Youth Radio: Condomless sex is new "engagement ring"?

 Images Image002 Pendarvis Harshaw of the incredible Youth Radio organization produced an NPR "What's The New What?" piece about how, for some young people, "sex without a condom is the new engagement ring." The report is, er, quite provocative. “(Condomless sex) shows trust, commitment, and the prospect of a shared future; an engagement more practical than spending money on a piece of jewelry for a marriage that might not pass the test of time," Harshsaw says. Sex Without Condoms Is The New Engagement Ring (NPR, thanks Lissa Soep!)


  1. So pregnancy and STDs are *more* practical than a piece of jewelry?

    At least you can sell an engagement ring.

  2. I’m showing my age (growing up in the nineties when UNSAFE SEX=DEATH) but this is really alarming.

    Under the republican hegemony we’ve seen Sex Education all but annhilated in public education. Just the other night a friend was saying how her teen sister’s contemporaries thought you couldn’t get STIs from oral sex. Or that if you use douches you can prevent pregnancy. It’s an appalling lack of basic biological knowledge.

    Teaching kids about the basics of sex teaches them self-respect and helps them form perspective (you are pretty unlikely to marry your 15 year-old love) about relationships.

    I think we’re going to see more of the impact of gutting Sex Ed in the years to come.

  3. Wow. As a high school teacher, I can understand the “logic” behind this, but it’s still pretty scary. Most teens don’t have the emotional capacity to be able to discuss things like STDs openly, so even if they KNEW they had one, the chances of the other partner being told about it (and risking being dumped because of it) are next to none. Actually, I know some 30-year-olds that still don’t have the ability to communicate openly about sex… sad.

  4. “Under the republican hegemony we’ve seen Sex Education all but annhilated in public education.”

    I figured Bush would get blamed for this sooner or later. I agree that sex ed should be taught in school. At the same time, however, there’s a need for parents to act like, well, parents and talk to their kids about the birds and the bees. You can’t blame the government for poor parenting.

  5. this seems to feed into the notion that children are what hold a marriage together, not love. nowadays people need concrete realities, instead of symbols~ which i think is a sad state of affairs. i’d love it if someone could post a legitimate statistic of the number of divorces that materialize *after* the kids have flown the coop for college….when that little keystone is removed from the structure.

  6. Jupiter12, I think people would be less inclined to blame the Bush administration if they hadn’t, y’know, actively discouraged the dissemination of correct information by refusing funding to all but their abstinence-only programs. If they’d just left well enough alone…

    Between them and the Vatican, there’s an awful lot of stupid going on…

  7. #4 “I figured Bush would get blamed for this sooner or later.”

    Oooh ooh – impeachment here we come!

    GWB knocks up hundreds of teenage ignoramuses nationwide

    Child support expenses rapidly draining Bush family coffers

  8. #6 Seconded.

    I’m not Catholic, but my fiancée is, and when we went to pre cana, they (somewhat paradoxically) drilled it into us that, while kids are a great thing, they can never hold a marriage together, and you shouldn’t base decisions on them. If you make decisions based on your spouse, the benefits will be seen by your kids as well.

    This of course has nothing to do with contraception/etc but I think having a strong family will also mean being able to talk more openly about things like sex and STDs and other issues.

  9. @ #8

    No, the Bush family coffers won’t be drained. It’ll be all our coffers- as we have to figure out a way to pay for healthcare, education and food for all the little ones soon to be born out of wedlock.

    You think Social Security is in the shitter now? Just wait until we have another population explosion caused by the lack of sex education in schools.

    I miss the good old days when AIDS scared everyone enough to force sex ed to kids as young as 1st grade. . .

  10. Condomless sex is also cheap, as in FREE, so one is more likely to lie, and treat it like a serious commitment in order to get bareback sex. Investing lots of money in a fancy ring (I have to admit) sure seems like a more honest approach, or at least less likely for abuse.

  11. Youth should not own the copyright on foolishness nor the patent on risky behavior, but what you gonna do? They’re young…

  12. Fear of sex education leads to this sort of reaction.
    If kids don’t know the facts they just make it up as they go along.


  13. Advocating fluid bonding to youth as a sign of commitment is beyond reckless, especially considering the sad state of sexual health education in this country.

  14. i remember hearing this segment on NPR about a week-back. it pissed me off.

    sure, i can understand the impulse on some level. it’s about trust, love, bla bla bla. he even says to only have unprotected sex after both have been tested birth-control is in play. ok, fine. let me look beyond the rather immature impulse to flaunt your sex around publicly to the daytime listening audience of NPR. nothing wrong with flaunting your sex, but talking like you’re a pro like that just comes across as… well… not so humble.

    so, my problems with this: condoms are a form of birth-control. the only form operating on the male end of things these days. unless you have a latex allergy, there’s not much harm a condom can do to you. and they work. then look at the other side of things – female brith-control (pills, shots, patches, as I believe he says). these, as they are mostly (all?) hormonal, can have a HUGE impact on the woman taking them. why then, i would ask this teen, do women have to bear the full burden of the practice of sexual activity? having to stick to a regiment of daily pill-takings, monthly shots, going to the clinic or the pharmacy. sure, they could “do it together,” but it isn’t his body. this seems incredibly unfair.

    on another, different side of things, what about people with STIs? can they not be engaged? would they not be considered “normal” enough to be in this new codified form of relationships/love? pardon me for taking this out to its limits, but this is an idiotic piece of “youth opinion.” it makes me ashamed to be a youth. if my generation’s sexual politics are headed in this direction of (not so new) (hetero-)normalizing, phalo-dominance, i’m very ashamed.

  15. It’s all well and good to sit around and say “Well, parent’s ought to tell their kids about sex”, but sitting around and saying that doesn’t change the fact that parents don’t. You can blame the parents all you’d like. But if we want to actually fix the problem of people being ignorant about sexual topics, we need comprehensive sex education in the schools. Simply hoping that parents will do what they should has not worked and will not work.

  16. … I think an important point in the clip is being ignored here;

    The segment suggests that if barebacking is the new engagement ring, getting tested together, and making a joint decision about alternate birth-control is the new “getting down on one knee”

    And THAT? That’s smart. That’s committing to monogamy by practical, realistic, and well informed means. That’s much brighter and more thoughtful than the exchange of shiny things

  17. @Jupiter12: I don’t blame Bush, making this about one man misses the point.

    It’s about the conservatives in this country who rail against even basic sexual education. They take histrionic, and often hyperbolic stories and craft terrifying images out of them. Limbaugh, Hannity and their ilk have made millions for decades selling this fear.

    Say a teacher talked about oral sex in a class, is she having a frank discussion or “advocating deviant sexual practices”? It’s a game and kids are losing.

    Frank, straightforward talk about sexuality shouldn’t be a politicized issue at all.

    As for parents ‘doing their job’ many, if not most, do. But many more are emberassed, or nervous or feel weird about talking to their kids about sex. Having a trained sex educator giving simple, clear and direct answers to young adults questions can wipe away all that weirdness and dispense good public health information.

    Those who object on religious or philosophical grounds, I understand and of course respect their right to parent as they see fit.

    Though I have to wonder, would you rather your child hear about sexuality from someone who can provide sound answers or have your kids going online to let the internet’s wide world of porn ‘teach’ them?

  18. I’m very discouraged by the comments on this site. People here seem to think that the article is entitled “Condomless Sex is the New Handshake”.

    Everyone is focusing on how this is dangerous because of STDs. That is not the real issue. The real issue is that people are beginning to push the definition of commitment far from where true definition of commitment really is.

    One day, there will be an article discussing how “Side-by-Side Burial is the New Engagement Ring”. Whatever happened to lifetime commitment to one person, from marriage to death?

  19. When the person tried to push blame from the republican and religious conservative nanny state trying to run our lives over to Bush, it’s a weak suggestion that free thinking people have an ad hominen dislike of Bush or that another republican, Ralph Reed, McCain or a John Hagee is “ok.”

    This has nothing to do with Bush, it has to do with the ultra-conservative nanny state that’s infected much of the country

  20. Your grand parents likely had you in their teens. The nuclear family messes up people just as much as anything else. The only difference is location and community. That’s what really gets you, location and community.

    I take the Toni Morrison point of view on this stance. I’m sure you can muck up the TIME magazine article by googling “tomi morrison, single parenting, interview”. She says it pretty well in that one.

  21. I find it amusing that everyone just assumes that since NPR says this is the thing — then this is THE THING! Other than a nice story and anecdotes, is there any evidence that this is really a trend (as in, a statistical trend)?

    Right, just a chance to bash whatever political or religious group you don’t agree with. If this were posted on a socially conservative website, they would say that it was due to “years of liberalization, the sexual revolution, and the hippies from the 60s finally obtaining power and influence.” Skip the fact that the actual occurence level is probably less than a blip on the radar.

    While the teen pregnancy rate moved up just a teensy tiny hair in 2008, it’s the first rise since 1991. That’s right — more than fifteen years of various political parties and people were in office while the teen pregnancy rate declined. Their responsibility? Hmm. Probably not.

    For what portion of human history do you think a variation of this statement has been made:
    “Oh woman, if thou do’est love me truly, then acceptance of no bauble shall show it, but only thy maidenhood, offered without veil.”

    A new and scary trend.

  22. Who ever thinks more sex ed in school is going to “fix” this society has got their head in the clouds. You can’t even mention or show breasts to the 14-18 male without him giggling and his mind wandering all over the place. If you think you can talk some sense into any teenager about sex you are mistaken. And NO we should not be teaching our 2nd graders about sex.

    YES I think it’s the parents responsibility to teach their children, but not just about sex ed. I only had that “talk” once when I was 13…yeah that did a lot of good. I figured out 99.9% of everything by that time from TV. Did that mean I went out and hit up every 8th grader? No. My parents had raised me right, with values/morales and a brain.

    If you want kids to stop having sex, why don’t we deshockify it as a culture. Who gives a flying flip if someone shows some skin on TV. Don’t make it such a big deal and the kids will not look at it like a conquest.

    That and every good parent should threaten their children with severe bodily harm if they should get/or get someone pregnant. That worked for me.

  23. @ Conley:
    You wrote
    Whatever happened to lifetime commitment to one person, from marriage to death?

    Nothing, but have you seen the statistics on teen marriage divorce rates? Not very good.

    The change, in biology and personality between say 16 and 22 is enormous.

    There’s no need to rush marriage and children. Education, career, creative endeavors, growing up, exploring, traveling, all of these become more more complex with a family.

    I don’t want to doom-say young marrieds. I’ve personally seen them work out swimmingly. But what is the rush at 15 or 16?

    The more fully grown you are as a person the better partner you will make.

  24. @bcsizemo:
    That and every good parent should threaten their children with severe bodily harm if they should get/or get someone pregnant. That worked for me.

    I’ve met girls whose fathers inflicted just that kind of “severe bodily harm” for being pregnant.

    It’s neither cute nor funny. And threats are no way to raise a responsible, communicative child.

  25. Things like this make me feel sorry for the youth of today.

    Yup, it’s all Bush & the Fundie’s fault…

    Ok, that’s mostly a joke, BUT he has gone on the record advocating abstinence only as the precursor to MARRIAGE. It doesn’t seem like such a huge leap to have people think “well, we’re ready to get married but we can’t for x, y, z, reason but we really intend to so let’s have unprotected sex”

    I’m not saying it’s a smart conclusion to come to, but if you tie sex so completely to marriage and procreation, the idea of (even symbolically in the case of girls on BC) having unprotected sex as a way to show your commitment to each other and a relationship isn’t as far out as it might seem. If kids aren’t thinking about diseases and only thinking about having children, they might see the act of maybe creating a child as being very meaningful for their relationship.

    This is probably a great example of why SEX ED is so important. Teach kids the facts about diseases, parenting, relationships, emotional repercussions etc… and then see how many really really want to have sex w/o protection (and in some cases sex at all). The more you make sex about what is good for the individual person and what they want out of life etc… and not about worrying that some all powerful being will be observing you and “tsk tsk”‘ing you about it, and the smarter people can be about the decisions they want to make regarding it.

    As always, knowledge is power and the more kids have (esp in this regard) the less likely they’ll be to eager to do something as potentially disastrous as this.

  26. @mgfarrelly

    I believe you missed my point. I wasn’t trying to say that people should get married younger, rather that they should have real commitment instead of this increasingly superficial definition of commitment. Having a lifetime commitment to one person is far more deep than protected sex throughout your life with many people, and unprotected with one.

    One day when I’m married, my wife will know that she’s the only woman I’ve ever been with. That will mean a lot to her. It’s something that I fear many people will never understand.

  27. “(Condom less sex) shows trust, commitment, and the prospect of a shared future …
    …for a marriage that might not pass the test of time,”

    How sad to see stupidity dressed up in such unsound logic. Romance is dead & good sense jumped out the window for most of the world. This had to be a guys idea though.. the “no condom shows my commitment” must have been some guy’s idea; he must have figured out most women didn’t care if it killed his mood having to stop and put one on before continuing. Had to go for the heart strings.. but that chicks buying this load of crap… I question their upbringing and intelligence. Free baby anyone?

  28. @ 24, I disagree with you (and I’m glad I wasn’t around you when you were 14-18 :-p). Show some kids what can happen through unprotected sex and I suspect you may get some snickering, but you’ll get their attention. The sad fact is a lot of kids think they’re invincible and they have the wrong information about contraception (e.g. pull out, stand-up, howl at the moon) and STDs (e.g. you can tell if someone has an STD) and providing more information will only help.

    Kids are not as hopeless as you seem to think, most of us went through those stages of growing up and I for one, can’t think of single time when having less accurate information and less knowledge helped me out. That’s not to say we’d never screw up, but you have much better chances of doing non-stupid things if you’ve at least heard some of the correct information.

  29. #29, I agree with your words..

    Good news, some people actually believe that and actually put it to practice; Me and my husband have no regrets thanks to that.


  30. oh good grief people. condomless sex is not the end of the world. you both get tested. you use other forms of birth control. you’re good.

  31. @conley:

    And I’m very happy that you were able to make that choice. But it was a choice, yes? One informed by your beliefs (religious or otherwise) and facts?

    Sex Ed is not about promoting sex. The notion that we need to promote sex is in an of itself completely irrational. Sex Education is about information. It’s about public health, curtailing disease (through abstinence or condoms or safer sexual contact) and preventing unwanted pregnancy. It’s about giving young adults good information to make informed choices.

    Simply saying “Don’t have sex” and closing the book at that is myopic at best, dangerous at worst and generally insulting to teenagers intelligence.

  32. what are the costs to the taxpayers of those that do contract disease or birth unwanted children?

  33. @squirrelgirl:

    I’m going to advise my (admittedly hypothetical) children to not put their health and safety completely in the hands of another horny teenager.

    Do you really believe that someone having condomless sex because it’s “like an engagement ring” is going to see out IUD or other methods of birth control?

    Like I said up the thread, I’m a paranoid kid from the 90’s, but I work with teenagers and they move between partners with alacrity. Even SERIOUS partners. I can come up with a half-dozen teens (ages 16-19) I’ve known who have been ‘engaged’ and subsequently broken up in a matter of month.

    They feel love and commitment and joy just as any adult, but they’re also trying out these concepts.

  34. Oooh ooh – impeachment here we come!

    Sounds good to me! If we can get him on this, we won’t have to try for the harder stuff.

  35. My BS meter is spinning to “High” on this one.

    I think some kids are screwing with the author. Look at the “sincere” look on that guy’s face. :P

    Ask yourself one question: If you are young guy and a woman says “No sex without a condom” and you come back with “But baby, I love you so much. You’re the only one. Sex without a condom means I’ll never have sex with anyone else”, do you think she’s buying it?

    Or do you turn down the sex WITH a condom because she’s not sincere about your relationship?

  36. If you think an engagement ring is expensive, just think of how much cheaper it is than having a baby. And you can sell the engagement ring legally (the kid is harder to sell).

  37. Congrats to #18 and #20 for being the first sane posts in the thread.

    Young adults are committing to monogamous relationships, getting tested, and using (non-condom) birth control.

    This is a bad thing, how?
    STDs and pregnancy are negligible risks in that situation.

    Hell, the article (which I can only assume most of the commenters did not listen to) starts with “sex without a condom is not something we [the younger generation] enter into lightly”. It also doesn’t clearly specify an age group, but it doesn’t seem to be describing the under-20 crowd.

    This is not about promiscuity and risk taking. This is about adults committing to adult relationships.

  38. Really? It is?

    -Turns in teenage license- News to me. Sorry. I’ll go back to studying the culture of my fellow Youth and reapply when appropriate… -mutters- this is just like Rainbow Parties… never knew… never knew…

  39. Clearly this was a poorly communicated point as most people don’t seem to be getting a couple things the author was talking about.

    A. He wasn’t condoning a complete lack of birth control.
    B. He was merely making the point that going from condoms to any other form of birth control (or lack thereof) is a HUGE step in a relationship. IE, he was saying the impact of the mutual decision to move away from condoms was similar to the SIZE of the impact of giving someone an engagement ring. He was NOT saying that dropping condoms was at all the replacement for an engagement ring.

    I don’t think these are bad points, but unfortunately because the author put them forth in an unclear manor, everyone is jumping all over him. I had the same initial reaction when I saw the headline.

  40. Conley,

    Statistically, women cheat more than men. That makes you an STD waiting to happen. Of course that won’t be a problem for me now that we have gay marriage in California.

  41. I heard this on NPR when it first aired
    I was … well I was actually disappointed that it actually made it to the air
    certainly this is a lowering of NPR’s standards to be very nice about it.

    I was actually disgusted not by the subject matter but by the fact that it was such a poorly presented and thought out report. Ostensibly from a group of people that being “responsible” but are in fact, highly irresponsible and looking for a way to BS their way around not wearing a condom. Trust me, I’ve gotten plenty risky with a girl and I’ve paid a price for it. This is nothing more than a ghetto way around all the PSA’s that have gone out.

    The point is that this.
    What teen or 20 something is really and honestly 100% committed to a single person?
    How many sneak around at parties and with friends for a random hookup?
    Just goes to show that something is rotten in NPR’s Demark that this kind of thoughtless crap made it to the airwaves.

  42. No it isn’t an “engagement ring”. Not unless your engagement ring is a new baby. Sounds more like “wedding ring” to me.

  43. >>17

    Issac has a point. Without condoms, the responsibility of birth control is entirely on the woman.

    With all the responsibility placed away from the man, it sounds like he could have an “engagement ring” with several women.

  44. Having sex without a condom in a monogamous relationship isn’t stupid in and of itself. Once both partners have been tested and there’s open and honest communication about it, I don’t really find anything wrong with it.

    What’s stupid is trusting that kids are responsible, have self-control or are actually trustworthy. The chances of anyone thinking straight with the amount of hormones pumping through the average adolescent in the throws of passion is quite small. Hell even without the massive dose of hormones, adults have problems with self-control.

    Given the number of pregnancies and prevalence of STDs among teens, I personally don’t trust them to have sex at all.

    This is why if I have kids, I will do everything in my power to make sure they are the ultimate social pariahs. Oh they’ll be captain of the chess club, wear the most unflattering clothes and have the most pronounced braces known to man. If they date before they’re 18, it will only be with the second most socially awkward kid at school (after them). I will probably show up to school in dorky outfits, keep the house a disaster area and ride a unicycle to school occasionally while making sure everyone knows whose parent I am.

    Not that I’ve thought any of this through of course…

  45. All this talk about babies and birth control. Do you all realize that AIDS is still around and vigorously recruiting new hosts? Pregnancy is scarcely the number one argument against unprotected sex.

  46. To follow up my previous comment…

    At least this means a man trusts his woman enough to relinquish all power and let her make reproductive decisions in their relationship.

    …not always a good thing. It should be mutual.

  47. Conley, you do realize that what you’re saying about “having a lifetime commitment to one person is far more deep than protected sex throughout your life with many people” is just an opinion. I happen to think that the idea of “a lifetime commitment to one person” is an outdated and unrealistic notion. I don’t have a problem with teens who have educated/protected sex. However, I really have a problem with the idea that teens can make a rational decision about who they should be with for the rest of their lives. Your body and personality change tremendously in those years. I can’t imagine still being with the person I first slept with.

    You also say, “One day when I’m married, my wife will know that she’s the only woman I’ve ever been with. That will mean a lot to her.” Just realize that there are many other people who feel the opposite. When I married my husband I was very glad we both had many relationships before. We learned so much about what we wanted from a relationship and how to make a relationship successful.

    I realize these are just my opinions as well. How someone handles sex and relationships is a very personal thing and there is no “one path” for everyone.

  48. mgfarrelly: I’m in almost total agreement, but would add that even people my own age – mid to late 20s that I know have an alarming amount of unprotected sex.

    Almost all the guys (straight) I know have some sort of STI, be it herpes, warts or recently diagnosed gonorrhea

    I’m a child of the 90s, and gay to boot, so sex with anyone, condom less, is a massive fail.

    Australia had an amazing HIV campaign that targeted drug users, sex workers and gay men – and still do, and i’m glad to be a part of it in my professional life, working with IV drug users.

    This is an infamous ad that ran in 1987. The message is totally overblown and actually a load of BS, but it scared the shit of Australians and a generation didn’t do anything without a fresh condom or needle on hand.

    Education is always the key (not like this – facts help a lot), but sadly the trend is to fear education as a tool of liberal propaganda that’s going make our kids FUCK LIKE RABBITS! ZOMG! NO! and so forth.

    Also: is this original article a wee bit patronising?

  49. As the parent of a teen, I’ve talked to them in a matter of fact way about sex covering everything from masturbation to homosexual relationships since they were little. Of course, the depth and explicit nature has been tailored to their understanding and age level. A few weeks ago, I sat them both down individually and we put condoms on bananas. Uncomfortable? You bet. Sometimes being a parent means you have to just suck it up. Point is, we’ve been open and up front about sexuality as a normal part of being human all along the way so that it wouldn’t be too “weird”.

    Now that they’re teens, they of course know everything about everything, I’m too stupid to live, and the information that they get from their friends is more valid than anything I’ve ever taught them. That’s where SEX-ED comes in. They get to hear an educated adult present the topics in a factual way, and then realize that they heard the same information somewhere before.

  50. “But, I thought we were…engaged.”
    “Sorry, honey. I got cold feet, and then engaged someone else.

  51. So, in Iran, they have Temporary Marriage. It’s religiously sanctioned, even encouraged. You want to bang someone, you get hitched. You don’t need no justice of the peace. You just read the vows to each other in the privacy of your room at the Tehran Holiday Inn. You can get married for any amount of time, even an hour. Short term marriage is the new lifetime vow. Put a condom on that and ride it.

    Disclaimer: I am not making this up.

  52. I must admit I haven’t yet listened to the audio, but #42 confirmed my assumptions about what the basic premise behind it is. As a (nearly) 25-year-old, I am at an age where many of my friends are starting to make that decision to start “living” together – and by that I don’t mean merely cohabiting, but living as a couple, making life decisions together, etc. However, I know very few married (or even engaged) people.

    And, yes, the decision to throw away the condoms is a big decision, with much symbolic weight behind it. It is two people saying to each other, “You are the one. Once we have both been checked and decided on birth control, we trust each other enough to make this step.”

    I’m not talking about 17yo guys trying to con a girl into unprotected sex – and they can do exactly the same thing by getting engaged. That is just as symbolic, and is far less of a binding commitment until you actually go through the wedding ceremony.

    Marriage itself is not such a binding commitment these days, and it doesn’t fit into everyone’s belief system. In New Zealand, we have the option to get a civil union (introduced primarily for gay couples, but just as available to straight couples), and I’d be more likely to do that than get married (and even then I’m not sure it’s what I would want to do).

  53. them crazy Irani! Temporary marriages! Izzat the kind they use when they marry teenage girls to Guardsmen so they can be raped and therefore be proper, non-virgin execution material?

  54. Savage Lucy’s comment got it right:

    And, yes, the decision to throw away the condoms is a big decision, with much symbolic weight behind it. It is two people saying to each other, “You are the one. Once we have both been checked and decided on birth control, we trust each other enough to make this step.”

    Who the hell are all you people relying on a condom to prevent pregnancy? Every sane healthy menstruating woman who doesn’t want to get pregnant is “on the pill” (i.e. hormonal contraceptive). In addition to all casual sex requiring the use of a condom because of the risk of STDs.

    I didn’t listen to the NPR story, but it seemed obvious to me that the point is that getting tested together and trusting each other to have a monogamous relationship, and thus able to have sex without a condom (but women still on the pill) is about as “steady” as a relationship as any young (i.e. under 35 years old) person is going to have in this modern world — hence analogous to what the “old timers” called “engagement”. (Because, yes, risking the trust and commitment required to have sex safely without a condom is as serious now as people used to treat engagement way back when.)

    Is that really so baffling? This seems completely in line with the “paranoid” 90s sex culture I’m familiar with.

  55. Yo, condomless sex is nothing more than sex without a condom, the way Mr. Harshaw sees it done when he surfs porn online – the sex education classroom of today. The engagement ring/trust rap is just bullshit. A verbal roofie to get a girl to put out without protection.

  56. Is this all the guys wanting the girls to have unsafe sex? Is it not possible that girls prefer sex without latex too? That girls have a sex drive? And this decision might be made with a decision to use another form of birth control, like the pill, so pregnancy is not the main issue.

    And wise or not, this is a decision that older people make too, to have sex without a condom. When people are in extended monogamous relationships, it is not uncommon for partners to get tested so they can have sex without condoms. It may not be “wise”, but there it is. As I understand it, one of the largest groups with increasing numbers of HIV cases, is post-menopausal women who don’t use condoms because pregnancy is not an issue.

    At some point in a relationship, trust has to come and not everyone, simply because they are a teenager, is untrustworthy. Not every teenage male, simply because he is a boy, is a lying cheat.

    Adults can and do cheat. Married people, middle-aged people, seniors all have been known to cheat.

    So should married people NEVER have sex without a condom? Well, no you’d say, that would make having children impossible. (And some of us look at the glut of population and think that isn’t such a bad thing.) But I hear shock. Having children is IMPORTANT. If you decide to have children, there comes a time when you need to trust your partner.

    Ironically, this smacks a little of the Catholic attitude of prioritizing reproductive sex and putting a stigma on non-reproductive sex. Because BREEDING is IMPORTANT, while SEX for sex’s sake is not only unimportant, but shameful.

    I suspect none of the many finger waggers here is going to scold a 30 year old person, trying to conceive, for having sex without a condom. If this would-be parent were to catch a disease from a partner who has philandered, no one is going to add a heaping of shame to their plate. Breeding is perceived of as a noble aim and is lauded. Unlike the scold, scold, scolding that is going on here.

    I’m not saying it is wise, unprotected sex. I’m just noting a puritanical undertone to some of the response. But let’s face it folks, the decision to stop using condoms is a scenario that happens with people of all ages. And most of the time, the motivations of increasing trust and intimacy, are not such bad things.

    That being said, the frightening ignorance that young people have about things sexual is horrifying.

    Certainly the lack of sex education, which amounts to the withholding of information, is not helping the situation. To forgive this grotesque irresponsibility on the part of the school system on the grounds that it is the parent’s job, is just absurd.

    Education does play a role. When my fourth-grade son came back from school one day and, while waving a banana in the air to demonstrate, gave me a little lecture on proper condom technique, I was thrilled that the school was so forward-thinking. Sure, as a responsible parent, I can keep my child informed, but I can’t do anything about the education of his future sex partners.

    I was fortunate in that I was educated on matters reproductive by a fairly young age. My sex education started about the same time I was in kindergarten. By the time I was twelve, I knew about birth control options and how they compared in terms of disease protection and effectiveness. In high school, I took an advanced biology class and while teaching us about hormone cycles, we were taught how the different birth control pills worked and then, for good measure, condoms, diaphragms and IUDs were covered. This being in the day before HIV or even herpes was a big issue.

    When I got to college, I was surprised to discover that my fellow students did not have anything approaching the same breadth of knowledge. I found myself being put in the position of being an informal counselor on such matters, as word got out that I knew about this stuff. Kids who were nervous about talking to authority figures they could not trust, came to me for advice. I’d answer their questions and sent them to Planned Parenthood in droves. Several of the really shy ones asked me to come along with them, and in one case, I ended up holding the hand of a gal I hardly knew through her first pelvic exam.

    I never ran into anyone who believed in things like the coca-cola douches that one reads about. But I think times were different and people were more educated. This was back in the day when, if a local museum got a “Latimeria chalumnae” to put on display, people would line up around the block to see it. Nowadays they wouldn’t bother. Nowadays if a rotten branch falls down and the tree’s exposed heartwood shows a pattern that looks vaguely, in a rorschachy kind of way, like the baby Jesus, they line up in droves for that. I’d say we’re losing ground.

    Anyway, I’m all for more education and information, more sex, treating minors with respect instead of patronizing them, and a hell of a lot less religion and fewer babies.

  57. Honey, my wedding gift to you is herpes!

    Seriously though, I agree all the way up there @20. There’s a lot of mis-information and plain non-information that’s fed to our kids about sex. History has proven that they’re going to have it. The more ‘mysterious’ you make it, the more it calls to them. That’s why oral sex is the new handshake in high schools… because society still walks on eggshells when it comes to sex.

    As someone who never got the talk, I advise any would-be parents out there to HAVE THE TALK, or take them to “Spring Awakening” or something. As innocent and precious as you want your kids to remain, their sex parts are going to get all tingly eventually and they’re going to do something about it.

  58. Somehow I don’t think my girlfriend would let me get away with this. “Uh, no mom, he didn’t get me a ring…”

  59. I noticed some anti-Catholic sentiments here, and, as a Catholic, I feel like we’re being mischaracterized. Yes, Catholics believe that birth control of any kind is wrong, because sex exists to create life (this is true even from a purely biological and non-religious viewpoint). Therefore, we believe that abstinence, i.e. not having sex, is the only moral way to prevent pregnancy.

    Many Protestant churches teach abstinence as the only form of birth control, as well. In fact, there are far more of the Protestant faith advocating it than Catholics–Protestants are the religious majority in this country. Why, then, are Catholics being blamed?

    Also, I don’t think young people’s lack of condom use on the Catholic Church–if kids were acting in accordance with the teachings of the Catholic Church they wouldn’t be having sex in the first place. No sex before marriage, remember. That includes any period of engagement before the wedding.

    Finally, even forgetting religious affiliation, it has to be acknowledged that abstinence is the only 100% sure way to avoid pregnancy or STDs. Even the birth control pill, the most effective temporary birth control method science has given us (I am, of course, ignoring permanent surgical steralization), is only 99% effective, and that’s assuming perfect patient compliance–taking it every day at the exact same time. That’s unrealistic, of course–most people forget to take it every once in a while, or take it a few hours later by accident. Such “incorrect” use, which is most women’s experience with the pill, can drop the effectiveness to as low as 90%, depending on the brand one is using.

    Considering that even our best forms of contraception have a failure rate of up to 10% (this includes condoms, which, depending on who you ask, work 84-98% of the time), I think I’ll stick with abstinence as my form of birth control and protection from STDs. I mean, would you get on a plane if it had a 10% chance of falling out of the sky? A mistimed pregnancy or STD can ruin your live just as easily.

  60. Oops, I meant “I don’t think young people’s lack of condom use can be blamed on the Catholic Church…” in the third paragraph.

  61. >>67

    Considering that even our best forms of contraception have a failure rate of up to 10% (this includes condoms, which, depending on who you ask, work 84-98% of the time), I think I’ll stick with abstinence as my form of birth control and protection from STDs. I mean, would you get on a plane if it had a 10% chance of falling out of the sky?

    And yet, people have surgeries with worse chances than that ALL THE TIME.

  62. I blame the Catholic Church (not individual Catholics) because they had an anti condom Campaign in Africa that lied to people and claimed that condoms did not protect against HIV infection because the virus allegedly passed through intact latex condoms.

    That’s not just lying, that’s lying that created HIV infections if people believed it.

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