Christine O’Donnell, Tea Party candidate for Senate in Delaware, doesn’t want you to masturbate. Back in the 90s, she appeared on MTV to argue for a lust-free youth. And lust-free, O’Donnell clarified, means masturbation-free. At the time, O’Donnell was the president of Saviors Alliance for Lifting the Truth (SALT), a group “with a focus on establishing conservative Christian values in college-aged kids.”
Her campaign against masturbation was only the beginning of a lifelong assault on human well-being. She opposed President Bush’s restrictions on stem-cell research on the grounds that they were not restrictive enough, and she argued that sex education would cause us to become blasé about sexual predators. This last argument is a particularly helpful illumination of the conservative position on sexuality: this aspect of being a human is dirty and shameful and deserving of punishment. Healthy sex or even just sex education is not distinguished from sexual molestation.
This kind of repression and denial is, of course, what gets people into trouble: we’re not really having sex so let’s not use a condom; we weren’t supposed to have sex so let’s abandon the baby in a trash can.
So while O’Donnell’s vocal opposition to masturbation at first seems laughable, it’s part of a larger philosophy that we should take very seriously now that she’s running for Senate. Government interference in people’s sex lives may seem like a thing of the ancient past, but what are bans on gay marriage about, if not sex? And impediments to emergency contraception access? Just another reminder that Tea Partiers, who call themselves “the true owners of the United States,” have less interest in “small government” than in a tyranny of the minority.
This post was originally published at RH Reality Check, a site of news, community and commentary for reproductive health and justice