CYBERSPACE—Here's the problem: Let's say you're a woman and religious—very, very religious—yet you want to satisfy your natural sexual urges. But your fingers won't do the job, and your husband, who of course never looks at pornography, can't seem to bring you that ultimate satisfaction either. What do you do? What do you do???
Well, if you're like Joyce, a 59-year-old mother of two from central California, you search the internet for a solution that won't betray your religious convictions (or at least not much) and that won't offend your sensibilities—and you find one at Book22.com, named after the book in the Bible that contains the Song of Solomon, considered by many to be the raciest part of that tome.
"We avoid any objectionable wording or pictures in the line of products we offer," notes a statement on the site's home page. "Your privacy and protection are important to us. You will not receive anything but what you have ordered. We will not send out unsolicited e-mail or any other material to you. Your information will not be sold or given out to anyone by our company. All products are sold as a novelty only, this is to protect our customers who live in states that do not allow the sale of intimacy products, for personal use."
Members of the adult industry might find it hard to believe that some folks are so screwed up (well, or shy) that they can't bring themselves to go down to the local adult boutique and pick out the toy that they think stands the best chance of getting them off, or even to go to one of the many adult sites that offer similar gadgetry, but according to an article by Daily Beast writer Allison Yarrow, it's a lot more common than even one might fear.
"To an outsider, visiting the religious sites feels a bit like listening to the bleeped-out version of an explicit hip-hop song: the substance is the same, it's just missing the X-rated details," Yarrow wrote. "None of the sites feature any nudity, instead relying on mannequins to display lingerie. Nor do they feature any sexy language. Kosher Sex Toys, for example, rewrites product descriptions that risk shocking its audience. (The 'Butterfly Clitoris Stimulator' becomes, simply, the 'Vibrating Stimulator.') And while they don't flaunt their holiness, they'll occasionally rely on religious messaging to sell themselves, or perhaps put potential customers at ease. Book 22, for example, promises to 'enhance the intimate life of all God's children'."
Shades of Hysteria!
Indeed; the Book 22 site doesn't even list "vibrator" in its menu; you have to click on the button that says simply "waterproof." Indeed; everything they sell is repackaged into plain boxes, while another site, El Asira, run by a practicing Muslim, "only stocks brands that arrive in tasteful and inoffensive wrappings"—and are "Sharia-compliant." Book 22 also has "intimacy kits" available; the one labeled "Newlywed Kit" (pictured) contains a copy of the pamphlet "What's Okay & What's Not" by Paul & Lori Bylerly, a Pillow Pack ID Pleasure Lube, a Pillow Pack ID Flavored Lube, a Pillow Pack Essence of Pearl Lotion, a Pillow Pack Silicone Lube, Pleasure Feather massager, a Silky Black Storage Bag, 2 oz. of tropical-scented massage cream, a plastic handheld massager, two tea lights, and a Mini-Massage Guide.
The article, which novelty manufacturers would certainly find well worth reading, discusses the various conflicts that can arise between religious dogma and adherents' need for sexual outlets—while others might just want to check it out for kicks, or to laugh at how screwed up orthodox religiosity can make some people.
But one thing's for sure: No matter how religious you are, there are still places on the internet where your needs can be satisfied while not offending your sensibilities.