Locks Meant To Fail

Pretty much every lock you’ve used in your life sucks. Even the ones that aren’t meant to suck, suck. Let’s talk

Content Warning: I’m going to talk about chastity as a christian virtue, the spookiness of knowing locks don’t tend to work, about penis-having, and about guns.

Locks are in general bad. This isn’t a revolutionary concept at all, if you watch lockpicking youtube, if you’ve a passing interest in the industry, you’ll know that a significant enough proportion of commercially available locks in almost all locations are so bad as to be functionally no effort to break into. The joke of ‘just use a wave rake’ is not really a joke, where thanks to commercial distribution and widespread access at a particular price point, an overwhelming majority of locks are all being manufactured to have roughly the same problems at roughly the same price and therefore, are thwarted by roughly the same solutions every time.

This isn’t ‘every lock can be bested in ten minutes by an expert,’ this is ‘most locks can be bested in thirty seconds by the same attack.’ It’s a real problem and it mostly ties to a direct result of if all the devices are being manufactured to an audience that don’t really need them to be good and don’t really know what makes them good. It’s one of those really funny libertarian ideals in action, where an audience is sure they need something, and want to buy the best ones, but the main way they have to determine the best ones is their price, and their price is not in any way attached to their quality from the perspective of the job the devices are to do.

But aren’t there some locks you want to be bad locks? Because there are some locks that are designed to handle things that are okay to fail, or even, you want to make sure they only ever fail in a way that minimises potential harm.

Locks like those on chastity devices.

If you’re not familiar with this, and I swear this is why this article got written, there’s a thing people, with an interest in denial and restraint, where they will wear a device, usually over a penis, that’s meant to prevent that penis from becoming erect in moments of arousal. If you’re of a particularly religious bent, like I was as a kid, you might know this device as an entirely normal historical device and ‘occasionally medically necessary’ device. Like, I read quite a few books as a kid that ostensibly were going to help me not be interested in masturbating but that mostly existed in an attempt to make it inconvenient to try. Like, a lot of them were kinda makeshift chastity devices, like ‘tie your wrists to the bedpost overnight, so you don’t touch yourself.

This particular system, as an attempt to deform a person’s sexuality, didn’t actually have much of an impact on me, but that’s just because it didn’t really work. In true Frog and Toad methods, self-imposed chastity devices made out of string and sticks were either wildly unsafe and not appropriate to use, or were just like putting cookies in a box in the hopes I would forget the cookies were there and could eat them.

But this experience did mean that when I got onto the internet and found people who weren’t doing this for Weird Christian reasons, I just easily grokked ‘oh yeah, that thing people do, that makes sense to me,’ and it wasn’t until I was well familiar with it that I realised that not many people know people who engage in long-term use of chastity belts. I just assumed knowing about it was a matter of being well-rounded. Like knowing about Infinite Jest or Black Books, it’s just a thing people knew things about.

Anyway, this came to a head – ha ha – when I found that the Lockpicking Lawyer did a video about how easy a commonly available chastity belt is to pick the lock off. So easy in fact that you can pick the lock of a chastity belt with a condom wrapper. Neat, good joke episode, moving on. But also… like… they’re not meant to be challenging locks. Those locks are going on a soft part of the human anatomy (eventually). They’re going to rest in an intimate, damp part of the body for a protracted period of time, like sometimes days – and if something goes wrong with them, you might need medical intervention. You don’t want something in that position with that potential harm to fail in a way that makes it hard to get off.

Ha ha.

But yeah, this is a type of device that’s trying to be hard to access and needs for its failure rate to be pretty safe. The fact the lock pops open with almost any serious effort is an important part of its purpose. The lock, really, isn’t holding you in chastity. The lock is held by trust.

Okay, so this is about something that’s a little bit weird and a little bit goofy, though my experience of them is primarily as part of my interest in locks. Why is this showing up here, and not showing up in a more fun month, like tricks month? After all, don’t we say that any given lock isn’t really meant to keep anyone out, they’re just meant to make the task of getting in is inconvenient enough to keep any attacker out. This is just another example of a lock that’s only meant to work because of an assumed trust.

Well, because the idea of locks that are only meant to work because of assumed trust also could describe gun locks.

Like, a lot of gun locks.

A fantastically common number of gun locks.

Gun locks, I understand, are not a useful form of gun control. I am told, overwhelmingly, that any given gun lock is just another policy by people who don’t know guns trying to address guns. I get it, I especially get it from Gun Opinion Havers who are invested in the idea that any regulation of guns is a thing only done by stupid liberals who don’t get guns. To me, a gun lock, and a gun safe, represent a modest example of a thing that you can do as an example of that good faith attempt to represent an agreement on a common good.

Gun locks being deliberately, comically, operationally bad isn’t the same thing as a chastity belt lock being deliberately bad, nor is it that comparable to your house locks being bad. One of those locks is bad because of capitalism and laziness. One of those locks is bad because it needs to be for safe play. One of those locks is bad because people are willing and eager to walk up to the very limit of the technicalities of the rules and stay there, knowing that they are wasting time, because they care more about the potential for violence and their own feeling of being curtailed than they do for even the most modest, most frail effort to protect people from a thing that is definitely a problem.