Alexandra Katehakis and Center for Healthy Sex (CHS) have released their Annual Best/Worst Sex List for 2015.
It's been a wild year for sex! It seems like sexuality is the one field with even more of an ideological divide than politics. This year there is greater tolerance than ever to the many sexuality identifications and definitions, thanks to sex therapists and activists who collectively demand greater agency, access and protections. At the same time, there are many movements that promote failing programs like abstinence-only sex education and invisible walls of discrimination to keep erotic minorities closeted.
With all this in mind, here for the 2015 year is our annual list of the 10 Best & 10 Worst Sex Stories, as well as 5 additional stories that defy category.
Best 1: Supreme Court Legalizes Marriage Equality
The Supreme Court ruled in favor of marriage equality! Still there were some opponents who cried foul, demanding a religious exception to exercise their right to prejudice in public businesses which will play out in courts to come. Why this matters: Extending legal equality to all healthy expressions of sexuality, including homosexuality, bisexuality and pansexuality, is the right thing to do and makes healthy sexuality more attainable for all.
Best 2: Caitlyn Jenner Comes Out as Transgender
Caitlyn Jenner became the most visible and widely celebrated celebrity to self-identify as transgender. Her numerous awards, including Glamour magazine's Woman of the Year, caused controversy. Despite missteps, she continues to champion the cause of greater trans acceptance. Why this matters: The ongoing conversation helps everyone to question their assigned gender roles and identity, and results in a better understanding of trans issues.
Best 3: First Openly Bisexual Governor Elected
This year, the state of Oregon elected an openly bisexual woman, Kate Brown, as governor-the first elected LGBT governor in the nation. Why this matters: As LGBT are elected to higher office, it's significant that bisexuals have equal prominence. Statistics show bisexuals make up the largest subset of LGBT, yet receive by far the lowest funding. They live in greater poverty than LG with higher rates of suicide. When bisexuals come out, it helps to combat biphobia.
Best 4: Penis Transplant Conceives for the First Time
This past March, the recipient of the world's first successful penis transplant performed last December in South Africa announced he'd impregnated his girlfriend a mere five weeks after the procedure. Why this matters: Crudely-performed circumcisions in South Africa alone leave roughly 250 men each year with non-functioning sexual organs. Penis transplantation improves the quality of life of patients and will surely lead to even more advanced operations in the future.
Best 5: Congress Creates Transgender Task Force
The Congressional LGBT Equality Caucus launched the Task Force on Transgender Equality in November. This announcement introduced Congress' first forum on issues of violence against the transgender community. Why this matters: This task force is an effective and unprecedented tool in the development of legislation to help combat issues that disproportionately impact the transgender community, including violence, unemployment and homelessness.
Best 6: UN Recommends Intersex Infant Surgery Ban
The United Nations Human Rights Commissioner issued a June report to prohibit medically unnecessary procedures on intersex children. Also in 2015, the first intersex lawsuit was filed against the U.S. Department of State for refusing to issue a passport without male or female identification. Why this matters: According to the Intersex Society of North America, about 1 in 2,000 children are born intersex. Gender is not binary, it's a spectrum and should never be forced.
Best 7: Abstinence-Only Fails Sex Ed Requirements
In an historic ACLU victory, a judge ruled for the first time that abstinence-only education goes against a state law mandating comprehensive sexual education. The ruling goes into effect for California schools in 2016. Why this matters: "Access to medically and socially appropriate sexual education is an important public right," wrote Judge Black and we couldn't agree more. California is one of only 13 states that mandate medically accurate sex education.
Best 8: Smartphone Invention Tests for STDs
In February, researchers announced the development of a $34 device that plugs into a phone's headphone jack and returns lab-quality HIV and syphilis test results in 15 minutes. Technicians project this invention will become available in a few years. Why this matters: This device will provide fast and affordable testing without the need for large, costly machines. It will particularly be a boon to prevent the spread of STDs in remote rural locations around the world.
Best 9: Women Vote and Win Elections in Saudi Arabia
By royal decree, women were allowed to vote for the first time in Saudi Arabia, the last country forbidding this right! Women were also allowed to run for local office, and 900 women ran against nearly 6000 men for 2100 council seats. Unexpectedly, 21 women won seats in diverse locales. Why this matters: Women still cannot drive and have scant power in this repressive regime. This election is more than a symbolic gesture, it's the first crucial step toward representation.
Best 10: Students Wield Dildos to Protest Gun Violence
Calling themselves #CocksNotGlocks, female college students in Texas brandished dildos, forbidden on campus, to protest the school's new open carry policy allowing guns. Why this matters: The protest nails the absurd ultra-machismo that goes with America's gun obsession. Are gun nuts overcompensating? The sad fact is that gun violence disproportionately affects women, such as when domestic abusers own guns, women are at 500% greater risk for homicide.
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Worst 1: Anti-Choice Group Falsifies Fetal Tissue Videos
A series of discredited undercover videos depicting Planned Parenthood staff discussing fetal tissue financial info caused a colossal storm, with anti-abortion activists and even presidential candidates deliberately spreading misinformation. Why this matters: Though resulting investigations turned up no sign of wrongdoing, the outfall has caused irreparable harm with several states using the false videos to finally defund the sexual health organization.
Worst 2: Ashley Madison Hack Releases Users' Identities
The hook-up site for married people seeking an affair had personal data of 33 million members released to the public by hackers. The result included breakups, blackmail and reported suicides. Why this matters: Society romanticizes having an affair, but those driven to cheat are often not happy people, typically with inadequate tools for authentic communication. Having lies exposed can be a cathartic event leading to marital reevaluation or a bad trip on a downward fall.
Worst 3: Dennis Hastert Pleads Guilty in Sex Crime Cover-Up
In October, Dennis Hastert, Speaker of the House from 1999-2007, pled guilty to evading financial reporting requirements in order to hide agreed-upon payments of $3.5 million to silence past gay sex abuse allegations as a high school wrestling coach. Why this matters: Dark deeds indeed from a past 'moral majority' aka 'family values' leader. Hastert's predecessors resigned due to extra-marital affairs--all three Speakers had tried to impeach President Clinton with mock outrage.
Worst 4: Jared Fogle Jailed for Child Pornography
Jared Fogle, TV spokesperson for Subway, was arrested in July for possessing child porn and having sex with minors. His plea deal included restitution of $100,000 each to 14 victims. He received a 15-year jail sentence in November. Why this matters: The sexual abuse of children is one of the most reviled acts. Psychotherapy treatments are available but anyone who experiences sexual attraction for a child will have to face either the stigma of admission... or prison.
Worst 5: Shooter Attacks Colorado Planned Parenthood
Calling himself a "warrior for babies," Robert Dear opened fire on a Colorado Planned Parenthood killing a cop and two civilians. Mentally unstable, his murderous rampage was motivated in part by the fetal tissue videos. Why this matters: In a year marked by rising gun violence, rising anti-abortion rhetoric fuels one more deadly attack. Next year, the Supreme Court rules on the legality of state abortion restrictions. At all levels--the right to legal abortion is under fire!
Worst 6: Josh Duggar Admits Molestations, Infidelity
When past sexual misconduct as a minor became public, Josh Duggar lost his reality series and his job with Family Research Council, the lobbying group against LGBT rights, divorce and porn. His attempts at rebranding failed when the Ashley Madison hack brought about further confessions of extra-marital affairs and porn addiction. Why this matters: To condemn healthy sexuality as scandalous seems a clear pathway to unhealthy sex scandals.
Worst 7: Lamar Odom Found Unconscious in Brothel Binge
In October, basketball star Lamar Odom lapsed into a coma at the Love Ranch, a Nevada brothel where he allegedly spent $75,000 in four days, during which he took up to ten herbal Viagra pills with cocaine. He remains hospitalized after several strokes. Why this matters: Party drugs and sex are a lethal combo, particularly when overdosing on dodgy sexual enhancement pills. There's a lot to lose, nothing to gain, when your partying starts looking like your pain.
Worst 8: Oklahoma Cop Convicted of Serial Rape
An all-white jury found a white cop, Daniel Holtzclaw, guilty of raping up to thirteen impoverished, black women, included an underage girl and a grandmother, who were likely targeted due to their perceived lack of legal access. Why this matters: Holtzclaw is not the first predatory cop, but in a year where Black Lives Matter was formed to protest the pattern of unpunished police violence against African-Americans, this verdict was an important, albeit too rare, reckoning.
Worst 9: Trump Trolls Primary with Sexist Remarks
When Megyn Kelly asked Donald Trump during a presidential debate whether calling women "fat pigs, dogs, slobs, and disgusting animals" was behavior befitting a president, he later insinuated she was on her period. In December, he said Hillary Clinton got "schlonged" i.e. raped in the 2008 election. Why this matters: Stigmatizing women for menstruation or as sex victims is an ages-old attack. Politicians' words matter, to say nothing of their policies. Sexism begets sexism.
Worst 10: Homeland Security Raids Rentboy
In late August, Federal Agents raided the offices of Rentboy.com, a male escort website operating unchallenged for the past 18 years. Assets have been seized, the website shuttered and employees have been charged with promoting prostitution. Why this matters: It's been speculated that after the Ashley Madison leak, closeted power players feared being outed by a similar hack and that they had a secret hand in the raid. Similar escort websites are virtually ignored.
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The Rest 1: FDA Approves 'Viagra for Women'
Bucking charges of gender bias, the FDA approved for the first time a pill for the treatment of low sexual desire in women. After much August fanfare, the pink pill known as flibanserin (Addyi) all but flopped due to required daily doses at a price tag of $840 per month with dubious results. Why this matters: Focusing on women's sexual pleasure is significant, but many oppose a strictly pharmaceutical solution to the complex nature of female sexual arousal.
The Rest 2: Charlie Sheen Discloses HIV Status
In November, Charlie Sheen revealed his HIV positive status after paying extortionists upwards of $10 million for years to keep the info secret. Sheen made our 2011 Worst Sex List for his public meltdown glorifying drugs and sexual abandon. Why this matters: HIV shaming is despicable, and every HIV+ person deserves our empathy. In therapy, we might hold multiple considerations as a means to personal growth. But in society, there must only be empathy.
The Rest 3: Playboy Magazine Retires Nudity
Is this the death of the centerfold? The once renowned men's magazine Playboy announced they will no longer publish images of totally nude women due to the proliferation of porn on the Internet. Many fans have insisted they read it for the articles, now we'll see. Why this matters: Softcore porn has gone mainstream and hardcore has taken its place online for free for every adult and adolescent. Why bother with a relic like a nudie mag? It's the end of an era.
The Rest 4: Masturbation Technology Generates Electricity
PornHub asked volunteers to 'beata-test' the Wankband--a device that straps onto your arm and generates enough electricity during masturbation to charge your gadgets via USB. There were also kosher vibrators at Better2gether, and a dildo for the departed named 21 Grams--and what better place to preserve your loved one's ashes than a sex toy so you can always feel close? Why this matters: Really, it's just fun. And ultimately having fun really matters.
The Rest 5: Pope Sets Limited Forgiveness for Abortions
As part of the Extraordinary Jubilee of Mercy, Pope Francis decreed priests will have discretion only in 2016 to forgive penitent women for past abortions without having to petition the chief confessor. Why this matters: The Catholic Church still forbids crucial sexual health tools like contraception and abortion, and such dogma creates tremendous pressure on believers. There's hope that Pope Francis' plea for mercy will someday empower women to attend to their own sexual health.