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OPINION: Hustler Hollywood hate is about more than sex toys

After months of remodeling, Saturday will be the grand opening of the Hustler Hollywood store located on Shaw Avenue near the Fashion Fair Mall.

The opening of the store comes after a legal battle with Hustler officials citing changes in Fresno’s development codes that had blocked them from initial construction and eventually operating.

However, the lawsuit resulted in the city of Fresno paying Hustler Hollywood $15,000 in legal fees and affirming Hustler’s right to continue with plans for the adult emporium.

Many look at the opening of the new store as a way to stimulate the local economy, but others view the store as a fork in the road of the straight-and-narrow.

When a restaurant opens in town, people can choose either to patronize it or not; customers have the freedom to choose where their money goes.

So why is the opening of this store any different? Why do moral flags go up?

The opposition to Hustler Hollywood stems from a larger problem of the stigma against sex work and the inability for our society to have conversations about the physical act of sex or sexual identity.

So if everyone does it, why is it impossible for society to have conversations about sex without shame?

The stigma revolving around the Hustler Hollywood store is the same stigma currently plaguing Fresno Unified School District. The shame or negative religious – to an extent – revolving around sex is one of the influences on FUSD’s resistance to comprehensive sex education programs.

In 2016, the California Youth Health Act went into place, mandating comprehensive and unbiased sex education programs in California middle and high schools.

FUSD school board president Brooke Ashjian has stood in vocal opposition of this mandate, citing the “moldability” of young minds and outside influences that could result in students thinking that things like identifying as LGBT+ and abortion are OK.

And that’s because they are.

Freedom of religion is an American right given to us by the Constitution, but when elected officials take freedom of religion so far as to attach the religious bias of shame to something as necessary as comprehensive sex education, the issue at hand becomes larger.

The issue that stems from conservative or religious biases is the suppression of the right for children who are growing and learning to protect themselves from things like sexually transmitted diseases.

Just like students have the right to learn reading, writing and arithmetic, they have the right to a comprehensive sex education that arms them with knowledge to live happy and healthy lives.

When we shame things like sex work or even the act of sex itself, we implicitly tell children that it is dirty or wrong – when in reality, sexual relations between consenting adults is nothing shameful or disgusting. It is simply just part of human nature.

Healthy attitudes about sexual health or identity stem from the ability to have mature and comprehensive conversations, and those conversations start by shedding the shame in talking about sex.

That’s where Hustler Hollywood comes in.

You are more than welcome to patronize or not patronize the Hustler Hollywood store grand opening this weekend, but by not doing what we can to have conversations about sex with other adults, much less with adolescents, we are doing a disservice – and we owe it to each other to do more.