Of course, as a curious young thing, I had to try some of the suggestions out. My mother's refrigerator crisper drawer became the equivalent of an adult's naughty, nightstand drawer. I had a field day with the cucumbers, learned that I enjoyed the cold burn of a refrigerated implement, and discovered that bigger wasn't necessarily better, which would be a valuable lesson I took with me into adulthood.
When I couldn't sneak the produce from the kitchen undetected, I looked for other advantageously shaped items: rounded hairbrush handles, large magic markers, cylindrical-bottled beauty products. For clitoral stimulation, the handheld showerhead and the water jets in the swimming pool got me off on a regular basis (I figured that out on my own). For some reason I don't quite fathom, it's always been difficult for me to come during masturbation unless I use an aid.
As I got older, my friends and I became more frank about our sexual indulgences and shared our secrets. My friend Aaron confessed as a kid that he'd used his father's screwdrivers' handles for anal masturbation. Meri touted bananas (once the hard stems had been pared off and the fruit was tied inside a condom) for their g-spot stimulating curve.
Once I became an adult and got some privacy and spending cash, I was thrilled that I could shop for tools designed for exactly what I was using them for. Thanks to adult novelty shops — both in Florida and online — I discovered the many ways I could enjoy myself outside of a relationship and in ways that were completely guilt and disease free. And while I always appreciated the joys these toys provided, I must confess, I took their availability for granted.
That is until I learned that earlier this month Alabama had joined Texas, Georgia, Mississippi, Nebraska, and Tennessee in outlawing the sale of sex toys.
I was aghast. I wanted to face North and scream at the lawmakers of the offending states, "If the purchase of dildos is a crime, then only criminals will own dildos!" But they probably wouldn't get the joke.
"Perhaps," I thought aloud to amuse myself with the preposterousness of the suggestion, "the ban was intended not only to further the interest of decency but to boost sales for the states' local farmers." I mean, if I couldn't ramble down to the local sex toy merchant to make a purchase, I would certainly be stopping at many a roadside produce stand to explore my options — giving preference, of course, to the organic farmers since I'd prefer pesticide-free pleasure.
And I'm sure my friends and I are not alone in our resourcefulness.
My point is, if produce and household goods – or anything else not specifically designed but equally good for sexual stimulation — aren't considered obscene, then how can dildos, vibrators, and other joy toys?
Sherri Williams, an Alabama adult novelty retailer and Florida resident, filed a lawsuit along with several other Alabama citizens, challenging the constitutionality of the ban. Williams v. Alabama went all the way to the Supreme Court. However, by majority rule, the Supreme Court refused to review the constitutionality of the Alabama ban.
Dissenting judge Rosemary Barkett wrote, "This case is not, as the majority's demeaning and dismissive analysis suggests, about sex or about sexual devices. It is about the tradition of American citizens from the inception of our democracy to value the constitutionally protected right to be left alone in the privacy of their bedrooms and personal relationships."
Sure, you may be thinking "Oh, poor, backward, redneck states," just as I did when I first heard the news. But on further reflection, I was bothered by a nagging question.
Are we forward-thinking Floridians safe from unconstitutional laws that are more invasive than a super-sized strap-on?
To find an answer, I contacted Florida civil rights attorney Lawrence G. Walters, an expert on the First Amendment and a specialist in adult entertainment and Internet cases. His firm's website, www.FirstAmendment.com, provides helpful information for folks in both industries.
Walters remarks were comforting: "These so-called 'obscene device laws' are sweeping the country and could certainly be proposed here by some law-maker with a thirst for headlines. While such a law may pass in Florida given the current conservative bent of the legislature, I do not believe it would survive a constitutional challenge in the Florida Supreme Court, given our strong state constitutional Right to Privacy."
Fortunately for us, Florida citizens are better protected then those of many other states. "Article 1, §23 of the Florida Constitution provides citizens of this state with a stronger right against governmental interference in their private lives, than they have under the federal Constitution. Therefore, any attempt by the State of Florida to regulate what devices we can purchase for use in our intimate relations with other citizens, would almost certainly be struck down on privacy grounds," Walters explained, before making a sad addendum. "Unfortunately, we are seeing more and more, a willingness for our law-makers to pass unconstitutional laws that might appeal to a special interest group, knowing that the courts will be required to strike those laws down, when tested."
The good news is that no one has begun trying to implement a similar ban in Florida (and if they did, I'd be tempted to feed them a heaping helping of marinated cucumber salad), and there are lawyers like Walters out there willing to fight the good fight if some rights-stomping moralizer attempts to establish such a law.
In the meantime, I'll be exercising my – ahem! — rights, and if do you spot me perusing the produce aisles and housewares departments, there's a good chance I'm looking for some back-up for the time when the religious "right" rules the earth and my stash of pleasurabilia is kaput.