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Alexandra Katehakis, M.F.T. Headshot

The Year in Bad Sex: 20 Defining Moments of 2011

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Here are the top 20 news stories of 2011 that resulted from unbelievably bad sex, which we define as unhealthy sexual or romantic impulses resulting in toxic activities that cause harm to individuals and communities. The addictive spectrum of bad sex is always secretive or shameful in some way, and abusive or exploitative at its worst. This provocative list was compiled by me and my fellow clinicians, the sexual therapists and sex addiction specialists at Center for Healthy Sex, who provided their professional slant for these hotbed topics.

Why are we inundated with sexual scandals? How can these public figures make the same blatant mistakes over and over and over? One possible factor is that with the explosion of electronic communication, which has usurped previous relational standards, we are experiencing a societal upheaval. In particular, the proliferation of Internet porn has reshaped sexual attitudes and beliefs, distorting the sexual narrative of our society further toward unhealthy objectification and dysmorphia. According to statistics, today's youth -- the future generation that will lead our world -- is already saturated by internet porn, with 80 percent of teenagers ages 15 to 17 reporting "multiple hard-core exposure."

"For the first time in history, children are growing up whose earliest sexual imprinting derives not from a living human being, or fantasies of their own; since the 1960s pornographic upsurge, the sexuality of children has begun to be shaped in response to cues that are no longer human. Nothing comparable has ever happened in the history of our species; it dislodges Freud. Today's children and young men and women have sexual identities that spiral around paper and celluloid phantoms: from Playboy to music videos to the blank female's torsos in women's magazines, features obscured and eyes extinguished, they are being imprinted with a sexuality that is mass-produced, deliberately dehumanizing and inhuman."

--Naomi Wolf, The Beauty Myth

Despite the much-heralded 1960s sexual revolution against previously repressive attitudes, we're still facing many of the same intrinsic problems from earlier eras -- if not the Middle Ages. Sex is often, if not mostly, a manipulative tool for people to use and be used, and such selfish and self-destructive tendencies trickle out into world dysfunction.

"Two things threaten all our lives: high-tech warfare and industrially driven ecological disaster. Both are a kind of madness; borne of emotional injury. Both are the result of arrests in emotional development. Both are problems of relationship."

--Robin Grille, Parenting for a Peaceful World

Sexual dissatisfaction, dysfunction, and misconduct materialize due to ignorance of the truth that ultimately sex is more than just an act, a thing to be had. Sex is a way of being in the world and relating intimately within it. While the sexual revolution was instrumental in liberating healthy, undeveloped sexual urges from repression compared with previous eras, our culture still represses true intimacy. We freely discuss our lives in sexual terms without genuinely revealing or exploring the actual vulnerabilities, feelings, and desires that impel our sexual being. What's really most needed today is a relational revolution.

What does unhealthy or addictive sex mean to you, and which of these stories do you believe to be the worst example of bad sex?

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