Alexandra Katehakis and Center for Healthy Sex (CHS) have released their Annual Best/Worst Sex List for 2016.
It was a difficult and challenging year, especially seen through the lens of sexual health. It was a year in which politics came close to displacing sexual politics as the most-talked about topic on therapist couches.
Even the positive advances in the field of sexuality seem to have emerged surrounded by an undertow of oppressive conflict threatening to pull them back under in the future. As always, our intention is to bear witness, to be better informed, and to develop our compassion.
With this in mind, here is our annual list of the 10 Best & 10 Worst Sex Stories that made headlines this year, as well as 3 additional newsworthy stories that defy category.
Best Sex #1:
Supreme Court Protects Access to Abortion
The Story: On June 27, the Supreme Court ruled 5-3 that Texas cannot place restrictions on the delivery of abortion services that create an undue burden for women seeking an abortion. On June 28, the Court refused similar challenges from Wisconsin and Mississippi.
Why this matters: Anti-abortion activists in state government have been enacting harmful regulations for years designed to impede a woman's right to an abortion. Abortion is legal and access is crucial for the sexual health of women and families.
Best Sex #2:
ICC Makes First Conviction for Sexual Violence
The Story: The International Criminal Court (ICC) has jurisdiction to prosecute individuals for the international crimes of genocide, crimes against humanity, and war crimes. This year a Congolese politician became the first person to be convicted of crimes of sexual violence in war, as well as the first to be held directly responsible for subordinates' use of rape as a weapon of war.
Why this matters: Throughout history, rape has often been considered an inevitable consequence of war. Since 2002, the ICC has made many convictions but never for sexual violence until now. It's high time the historic practice of military rape as a tool of war had its day in global court.
Best Sex #3:
Oregon Court Rules "Non-Binary" a Legal Gender
The Story: In April, Jamie Shupe filed a sex change petition with the Multnomah County Court in Oregon to have their sex legally declared as non-binary. In June, a judge granted the petition, making Jamie Shupe the first person to be legally declared as non-binary in the United States.
Why this matters: The perception of gender as solely binary might be rooted in tradition, religious dogma, power, or other forms of bias but it is not a perception integrating the reality of chromosomal, physiological and psychological variations.
Best Sex #4:
Pentagon Ends Transgender Military Ban
The Story: Department of Defense regulations that ban transgender persons from US military service were repealed on June 30, 2016. Defense Secretary Ash Carter announced that medical coverage for transgender service members will include doctor-approved hormone therapy and gender reassignment surgery.
Why this matters: It's estimated that more than 15,000 transgender people are already serving. It's vital for the policies and laws of America to support and protect transgender individuals in the military for their safety and respect.
Best Sex #5:
California Revokes Rape Statute of Limitations
The Story: Governor Jerry Brown signed a bill revoking California's 10-year statute of limitations on rape cases. However, the new law will only apply to crimes committed after January 1, 2017.
Why this matters: It takes years, often decades, to process the immediate trauma of sexual assault. This is especially true for a child. There is no set timeline in psychology for when a rape survivor will become capable of publicly revealing a rape, and there shouldn't be a timeline in the law.
Best Sex #6:
Africa Combats Female Genital Mutilation
The Story: Unicef released 2016 statistics on Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) revealing there are 100 million girls and women alive having undergone the ritual cutting, 70 million more than previous estimates, with females in Egypt, Indonesia and Ethiopia accounting for half of FGM victims worldwide. As a result, Indonesia launched a national campaign this year to end the practice, while Egypt's parliament voted in August to increase penalties for those who perpetrate FGM.
Why this matters: At its core, this ritual is based in gender inequality, in age-old attempts to control women's sexuality. FGM is traumatic and can result in lifelong health consequences, with no reported health benefits.
Best Sex #7:
Celebrity Voyeur Lawsuits Bring Major Damages
The Story: Juries awarded $55 million to Erin Andrews and $115 million to Hulk Hogan in separate trials -- both had been filmed in the nude and the recordings were publicly uploaded to the Internet without their consent where they went viral.
Why this matters: Voyeurism is not a victimless crime. It is a sexual violation without consent and today's technology makes it more possible than ever. The court has sent a clear message this year -- consequences for voyeurism can be costly.
Best Sex #8:
Scientists Invent 8-Inch Bionic Penis Implant
The Story: Wisconsin scientists have invented a heat-activated metal penis implant made from nitinol, a metal alloy of nickel and titanium, that grows to 8 inches with the help of a remote control.
Why this matters: This new device is designed to help men with erectile dysfunction who don't respond to other treatments. Satisfaction rates with currently available pump devices are very high with 80%-90% of men reporting they would choose the surgery again.
Best Sex #9:
Birth Control Apps Arrange Home Delivery
The Story: At least six digital apps, including Planned Parenthood, now provide prescriptions written by clinicians after women answer questions about their health online or by video. Some apps even provide home delivery, no doctor or pharmacy visit needed.
Why this matters: There are too many restrictions to birth control, which should be available over the counter. These apps are easily available, easy to use, and they make it easier for women to manage their sexual health, which is a saving grace in these times.
Best Sex #10:
Obama Defunds 'Abstinence Only' Sex Ed
The Story: President Obama removed all funding for abstinence-only education in his proposed federal budget for 2017, cutting a $10 million per year grant from the Department of Health and Human Services that supports such programs, which have never been proven effective.
Why this matters: Despite the lack of scientific evidence, over the last 25 years Congress has spent nearly $2 billion on such "abstinence-until-marriage" programs. Research has proven that abstinence-only campaigns have been unsuccessful at preventing teen pregnancy or sexual activity. The programs are usually religiously driven and don't feature any actual educational components.
Worst Sex #1:
Trump Elected Despite Sexism, Sexual Assaults
The Story: During the 2016 campaign he took misogyny and casual sexism to unprecedented lows. Video tape showed Donald Trump bragging about forcing himself on women by outright grabbing their vaginas, which is sexual assault. Other women came forward credibly accusing Donald Trump of the very sexual assaults he bragged about. This man was elected President.
Why this matters: Forget about eradicating rape culture on college campuses and comprehensive sex education, the President-elect and his policies are a threat to sexual rights we've taken for granted.
Worst Sex #2:
Closeted Male Attacks LGBT Club in Orlando
The Story: Omar Mateen, a 29-year-old security guard, killed 49 people and wounded 53 others inside Pulse, a gay Latino nightclub in Orlando, Florida on June 12, 2016. It was both the deadliest mass shooting by a single shooter and the deadliest incident of violence against LGBT people in United States history.
Why this matters: Sexual repression is a form of self-violence that, when projected outward, can be destructive and even deadly. Mateen's ex-wife claimed that his own father called him gay and her current fiancé revealed their family believed he was gay. Officially, the shooting has been classified as an act of terrorism and a hate crime.
Worst Sex #3:
Roger Ailes Accused of Sexual Harassment
The Story: Roger Ailes, founder and former Chairman and CEO of Fox News, was forced to resign this year amidst allegations of sexual harassment. Fox privately reached financial settlements for a number of the cases, and Ailes went on to work as a political consultant for the Trump campaign.
Why this matters: The public relies on major media outlets for true and ethical reporting of world events. When a sexual predator presides over such a toxic environment, the quality of the news is suspect. Suppression of sexual misconduct continues to be a major stain on human society worldwide.
Worst Sex #4:
States Plan Anti-Gay 'Religious Freedom' Laws
The Story: A year ago, Indiana enacted the "Religious Freedom Restoration Act" into law to protect Christian businesses that did not want to provide services to gays and lesbians, but after massive boycott threats and businesses' concerns the state was later forced to recapitulate, amending the law to ensure civil rights protections. This year similar laws were attempted in Mississippi and Georgia.
Why this matters: Within his first 100 days in office, the President-elect has pledged to join Congress and the Senate to pass the "First Amendment Defense Act," an anti-LGBT bill allowing businesses to refuse service to lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender persons based on religious beliefs. Homophobia goes to Washington.
Worst Sex #5:
Transphobic Bathroom Laws Cause Harm
The Story: On May 13, the federal government told public schools they must allow transgender students to use bathrooms that correspond with their gender identity or risk losing federal funding. In August a federal judge in Texas ordered a nationwide injunction blocking the policy. In retaliation, several states attempted to implement so-called "bathroom bills" to require transgender persons to use the restroom corresponding to their assigned gender at birth. Only North Carolina signed such a bill, HB2, into law resulting in nationwide outrage, boycotts, and lawsuits.
Why this matters: These terrible transphobic bathroom laws have resulted in cases of mistaken identities as cisgender women are mistaken for transgender and humiliated by patrons and police. Transgender individuals have experienced heightened harassment, fear, and trauma around this issue which speaks directly to the right to self-identify.
Worst Sex #6:
Zika Virus Found to Spread Via Sexual Contact
The Story: The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) announced in July that the mosquito-borne Zika virus can be sexually transmitted. Public health experts confirmed that Zika can be passed from a person who has Zika to his or her sex partners through sex that includes vaginal, anal, oral sex, and the sharing of sex toys even if the person does not have symptoms at the time.
Why this matters: Zika can be passed from a pregnant woman to her fetus and infection during pregnancy can cause certain birth defects. Eighty percent of people who become infected never have symptoms. Condoms can reduce the chances of infection.
Worst Sex #7:
Brock Turner Serves 3 Months of Rape Sentence
The Story: Brock Turner stood trial in March for sexually penetrating a 22-year-old unconscious woman behind a campus dumpster, in a case known as the "Stanford Rape." In June, Turner was convicted on three charges of felony sexual assault, carrying a potential sentence of 14 years in prison. But the judge only sentenced him to six months in prison, and after serving three months, Turner was released -- and the public was outraged.
Why this matters: The rape victim submitted to the court a powerful and profound 7,138-word victim impact statement describing in vivid detail her physical, emotional, and spiritual experience. Public outrage railed against the judge and a system of judicial bias in favor of male and class privilege.
Worst Sex #8:
Pakistani Council Approves Domestic Violence
The Story: Pakistan's Islamic Council on Ideology (CII) passed non-binding legislation this year recommending husbands should be allowed to "lightly beat" their wives. The CII was created so that democratically-elected legislators can seek clerical advice before implementing legislation that may conflict with Islamic law.
Why this matters: Possible infractions include if a woman defies her husband's demands, turns down sexual intercourse, refuses to dress up per his desires, interacts with strangers, or speaks too loudly. Pakistan's Human Rights Commission estimates 70 percent of Pakistani women have suffered domestic violence.
Worst Sex #9:
Anthony Weiner Caught Sexting Underage Girl
The Story: It was the final straw -- a photo of former Congressman Anthony Weiner in his underwear, his toddler child lying next to him on the bed while he sexts with yet another online woman. Huma Abedin, the wife who stood by his side through similar scandals, announced their separation in August. One month later it was reported Weiner knowingly engaged in sexting with a 15-year-old girl, provoking an FBI investigation.
Why this matters: What kind of person would endanger the psychological health of his own child with that kind of neglect? Who would repeat the same sexual activity that has led to his public disgrace not once, not twice, but multiple times? This is obviously an unwell individual utterly driven to destruction by compulsive sexual behavior.
Worst Sex #10:
Rehab Mogul Charged with Sexual Assaults
The Story: Christopher Bathum, a self-described "rehab mogul," founded 19 sober-living facilities in Southern California and Colorado where prosecutors allege he sexually assaulted female clients and provided some with drugs. He's been charged with 12 counts of furnishing drugs and 34 counts of sexual assault-related offenses, including rape, as well as money laundering, insurance fraud, grand theft and identify theft.
Why this matters: When operated ethically, sober-living homes are a great resource to the recovery community. The blatant abuse of power by criminals like Christopher Bathum defies the very concepts of safety and recovery.
The Rest #1:
Holland Grants Euthanasia to Sex Abuse Victim
The Story: A Dutch woman in her 20s was the victim of child sex abuse from the age of 5 to 15. Her post-traumatic stress disorder included severe anorexia, chronic depression, tendencies to self-harm, hallucinations, obsessions and compulsions. She was almost entirely bedridden. This year it was revealed that doctors in Holland granted her request for euthanasia, the first known case of legally assisted suicide to end trauma resulting from sexual abuse.
Why this matters: Euthanasia provides dignity for those who face unimaginable torment due to severe physical or mental dysfunction. The word comes from the Greek language meaning "good death."
The Rest #2:
Rolling Stone Loses U-Va. Rape Defamation Case
The Story: In 2014, Rolling Stone published an article by Sarbina Erderly titled "A Rape on Campus," depicting a gang rape at a fraternity at the University of Virginia. Rolling Stone retracted the story after it was revealed to be based on false information. The school's chief administrator for handling sexual assault issues filed a defamation lawsuit and in November 2016, a jury found Rolling Stone and Erderly liable for $3 million in damages.
Why this matters: This false story caused a lot of collateral damage. It's not inconceivable that a rape victim might behave erratically, mis-identify people or mis-remember events -- all symptoms of trauma. But it takes unbiased, investigative interviews of all parties involved to uncover the truth.
The Rest #3:
Urinal Technology Cleans Penis After Urination
The Story: There's a new toilet in town -- a team of Spanish inventors debuted a prototype for "Urinal 2.0," which is basically a urinal bidet. After urination, programmed sensors inside the urinal activate an automated cleaning service using a soap-and-water mix to wash the penis and then blow dry it in just three seconds.
Why this matters: Will men be seeing urinal bidets in rest stops and mall restrooms? It's confusing enough just to know how to operate the many variations of automated bathroom faucets and paper towel dispensers. At a time when waterless urinals sensibly are becoming the new standard, the Urinal 2.0 seems to require too many resources to operate. This invention fills a need no one seems to be voicing.