Sex toys, public morals and medical use
Health Wise
December 5, 2017

Sex toys, public morals and medical use

I am taking off my physician hat and putting on a hat that I seldom wear. That is, the hat of an ethicist. As an ethicist, I am compelled to respond and to write in response to comments made by a senior official about the ban of sex toys as a measure to protect public morals.

Although I get where his argument is leading, I find that the comment is a blanket statement and when dissected holds no significance or value in today’s society. It is like bringing a basket to fetch water. There is no credible evidence of logic to support such a statement and the claims that were made.

Public morality refers to moral and ethical standards enforced in a society, by law or police work or social pressure, and applied to public life, to the content of the media, and to conduct in public places. Just by looking at this definition, there is no way that the use of sex toys infringes on public morality, or will it influence someone to act immorally in the public domain.

Secondly, the problem is not a breakdown in private morality. It is a breakdown in public morality. What Vincentians do in their bedrooms is their own business. Sex toys are not used in the public domain and I am certain that their private use does not cause a negative spill-over into the society. I would be more concerned about other moral issues affecting the Vincentian society than that of sex toys.

When we speak about public morals, we are really digging into greater issues than just sex toys. There are many moral ills in our society that require our attention, time and energy. These moral ills must be addressed to protect our society and prevent a moral decay. I recently read an article written by a very distinguished Vincentian woman whom I admire for her professional demeanour. Mrs Laura Anthony-Browne wrote an excellent piece called; “Time to repair the broken windows in SVG”. In her article, she mentioned many issues that require our urgent time and effort. I will not comment more on this here, as the article was a well written one that all Vincentians can identify with.

Now back to the issue of the sex toys. There are health benefits from the use of these products. Men who use them are less likely to be burdened with erectile dysfunction, difficulty orgasming and low sex drive. They are also more likely to be aware of their sexual health, making them more likely to notice any abnormalities and seek medical advice. Male products can help men overcome erectile dysfunction, following prostate surgery or treatment, diabetes, heart disease, spinal cord injury and neurological conditions, by promoting the blood flow into the erectile tissues and stimulating the nerves to help the man have an erection without them having to take Viagra.

Some women cannot orgasm through penetration alone, no matter how turned on they are. Stimulating the clitoris can be the key to satisfying climaxes and sex toys can make that easier. Vibrators can be really useful for vulval pain conditions, such as vulvodynia, where penetration can be tricky to achieve.

Remember, sex toys are not just dildos, they do have medical benefits. Maybe it is time to review the law and the ever-changing moral landscape.

Dr Rosmond Adams, MD is a medical doctor and a public health specialist. He is also an ethicist with training in research ethics and medical ethics. He is the head of Health Information, Communicable Disease and Emergency Response at the Caribbean Public Health Agency (CARPHA).

He is also a member of the World Health Organization (WHO) Global Coordination Mechanism (GCM) on the Prevention and Control of Non-Communicable Diseases (NCDs).

(The views expressed here are not written on behalf of CARPHA nor the WHO)