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In Georgia, You Can Carry a Gun, But You Need a Prescription for a Vibrator

Why it's totally normal for women to want sex toys.
 
 
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Giving out prescriptions for vibrators seems more like a doctor's bad pickup line than good public policy. But in Sandy Springs, Georgia, you really do need a medical reason – and a doctor's prescription – to buy a sex toy.

Melissa Davenport, a resident of Sandy Springs, has filed suit against the city because, as her lawyer Gerry Weber  told a local TV station, the ordinance allows the government to "stick its nose in your bedroom and say you can use this but not that." Davenport has multiple sclerosis, which she says has impacted her sex life with her husband, and she credits sex toys with saving her marriage. Yet her doctors still won't write her a prescription.

Leaving aside the bizarreness of the policy itself – people should be able to buy sex toys for the sheer fun of it – it seems ironic that a woman with a real medical condition is being denied sex toys, when you consider that the vibrator was actually  invented to cure a (fake) medical condition: hysteria.

In the 19th century, if a woman was feeling blue— or was just being "lady-crazy" — she could head off to the doctor's office for a little manual clitoral stimulation, though the doctors called it "pelvic massage." (It's a hilarious testament to the male-centric vision of sexuality of that time that, if there was no penetration, it wasn't considered sexually intimate.) But those poor male doctors and their cramping fingers couldn't quite take the amount of labor that was needed to achieve the mutually desired ends to said massage. One doctor  bemoaned that the technique was quite difficult, akin to "that game of boys in which they try to rub their stomachs with one hand and pat their heads with the other."

Thus, the vibrator was born – and women started going for check-ups a lot more often. But once men caught on to why certain doctors were in such high demand, however, the party was over – and now, in states like Alabama, you can openly carry a gun but not buy a butt plug.

Of course there are plenty of other reasons besides medical afflictions – real or imagined – that a woman might need a sex toy. Maybe she's bored. Maybe her partner likes them. (Maybe they're more fun than her partner.) Maybe it's Tuesday.

But given how many American men think women are still "hysterical" anyway – or at least that they can't run the world when  "Aunt Flo" is in town – we should revive and embrace this fake medical condition on behalf of women in towns like Sandy Springs where people's sexuality is still pathologized and legislated.

In fact, I think I'm feeling a little hysterical already. Where's my prescription?

Jessica Valenti is a daily columnist for the Guardian US. She is the author of four books on feminism, politics and culture, and founder of Feministing.com

 
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