The state has no business in people's sexual lives

The state has no business in people's sexual lives

It seems that the story involving Kerry workers and a woman's delivery order of sex toys led to a happy ending. But did it really?

The story made the headlines last week with almost -- if not all -- media outlets reporting the incident in which a woman complained that the contents of her shipment were exposed on social media by a group of delivery messengers who claimed they saw the items after the package was torn apart. One of them held up a dildo from the damaged package and made rude comments about the woman.

The messengers also took the liberty of revealing the woman's identity, address, and phone number. Since then, she has received scores of unwanted chat requests from strangers. The woman said that she was so embarrassed about the incident that she has contemplated suicide.

Meanwhile, the furore on social media prompted the company to investigate the matter, which led to the termination of the four staffers. A few days later, the firm arranged a meeting between the woman and the workers in Nakhon Pathom province.

The woman claimed that it was her friend who was the real buyer of the sex toys. She added that the friend used her address because she was too afraid to use her own.

Kerry Express issued an apology and the woman has forgiven the ex-staffers and promised not to take any additional legal action.

She forgave the workers and they apologised. But no, this is not a happy ending even though some may assume the woman can continue her life as normal.

It's not a happy ending because, in my opinion, the whole saga reveals a sad truth about how citizens are controlled by conservatives who continue to stick to obsolete laws and moral rules regarding sexuality.

Why is it that people who purchase these products have to hide their identity? Because we live in a society that treats the purchase of sex toys as a crime. Women who purchase sex toys are seen as "bad women" and are subjected to humiliation and condemnation like the victim of the ex-Kerry workers. We live in a society that has one moral policy too many.

It's a pity that some media outlets lacked sensitivity about the issue. Some Thai and English-language newspapers labelled the victim as "sex toy woman" in their headlines. They should have known that such labels would only inflict additional embarrassment to the woman.

I wish our society would be mature enough to regard people, be they women, men, transgenders -- who want to buy a dildo, a vibrator -- or any other device as normal. Buying these items should be a non-issue. It's not a crime and no one should be ashamed of it. It's not anyone's business if a woman wants to buy these devices.

Perhaps we should begin with the state legalising sex toy shops? I am sure the moral police would be appalled by the idea and use arguments like "rape cases will skyrocket", so on and so forth. But those with such arguments should open their eyes and minds. Stop practising hypocrisy, if I may say.

Most major cities in the developed world have sex toys shops. Are residents of those cities immoral? No. Are rape rates high? No. Rape is a problem in countries where men are obsessed with power and not taught to respect the rights of other people.

I don't mean to say that we should have dildos displayed on the sidewalk as it is in some touristy areas where state authorities turn a blind eye to the trade. However, we can do it like other modern countries by having shops or outlets that the state can regulate and tax them accordingly.

There is no good in keeping sex toys underground as that would only give a chance for some state officials to collect kickbacks.

I have a strong belief that the role of the state regarding its people's sexuality should stop outside the bedroom.

The only role it should take is to ensure that consumers' rights are well protected, meaning that the products are of good quality and prices are fair. The state may enforce rules about customer age control and display, but that is understandable.

But apart from that, there is no place for the state when it comes to sexual pleasure.

Ploenpote Atthakor is editorial pages editor, Bangkok Post.

Ploenpote Atthakor

Former editorial page Editor

Ploenpote Atthakor is former editorial pages editor, Bangkok Post.

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