A white woman and a biracial Black man kiss sensually in Regency era dress.
(Netflix)

Oklahoma Bill Would Allow Removal of ANY Books That Contain Sex From Libraries, Right Down To Your Regency Faves

The GOP needs to back away from our smutty books.

Republicans complain about “woke” culture taking over America while they keep trying to restrict everyone’s freedoms. One of the GOP’s most tired platform points is a complaint about “big government”—the goal being to limit the government’s control in the personal lives of Americans. Now, however, they are introducing a never-ending slew of bills to limit everything people can do.

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In Arkansas, they are dictating where people can pee while also loosening child labor laws (because that’s an obvious sign of a well-functioning society). They won’t stay out of our uteruses or our group chats. Then, there’s just everything going on in Florida. Keeping up with the fascist levels of control, Republicans in Oklahoma introduced a bill that will limit access to books that are deemed too sexual, even for adults over the age of 18.

Clutch your pearls somewhere else, Karen

Instead of actually doing something to protect children—like, I don’t know, passing universal healthcare or more gun control, the Oklahoma GOP introduced SB 397. The language of the bill outlines the creation of a rating system for all libraries (yes, both school AND public libraries), ostensibly so that innocent children won’t accidentally read anything too sexy.

Rating groups would be “elementary,” “junior high,” “under 16,” and “juniors and seniors.” All libraries would be required to review and catalog their inventory to fit the new system. I guess current library structures where helpful librarians will guide children to age-appropriate books that are cataloged by reading level and subject aren’t puritanical enough. If any child wants to read something over their age rating, the bill would require them to get written parental consent, meaning if a child had a legitimate interest or questions about things outside of their rating level, their parents must approve.

Say goodbye to all your favorite dukes, vampires, and pirates

With all the recent banning of any books that mention LGBTQIA+ folks or have unfavorable depictions of colonizers, I am not too shocked by this bill. However, it takes things further than most of the other bills have. One of the last clauses states, “No print or nonprint material or media in a school district library, charter school library, or public library shall include content that the average person eighteen (18) or older applying contemporary community standards would find has a predominant tendency to appeal to prurient interest in sex.”

That means they can remove any books that are too focused on sex from public libraries, even if you are a legal adult. There is no mention of what the barometer for too sexy would be, outside of the “average person” and “contemporary community standards”—and we all know whose standards they’re talking about. So say goodbye to that romance section, my friends. Yes, a whole genre that is mainly geared towards women and written by women could be removed from public libraries. The GOP won’t be happy until women derive no joy from life.

The Human Rights Campaign and the ACLU of Oklahoma have come out against this bill, saying it is unconstitutional and an overreach of government authority. Hopefully, even if this bill passes the Oklahoma House (it has already passed their Senate), it will escalate to court and be overturned. Make sure you check out as many romance novels as you can before they try to tear them away from our heaving bosoms.

(featured image: Netflix)


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Author
D.R. Medlen
D.R. Medlen (she/her) is a pop culture staff writer at The Mary Sue. After finishing her BA in History, she finally pursued her lifelong dream of being a full-time writer in 2019. She expertly fangirls over Marvel, Star Wars, and historical fantasy novels (the spicier the better). When she's not writing or reading, she lives that hobbit-core life in California with her spouse, offspring, and animal familiars.