Cis dudes! I would like to have a discussion with you about condoms.* Namely, when having sex, you have to wear them, unless you are in a monogamous relationship in which both partners have been tested for STIs (and remember that many STIs have an incubation period of up to six months).
Okay, that’s really not news to anyone; they cover it in even the most bullshit comprehensive sex education classes (although not in my high-school abstinence-only classes, about which I can tell hilarious stories). And yet many men do not wear them, or only wear them sometimes; some people estimate that condom use is half of what it needs to be to protect I recently came across this document (thank you Scarleteen, from whom I stole the link) talking about the opinions of condom users on condoms. Although it was all interesting, what struck me particularly is that in the US (and, one assumes, other developed countries) the most common negative reactions to condoms are the following: reduces sensation, requires being careful to avoid breakage, requires withdrawing quickly, embarrassing to buy, difficult to put on, often comes off during sex, embarrassing to discard, shows you think partner has AIDS, and makes partner think you have AIDS.
Guys? Stupid reasons.
First of all, if your condoms are regularly breaking, hard to put on, or coming off during sex, you are possibly not using them properly. An excellent guide to proper condom use is here. You might also want to experiment with different brands and sizes of condoms to see if one works better for you than another. Also, make sure that your partner is properly lubricated; well-lubricated sex is not only more enjoyable for you and your partner but less likely to result in condom breakage.
Sensation! Yes, some people report that sex with a condom feels less good than sex without a condom. However, what feels even less good is antibiotic-resistant gonorrhea. Also, trying a different brand of condom can help with that one too. In particular, a thinner condom not only feels better for a lot of people but also causes less friction and is less likely to break. Win/win situation here.
The embarrassment issue I am less than inclined to be sympathetic about, because I have a uterus, and therefore I have had to spend the last eight years buying tampons and pads. Things that are embarrassing: telling your dad you have to stop by the drug store to buy more tampons; opening your bag and the giant-size maxi-pad that can absorb the bloodflow of a small human comes tumbling out; forgetting to throw out the bathroom garbage before your crush comes over and the entire can is full of used pads. Things that are not embarrassing: “hey, guys, I am making this purchase of a condom because I’m about to get laid!” So, you know, count your damn blessings.
Also, seriously, every embarrassing thing gets less embarrassing once you do it a couple times, and if you’re that concerned about the damn trash can just wrap it in a bit of toilet paper.
Finally, the last one is the single stupidest thing I have had the displeasure of reading on this blog, including Bill Bennett’s drivel yesterday. Saying that wearing a condom means that you think your partner has AIDS is like saying that putting on a seatbelt means you think that your friend is a terrible driver. They’re not insults, they’re basic safety precautions. Not to mention that AIDS is a disease, not some kind of scarlet letter of slutdom; it shouldn’t be any more stigmatized to have AIDS than it is to have cancer. You wouldn’t refuse to wear sunscreen because that would mean you’d be one of those dirty awful people that gets skin cancer, right?
*Trans people, you can get some helpful safer sex education here! Cis women, did you know you can cut a condom in half to make a dental dam? There. Now all audiences have been addressed.