to religion and politics, sex is not a topic that I write about very much, unless it's for my novel or within the context of former-President Bush's policy of abstinence only. I suppose, though, that very policy alone brings together the triumvirate of sex, religion and politics, since he, the president, was using his religious beliefs as the touchstone for attempting to instill abstinence in the hormone-driven youth of America.
Anyone familiar with my blogs on the Huffington Post will know that I don't shy away from incendiary topics. With titles like Does the Bible Inspire Hate and Intolerance?, Women's Rights, Rape and Religion, Why Ann Coulter Needs To Go Away, The Evils of Radical Fundamentalism, Should Novelists Keep Their Political Opinions to Themselves?, among my many titles, I think it's apparent. Actually, Should Novelists Keep Their Political Opinions to Themselves was inspired by a recent response from a Facebook friend to one of my status updates who thought I was hurting my fan base by posting political opinions and suggested I keep them to myself. Yeah, right.
The thing is, all three of these topics should be handled with respect and honesty. Opinions absolutely matter, but one hopes that they are unprejudiced and educated opinions based on fact. However, therein, lies the problem, I suppose. How can we have an intelligent discussion when there are some who misinform, mislead and mischaracterize? Remember when girls could get pregnant from kissing a boy? When religious leaders were allowed to burn people at the stake? Or when we went to war because of those weapons of mass destruction?