LONG BEACH — The subject was sex. Three young women sat praising its joys, while a roomful of men shot it down.
"I have a 4-year-old daughter, and if I hadn't had sex she wouldn't be here," said Pam Rogalsky, a 26-year-old cashier. "I'm sorry, but test tube babies don't make it."
Jeff McCann, a 28-year-old journalism student, countered: "I just hate it when I go out and see people on dates. I renounced sex two months ago (because) I thought it was stupid."
The debate took place at the third meeting of a new organization at Cal State Long Beach, that, in four short weeks, has created a campus uproar. Its name: the Anti-Sex League. Its avowed purpose: to oppose what members see as society's preoccupation with sex.
More specifically, the group's members say they want to stamp out human sexuality wherever it is found, including within the bonds of holy matrimony.
"It's not enough to just hate sex; you've got to be against it," explained McCann, editor of a weekly campus newspaper called the Long Beach Union and co-founder of the new group, which he says was founded in complete earnestness, despite claims to the contrary by some of its members. "We want to provide an alternative."
Though many of the Anti-Sex League's members are associated with the Union--a newspaper that has historically cast itself as an alternative to the more traditional campus newspaper, the Daily Forty-Niner--there is no official connection between the league and the publication.
McCann, a senior, said he got the idea for the anti-sex organization several weeks ago, after being jilted by a girlfriend of one week. "I realized that sex was a trap," explained McCann. "I just believe that sex clouds your mind."
Apparently others agreed. Cameron Wright joined the club--which claims 18 members--because, he said, the first sexual encounter he experienced (about 1 1/2 months ago) led only to alienation. "(Celibacy) gives me freedom," said Wright, 18. "If I put sex totally out of the question, I'm not worried about anything when I'm with a female; (I) can use those calories to paint a house or mow the lawn."
And Anna Britzman, the Union's copy editor and one of the few women in the Anti-Sex League, said she stopped having sex and joined the league as an act of rebellion against the general expectation that eroticism be part of all relationships between members of the opposite sex.
"In the 18th Century, girls could go to convents to get away from the pressure," said Britzman, 27. Today, she said, such sanctuary is difficult to find.
While claiming that the club was founded with a "big dose of humor," Britzman said that the issues it raises are nonetheless important. "There's a measure of humor," she said, "and a measure of seriousness."
Not Met With Humor
But if the Anti-Sex League was founded in good humor, it certainly hasn't been received that way.
When the Union illustrated a McCann article entitled "Anti-Sex Manifesto" with a hand-drawn cover graphically depicting forbidden sex acts, thousands of copies were allegedly removed from campus newsstands before the papers could reach their intended audience. Upon seeing the cover, the newspaper's business manager--a student appointed by the Associated Students government--resigned in protest, calling the depiction "tasteless and senseless."
The Associated Students Senate--which funds the Union to the tune of $25,000 a year--is considering a resolution that would reprimand the paper for undermining the "high standards" of the university by publishing "obscene and offensive print and drawings." And a petition being circulated on campus calls for nothing less than the dissolution of what its author calls a newspaper that "most students won't read (anyway) because they think it's trash."
Opposition Group Formed
One student--presumably more offended by the philosophy of the Anti-Sex League than by its graphic depiction of sex--even formed his own opposition group, called the 49er Sex League, which, he said, is aimed at helping young people deal with their sexual feelings and problems. "I don't think there's anything dirty about sex," said John Maynard, 21, a biology major. "I think it's beautiful and wonderful."
Those sentiments were echoed by several students--mostly women--who showed up at a recent meeting of the Anti-Sex League primarily, they said, to express opposition to its values.
"If God didn't want you to have sex, then why did he give you sex organs?" asked Gayane Mooradian, 23, Associated Students vice president. Later, in an interview, she expounded on that view. "They are down on the world's problems and they're taking it out on sex," she said of the league members. "They're making it seem as though sex is bad when sex is pleasurable."
Problems Traced to Sex
McCann defended his position, blaming sex for a variety of woes ranging from AIDS and herpes, to unwanted pregnancy and "shattered lives."