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Bad Vibes

2003-12-23 - 3:37p.m.

This was originally going to be an entry on why straight people should not try to set up gay people on dates, but just as I was about to finish, I found out about something that happened this month in my own state.

Joanne was a woman like many others in Texas: middle class, a mother of three, and a former school teacher. In addition to being a homemaker, Joanne supplemented her family's income by working for a company that sold sex aides. Knowing that there are many women and men out there who want to fan the flames of passion that may have turned to embers and ashes over years of marriage, but who might be too nervous about being seen in a sex shoppe, Joanne sold her wares at a number of parties hosted by her fellow wives and mothers. At these parties, she sold edible body paints to wives who longed to add the taste of chocolate or raspberries to the flavors of their husbands bodies, or who wanted to give their mentra incentive to linger in certain areas that needed the attention of his tongue. She sold lotions, oils, and cremes which utilized that most efficacious of aphrodisiacs: the power of suggestion. She sold vibrators for men and women, machines designed to supplement the skills of the partner, or to act as a subsitute when the husband or wife was away. She conducted these parties with discretion and compassion, and when a husband and wife came to her seeking a vibrator as a marital aide, she did what she could to help them find what they were looking for.

At which point they brought out badges and handcuffs and arrested her for obscenity.

You think I'm kidding? Read all about it:

I think it would have been better if they charged with incitement to animal cruelty (think about it for a minute).

Earlier this year, the Supreme Court pulled the law a little bit further out of the bedrooms of consenting adults byecriminalizingdomy. As much as this was a major victory for my fellow sodomites and I, it didn't feel like one to me, because 1) I felt like, now that I had been stripped of so many possible felony charges, I had lost my street cred and would have to do a lot more drugs to fulfill my dream of becoming a gangsta rapper, and 2) it was a law so antiquated and impossible to enforce that only lunatics would attempt to make such laws stick, and that repealing it would be rather like the Vatican admitting, as it did only a few years ago, that Galileo was right about the whole heliocentric thing. If anything, it bothered me that even one Supreme Court justice would try to uphold that law. It reminded me of just how many nutcases there are in this world.

Now there's Joanne and her vibrators and her trip to the slammer. Apparently, if we can't criminalize gay sex anymore, we'll criminalize straight sex that deviates in any way from the norm.

When I wrote my entry in praise of masturbation, I only hinted at the fact that masturbation is, like so many other things we do in our daily lives, a political action. In the case of Joanne, it was an act of revolution, one that needed to be put down for the safety of others. On the one hand, this is completely ridiculous; how on Earth can going to town with the Rabbit or the shower massager or your own two hands be anything other than a simple, natural, entirely self-contained act of pleasure, one so basic that every animal on the planet with genitalia indulges in it? On the other, it's an assault on the status quo so powerful that the very structures of society can be used as a vibrator.

Consider the old adage: give a man a fish and he will eat for a day, teach a man to fish and he will eat for a lifetime. Well, I once heard an interesting and far more apt version of that adage: teach a man to fish and you've just lost your market. There is nothing that our society fears more than self-sufficiency. Grow your own food and you have no need for a supermarket or even a farmer. Sew your own clothes and The Gap goes out of business, putting thousands of Indonesian children out on the streets where they will be far less likely to be beaten. Bike to work--and repair that bike yourself--and the Middle East has a little less power (granted, you feed the coffers of the Devils at Schwinn, but what can you do). The entire advertising industry is there to make sure that you will only be happy with the help of their products and their services.

The same is true of sex and love. If anything, its more true of sex and love. Fashion, fitness, cosmetics, plastic surgery, alcohol, and so many other industries depend on sex to keep profits going. Only by going to a bar wearing this dress, or that lipstick, or these other shoes, and by ordering this beer, or that vodka, or by having this body, or by chewing this gum before you meet that Ms. Right or Mr. Right Now will you find that ever important orgasm.

Then there's the sex industry itself. I am not going to speak out against sex workers here, because I think all they do is quantify something that's always a transaction of some kind or another, even if its just the excahnge of pleasure for pleasure (my personal favorite way of doing business). HOwever, a stripper friend of mine said that I had hit the nail on the head when I said that people go to strip clubs and churches for the same reason: they are seeking out something they feel they cannot find for themselves. Whether it's The Big G or The Big O, there is a lot of money invested in making sure you get your connection through someone else.

So what happens when you give yourself an orgasm? You learn about your body, about what stimulation it enjoys. You realize that you don't need a partner for an orgasm, and so maybe you discover that you need them for other reasons, that sex should be about so much more than just cumming. If you can cum at home, then why go out just to cum? Why not go out toexplore a new body, to test your skills at lovemaking, to make a connection? All you remove from the equation by masturbating is the necessity factor. The right lipstick is not going to give you an orgasm, nor is the right wine or the right figure. The right vibrator, on the other hand, might be able to help you, and in doing so it might help you discover yourself as someone who can meet his or her or hir own needs, someone independent, someone who seeks out companionship as something to enjoy, not something to cling on to for dear life.

That would mess things up. It would be even worse if you found fulfillment, if you found the truth in the statemnt made by my favorite singer: "And when my hand touches myself I can finally rest my head. And when they say take of His body I think I'll take from mine instead."

I'm going to try to find out what we can do to help out Joanne with her ludicrous legal battle. In the meantime, I think everyone should go home, put on some nice music, think of the sexiest person you know . . .

and show some solidarity.

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