#CocksNotGlocks Comes From a Long History of Using Sex Toys as Protest Tools

#CocksNotGlocks Comes From a Long History of Using Sex Toys as Protest Tools
Source: Getty Images
Source: Getty Images

Come August 2016, the University of Texas at Austin will be full of dicks. 

Thanks to the passage of a controversial campus carry law earlier this year, college students across the state will officially be allowed to bring guns with them to class (in addition to myriad other public spaces). As a direct result of the law, guns will soon be equivalent to pencils and notebooks in terms of what constitutes acceptable school supplies. But Jessica Jin, a 24-year-old UT graduate, wants students to bring another item to class instead: lots and lots of dildos

Jin is the driving force behind Campus (DILDO) Carry, an organized "strap-in" to protest guns on campus. Jin's #CocksNotGlocks campaign encourages students to attach large, colorful dildos to their backpacks at the start of the 2016-2017 school year — a direct violation of the Texas penal code, which classifies the open display of sex toys as an "obscene" Class C misdemeanor. 

That's right: In Texas, it's legal to carry a gun into a classroom but illegal to carry a fake plastic penis. 

Source: Giphy

Jin's call for students to brandish fake dongs on campus has already received widespread attention. Many have lauded her colorful campaign while others have sent her death threats. She told Mic the idea for the protest came to her organically in the wake of campus shootings in Houston and in Oregon earlier this month. 

"I was just sitting in the car listening to the radio, and they were discussing inconclusively how not to have shootings," Jin said. "I was rolling my eyes, thinking this is so frustrating. There have been so many other issues where we've been able to govern ourselves. Everybody who is still defending [campus carry] is a dildo. We're all just a bunch of dildos for not having solved [the issue of] gun violence yet." 

Texas isn't the only state where firearms are widely accessible while sex toys must be kept under lock and key (or obtained only with a doctor's prescription, as is the case in one city in Georgia). The irony of legalizing tools of destruction while demonizing masturbation aids has helped make sex toys particularly poignant symbols in the fight for increased gun safety laws, as well as numerous other social issues. 

Source: Giphy

A comprehensive history of the fake penis: Dildos have been instrumental in taking a stand against more than just guns — and that's sort of been the case for centuries. As chronicled by Aristophanes in his comedy Lysistrataanti-violence activists in ancient Greece also relied on sex toys to make their case: 

And so, girls, when fucking time comes... not the faintest whiff of it anywhere, right? From the time those Milesians betrayed us, we can't even find our eight-fingered leather dildos. ... So, then! Would you like me to find some mechanism by which we could end this war? 

That tradition of protesting with fake penises has continued to the modern day. In 2014, performance artist Kalan Sherrard was arrested after he whipped a prosthetic dong out of his pants to protest police brutality. International LGBTQ activists decided to fight Russia's controversial anti-gay laws by mailing dildos to Russian President Vladimir Putin; a similar stand against Putin incorporated butt plugs. On the other end of Russia's political spectrum, pro-Kremlin activists launched a remote-controlled flying penis at chess champion Gary Kasparov during a 2008 political rally. 

UT students also aren't the first activists to use dildos as a tool to protest gun violence. Last year, for instance, the gun safety group Evolve released a PSA that included two children innocently fencing with dildos, reminding viewers that if kids find an object — whether it's a rifle or a rabbit — "they'll play with it." 

Jin said she was unaware of the larger history of using sex toys in protest, but wasn't surprised. While people are often able to ignore pressing social issues such as widespread access to lethal weapons or racialized police violence, it's more difficult to stay ignorant when someone's waving a big fake dick in your face. More to the point, the use of phallic objects in protest highlights the irony of how we, as a culture, readily embrace death and destruction, yet stigmatize sex — even though it's something almost all humans engage in, not to mention crucial to our survival as a species.


"I think incorporating sex makes it personal," Jin told Mic. "Sex is a thing that so many people can identify with. Real, true gun violence is something distant that people can block out if they want to."  


Shock and awe: There's also another, more obvious reason why sex toys are effective activist tools: shock value. People aren't used to seeing dildos and vibrators out in the open, which is why sex toys can be useful at drawing significant public attention to a specific problem. 

Jin's protest will no doubt make for a startling display of non-force come next fall, when thousands of students are expected to gather in front of UT's iconic clocktower, the site of one of the first mass shootings on a college campus, carrying rubber phalluses. And while those who participate in the so-called "strap-in" by proudly brandishing their fake members will be taking a stand against campus carry laws, they'll also taking a stand for sex positivity.

"Look at all these dildos and think about what you're asking for, and what is actually legal and what's not," Jin said. "What are our society's priorities? What are our society's values? And why is it that way?"