By: Little Red
The coupling of sex and state is a tangled relationship. Keeping in line with the infamous “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy, the key political figures make the bulk of their moves behind closed doors. This works most of the time, except when the hinges start to rust and the public gains access to battering rams, and some milquetoast white-picket-fence politician has to try to quell the mob. With the prevalence of legislation such as Prop 8, Religious Freedom Restoration Acts in North Carolina (and Georgia, and Indiana, and Tennessee, and Texas), bigoted crackpots like Kim Davis, Donald Trump calling for punishment of women who’ve had abortions, discounting the identities of Trans people… It’s become quite the torrid affair; a BDSM orgy without respect or safe words, if you will. One mistress in the sheets? A current presidential candidate by the name of Ted Cruz. Mentioning the Texas Senator brings many things to mind - predicting an evangelical apocalypse or claiming he "lost faith" in rock n roll music after 9/11, for example. Masturbation is not a popular association. But in 2008, an appeal was filed that catapulted him to the forefront of the diddling debate, so to speak.
It was February in Texas when Cruz and his cronies put forth a motion to ban the sale of sexual devices. They argued that the sale of sex toys such as vibrators, dildos, and artificial vaginas was no different than the solicitation of sex. Amending the law would mean that buying and using a pocket pussy was akin to paying a woman $30 to fellate you behind a Burger King. Except it's not anything remotely close to the same. Because after using a dildo you can lock it in a drawer and that's the end of it. No risk of STIs, no mental trauma, no human rights violation, no abusive pimp. You cannot ensure the same for prostitutes.
Cruz & co.'s road to the Supreme Court was ultimately derailed by the US Court of Appeals who scrapped the filing, deeming it unconstitutional. But while the legal action ends there, the ramifications of such rhetoric and subsequent actions don't. The taboo remains: you are a deviant if you use sex toys. They must be hidden, they are a source of shame. Why is it so awful to derive your own pleasure?
The religious right has steadfastly held the belief that masturbation is a moral sin. The Catholic Church describes it as a gravely disordered and intrinsically selfish act. Touching yourself is breaking a promise to your spouse, to whom you are obligated to fulfill sexually. Detaching the orgasm from the union of marriage is condemned, reinforcing the myth that sex is never wholly personal. If you ask Larry Solomon, you owe it to your partner. Solomon’s blog, ‘Biblical Gender Roles’, raised eyebrows earlier this year with headlines such as “Christian Husbands: You need not buy the milk when you own the cow!”, and “How a Husband can enjoy sex that is grudgingly given by his wife.” Preaching that you must submit to advances from your spouse, he references the Bible to condemn withholding sex: “The wife hath not power of her own body, but the husband” - I Corinthians 7:3-5. He adds, “Your wife’s rebellion against your sexual authority over her body is by definition ‘unrighteousness’. You would in essence, be “unloving” to your wife, from God’s perspective, if you allowed her sinful attitude to go unchecked.” If this sounds like rape to you, it’s because it essentially is, just not according to the Bible. Evangelical groups such as Florida-based Mack Major's "Eden Decoded" have gone so far as to guarantee that female masturbation summons demons. They preach that a vagina is quite literally a direct portal to hell. Besides being a scientifically unfounded and absurd claim, the labelling of self-invoked female pleasure as a diabolical evil is detrimental on so many levels. Especially in fundamentally religious third world countries, it grants varying degrees of validity to horrors such as female circumcision, acid attacks, legal rape, and honor killings. The Bible is not the law, and it direly needs to stop being used as such.
It is not just women this affects, it's everyone.
It propagates a singular definition of sex: vaginal penetration between a man and a woman. Period. This unwritten rule hurts people of all gender identities and sexual orientations. Perhaps most damaging of all, this suggests that there is a right and thus a wrong way to have sex. That your body does not belong to you and only you. It perpetuates a stale myth and a culture of shame, when really we should be widening our perspectives and progressing towards a more tolerant society. Masturbation, with or without the use of toys, is a personal choice, and should remain as such. It’s called touching yourself for a reason.
Who is Ted Cruz, or anyone for that matter, to dictate the specifics of our most personal behaviours? In the words of Pierre Elliott Trudeau, an infinitely more compassionate politician, "There's no place for the state in the bedrooms of the nation."
Wicked Wanda's would like to thank the fantastic Little Red for this intelligent and fascinating blog piece and would encourage others to submit their blog posts on politics and sex to firstname.lastname@example.org to have it published on our website. The opinions in this blog piece do not represent the opinions of those at Wicked Wanda's Adult Emporium.