Legislating Texas

She told him Jesus was watching.  Really, he was, she said.  Jesus was sitting on the bed post, looking down, watching and making sure.  He was making sure things didn’t go where they shouldn’t, while others stayed where they should.  Jesus had X-ray vision.  That’s what K’Lynn told Bradford, and what Bradford told me.

So K’Lynn latched onto Bradford after meeting him again last year at a co-ed bar in Lubbock, Texas.  She’d said everything was fine, not progressing too fast, something more like fate, since they’d gone to the same Church Camp at thirteen.  Instead of a few hours time, they’d really known each other a little over a decade, even if they hadn’t talked in the time and space in between.  Besides, she said, it couldn’t be a coincidence that they’d met up again, not after all this time, not like this. 

Still, K’Lynn told Bradford she was worried.  With Jesus sitting up on her headboard, perched like Tinkerbelle, hovering above them, she’d decided it was necessary to tell Bradford why she couldn’t ‘do it’ with him.  Really, K-Lynn told him, she’d never actually done it before; she was a virgin.  But that’s just what she said to Bradford, continuing on with the fact that while she wasn’t a tease, there were just some things she couldn’t do.  Besides, she’d cut a deal with Jesus. 

Since they couldn’t ‘do it,’ though, K’Lynn told Bradford she’d formulated alternatives.  She explained that anything from behind was okay with her.  Even sticking it in just a little, in the right way, that might be fine too – so long as he didn’t push it all the way in.  No full penetration, nothing that could break her seal, that which she explained secured her maidenhood, her flower, meaning Bradford could only begin if he kept his hand grounded at the base; this she made sure to hold for him, allowing only an inch or two entry.  All of this, she said, was done to guarantee her self-proclaimed virginity. 

There was something about telling a man you’re a virgin, something about it that K-Lynn seemed to believe made the men in Texas respect her more.  We talked briefly, though not specifically about this subject, when she showed up at my apartment a couple days after loosing Bradford; she said she was looking for her earring, a red dangly thing, but I think she was really looking for him. 

“Since Bradford hasn’t returned my calls yet, I figured I’d just stop by here, to see if maybe see if it fell out the other night after the bar,” K-Lynn said.

“Sure, that’s fine.  You’re welcome to look around,” I said.

It’s just that the red pair was my favorite.  I have some blue ones like them, but I really like the red.  I just can’t stand the idea of losing them forever, you know?” K-Lynn said.

I told her I understood, and made a point of answering that Bradford had gone back to Houston on Sunday, back to class, returning to law school, and was really busy.  I tried to explain that he had this way of disappearing on everyone, old friends too, so really his absence was nothing personal.

“Well, at least I didn’t sleep with him,” K-Lynn said.  “So, you know, it’s not like he got much of me anyway.”

“Yeah, Bradford can be a jerk sometimes,” I said.

“Well, nothing to be too torn up over,” K-Lynn said.  “I’m just sorry he’s an asshole.

K-Lynn didn’t find her earring that afternoon.  Though, I think I found it myself, while moving a year later.  It had fallen behind my nightstand, lost there for at least two years, a black metal hoop with little red beads.


K-Lynn was raised in the West Texas Panhandle, a dry stretch of land that reaches across the northern expanse of West Texas.  This area contains dying places, scarcely populated cities, including Lubbock, Coleman, Muleshoe, Pampa; these, in my opinion, aren’t areas much worth knowing about, nothing beyond their insistence in regards to remaining locked in the past, content to live off the glory of their religious convictions, sucking the remaining life out of all who might protest. 

The Pampa region alone contains one hundred and thirteen thousand citizens, including both K-Lynn and Warren Chisum.  Neither of the two, K-Lynn or Warren, have earned educational degrees beyond their West Texas high school diplomas; however, while K-Lynn continues to struggle with finding a suitable sales job in the area, Chisum represents his region’s constituency as a member of the Texas House of Representatives.  Back in Pampa, Chisum also funds his political career through two other traditional Texas industries, earning his money through oil and cattle ranching; his political website calls Representative Chisum a self-proclaimed Christian, and a good husband to his wife, Omega.  What the website doesn’t reveal involves Mr. Chisum’s obsession with the policing of other peoples’ genitalia.

In 1993, Mr. Chisum’s legislation helped to promote and redefine the original Texas State Penal Code, first introduced again by Mad Dog Mengden in the late 1970s.  The re-visitation of this legislation made illegal any act in the state of Texas that involves the selling, and/or the ownership of six or more dildos; these actions now constitute felony offenses.  I’m not exactly sure how Mr. Chisum decided on the illegal number as being “six or more” dildos, since more than five earns you the sentence of “the intent to distribute,” while five or less only makes you a hobbyist. 

To circumvent these anti-dildo laws, a number of store owners in Texas have continued to play off the penal code’s exceptions, those that allow for the sale of dildos for ‘artistic,’ ‘scientific,’ ‘psychological,’ ‘medical,’ or ‘educational’ purposes.  It remains common today for most stores in Texas to avoid liability by insisting upon each customer’s signing a form, one that confirms their intent remains to purchase an ‘educational device,’ an ‘artistic model,’ or a ‘marital aid,’ anything but a ‘dildo.’   The anti-dildo laws, in other words, seem to want to redefine the action, by manipulating the intent.   And yet it seems to me that a dildo remains a dildo, no matter what official title you choose to sell it under. 

In a similar manner to the anti-dildo legislation, a series of anti-sodomy laws were also raised and pushed through by Mr. Chisum in 1993.  Were it not for the West Texas constituency, these bills would have been raised and dismissed, as the Texas Senate, the more liberal of the two bodies of government, had already allowed the anti-sodomy legislation to be raised and dropped, along with many of the other archaic laws up that session.  As the anti-sodomy bill came up and was approved, Mr. Chisum won, in terms of keeping the law on the books within the new Texas Penal Code.  It was pointed out, however, that in order to make the law constitutionally sound, in addition to outlawing sodomy for homosexuals, it remained necessary to make it illegal it for heterosexual couples, too.  Thus, the law was rephrased to encompass any and all “sexual act[s] involving a sexual organ of one person with the anus of another.”  

Rep. Debra Danburg questioned Mr. Chisum, regarding what he thought might be the punishment for this offense following its passing into existence; Chisum responded that, “they would probably hang you in my county if they caught you.”  In the video of the House proceedings, Chisum laughs nervously at himself following this statement, realizing that no one else seemed as amused by his comment.  He quickly stated that the penalty of such actions should equate to the cost of a traffic ticket, though, he’d be willing to push it up to a Class A Misdemeanor, or Felony offense.  In justifying the rationale for his promotion of reinstating these laws, Chisum explained only that sodomy “is a very bad habit for people to have, it’s a personal belief, as well as one within the religious community and the health community.” 

After successfully preserving the anti-sodomy legislation, Mr. Chisum remains pleased, congratulating his fellow Republicans, shaking hands, slapping each other on the back.  In response to all this close felt excitement between Republicans, a couple of the Democrats got together and told the Sergeant of Arms to tell Mr. Chisum to quit his carrying on, as it was “now illegal for a prick to touch an asshole in this state.”   


While West Texas retains its conservative façade, the actions hiding behind these images reveals an opposite reality.  In 2005, Lubbock, Texas recorded the highest STD rates in the nation.  West Texas also holds one of the highest teenage pregnancy rates.  Both of these statistics reflect the results of the longest standing abstinence only education policy in the United States.  Still, rather than attempting a new approach towards promoting the health and well being of its West Texas citizens, legislators during the next session appear focused on addressing the increasing divorce rates within the region.  By diverting attention away from the real issues involving health and sex education, most of the bills I’ve read about coming up during the next session address the fact that more marriages fail in of Texas than in New York.

Of course, rather dealing with the problems that might create a faulty marriage, such as the fact that over half of all Texans marry at an age far below the national average of 25 for women and 27 for men, the legislature doesn’t want to promote any programs or laws that could make them appear “against marriage and family.”   Instead, the current solutions propose a different approach, forcing couples to stay married, by striking the ‘no fault clause’ in divorce statutes.  Hence, rather than allowing for a quick, fault free divorce, couples will be forced to attempt a year’s reconciliation.  This seems to be the same logic the state legislature used when voting to restrict the treatment of STDs, and prescription birth control for people below the age of eighteen.  Even if a person is found to have a treatable STD by a doctor in Texas, the law prohibits the dispencing of any medical treatment without signed parental permission, or a judge’s written waiver.  Since many teens refuse to tell their parents about the issue, and many STDs remain latent with no noticeable symptoms, there have been a number of documented cases by Planned Parenthood in Houston, in which known diseases have been ignored, left untreated.  The result is that many teens living in the poorest areas in Texas will continue living with their disease, infecting others, while creating their own sterility in the years before they’ll reach the legal age of consent for treatment. 

What seems to matter most in Texas law has little to do with the actions or the outcomes produced, but rather resides within the emphasis placed on the promotion of an ideal culture, one that today remains grounded in religious conservatism.  No one seems to have a problem with dildos, for instance, when they’re referred to as marital aides, in the same manner the Victorians had no problems with alcohol so long as it was served as a ‘digestive aide.’  Thus, to help women learn about their bodies, this awareness has been taken up and promoted further by OB/GYNS; in attempts to help eliminate the stigma created by Texas law against dildos, and other cultural taboos attached to buying sex toys for women in Texas, many doctors now write prescriptions for dildos, or ‘marital aides,’ as well as vibrators, to help women with ‘sexual dysfunction.’  My guess is the sexual dysfunctions resides within the state itself, not the woman; however, the doctor’s prescription works to establish both a legal and a culturally justifiable excuse to reclaim one’s sexuality. 

Texas sex store owners similarly adapted their linguistic model, mimicking polite society, today’s medical references, while keeping within the law’s dictates; effectively, they changed nothing beyond the organizational structure of the store, and the names attached to the devices, stocking them on shelves according to their categorical division: “marital aides / dildos” and “personal massagers / vibrators.”  These two separate categories, each establish its own loophole in the Texas State Penal Code.  For instance, marital aides / dildos resemble penises, and therefore must not contain any sort of vibrating device; because items that resemble penises also resemble the human genitalia, which could possibly come into contact with the anus violating the anti-sodomy law, these devices must not contain any overt notion of giving pleasure (i.e. vibrating).  Likewise, vibrators cannot look like penises, because they contain the ability to vibrate and therefore hold the possibility of producing physical pleasure, and could possible come into contact with the vagina (a legislatively recognized ‘sexual orifice’); therefore, vibrators in Texas remain legal only so long as they don’t appear to be replicas of a penis.   To help guarantee the Texas government doesn’t mistake a vibrator for a penis, Texas vibrators  come with faces or other images imprinted along the base, or with vibrating animals attached somewhere along the phallic structure.  While the black letter designations of these two categories grounds each within the legal dictates of the anti-sodomy and anti-dildo laws, strangely enough there exists a third category of sex toys that remains free from legislative scrutiny: “butt plugs.”  “Butt plugs” may be sold as “butt plugs,” without the linguistic manipulation forced upon the other two areas, “marital aides” and “personal massagers,” only because the legislature continually refuses to recognize the anus as a valid sexual orifice.  


Bradford called me in a rage, a couple weeks following his encounter with K-Lynn.  While she’d made efforts in attempts to maintain her virginal identity, the physical reality of K-Lynn’s purity fell short.  Turns out Bradford had developed symptoms the past week, those that proved K-Lynn’s assumed purity was a myth.  According to Bradford, he insisted K-Lynn had given him, ‘Raider Rash.’  The Red Raider is a masked horseman, the school mascot of Texas Tech University; thanks to Playboy, now Texas Tech may be most notorious among younger audiences for its “hottest coeds,” and the “highest STD rate.” 

While the high STD rates in Lubbock remain factually confirmed, as does the existence of the term “Raider Rash,” I couldn’t find a valid definition explaining exactly what it was; while I checked the CDC website for more information, I wasn’t sure if the same disease might exist under a more technical name, as I found nothing specific about it in the database.   I did speak with doctors currently working at the hospitals in Lubbock, both UMC and Covenant, who believed “Raider Rash” probably does exist in some form; their consensus was that the new STD was a hybrid version of Gonnohorea and Chlamydia, or a new mutated version of either.  Regardless, since both diseases disappear with a strong round of antibiotics, Bradford took a Z-Pack and forgot about it.

Initially, Bradford insisted on trying to contact  K-Lynn, supposedly to tell her to go to the doctor; since K-Lynn remained Bradford’s only recent conquest during this period, there remained no doubt in his mind as to where the disease had originated.  I asked Bradford if he’d talked to K-Lynn since their last encounter, since she’d shown up at my place looking for her earring. 

I never actually entered her number into my phone,” Bradford said.  “So, no.  I haven’t heard from her.  I just never returned her calls.  She was weird, and I didn’t really think there would be any reason for me to get a hold of her again.”

“Yeah, well,” I said, “she came by my place looking for her earring, though I think she was probably looking for you.”

Since neither Bradford, nor I, knew K-Lynn’s number or her last name, this seemed to be the end of it.  Despite modern technology, there was no way we could think of in terms of contacting her.  K-Lynn, much like Raider Rash probably exists, remaining still within the creation of her own mythology, sharing space, and time, somewhere out in West Texas.