Ten Greens Bundestag members recently submitted an inquiry to the government, titled, “Sexual health as a consumer protection issue.”
“Many dildos, and other sex toys like vibrators and anal plugs, contain high levels of phthalates, other carcinogenic substances and toxic materials.”
According to the website of news magazine Der Spiegel, the government has now answered, though using more prudish terminology than that used by their racier Bundestag colleagues in the Greens.
Phthalates are a class of plasticisers – substances that are added to plastic to increase its flexibility and durability.
Some of these substances were suspected of causing disturbances to hormone balances and to infertility, diabetes and obesity, the Greens MPs said in their written inquiry. The hormonal balances of unborn children could also be disturbed. Absorption through mucus membranes was a danger.
The Greens see these dangers as a broad social issue, given the widespread use of sex toys. Certain children's toys would not be approved for sale if they contained even small amounts of such plasticisers, yet a 2006 study had found that some sex toys contained up to 58 percent plasticisers, the MPs said.
This 2006 test by consumer magazine Ökotest found that “nearly half of all vibrators investigated were bristling with toxic substances and therefore failed to reach the lowest test grade of inadequate.”
The Greens demanded a response from the government as to what limits would be considered acceptable and what would require a product to be banned.
The government has now responded with a six-page answer full of dense legal and consumer jargon – and some considerably more delicate language, according to Der Spiegel.
Where the Greens referred in their inquiry to “sex toys,” the parliamentary State Secretary for Consumer Protection, Gerd Müller, replied with reference to “erotic items.” The terms dildo, vibrator and, most definitely anal plug, were not contained in the answer.
The conclusion, in short, was that the government sees no need for action.