Actually, the Pull-Out Method Is Pretty Effective
Tracy Moore

As often is the case, Dan Savage’s witty, controversial advice sparks another clever response. As I was reading Tracy Moore’s piece, I was surprised to read the following:

And condoms? Well, does anyone actually enjoy them?

Well I do, Tracy.

I really do. I’ve tried quite a number of birth control methods, and condoms are definitely one of my favorites. (Full disclaimer: I have a penis.)

The reason are many.

I live in France, where–for better or for worse–the pill is pretty much pushed upon girls as soon as they become sexually active (often before). It’s a great thing that birth control is so culturally accepted, spread by nearly all health practitioners, and largely covered by national health care. Now, stuffing extra hormones into your body when you’re already going through puberty usually goes unnoticed. But I’ve had girlfriends start taking the pill at a later time and the changes can be dramatic. The mood, the weight, the sex drive, all of these and more can change almost overnight. In the end, while I still hold firmly to the idea that birth control should be easily accessible for everyone as early as necessary, I think we need to improve and make sure that alternatives to hormonal birth control are available, cheap and that concerned parties are well-informed. (Of course, the policy-makers are predominantly men, who never got hopped up on progestins in their life.)

I play much too safe to even think about pull-out. I would probably by unable to perform anyway, annihilated by anxiety.

IUDs are a nice option to avoid hormones, but they’re definitely not for everyone, either.

And I’m still in my 30s, with most of my entourage just thinking about their 1st pregnancy, so sterilization has never been an option.

But that doesn’t mean I just like condoms by defaulting on other means. There’s definitely a great argument to be made.

First and foremost, it’s the only method I, as a guy, can control. I know if it’s there, I can see it with my own eyes, I can’t “forget to take it” for a couple of days, I can’t lie to myself about it… I own it and I’m not leaving my chances of accidentally conceiving a foetus in the hands of someone else. It feels to good to be in control, and it actually makes birth control a shared responsibility (not just a “woman thing”).

It’s also the only method that combines top-notch effectiveness for birth control with top-notch effectiveness against STDs. That just can’t be beat.

“But what about the sexy times? They’re ruined by condoms!”
No, they aren’t. I have so much to say against this trainwreck of an argument, I could almost start a new post. But the gist of it goes like this.

If your sexual encounter can be ruined by a 20-second break to put on a condom, your sexual encounter was terrible to start with. If it takes more than 20 seconds, nobody’s stopping you from getting better at it. If you feel it’s weird that you should stop being intimate to do your thing on the side, start doing it together. Make a moment out of it. I did say it was a “shared responsibility”.

And if you’re toting the “but it doesn’t feel as good” catchphrase: can you honestly say that sex with a condom feels so bad that it isn’t worth it? Chances are you’re just repeating that trope since high school, having heard it from older boys, and it’s part of your definition of “manly” now. This is definitely a perduring argument that borderline sexual assaulters use to overcome their partner’s consent; often you’ll find them using other sly techniques, like slipping off the condom when out of sight (eg. doggystyle) or whiningly negotiating in the eleventh hour. Are you sure a marginal improvement in tactile stimulation is worth perpetuating such a toxic stereotype?

As for me, I love it. That moment when she’s flailing around the nightstand, trying to grab the wrapper, with eyes that say “OMG THIS HAS TO GO INSIDE ME NOW”. That clear indicator that no one feels foreplay has been cut too short. The myriad of things we can do to make that moment a fun time. That 20-second breather to gather my thoughts and build up fantasies. So what if it doesn’t feel as good? The takeaway is this: I last longer. I’ll gladly trade a bit of pleasure intensity for a chunk of pleasure time.

I realize this doesn’t hold true for everyone. I don’t know how much pleasure changes with a condom for others, perhaps it really makes a difference. Some people have a hard time maintaining an erection, through no fault of their own, I understand why any impediment, even minor, is an issue. And my “time over intensity” trade-off is definitely a matter of taste.

Reasons vary, and this is anything but a definitive view. But I think there’s enough reasons to stop giving condoms such a bad name, and make everyone feel like it’s is the worst form of birth control, except for all the others. The day my son becomes sexually active, I expect him to know what condoms are, how to get some and how to use them. I want him to be in full control of his life, and that includes both being able to avoid STDs and unwanted pregnancies.

So yes, Tracy, some of us like condoms. Because birth control means more than “women avoiding pregnancies”. Because good sex isn’t that fragile that it can be destroyed by 2 grams of latex. Because I won’t let other people take decisions that could change my life.

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