#Love & Sex

Puritan Sex Laws That Are Still on the Books

by Sage Romano

Puritan Sex Laws That Are Still on the Books

The United States has more laws that attempt to dictate the sexual conduct of our citizens than all of Europe combined. And almost without exception, these laws stem from our Puritanical founders and the intractable symbiosis they perceived between the church and the populace—not to mention a sizable dose of misogyny. Even though the times have changed, some laws have not, evidenced by this brief list of epic prudery still in the law books.


Smooch Swift
Enjoy a nice snog? Not if you live in Idaho or Iowa. While kissing is lawful, Idaho has a statute against kissing for longer than 18 minutes. But in Iowa, they’ll not tolerate such tongue play for longer than five minutes.


Enforced Chivalry
In Dyersburg, Tennessee, it’s illegal for a woman to ask a man out on a date. That’s right, girls, wait by the phone for him to call you, otherwise you’re in violation of the law. But if that wasn’t bad enough, consider Georgia, where it’s unlawful for two unmarried people to have sex at all.


The Tarzan and Jane Paradigm
In Michigan, an old law dictates that a woman’s hair is the possession of her husband. Therefore she must obtain his permission before she gets it cut. Did you really think that the image of a Neanderthal dragging his woman by her hair back to his cave was some sort of hyperbolic joke?


Enforced Romance

In Virginia it’s illegal to have sex with the lights on. That’s okay—candlelight sets a much better mood.


Wahington, D.C.: Not Funkytown
Don’t get too imaginative in bed in D.C., otherwise you’ll be in violation of the law that decrees the missionary position the only legal sexual position. That means no Reverse Cowgirl. Ever.


Accidental Brothel
Sixteen is the magic number in Pennsylvania. In Pennsylvania, 16 women cohabitating under the same roof constitutes a brothel and is therefore illegal. One has to wonder how that number was settled upon. Why not 15? Why not four? Why not 35? Think this applies to sororities?


Conveniently Vague
A statute in Connecticut dictates no “private sexual behavior between consenting adults.” So what then are people to do? The extrapolations that could result from such broad language truly test the bounds of the imagination. Though it’s safe to say that whatever it is you think of is probably illegal, too.


Keeping Sexy Down
In the department of non-enforceable laws, we have Minnesota, where it’s illegal to sleep in the nude, and New York, where technically a woman can be fined $25 for wearing body-clinging clothing. And lest we forget, oral sex is illegal in 18 states.