When It Comes To Sex, What Exactly Is "Normal"?

The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (or DSM) is like the bible of American psychiatry, but it's been pretty controversial, as far as what's been included about sexual behaviors. (Up until the mid 1970s, homosexuality was listed in the DSM as a mental disorder.) The last DSM was published in 1994, and it was announced recently that the American Psychiatric Association is picking members to contribute to the development of the newest edition of the DSM, which will be published in 2012. The DSM is super important, as it's the standard on what we view as deviant behavior, so certain groups want to make sure that issues like Gender Identity are handled with great care and sensitivity. (A bunch of crap also needs to be removed from the manual, particularly paraphilias like transvestism, sexual sadism and sexual masochism. Like really, who still thinks S&M is a mental disorder when it's like such a clichéd, cheesy kink? For real, S&M is like the Hot Topic in the mall of sexuality. It's trying to be different, it's trying to freak you out, it's trying to piss off parents, but in the end, it's really kind of…normal.)

A story on MSNBC today delves into the controversy erupting among members of the APA working on the development of the new DSM, reporting that "at least one petition, spearheaded by transgender activists, is being circulated to oppose the appointment of some members to the Sexual and Gender Identity Disorders work group and its chair, Kenneth Zucker, head of the Gender Identity Service at the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health in Toronto, Canada." With regards to the definition of normal vs. disordered sex, it seems to me that "sane" eroticism is anything that is enjoyable and consensual for all parties involved, whether it be in missionary position with a partner of the opposite sex, or hanging by nipple clamps while a group of men in panties beat off into a pair of shoes. Because while the latter may not be right, it's okay. (I can't believe I just quoted Whitney Houston and it made perfect sense.)

What's ‘Normal' Sex? Shrinks Seek Definition [MSNBC]