I personally find it difficult to continue as if little has changed since 9/11. These are indeed troubled times which occupies a good bit of my daily thoughts. And when I compare the status of the world at large with the microcosm of my life, my activities seem to come off on the short end. But having been born and raised during the depression and World War II, I know that times can get better. And related to our profession as sexologists I also know that we bring to the world many features to counter the narrowness and myopic mindset of the fundamentalist terrorists. In fact, it is what we advocate as a professional society and what many of us do personally -- teach and do research on sexuality --that is particularly irksome to the Islamic terrorist fundamentalists and fundamentalists of other religions as well.
We advocate and teach about the social equality of men and women. We believe and teach in the right of consensual marriage and most of us believe and teach of the acceptability of behavior models aside from that of heterosexuality. Most of us don't think that homosexuality or cross-dressing or transsexuality should be punished and most of us accept that family planning and abortion should be a personal decision. Moreover, we believe it is not only acceptable but obligatory and justifiable that we do research in attempts to learn features of sexuality which may not only be crucial to society but to satisfy curiosity. To fundamentalists who think all is settled by their narrow interpretation of ancient words, our work is threatening. It is the freedom to follow personal views of sex that our enemy wishes to destroy along with many other aspects of Western ways of life.
Amidst such thoughts, I am proud to have been elected President of the Society for the Scientific Study of Sexuality. As the oldest sex research organization in the United States, I feel particular humility considering all the fine people who have held the post in the past. I request all members of the society help me in furthering our organization's goals and potential for the future so this administration can make its own mark. Together with Executive Director David Fleming, the SSSS Board of Directors and your various committees, I will do what I can to make your membership in SSSS worthwhile.
In an attempt to better SSSS, your Executive Committee has formed two Task Forces. A "Future Task Force" has been charged with looking into ways that our Society might better serve its members and enhance the society for the future. The Chairperson for this Task Force is Janet Hyde. A "Finance Task Force," with Walter Bockting as its Chairperson has been charged with looking at ways to improve our societies financial status for the present and the long term.
A third major Committee has also been appointed and that is the Program Committee for the November 2002 meeting in Montreal. This committee has a hard act to follow. Past President Michael Ross and Program and Meeting Chairs, Mary Bontorin and David McWhirter did a great job in forging a meeting satisfactory for its location and scope with sufficient highlights to please most attendees. Without doubt, the main feature of the conference was the appearance and presentation of U.S. Surgeon General Dr. David Satcher. With the conference theme "Sex and Technology," his appearance via satellite transmission seemed appropriate. His message was music to our ears with his call to action "to promote sexual health and responsible sexual behavior." We can be proud that SSSS Past Presidents Eli Coleman, Janet Hyde and Michael Ross were instrumental in much of the Surgeon General's reports' content and final shape.
The theme of our upcoming 2002 conference is "Unresolved Controversies: Sex Questions in Search of Resolution." It will be in exciting Montreal and be a meeting to which our Canadian colleagues will be full participants as attendees and presenters. Joanne Rouleau of the University of Montreal will be the Canadian co-chair and Brian Gladue of the University of Cincinnati will be the U.S. co-chair. In this way, we hope to have good representation from both sides of the border. One special feature planned for the conference is a session in which Keith Sigmundson and David Reimer (John/Joan), both from Canada, and I will discuss his case and what it means for the nature: nurture argument and the treatment of children born with ambiguous genitalia. For this session we will allow the audience full opportunity to ask questions. This is the first time that David will be presenting himself to a live audience. As probably among the best known cases in the sexology literature this will be a unique opportunity for all present.
I would like to encourage all of you to begin making plans not only to attend the Montreal meeting but to bring other colleagues as well. And certainly, I invite each of you to submit your own research for presentation on the program.
Last, I would like to leave you with a hope for my tenure as your president. I would like it to encourage your pride in sexology as a professional field where it is fully recognized that social problems of population, STDs and sexual abuse and personal joys like fulfilled marriages or social contracts and self confidence and enjoyment for individuals are all made better by good sex research and responsible sex education. It is my firm belief that sexologists are the best professionals to further these aims.
Milton Diamond, President