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» Got Questions? Get Answers. » SCARLETEEN CENTRAL » Sexual Ethics and Politics » Condoms, Safe Sex, and a Quick Fix

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Author Topic: Condoms, Safe Sex, and a Quick Fix
Gumdrop Girl
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I posted something to this effect earlier, but I thought I'd reiterate and elaborate.

it seems almost everyday, there's someone on this board asking when it would be "safe" to have unprotected sex and not get pregnant.

Whenever I see this, I always cringe and wonder why is it so damn difficult for people to use a condom? Why do they so greatly object to a little piece of rubber that could possibly save their life???

Then I thought about it, and compared it to the "advice" dispensed in Cosmo, Glamour, Details, Maxim, whatever magazines. It's all about the quick fix -- a simpler solution. People don't **want** to hear that there's not a simpler solution than using proper birth control.

This just plain irritates me. This is my rant. Ferchrissakes! It's not that hard to get a condom and put it on. It's not going to ruin the spontaneity of sex -- it's 15 seconds and a piece of rubber. It's not uncomfortable! Just use a drop of lube and it'll feel just as good!

I wish people would stop asking when they know they'll only hear the same answer every time.

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i think you're special ... and i don't mean that in a short bus kind of way


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Heather
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Well, you preach it, sister.

Obviously, I agree with you.

(And I still want to know what a short bus is.)


Posts: 68002 | From: An island near Seattle | Registered: May 2000  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
bettie
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I second that.

(BTW, I think I know what the short bus thing is about. )


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Pixie69
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That's exactly it, if safe sex was some long ritual that was worse, they'd be thankful for the condoms, but people always want better. Mostly I'm just writing this so I can add a PS...

(PS: Every time I read your posts I wonder what does that short bus thing mean?)


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Heather
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See, Gumdrop, it isn't just me.
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winter
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What *IS* so hard about using adequate birth control? Why would someone risk their lives/emotional health over wanting it to feel maybe a tad bit better? Ack, seems sorta...lightheaded to me.

I don't know what a short bus is either. Don't feel alone.

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"Can't this wait til I'm old?"-Phish
hannah@atarikid.com


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Heather
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Here's what I think, while I'm sufferring from insomnia and a residual coffee buzz from the day.

Anything seems daunting when it involves something with someone you care about, and who you care for their opinion of you, especially if you have never done it. More times than not, one or both partners involved who don't practice sex safely or responsibly on this level don't want to be embarassed, hurt feelings, or look like an idiot.

I think that's valid, and it's especially understandable with very young people, or for people to whom sex in and of itself is very daunting and foreign.

I think you're dealing with that, as well as the fact that many people truly don't understand what risks they are taking. Now, it isn't that they haven't been told in some cases, it is that they either don't really get it, or -- more often -- are sure they'll be one of the lucky ones.

I agree, it's foolish, and it's ultimately tragic for everyone, especially since it usually DOESN'T feel any better or worse with a condom or other methods. From someone who became sexually active a little before HIV, when it was finally clear using condoms made a HUGE differnece, it really isn't better or worse. In fact, to be plain, I personally prefer intercourse with a condom. It's smoother, it helps most men maintain erection longer (maybe if we pushed that part of it we'd get somewhere, eh?), and more than anything, sex where I am panicking I am potentially killing myself and others down the road just isn't especially relaxing.

Perhaps the trick is to just keep talking about this stuff. I think so, anyway (obviously). And helping people realize that it isn't scary, difficult nor will it ruin sex is a big part of this.

More than anything, getting people to care a little bit more about others -- because if more people did, none of these diseases would be so darn widespread -- may make a huge difference.

Like I've said elsewhere, when my mom worked in one of the first HIV wards, and I saw an infant dying from a disease it had no hand in spreading, the minute I knew condoms could help avoid that, I didn't have a second thought about it.


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Miss Innocence
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Okay, call me old fashioned, but I think the time when it's safe not to use a condom is when you're married (or some equivalent) to someone and you've both had your STD checks.

What I don't understand is how people can so quickly accept the risks of pregnancy, disease, death, etc. in exchange for some good feelings that won't last nearly as long as an incurable disease.

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Miss Innocence
@--}--


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Heather
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I understand your sentiment, Miss, but I suppose what I'd say is this:: not everyone can get married, nor wants to. We are sexual people regardless of our marital status, and we are all in all, people who seek intimacy.

In addition, marriage does not guarantee monogamy (anything but, it's about a good 40-50% of people in the US who have had at least once, an extramarital affair).

So, given marriage was a term and a notion that worked very well at the time it came to be popular (of far lower population, when it brought income to families, when people got married in their teens shortly after puberty, when people knew less about sexuality, etc.), there are certainly paralells today, but marriage, as it were, doesn't cover all of them.

If we say, instead, the time not to use one is when you are in a long-term committed partnership in which both people are monogamous, intend fully to stay so, and have been tested at least twice, I agree with you.


Posts: 68002 | From: An island near Seattle | Registered: May 2000  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Gumdrop Girl
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Miz Scarlet, I'm glad someone agrees with me in that condoms actually do make for better sex -- smoother feel, prolonged erection, etc.

in fact, i find that condoms themselves are sexy, because to me, they symbolize sexuality (a metonymy, if you will). there's fun to be had while applying the condom. anyway, i'm totally fascinated by condoms; they're such ingenious devices!

and the explanation of my signature:
anyone remember back in grade school? there were the long buses and the short buses. the "special" kids rode the short buses.

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i think you're special ... and i don't mean that in a short bus kind of way


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Heather
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History is made: Gumdrop finally explains the bus metaphor.

I think you'll find, Gum, that most adults who have used condoms for a good long while feel similarly. And I feel the same way you do. Honestly, when I first have a lover who suggests a condom before I do (not an easy thing to do!) to me, it is a statement that they truly care about me, and about themselves, which is the absolute minimum when it comes to ANY sort of a mutual relationship with someone.

Of course, an easy solution is to become a sex educator and activist. : )

When people know what I do (I'm speaking metaphorically at this point, and about the time before I was married) there is no doubt in their mind that sex with me means sex with a condom. And I've never had anyone even begin to suggest otherwise.


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bettie
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In my circle using condoms for sexual intercourse is a given. As for oral sex, it is not so obvious, but it when suggested not a shock. Same with latex gloves. I can't say that dental dams are used much if at all even among my more active lesbian friends.

Perhaps the hoopala depends on your age group and other things like that.


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lemming
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Gumdrop, I am so glad you posted this. Miz Scarlet and I just had a talk about this yesterday.

WHAT IS SO DIFFICULT ABOUT PUTTING ON A CONDOM? That 15 seconds could mean years of your life or your partner's life.

And as for the "short bus" thing - *I* knew what it meant...whereabouts in general are you from? Maybe it's a regional thing. I'm from Houston.

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~lemming

"There's only now, there's only this/Forget regret or life is yours to miss/No other road, no other way/No day but today..."~"Mimi" in "Another Day," from RENT, by Jonathan Larson


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Gumdrop Girl
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i gotta say, putting on the condom is icing on the cake i still can't see why it's so difficult to take those 15 seconds to make sure you and your partner are safe. if you love yourself, and if you love your partner, you'd take that precaution.

lemming: I am from a tiny town outside of Bakersfield, CA, but I moved to Berkeley three years ago for college. And for the record, I used to always wanted to ride the short bus. I thought it was cool.

Miz Scarlet: know of any places to buy Astroglide® online? The places I buy from only have the other brands. blargh!

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i think you're special ... and i don't mean that in a short bus kind of way


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Dead Dog
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I agree with Miz S that "marriage" tends to be an irrelevant term with a subject like this.

However, I do think that (and this may be a hypothetical situation, who knows) if you're in a long-term, committed, totally-monogamous-in-every-way relationship in which both partners have (repeatedly) been shown to be STD-free -- then perhaps the condoms can be taken out of the picture.

However - there is still the question of pregnancy. If someone want kids, fantabulous. If they don't - well, let me just say this: I don't want to hear them begging for an abortion or an adoption just because they thought that they didn't need to wear condoms once they were married (committed). That's ridiculous. But a lot of people think like that.

Even once the disease risk is gone, the pregnancy risk is still there! Some form of birth control should still be used, right up until both people in a relationship are fully ready to be responsible (voluntarily, not because they feel obligated) for a potential conception.

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Ignore the Gable candle!
http//www.geocities.com/musingkitten23


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Hanne
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Good point, Dead Dog.

Some people who are in long-term, committed relationships -- monogamous or not -- choose to become fluid bonded. By "fluid bonded," what I mean is that they have chosen consciously that they will share bodily fluids, primarily sexual fluids, and thus assume the risks that this entails.

The general recipe, if you want to become fluid bonded, is:
1) having practiced safer sex with one another (and any other partners), both of you get a full STD screen...

2) both of you keep practicing safer sex and ONLY safer sex, with one another (and any other partners), for 6 months...

3) both of you go get a SECOND full STD screen...

4) both of you keep practicing safer sex and ONLY safer sex, with one another (and any other partners), for another 6 months...

5) both of you go get a THIRD full STD screen...

6) if that comes back clean for both of you, then you have a little talk about what kind of birth control you plan to use (if that's appropriate -- if you are trying to have a child, or if you are in a same-sex relationship, that's obviously not an issue), and once you have any contraception needs taken care of, you can go ahead and have unsafe sex with your fluid bonded partner...

AND ONLY WITH YOUR FLUID-BONDED PARTNER. Any sex you have with anyone else must be safer sex. Period. If you slip up, you go back to step 1, and you go back to having safer sex (with all applicable barriers) with everyone, including your formerly fluid-bonded partner.

Ta da! So yes, actually, it is quite possible to have "unsafe" sex that is really pretty darned safe. But unless you're in a seriously long-term relationship with a high level of trust -- since the process takes a year, at minimum, to establish within a reasonable doubt that you and your partner are both not infectious -- it's not really practicable.

For most folks in the Scarleteen age group, that means Safer Sex Every Time. And hey, condoms don't just keep you from getting sick, they also keep you from getting pregnant. Pretty cool if you ask me.

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Hanne Blank
Co-Editor, Scarleteen

Start a Revolution -- Stop Hating Your Body!


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