Speaking of passing media glory, what the hell is happening to the New York Times Magazine? It’s obsessed with sex and sexuality, and of course always, always, always from a progressive point of view. Here are a few of the sexual-liberationist stories they’ve done this year:
Nicholson Baker: The Mad Scientist of Smut (sympathetic profile of novelist) (August 4)
My Ex-Gay Friend (June 16)
How Hugh Hefner Got His Groove Back (February 3)
The Two-Minus-One Pregnancy (a sympathetic cover story about people who exercise choice through selective abortion) (Aug 10)
If there were a right-wing magazine that wrote about sex so often, and from such a thoroughly tendentious point of view, people would wonder what had happened to the editorial judgment of its leadership. It would seem creepy and distorted. As it does here. As someone who reads the Magazine every week, it seems to have morphed into a publication that thoroughly reinforces the views of its readership. Which would not be such a bad thing if it were The Nation or The American Spectator (though a first-rate opinion magazine would need to challenge its readers too, from within its editorial position), but the NYT Magazine appears in what aims to be a mainstream newspaper written for a broad audience. The Magazine used to offer a good mix of pieces to read, but now I find on most Sundays, I just flip through it and toss it aside.
All of that is prelude to this cover story coming in this weekend’s magazine: “Teaching Good Sex.” The Times Magazine has now crossed the line into unintentional self-parody. Here’s how it starts. Notice that this is at a Quaker school in a rich part of suburban Philly. The teacher is described later in the story as a “practicing Catholic” (which is good, because he’s clearly bad at it):
“First base, second base, third base, home run,” Al Vernacchio ticked off the classic baseball terms for sex acts. His goal was to prompt the students in Sexuality and Society — an elective for seniors at the private Friends’ Central School on Philadelphia’s affluent Main Line — to examine the assumptions buried in the venerable metaphor. “Give me some more,” urged the fast-talking 47-year-old, who teaches 9th- and 12th-grade English as well as human sexuality. Arrayed before Vernacchio was a circle of small desks occupied by 22 teenagers, six male and the rest female — a blur of sweatshirts and Ugg boots and form-fitting leggings.
“Grand slam,” called out a boy (who’d later tell me with disarming matter-of-factness that “the one thing Mr. V. talked about that made me feel really good was that penis size doesn’t matter”).
“Now, ‘grand slam’ has a bunch of different meanings,” replied Vernacchio, who has a master’s degree in human sexuality. “Some people say it’s an orgy, some people say grand slam is a one-night stand. Other stuff?”
“Grass,” a girl, a cheerleader, offered.
“If there’s grass on the field, play ball, right, right,” Vernacchio agreed, “which is interesting in this rather hair-phobic society where a lot of people are shaving their pubic hair — ”
“You know there’s grass, and then it got mowed, a landing strip,” one boy deadpanned, instigating a round of laughter. While these kids will sit poker-faced as Vernacchio expounds on quite graphic matters, class discussions are a spirited call and response, punctuated with guffaws, jokey patter and whispered asides, which Vernacchio tolerates, to a point.
Vernacchio explained that sex as baseball implies that it’s a game; that one party is the aggressor (almost always the boy), while the other is defending herself; that there is a strict order of play, and you can’t stop until you finish. “If you’re playing baseball,” he elaborated, “you can’t just say, ‘I’m really happy at second base.’ ”
A boy who was the leader of the Young Conservatives Club asked, “But what if it’s just more pleasure getting to home base?” Although this student is a fan of Vernacchio’s, he likes to challenge him about his tendency to empathize with the female perspective.
“Well, we’ve talked about how a huge percentage of women aren’t orgasming through vaginal intercourse,” Vernacchio responded, “so if that’s what you call a home run, there’s a lot of women saying” — his voice dropped to a dull monotone — ‘O.K., but this is not doing it for me.’ ”
Oh, for frack’s sake. These people are hopeless. The Friends School people, and the NYT Magazine people both. I keep wanting to cancel my subscription, but I’m like the chronic conservative Episcopalian who says, “Just one more thing, and I’m out of here…”.
UPDATE: Do you know how much parents pay to send their kids to that pervert Quaker school? $27,400 in annual tuition, for high school. For a middle-aged weirdo to stand up there and corrupt their children.