Here’s one for the “stranger than fiction” department: Stand on any street corner in Alabama selling guns and dildoes, and guess which one can land you in jail for a year? You got it: Those deadly dildoes!
In a unanimous decision, the three judges of the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals on February 16th upheld a 1998 Alabama statute that outlaws the sale of devices used to stimulate human genitals. Instruments to blow out someone’s brains are perfectly fine. Sounds about right for a state with a rich history of slavery, lynchings and beatings of civil rights activists.
Alabama’s not the only state where you can’t buy a vibrator or cock ring at your favorite porno store. There’s also Georgia, Mississippi, Indiana, Texas, Louisiana and Virginia. Talk about a Hall of Shame.
Here’s the clincher. According to the court and the Alabama Attorney General’s Office, it’s all about morality. Wrote the judges: “States have traditionally had the authority to regulate commercial activity they deem harmful to the public.” How is selling dildoes to adults “harmful to the public?”
No one has ever used a dildo as a weapon of mass destruction. Osama bin Laden hasn’t threatened the U.S. with a dildo attack. No dildoes are responsible for Mad Cow disease or Avian Flu. Dildoes aren’t causing road rage or obesity in young kids. They certainly didn’t make George Bush lie to get into us an unwinnable civil war.
Dildoes have been providing humans with pleasure for a long time. Even before the modern day sex shop. According to “The History of the Dildo” by Keston Huntington, published on lezbeout.com: Though no one knows for sure where they originated, it is believed that the Chinese deserve the credit for the invention of the first sex toys, way back in the Stone Age. Guess we know what Wilma and Betty did when Fred and Barney were away on business.
Dildoes existed in every human culture. In ancient Greece, they were used with olive oil as a lubricant. Polynesian and Arab cultures didn’t bother manufacturing them: They went au natural with unripened bananas. Celtic women did a fertility dance beneath the moon using broomsticks to pleasure themselves. In ancient Egypt women used the statue of Amon-Ra to improve their chances of having children. Some Medieval women did the same thing with the wooden likenesses of “St. Priapus.”
Here in the U.S., sex toys are as American as the Liberty Bell. Passionbunny.com reports that an American doctor, George Taylor, invented the modern day vibrator. He used steam power to drive the device that back then was considered a cure for female “hysteria.” Not surprisingly, many women suffered from this condition and had to receive repeated treatments from the good doc. In the 20s, many “blue movies” featured women masturbating with vibrators. In the 30s, the invention of latex made the vibrator lighter and more flexible.
Maybe the three judges of the 11th Circuit Court should heed the old adage: Don’t knock it unless you’ve tried it.
Tommi Avicolli Mecca is a radical, atheist, southern Italian, working-class queer performer, activist and writer whose work can be seen at www.avicollimecca.com.