The condom chat.
I was sleeping with a guy casually for a few months. In my mind, I had let it lapse because my interest had shifted elsewhere…. but, tonight I received a clarifying text; turns out I had it all wrong.
“I stopped hanging with you because you made me wear a condom”.
WHAT? THE? #$%@?
To be fair, the first thing I thought was ‘he clearly wasn’t that into me, if he liked me, he wouldn’t care’.
But that was very quickly followed by more feelings of WHAT? THE? #$%@?
Surely we’ve all wizened up to the risks of unprotected sex? If at its most base level the text I received was a joke, I have to ask — how was it even funny?
I moved to the US five years ago. Up until that point, I had never had a conversation with a new partner about using a condom. I am talking about a fairly small sample size — but nevertheless, condoms just happened. No debate. No persuasion.
I grew up in Australia — where it felt like our teachers made us put condoms on bananas at age 12. Again at 14. And then again at 16. In fact, there was a bus that came to my high school every Wednesday to hand out condoms and lube (although, I’m pretty sure more lube ended up on classroom door knobs than anywhere else…).
After a year in the US, and some super annoying ‘no glove, no love’ chats, I started asking people — why the fuck? Very quickly I learnt two things that left me dumbstruck:
1) Sex education requirements vary from state to state. In short, that means many people go through school without any formal guidance or instruction on ‘safe’ and ‘unsafe. It turns out that in the US only 23 states (plus the District of Columbia) mandate sex education. That’s 23 out of 50 states — less than half. Only 18 states (plus DC) require information on contraception be provided as part of Sex-Ed. And alarmingly — just 13 states require that sex education is medically accurate.
2) Sex-Ed often comes with religious overtones: in 37 states, even if Sex-Ed is taught, it is required that abstinence is a part of those teachings. 19 states require that teachers also educate about the importance of sex within marriage.
So, with that context I started to understand where these old-school excuses were coming from.
But it still didn’t help me understand the lack of care for the consequences.
The most apparent consequence is pregnancy. And it’s unfair to assume that responsibility for preventing unwanted pregnancies lies solely with the chick. In my case, I started suffering from something called ‘migraines with aura’ after changing pill prescriptions — I was told any estrogen-based pill would make me more susceptible to strokes, and taken off the pill immediately. There are some other contraceptive options which (I personally consider to be slightly more invasive) and would only consider if I was in a long-term relationship. Until then, why should I have to make a trade off between the chance of pregnancy or the chance of having a stroke when I know there is a little rubber rain coat that can save me from (most) of the worry?
And then there are STIs and STDs — with symptoms ranging from an uncomfortable itch to much more seriously, infertility or death. Ain’t nobody got time for that shit.
We’re all born with one set of genitals. And they’re the genitals we need to carry through life — and maybe to rear new life. So, why wouldn’t you choose to protect them?