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Wide-open Atmosphere. Thus everybody talks about the current sexual situation; but does everyone know what he's talking about? No new Kinsey report or Gallup poll can chart the most privateand most universalof subjects. What people say does not necessarily reflect what they do, and what they do does not necessarily show how they feel about it. Yet out of an aggregate of words and actions, every society makes a statement about itself. Methodist Bishop Gerald Kennedy of Los Angeles sums it up: "The atmosphere is wide open. There is more promiscuity, and it is taken as a matter of course now by people. In my day they did it, but they knew it was wrong."
Publicly and dramatically, the change is evident in Spectator Sexwhat may be seen and read. Thirty-five years ago, Elmer Gantry and All Quiet on the Western Front were banned in Boston; today Supreme Court decisions have had the net effect of allowing everything to be published except "hardcore pornography." It is hard to remember that as recently as 1948, in The Naked and the Dead, Norman Mailer felt compelled to reduce his favorite four letters to three ("fug"), or that there was ever any fuss about poor old Lady Chatterley's Lover and his worshipful deification of sexual organs. John O'Hara, whose writing until recently was criticized as "sex-obsessed," appears positively Platonic alongside Calder Willingham and John Updike, who describe lyrically and in detail matters that used to be mentioned even in scientific works only in Latin.
Then there is Henry Miller with his scabrous Tropics, and William Burroughs' Naked Lunch, an incredible piece of hallucinatory homosexual depravity. And if these are classed as literature and are democratically available at the neighborhood drugstore, who is going to stop the cheap pornographer from putting out Lust Hop, Lust Jungle, Lust Kicks, Lust Lover, Lust Lease, Lust Moll, Lust Team, Lust Girls, and Call Boy? In girlie magazines, nudity stops only at the mons Veneriset quandoque ne ibiquidem. Asks Dr. Paul Gebhard, the late Alfred Kinsey's successor at Indiana University's Institute for Sex Research: "What do you do after you show it all? I've talked to some of the publishers, and they are a little worried."
The Next Step. The cult of pop hedonism and phony sexual sophistication grows apace. It produces such books as Sex and the Single Man, in which Dr. Albert Ellis, a supposedly reputable psychologist, offers crude but obvious instructions on how to seduce a girl, and the Playboy Clubs, which are designed to look wicked except that no one is supposed even to touch the "Bunnies"creating the teasing impression of brothels without a