Sunday, August 25, 2013

The War on Sexual Health Professionals

Lisa S. Lawless, Ph.D.
Psychotherapist & Sex Expert
CEO & Founder of
Holistic Wisdom, Inc. &
Many people live within the comfortable illusion that our society is more sexually open and accepting than ever before and that their sexual rights are protected. However, many find out the hard way that this is simply naïve thinking as there is still an all-out war going on when it comes to sexual health in ways that many are not even aware of and are not typically covered by mainstream media. Sexual health professionals often find that while the media is fine with embracing sexuality as entertainment in advertising, mainstream shows and more, the promotion of sexual health education and products is still a precarious business to be in and often banned.

The majority of people are aware of the social controversies surrounding breast feeding in public, the civil liberty war for GLBT rights and even birth control and abortion issues. However, because of our indulgent acceptance of superficial sex; meaning you see scantily clad people in lascivious situations everywhere, people assume those who provide sexual education and products to the public must have a pretty easy time running their business in this day and age. That is an incorrect and a dangerous assumption.

Laws against sexual products-

Seven states have laws against the sale and/or ownership of sex toys and every state has county laws regarding the limitations of such sales. With 80% of women having used a vibrator in her lifetime, it seems that such laws are in direct opposition to what the public sees as their personal right. 

Many see adult products as frivolous toys and do not take such restrictions seriously; however, those women who have difficulty having an orgasm due to a hysterectomy, experience decreased hormones such as estrogen or have other sexually related medical issues as well as men who need assistance with Erectile Dysfunction and need devices that aid in intimacy with their partner will tell you they are not frivolous by any means. A few examples of sexual products that aid in health are: Kegel balls that help to improve pelvic floor muscles and prevent and aid in urinary incontinence, dilators that help women who suffer from painful sex (such as vaginismus), rings that assist men in maintaining erections and vibrators that help to increase sexual functioning as well as libido through increased blood flow.

With proven health benefits and the public believing they have a right to such products, you may be surprised to learn that the penalty for selling a sex toy can be pretty severe with Alabama being the most restrictive state of them all. In Alabama the penalty for selling a sex toy is a $10,000 fine and up to ten years in prison. In 1998, the Anti-Obscenity Enforcement Act criminalized the sale of sex toys stating that the "The State's interest in public morality is a legitimate interest rationally served by the statute. It was challenged again in 2007 and was upheld in a unanimous decision.

Later in 2009, Ross Winner, a sex toy retailer, sued in order to have the statute declared unconstitutional under the Alabama Constitution saying that "a person should have the ability to come in and purchase a sexual device without having to have a reason." The Alabama Supreme Court ruled against him and the statute's ban is still in effect. This was despite the fact that 91% of adults polled in Alabama oppose the law. It seems that the people want the law changed but their efforts are continuously denied. 

The new face of sexual products-

The old days of seedy adult stores are dinosaurs from the past and with new, high end, health focused boutiques and educational workshops catering to women and couples growing in numbers you may think all is well. However, most sexual health professionals who run them find themselves in one battle after another and the majority of them lose their business within six months of opening.

While you may occasionally see a rare sexual health professional make it such as Dr. Ruth or Dr. Laura Berman there are thousands of sexual health professionals that are struggling to survive and even face jail time, much like the widely publicized case of Joanne Webb based in Burleson, TX. 

To read more about this-

Sherri Williams was another public example of the legal battle against such issues and in the end the Supreme Court refused to hear her case. Those who sell sexual products and provide sex education are at risk for being arrested most often because they offended someone. We need to understand that we still live in a society that will ‘burn the witch’ with no regard for sexual rights.

To read more about this-

Regardless of one’s qualifications whether it be a Masters or Doctorate degree, sexual health professionals are often lumped into the adult entertainment industry and are banned from providing articles, advertising and social media to the public. If they are accepted, it is not uncommon for them to be told they cannot use appropriate language to describe what they do making it nearly impossible to explain their services. For example, words that are often banned from use are: sex, sensual, vibrator, sex toy, lingerie, etc.

Sexual health professionals also find that many businesses will not provide them with basic services such as credit card processing, web hosting, print services and more. In many cases they are held to contracts and forced to pay ongoing fees when being denied the very services they signed up to receive for their business; thus, making them one of the most frequent victims of legal business banking scams.

How the public is affected-

When legitimate, sex-positive and health focused companies find they are battling just to have the right to educate you regarding sexual health or sell you a nontoxic, sexual product your choices, education and sexual health options will be severely limited and restricted.

More information for the public-

Resources for sexual health professionals-

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