This is mainstream media and serious sociological comment. I have a license. I’ve put in the class time and counseling in preparation for ten years in the ministry. This is not trivial.
The eighth episode of the BBC series “Trial and Retribution,” the one with the lady who fell out of the sky, also featured as evidence a collection of dildos, which the police pretended to find shocking, even as the CSI person, impersonated by Gemma Jones (my fav forensic pathologist), a small gray matter-of-fact woman, was collecting semen and pubic hairs off them for DNA analysis in hopes of finding the murderer. She discovered that the woman was being f*cked by her father and both of them knew it, though they had only found each other rather recently. Don’t blame me -- blame Lynda LaPlante, the screenwriter. Gemma’s character found it “unsavory.”
One of the dildos was big, black and included balls. For an Englishman, I suppose that’s the ultimate. The ones that Gemma’s character considered old-fashioned were smallish and crayon colors. None seemed to be motorized unless they were battery-operated.
So what’s the modern American ultimate? Maybe not what you think at all.
Since I’m seventy, I’m on the catalog mailing lists for “old people.” I get endless offers about orthopedic shoes, folding canes, denture repair, adult diapers and arthritis-pain ointments. Most of them have a few pages of dildos. They are not what one would expect. In fact, I made a little montage of them which I had intended to include here, before I thought about the potential disruption. So I think I’ll just describe them enough to make my point. You can raid your granny’s catalogue stash to see for yourself.
First, they are battery-powered (batteries not included) and pretty colors with purple and pink as the most popular. A minority are orange. Only one ad showed metallic; the rest were plastic, often transparent. Some were said to be “soft,” or “velvety” and one, for the bolder person, was described as having “taffy-ticklers.” Some had pearly beads that were supposed to jump around. They were evidently mostly for females and included little plastic critters -- birds, bunnies and the notorious butterfly -- fastened where there is a normally a cluster of nerves, the cluster that is cut out of female children in some African countries to prevent women from having pleasure, because that would naturally cause them to be unfaithful.
If you remember “LA Law,” you might remember the “butterfly” as an invented sexual technique that supposedly made men irresistible. It was years before the writers confessed they had just made it up, and in the end they only told the truth because they were getting tired of explaining to people who were desperate to find out what it was. Even after they explained that it was mythical, people refused to believe them. Probably the same people who shelled out thirty or forty bucks for one of these little gizmos.
People will do anything ANYTHING to keep from settling down to create relationships -- even with themselves -- that would allow normal human mutual stimulation to happen -- but are evidently not impressed by the conservative command against self-stimulation.
But what I want to note is the candification, the Disneyizing, the infantalizing of sex. Did you know that one of the most popular sex-cruising clubs in Paris features pacifiers and baby bottles for the booze? The desirable “person” is supposed to be little more than a toddler -- in short -- and this is the ominous part -- little more than a doll. JonMarie Benet. An object. Someone who can’t have an opinion, can’t object, can’t fight back, and who would ordinarily (even in the animal world) be protected. This greeting card aesthetic protects the bigger, more aggressive -- if not predatory -- agent while making the vulnerable, the innocent, into victims, but seductive ones. Inflatable.
I’m not saying that anyone who uses sex toys will attack babies. I’m saying that this specific kind of sex toys (the others -- like the big black ones -- have their own problems) puts a baby face on an adult pursuit. It makes something quite serious and with potentially major consequences seem innocent and harmless. Hey, it’s gotta be good for business.
Sex toys that are cute as kittens legitimate the craving to "own" real babies and children to use as sex toys. It’s subtle but it’s real. It’s the flip side of dungeons and torture. One side says sex is cute and harmless; the other side says sex is so serious and dangerous that only the privileged can play. The serious/dangerous side can be pretty clearly something to avoid. But baby binkies and blankies -- where’s the harm?
The next question is about a culture where small children are so harassed and disciplined and scheduled -- or in another flip, so neglected, harmed and shut out -- that they end up with a nurturing deficit not that distinguishable from a craving for love -- easily exploited in sexual relationship. But the culture doesn’t want you to talk about this stuff. Well, unless we’re watching a BBC police procedural.
Now I’m going to turn the point-of-view a hundred and eighty degrees around. Who would buy a pink battery-operated dildo with a butterfly on it? A frustrated housefrau? Maybe not. How about a teenaged girl with a hormone buzz on who is looking for a discrete way to deal with it and idly flips through one of these household catalogs. (I don’t think a boy is likely to be searching among the hernia supports and shields for toilet seats for men who have to pee sitting down.) If she’s a college girl, she’s likely to have a credit card and her own mail delivery point. What’s wrong with a sex toy, if it keeps her from being urged into a too-early physical relationship? (“Too early” meaning before her emotional development catches up.) A way to avoid BOTH a pregnancy and the pill?
Can society become TOO accepting of self-stimulation? Right now these little implements are illegal in some southern states -- even medical vibrators for sore muscles are forbidden. I notice that these toys are advertised as being silent. But I have a feeling that they are eventually going to become like those battery-operated toothbrushes that play a cheery little tune. Just another personal thingy. But first experiences imprint deeply. Where will that girl eventually find a boyfriend with a transparent blue battery-operated vibrating penis that has a bunny sticking out of the top?