Have sex, not fun

Crezendo is a vibrating condom that’s being marketed in India to encourage waning condom use. However, pornography and sex toys are illegal in India, and outcriers are crying out that the condom is certainly a sex toy. After all, the sheath is connected to a battery-powered ring, which, as a company spokesman points out, also helps to hold the condom in place. It seems the condom is just too functional for hardlining Hindus to accept.

Kailash Vijayvargiya, a Madhya Pradesh minister for road and energy, is one vocal opponent of Crezendo. The BBC article doesn’t detail Vijayvargiya’s argument against Crezendo, so I’m taking liberties to present it in a dialog with Socrates, who, of anyone I can think of–fictional or actual–is the least tolerant of ideological positions that get pretty wish-washy when pried apart.

Socrates: So I read on the BBC’s website that you object to a new kind of condom.
Vijayvargiya: Yes, as I said, it is clearly a sex toy, and sex toys are illegal in India.
S: Sex toys are illegal, you say. But tell me, since I am something like 2400 years old, and rather forgetful: what is a sex toy?
V: A sex toy is a thing that is not necessary to sex–it’s an adornment.
S: I’m wearing a bracelet given to me by my friend Phaedrus. It is unnecessary to sex, and an adornment, isn’t it?
V: Yes, I suppose, but that’s not what I mean. It’s not made with the purpose of being used during intercourse, and to provide pleasure, as a sex toy is.
S: You’ve just said two things that I want to address. First–generally a bracelet is not made to be used during intercourse, but suppose this one was made by my friend to provide pleasure during the sexual act?
V: But it isn’t being marketed that way–it’s a private gift.
S: OK, so as long as a thing isn’t being marketed as a sex toy, it’s ok? What if it is being marketed as “not a sex toy”?
V: Well, that’s silly.
S: Perhaps. But I want to go back to my other point–you said that my bracelet is not made with the purpose of providing pleasure. Perhaps it provides me with pleasure, by reminding me of past pleasures and loves, and that this enhances intercourse? Think of it as a mnemonic device.
V: Be that as it may, and I tell you I think it’s silly, your bracelet is not like the Crezendo–they are fundamentally different.
S: Precisely how they are different is just the thing I am trying to discover. Perhaps you can tell me how?
V: The Crezendo is a product being marketed to the population, and what makes it expressly a sex toy is that it has functions that are superfluous to its primary function, which is to act as a sheath over the penis during intercourse.
S: I admit that my bracelet is not a marketed product–though one could imagine it as such, a product lovers buy to present to each other so as to be remembered. You also mentioned that the Crezendo has functions that are superfluous to its primary function–this is most interesting. How, I’d like to know, has it been decided that the primary function of a thing that looks like a condom is to act as a sheath over the penis during intercourse? Say I want to use something that looks like a condom (you can imagine that I have never seen a condom and so don’t know what it’s “primary function” might be) as a water balloon, and so I do. Has its primary function changed?
V: Your ignorance cannot change it.
S: Fair enough. But say I market a product that appears to be a condom, but in my ads I show people, men and women, using it for various purposes–as water balloons, baggies, waterproof sacks. Soon enough, people on the street are using what appear to be condoms for all kinds of things. Now, what is its primary purpose?
V: I think you are playing silly games and confusing the issue. One thing you have not addressed is that the Crezendo vibrates–it uses batteries to stimulate the sex organs during intercourse.
S: It uses batteries–but lots of things do. As it happens, I was recently given, by my dentist, a toothbrush that uses batteries and, I admit, vibrates quite forcefully. This toothbrush is a product that is marketed. Is it a sex toy?
V: It is not being marketed as something to use during sex, so no. And anyway, that aside, Hindus would not be ideologically permitted to use the toothbrush in a sexual manner, no matter what.
S: What about their bodies–can they use their bodies in a sexual way?
V: That is silly. They can have sex in proscribed ways, if that’s what you mean.
S: But using their bodies–their hands, legs, arms, lips, tongue–to provide sexual pleasure may not always be permitted, you’re saying?
V: Correct.
S: So this amounts, it seems to me, to an attempt to restrict the very bodies of people by enforcing rules that, when looked at closely, are rather ambiguous. Perhaps we can talk more about this later. Now, I want to link you to an article. I’m particularly interested in what Salman Rushdie, an Indian, has to say about pornography, which you seem to be saying the Crezendo is. According to this article, Rushdie says that “pornography is vital to freedom and that a free and civilised society should be judged by its willingness to accept porn.”

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