The French are supposed to be all enlightened, but apparently not when it comes to sex toys: Catholic groups are trying to get a sex shop closed down on the grounds that it's selling "pornographic" materials near a school. But if if they succeed, sex shops could be banned from everywhere but "cemeteries, public gardens and railways."
According to the Telegraph, France already has a law stating that a store selling "pornographic" objects can't be within 200 m (about 650 ft) of a school. Problem is, just as the US has had trouble defining "obscenity," France doesn't seem to have pinned down what "pornography" is. Are dildos pornographic? Catholic groups CNAF and CLER Amour et Famille say yes, because they pertain only to sex, and not to "love or sentiment" (those who feel sentimental about their vibrators would probably disagree). And now they want "love shop" 1969 - Curiosités Désirables closed down. Lawyer Henri de Beauregard argues, "One can call a sex shop a 'Love shop', a vibrator a 'sex toy' and a fellatio simulator a 'gourmand pleasure object', but these are just words."
Hilarious words! But the implications of the case are pretty serious. If sex toys are porn, they can't be sold anywhere near a school, which the store's lawyer says would basically relegate sex shops to cemeteries (it's unclear if French people are currently buying their actual porn from gravediggers, although my guess is that like the rest of us, they now get most of it on the internet). He also claims that the definition of porn the Catholic groups want employed would have the effect of shutting down not just sex shops but also youth clothing retailers like Galeries Lafayette. Even if the impact were less dire than 1969's defense suggests, the fact remains that sex toys aren't really porn. They're not representations of sex, they're tools for having it. And since a dildo isn't a person, a lot of the concerns people have about porn don't apply — you can't assault or exploit a piece of silicone, for instance.
It's hard to tell exactly what the law was meant to protect kids against — porn theaters? Magazine racks full of boobs? Whatever the case, it's hard to imagine the storefront of 1969 being anywhere near as disturbing for kids as anything they could find in two minutes online. And since children presumably aren't allowed inside the store, its effect is probably limited. The worst-case scenario is that kids find out grownups can use toys to get each off — which, compared to a lot of things they could learn about sex and sexuality, is actually kind of nice.
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