Jelly bracelet hysteria
During a resurgence in popularity in 2003, gel bracelets became the subject of widespread hysteria linking them to a supposed sex game explaining their popularity among young teenagers, they were subsequently dubbed "sex bracelets". According to rumours, girls who wore the jewellery implied they were willing to engage in sex with whoever pulled them from their wrists; the activities ranged from hugging and kissing to sexual intercourse, and were determined by the bracelet's colour. In October 2003, the rumours were prominent enough in Gainesville, Florida's Alachua Elementary School that the principal banned the bracelets to avert disruption and inappropriate comments about them. They were subsequently banned in other schools around Florida and elsewhere. The effectors of these early bans did not insinuate that the rumours concerning sex games were true; however, some later media reports suggested that they might have been, generating further concern, or even something of a moral panic.
Different versions associate different colours with different activities (similar to the "handkerchief code"). For example, purple might be associated with kissing, red with lapdancing, and black with intercourse. Some versions said the involved action occurs at parties held for the purpose, making them similar to contemporary rumours of "rainbow parties", a gathering at which groups of girls wearing varying shades of lipstick supposedly take turns fellating their classmates, leaving an array of colours on their phalluses. Other tales of teenage sex parties have circulated at various times. Folklorist Barbara Mikkelson of snopes.com associates the "sex bracelet" stories with similar ones of the past. In the 1970s, pulltabs from aluminum cans and labels from beer bottles were supposedly considered "sex coupons" and obligated any girl presented with one to sleep with the bearer; by the 1990s the rumors shifted to include an assortment of plastic items, including some worn as bracelets. According to Mikkelson, there is likely little truth behind the stories, and the vast majority of teenagers who contact her site express shock and disappointment that so many have believed them.
The UK has played host to similar fears, concerning coloured "shag bands", with morals campaigners and even psychologists describing them as "developmentally inappropriate", despite the fact that the sexual meanings were ascribed by children.
- Mikkelson, Barbara (2003). "Sex Bracelets". snopes.com. Retrieved December 22, 2005.
- Aguilar, Alexa; and Bell, Kaitlin (November 18, 2003). "Rumors Link Bracelets to Sex Game." St. Louis Post-Dispatch.
- "Student 'sex bracelets' an urban legend?" (December 12, 2003). Associated Press. Retrieved February 10, 2006 from cnn.com.
- James, Douane D (October 18, 2003). "Principal puts ban on 'sex bracelets'". The Gainesville Sun. Retrieved September 30, 2006.
- For example, see: "'Sex Bracelets' Cause Parental Concern". (November 20, 2003). NBC10.com (Philadelphia). Retrieved September 30, 2006.