Quick hit: Sex without condoms is the new engagement ring?

Via NPR’s “What’s the New What?” according to Youth Radio, sex without condoms shows a longer term commitment for youth, as opposed to a walk down the aisle.
Listen here.
My immediate response is of course, “oh HELL no,” but I get what they are saying and I respect that. I just want to hear what some young women have to say about it. And how many of these non-condom=commitment situations work out. I do think this is one of those work arounds to heteronormativity. Youth these days and especially working class youth of color don’t benefit from straight privilege the way middle class Americans do, so new symbolism replaces old types. And I of course don’t think you have to get married to have a baby. But is it as symbolic for young women?
Thoughts?

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41 Comments

  1. Logrus
    Posted August 5, 2008 at 3:07 pm | Permalink

    Malformed link.

  2. opera_ating
    Posted August 5, 2008 at 3:10 pm | Permalink

    I think I get what they’re saying: if you stop using condoms with a partner, it means that you’ve reached a certain level of trust and commitment with them. It’s like saying, “I believe you that you don’t have an STD and I trust that if I were to get pregnant, you wouldn’t be a douche about it”. It’s kind of strange, but the more I thought about it the more I realized that it was true for me. With hook-ups and new boyfriends I always used a condom. With the dudes that I was really in love with and trusted and had been with for a long time, I eventually stopped using condoms.
    However, I think it’s scary that news organizations are discussing sex in this way and not adding in information to reinforce the hazards of not practicing safe sex.

  3. Lori
    Posted August 5, 2008 at 3:21 pm | Permalink

    I understand their line of logic. I just don’t agree with it.
    I trust my boyfriend, always have, always will, but we still use condoms every time. It’s not a lack of trust or anything like that, it’s simply, I don’t want a baby. Neither does he. Both of us have been tested, and we’re both clean. He, and I, do not want a baby. Plus, I *always* stick with the rule: 2 types of BC every time, 1 is always a condom.

  4. LlesbianLlama
    Posted August 5, 2008 at 3:23 pm | Permalink

    I can’t listen to the segment because the link is broken, but my first thought is that I wish they had just said “using protection” or something, to make it more inclusive.
    I mean, I can understand, sort of, the idea of not using protection as an indicator of trust and commitment to a longer-term partner. I kind of do the same thing sometimes…
    Oh right, except for that pesky detail that since we are both women we DON’T USE A CONDOM. We use a dental dam. But thanks for the dose of heteronormativity that inevitably would get thrown in there in any mainstream. discussion of sex.
    I also don’t think this is replacing engagement. People are still getting engaged. The difference is that as far as I know, more people are having sex before they become engaged or married. I am not sure how that is correlated to having sex not wearing condoms unless the people engaging in the no-condom sex are doing so in lieu of engagement. Otherwise, they’re just varying signifiers of increased commitment.

  5. LlesbianLlama
    Posted August 5, 2008 at 3:26 pm | Permalink

    Although I suppose, now that I think of it, that teens who are unable to afford a ring for their partner [read: don't have class privilege] might associate having non-protective sex as being the replacement for that.
    Which is fine, I guess, but doesn’t that assume that people who are engaged must have a ring and normalize that class privilege? That’s a false assumption.

  6. kasia
    Posted August 5, 2008 at 3:28 pm | Permalink

    For me, no condoms aren’t the new engagement ring, since I don’t want one of those anyways, but yes, that’s what I did when I my relationship became committed, trustworthy, and could be described as “long-term”. I’m very regular with my birth control, and we talked about what would happen if I got pregnant, how I thought I would get an abortion (and a year later, how I thought I would not), but how it was, in the end, a decision only I could make.
    However, I also did get tested and asked him to also get tested (which he did) when I felt a little guilty about it. I think ideally this would happen before the glove comes off (couldn’t resist!) since no matter how much you trust someone, there should be at least that safeguard for your own health. After that, it’s a risk-benefit analysis every woman should choose for herself, with access to all the accurate information they need.
    In the end, I considered it a kind of agreement to honour the exclusivity of our relationship, and a vague commitment (but not a promise) that this was a relationship we were both going to keep working on. As for the engagement ring, I couldn’t care less.

  7. The Law Fairy
    Posted August 5, 2008 at 3:48 pm | Permalink

    Like others have said, I understand the reasoning, but something about it really rubs me the wrong way.
    For one thing, like kasia, I think engagement rings are bullshit. Personally, I would prefer not to symbolize my love for someone with an overpriced token of exploitation and sexism. I don’t judge those who do (since, um, that’s virtually everyone I know), but the idea bugs me enough that I actively don’t want one. So, there’s no “replacement” needed for engagement rings.
    Second, even if I wanted a ring, how on earth would sex without a condom be a replacement??? A ring is something men give to women. Sex without a condom… well, if we’re going to call that a “gift,” it’s certainly much more of a “gift” to men than it is to women. Again, personally, no condom doesn’t do much for *me* (and if anything makes it less pleasant because of the mess to clean up afterwards). And I don’t like that a supposedly liberal radio outlet, in addition to being blatantly heteronormative, is sneaking in a healthy dose of sexism to boot. I’m not surprised, of course, but annoyed. “Hey, ladies, instead of engagement rings, how about you make a change to increase your boyfriend’s pleasure?” I mean, it’s great to want to increase your partner’s pleasure from sex, but to act like that is a REPLACEMENT for something he would otherwise give you is just a disgusting example of male privilege in action.
    And anyway, why does there need to be a “replacement”? Why can’t it just be a decision by the couple that they don’t want to do it, for whatever reason (expense, political views, etc.)?? And it’s not as though women who get engagement rings DON’T have condom-less sex. Call me crazy, but something about, you know, all the PEOPLE in the world suggests to me that condom-free sex isn’t really some new trend. Unless, I guess, the earth has about 6.5 billion walking, talking accidents in it…
    How about this? Instead of an engagement ring, I’ll just keep my name (and the kids can be a toss-up). I would LOVE to hear a radio station do THAT story, but I am not holding my breath…

  8. Kristen
    Posted August 5, 2008 at 3:49 pm | Permalink

    I think the issue here is simple correlation.
    Many heteronormative people may stop using condoms when they feel they are in long-term monogamous relationships.
    Fewer heteronormative people are getting engaged when they feel they are in long-term monogamous relationships.
    The two things don’t really have anything to do with each other…they’re just happening at the same time.

  9. squiddie
    Posted August 5, 2008 at 4:01 pm | Permalink

    Engagement rings are one of my non-feminist guilty pleasures…that being said, I’m sorry. I get the logic, but…seriously? Sex, as fun and fulfilling as it is, is no replacement for an engagement ring as far as I’m concerned.
    Also, agreeing with The Law Fairy, sex without a condom isn’t a gift like a ring is. Yes, okay, it does feel better without a condom…but *I* don’t feel better the rest of the month when I’m panicking about my period.

  10. hotpinko
    Posted August 5, 2008 at 4:17 pm | Permalink

    as a lifelong queer, i am completely unfamiliar with heteronormative relationships, but i always assumed that a lot of straight couples always stopped using condoms once they got engaged and were planning to marry. it seems this new ‘trend’ just takes the antiquated ‘ring and engagement party’ part out of the equation. maybe these kids are smarter for replacing that with a trip to get tested- something that may not have been a part of the traditional engagement process.

  11. nina
    Posted August 5, 2008 at 4:22 pm | Permalink

    I think you can call sex w/out a barrier method the new engagement ring without meaning that this act is literally considered a substitute for engagement (with or without ring). It’s more like, way back in the day, people got engaged when they were really committed/about to have sex/just had sex for the first time. These days, you have first sex way earlier, and you cross a similar commitment threshold when you remove the latex barrier today to the one people used to in olden days when they got engaged. Now we also put off getting married way longer, so for monogamous couples I think the sequence is more like relationship => sex => sex without barrier => maybe some long distance relationship time => engagement if all goes well.
    I personally always thought the pill was more reliable than condoms, so my partner and I switched back to condoms when I was sick of the hormonal shit and we’d had a big talk about what we’d do if we got pregnant.
    We had the “what’s your test status” convo on day one.

  12. Destra
    Posted August 5, 2008 at 4:23 pm | Permalink

    I think NPR is mixing up correlation with mutual exclusion. More couples are getting married later, if at all. And couples that are in a committed, monogamous relationship often choose to increase their pleasure by forgoing the condom. It’s not a trade off along the lines of, “let’s not get married, instead we’ll just throw away our condoms.” I’d say most of my friends in long term relationships still use condoms, and none of my friends who are not in a committed relationship forgo them.
    Being in a state that allows marriage between couples of any gender, I do see more and more non-het couples with engagement and wedding rings. Everything I said in the first paragraph about committed relationship and forgoing protection also applies to homosexual couples. It really is amazing to see what acceptance of same-sex couples into government marriages can do for the outlook of the gay community.
    For myself, my fiance and I both traded rings for our engagement. He proposed first (his proposal was a grand scavenger hunt that involved our friends) and mine second (mine was a more private affair on a beach under the stars with s’mores). At this point we’re as committed as most married couples. We do, however, use condoms on top of my BC for maximum anti-baby protection. Our plan is to ditch the condoms when we feel comfortable in our lives to welcome the possibility of a child.

  13. kasia
    Posted August 5, 2008 at 4:26 pm | Permalink

    Haha. I asked my English boyfriend a few weeks in when the last time he got tested was, and his answer was “Tested for what?” At first he was insulted, since that would be the culturally normal response, but when I explained why I wanted to know he got it.
    I wish I knew how to have the “what’s your test status” convo on day one.

  14. Posted August 5, 2008 at 4:31 pm | Permalink

    Echoing Nina – I think there may have been some confusion from the title for those who couldn’t listen to the piece. It was more about having to have that discussion about stepping up a relationship. I also think it was interesting from a youth perspective that didn’t put a whole lot of weight behind a ring that you can take off – and saying that trusting someone with your life/health not to cheat is a big step in a relationship.
    SO while I totally encourage condoms on penises every time, I think it’s actually great that these youth are having the conversations about trust and responsible sex – including other pregnancy prevention – when they go off condoms.

  15. Rachel_Setzer
    Posted August 5, 2008 at 4:36 pm | Permalink

    My boyfriend and I stopped using condoms about a year ago when we became exclusive and were relatively certain (later completely certain) that there were no STIs to transmit (although, that yeast infection we shared was a BITCH). I’m on BC, and he has really great reflexes — good enough to pull out before ejaculation at least — but we keep the EC around just in case.
    I’ve never really thought of condomless sex as being symbolic of anything… I mean, we’re not engaged, we’re not gonna get engaged… we’ve both acknowledged that there’s a possibility that we won’t be together forever — and that there’s a possibility of opening up the relationship (in which case condoms would be used and STI testing would be done regularly) but that’s not any time soon, so why not just be free. Plus, non-latex condoms are EXPENSIVE (cause I’m allergic), like $12 for a box of 6. But I guess we could get them in bulk from Costco…

  16. HeatherMae
    Posted August 5, 2008 at 4:48 pm | Permalink

    The idea of not using condoms when you’re in a committed, loving relationship seems like a perfectly valid choice to me. I’ve stopped using condoms with all of my long-term relationships, and I feel like the segment did a good job of demonstrating how to do it responsibly. I don’t feel like I’ve ever given up any of my own protection against pregnancy by doing it, and while it has more of a direct effect on my partner’s pleasure than mine, I can think of several ways that not using them makes sex more fun for me.
    I do think it’s kind of silly to compare it to “the new engagement ring,” but I agree with Kristen that they’re loosely relating the two things and not equating them. Isn’t the phrase “__ is the new ___” typically used with a good measure of irony, as in one is not literally replacing the other (I’m thinking of the common college joke, Thursday is the new Friday)? I’ve heard a few of these NPR segments and it seems like they’re trying to sound “hip” like the parents on commercials that try to use modern lingo, and the whats they decide are the new what are generally a stretch and kind of silly. In this situation in particular, it seems to me like the young folks are making a symbolic commitment with the trust implied by not using a condom at the age (early 20s) that people used to be (and occasionally still are) expected to get married. I got the impression that they’re leaving marriage to a later date and deciding what rituals are important to them, or forgoing marriage altogether. Maybe a more appropriate phrase would be “making a commitment to a responsible, trusting sexual relationship is the new rushing into marriage so we can finally fuck.”
    Lastly, I understand that some people really, really don’t want to get pregnant (and some people are just extra special fertile), and I support their choice to use 2 methods to prevent pregnancy, but I’m hearing some implications that people who only use one are not being responsible enough. Yes, hormonal BC isn’t 100%, but I don’t think that the 1% chance of my getting pregnant while using Nuvaring alone (or most other BC, if done properly) is playing fast and loose (no pun intended).

  17. Posted August 5, 2008 at 5:13 pm | Permalink

    Wait . . . when they say that sex without condoms is the new engagement ring, I don’t think they meant that literally, like women are saying “no, I don’t want a ring, let’s just fuck without a condom.” I think they mean more like people are using it as an alternative marker of commitment either as an alternative to engagement or something special to mark the occasion. Some people seem to be taking it literally, so I wanted to clear that up . . .
    And that being said, I think that it’s somewhat true. I think it goes back to people wanting to do something “special” either for their engagement or wedding night, but they’ve probably already had sex before, so that’s something symbolic or special or whatever that can be done instead for a lot of people.

  18. The Law Fairy
    Posted August 5, 2008 at 5:23 pm | Permalink

    I already commented, but I feel compelled to emphasize again how sexist and heteronormative the shape of this discussion is in the first place.
    Why should the use of CONDOMS be considered such a hassle that taking them off is some kind of big deal? I understand the trust part of it, but why is not using a condom seen as some sort of *goal* or something a *couple* is striving for when, I’m sorry, maybe the rest of you straight ladies are not like me, but really, come on, really, when we get down to it, it is the MAN who wants the condoms off. I for one have NEVER heard of a situation where the man wanted to use a condom and the woman tried to cajole him into removing it — yet this is something I’ve had to deal with every motherfucking time I have sex with a new partner, and it fucking pisses me off.
    It’s just another example of sex being defined by MALE pleasure. Thus, gay male sex is sex, but lesbian sex isn’t really “sex”… it’s just like some kind of girly foreplay or something. My partner going down on me isn’t sex, but him ejaculating is sex. And, hell, even the words we use to describe sex are male-centric — “vaginal” intercourse or “anal” intercourse? Why don’t we call it “penile” intercourse? Because for me, my vagina and anus are always there, it’s the introduction of the penis that changes things up. Yet you will never hear people refer to it this way — from a woman’s point of view.
    ARGH. Sorry to sound so ranty. I’m in a particularly bad mood today and this is one of my pet peeves. I really, really, REALLY fucking hate the short shrift women get when it comes to sex, and seeing people (like the commenters on NPR’s website) talk about this issue WITH ABSOLUTE TOTAL BLINDERS TO THE BLATANT SEXISM AND HETERONORMATIVE going on here, COMPLETELY IGNORING THE EXTREMELY SEXIST ASSUMPTIONS UNDERLYING THE CONVERSATION FROM THE GET-GO is enough to make me REALLY need to hit something.
    Okay, I feel a little bit better now.

  19. msunderestimated
    Posted August 5, 2008 at 5:24 pm | Permalink

    I’ll echo squiddie in that my engagement ring is one of my non-feminist guilty pleasures and Lori in that I understand the logic but don’t agree. We use condoms every time because we don’t want a baby. I think I know what I would do if I became pregnant but I’d really rather avoid that so we keep using condoms.

  20. Destra
    Posted August 5, 2008 at 5:44 pm | Permalink

    I’m going to have to disagree with you, law fairy. Sex without condoms is way better than sex with. Not to get into too much sex-detail, it’s just flat out nicer. I think you’re mixing up pleasure solely for the man’s sake with the man not respecting the enormity of pregnancy. I can’t say that I know any women who prefer the feel of a condom to one without, yet I’ve known men who pressure their partners to go without because they just don’t feel the responsibility of a possible pregnancy that a woman does.

  21. Megan
    Posted August 5, 2008 at 5:47 pm | Permalink

    I feel like a cheater, because I’m commenting without listening to the story, but I can’t right now.
    First, I want to offer a Seinfeld moment–when George gets engaged, he and his fiancee switch to using the sponge (much drama ensues), because, in his mind, condoms are “a single man’s birth control.”
    I saw that episode a looong time ago and have contemplated it since then. I’m also a stickler for the two forms of BC rule, but I too find condoms annoying–no one likes stopping in the moment. For me, its not a trust thing; its a what-if kind of thing. Right now, my head would explode if I got pregnant and had to make some choices. But by the time I’m engaged, I’d like to think I could handle an accidental pregnancy better, and so I’d like to switch at some point to just relying on the pill.
    It’s not a particularly sound point of view, but it’s a personal feeling I have, and I’m surprised to even hear that there are others who are on board with this.

  22. Mags
    Posted August 5, 2008 at 6:05 pm | Permalink

    TLF, I have always been the one who wants to do without the latex in my relationships once things got to a certain level – and it definitely wasn’t because I was worrying about his sensation.

  23. Tonia Barone
    Posted August 5, 2008 at 6:15 pm | Permalink

    I can understand why some couples would see not using a condom as a sign of commitment. I’d have the same view, if I were male and gay. Since I’m female and bi, however, I also understand the need for condoms, even after agreeing to become exclusive. The Pill isn’t 100% effective and unless the couple has been together for years and KNOW they aren’t going to be with anyone else, a guy getting a vasectomy is a bit extreme, in their minds. Or so I imagine.
    I really don’t know what I’d do, as I’m still a virgin. Probably insist on a condom because, seriously, I can’t afford a kid right now and I don’t have patience for them anyway.
    So for gay couples = yay. If they’re both clean.
    Straight couples = nay. Unless the man has his bits chopped off and the woman has her’s removed. Then, maybe. If they’re both clean. Safety first and all that.
    Did this make any sense or did I just come across as an uneducated loser?

  24. ACS
    Posted August 5, 2008 at 6:18 pm | Permalink

    Oh right, except for that pesky detail that since we are both women we DON’T USE A CONDOM. We use a dental dam. But thanks for the dose of heteronormativity that inevitably would get thrown in there in any mainstream. discussion of sex.
    You do know that there has never once been a confirmed transmission of HIV through cunnilingus, right? And you do know that, likewise, there has never once been a pregnancy caused by cunnilingus, right? The only notable dangers of lesbian sex are herpes, hepatitis, and diseases that can be treated with antibiotics. Transmission rates for all of these (except herpes) are lower than the transmission rates in straight folks; no sexually transmitted diseases are endemic in the vast majority of lesbian communities other than various sorts of bacterial vaginosis and yeast infections.
    This doesn’t mean that it’s inappropriate for you to participate in the conversation. But how is one supposed to conduct a discussion about problems that affect straight women (and not you) without either (a) focusing the discussion on straight women or (b) equating cold sores and yeast infections to babies and death?
    – ACS

  25. chantal
    Posted August 5, 2008 at 7:41 pm | Permalink

    I totally agree with opera_ating.
    It’s been true for me, too.
    But that segment was totally ridiculous and cheesy. I can’t see anyone taking that shit seriously.

  26. mintmullally
    Posted August 5, 2008 at 8:00 pm | Permalink

    I hate both engagment rings and condomless sex! But I can see where it’s coming from , if I were in a long term relationship I would probably stop using condoms.
    And while I understand that using 2 methods of bc is the best way to prevent pregnancy , I’d still be far more comfortable on hormonal bc only than condoms only. If used perfectly you have less than a 1% chance of pregnancy. So while I think it’s great that couples discuss what effect a pregnancy would have etc… isn’t it overreating a little. I mean even without condoms you’re still using the most reliable method of birth control available.

  27. SarahMC
    Posted August 5, 2008 at 8:02 pm | Permalink

    The Law Fairy, you can hit me. ;) I am sooo with you on that pet peeve.
    It’s gonna be a real hoot once dudes catch wind of this piece and start telling their itching-for-a-ring girlfriends “No no, honey, in this day and age, you give me the gift of bareback.”

  28. Lauren
    Posted August 5, 2008 at 8:34 pm | Permalink

    I think saying this piece is heteronormative is like saying an article on anal sex is homonormative. It’s true that these things affect people of all orientations, but it’s also true that it’s focused more in some areas than others. The issue of infection will always, always exist, but pregnancy is also a giant issue that is not to be dismissed lightly.
    I’m in a long-term relationship with my boyfriend of two years. We’re talking about marriage. I’ve been on the pill for about a year and nine months. We use a condom about half the time- essentially, those points in my cycle when I feel at more risk, or when I have been taking the pill erratically. Neither of us have been tested yet, but we’re each other’s firsts.
    For us, condomless sex was a big deal. It’s absolutely a gesture of trust, more significant than a ring by a long shot. I have to say, I’m sort of troubled by the way some commenters here are talking about it- as if by choosing to have condomless sex with a clean, long-term partner, a woman is somehow losing something. For me, when he’s having a better time, I’m having a better time.

  29. Mags
    Posted August 5, 2008 at 8:39 pm | Permalink

    Since I’m female and bi, however, I also understand the need for condoms, even after agreeing to become exclusive. The Pill isn’t 100% effective and unless the couple has been together for years and KNOW they aren’t going to be with anyone else, a guy getting a vasectomy is a bit extreme, in their minds.
    It may come as something of a shock to you, Tonia, but at least some of those of us who choose to go without condoms in committed relationships are well aware that the Pill (or my IUD, for that matter – the Pill isn’t exactly the only option other than condoms out there) isn’t 100% effective. Of course, we’re also aware that (methods including but not limited the Pill) + condoms aren’t 100% either. Nor is a vasectomy or a tubal ligation, for that matter – they can self-reverse in some (rare) cases.
    No method is perfect and will absolutely guarantee you a pregnancy-free sex life, but it’s a little condescending to assume that those of us who choose to tolerate a slightly higher risk than you do aren’t aware that that’s what we’re doing.

  30. The Law Fairy
    Posted August 5, 2008 at 9:02 pm | Permalink

    Lauren, it *wouldn’t* be about women losing something — except that the original proposition in question explicitly involved replacing something traditionally given to women with something that’s pretty arguably more beneficial for the man, even if it is beneficial for both parties. So the entire discussion starts out premised on the idea that “hey, women can give this up now because we have this other thing instead!” It sounds like, for some of you here, the “thing” in question can provide some benefit for women (I promise you, though, not all of us). But the fact remains that we’re talking — again, as the topic has been presented — about taking something from women and giving it to men, and you have this snot-nosed teenage boy talking like this is some great progressive new thing for us Gen-Yers.
    I do envy those of you who can tell the difference between condoms and no. But for me, I really don’t get anything out of taking the condom off, so it really would be something I’d be doing for my partner — which I would be absolutely more than happy to do if I were in a loving and committed relationship. But I resent the implication that this is something that I “should” want as a part of a committed, trusting relationship, to the point of calling it a “replacement” for a traditional gift. And I am extremely bothered by the idea that people would think viewing sex this way is not only acceptable, but actually *good*.
    Look, to be clear: getting tested together is GOOD. Having enough trust and being committed enough to bareback it is GOOD. Being responsible about your sexuality is GOOD.
    But none of that should be allowed to minimize the fact that subjugating women’s desires to men’s when it comes to sex and relationships is very, very, very BAD.

  31. amb6887
    Posted August 5, 2008 at 9:10 pm | Permalink

    LawFairy:
    I COMPLETELY AGREE WITH YOU!
    Sex without condoms is solely for male pleasure – Granted, some girls might think it feels better, but for me, absolutely no difference. I think this whole idea is just another example of how we live in such a sexist, male dominated society. Sex without condoms means a woman HAS to use birth control, as there is no other way she can feel safe about not getting pregnant. How is this fair???
    And the fact that this is even being compared to getting engaged or intimacy in any way is pretty sickening. Sure, I guess trusting eachother enough to have sex without a condom is great and all, but it is on no way the same level as getting engaged, or being truly intimate. True intimacy is not about test results and having sex without a thin piece of latex between you. Please. I can hear it now “Honey, come on, bareback sex means we are taking our relationship to the next level.”

  32. Indigirka
    Posted August 5, 2008 at 9:18 pm | Permalink

    Looking at these posts, it seems that it’s for granted that the woman will bear the burden of contraception (a much more invasive and risky burden than condom-wearing, at that) under these circumstances. Indeed, this cultural phenomenon – the act of condomless sex cementing a committed relationship in which reproduction isn’t an immediate goal – seems to depend upon such an arrangement.
    Sucks for women who can’t tolerate or refuse to deal with hormonal birth control. Then again, these kids could always use the pullout method and keep EC for insurance. Or use “natural family planning” (hah).
    I’ve never particularly desired a ring (engagement or otherwise) from anyone I’ve dated, but I’d take a valuable gift over a potential expense/nuisance (abortion).

  33. lemon
    Posted August 5, 2008 at 10:25 pm | Permalink

    The segment talked about being responsible first and getting tested for STDs, which is right on. Trouble is, tests don’t always catch everything.
    Furthermore, women are more at risk than their heterosexual counterparts for some diseases- HPV and such. Since women in a heterosexual, non-condom situation end up becoming sperm deposit banks of a sort, condom-less sex IS risky. And people lie; even to those they love.
    I disagree that sex without condoms is solely for man’s pleasure. There is a different sensation and honestly, it is very sensual to have someone you love come inside you. Still, its a game of roulette- and we can’t all be winners.
    As for engagement rings, who needs that? Marriage is foremost, a concern for private property. Hence the utmost importance of marriage in a consumerist society.

  34. eryn
    Posted August 5, 2008 at 11:41 pm | Permalink

    Indigirka- There are non hormonal options for birth control, like the IUD for example. Also there are vasectomies for men and I believe researchers everywhere are still working on a male birth control (albeit slowly). Pretty soon the future will be now. Also, I feel like calling birth control and responsible cycle management a “burden” is a judgment better left unmade. I like being in control of my cycle and deciding when I will or won’t be a baby machine. Call me crazy but I find having a non hormonal IUD put in once every 3-10 years far less invasive then having some laytex shoved up my sensitive mucus membrane every few days.
    Lawfairy- “I for one have NEVER heard of a situation where the man wanted to use a condom and the woman tried to cajole him into removing it.”
    Consider this your “heard of.” Like some others, I have to chime in an say that I detest the feeling of condoms. I would go as far as to say I CANNOT get pleasure from sex with condoms. I would also go as far as to say that I would never be in a long term relationship that I didn’t trust my partner enough to go without condoms (after a trip to our local clinic of course) because of how much I don’t like the way condoms feel. I will literally abstain from sex for years if I have to to avoid condoms. In fact I have on many occasions told my current partner of almost three years not to put condoms on even though he wanted to (for a variety of reasons). His feelings on the matter didn’t even cross my mind. It was me being completely selfish about my feelings and what gave me the most pleasure. In my bedroom I am a queen, I am worshiped and all my desires get fulfilled. That for me is empowerment. I am not thinking about heteronormativism or core feminist values. I am thinking about how I feel around my lover and how he feels in me and how those two separate feelings feel simultaneously. I am thinking about how if I come one more time I might just implode and explode at the very same time.
    Lauren- I agree that this conversation feels troubling. Although I cannot articulate exactly why at this point. I can say pretty confidently though that the way this article is present by both this website and by NPR makes it confusing as to what they are REALLY saying. I agree with Nina and Opera ating that what they are really saying is not so much that a. replaces b. completely and literally but more that a. has come to symbolize what b. has traditionally stood for. But that doesn’t mean that the specific tradition is replaced.
    Fortunately in life we all get a million choices to make and well all make them slightly different so as to best suit our needs. That is why people are so interesting. So let us all be careful about falling into the trap of absolutes. Absolutes are intrinsically flawed and thus irrelevant.

  35. Cathy
    Posted August 6, 2008 at 2:00 am | Permalink

    I think it’s just a new way for a guy to get into a girl’s pants without having to wear the raincoat. I’ll file it right after, “You can’t get pregnant the first time.”

  36. AliCat
    Posted August 6, 2008 at 6:17 am | Permalink

    First of all, I want to acknowledge the enormous risk young women take if they believe that condom-less sex is a way of showing commitment and trust in a relationship. What this hype says is risking pregnancy and believing one will not contract a STI = I love and trust you, and I am committed to you. However, I believe such a practice puts young men at risk too, and they are just as impressionable and prone to risk-taking behaviour because of relationship expectations as young women. Contracting an STI or fathering an unplanned pregnancy is not the best way for a young man to start out in life either! Such a belief as that espoused puts young people of both sexes at risk. I have 2 sons, aged 19 and 22, and have always instilled in them the need to protect themselves, and that means wearing condoms regardless of whether their partner claims to be using another form of birth control. In protecting themselves, they also protect their partner. Sure there are men out there who pressure women into condom-less sex because it increases their own pleasure, and I’ve had this pressure put on me. But to assert that ALL men want to get into women’s pants without regard for the consequences is biased, and stereotypes them in the very same way we women do not like to be stereotyped. Young women and men need to understand that the idea of condom-less sex equating to commitment is absolute bollocks, and both sexes need to feel comfortable insisting on the use of condoms in any kind and level of relationship.

  37. eryn
    Posted August 6, 2008 at 7:18 am | Permalink

    I think to assume that these people don’t understand the risks involved in this decision is unfair. It implies that young people are too stupid to have serious conversations. It also implies that young people could not possibly understand the impact of the decision they are making and I just don’t buy that.
    Listen I will fully acknowledge that this type of behavior involves risk. For sure. But I would also like to acknowledge that some people are capable of assessing the consequences and making a decision that maybe you would not feel comfortable about. Lots of things can be harmful to our health or destructive to our future and we do them anyway. Talking on cellphones can give you brain tumors and too many cheeseburgers can give you heart attacks.

  38. Posted August 6, 2008 at 9:22 am | Permalink

    I feel having sex without condoms is like playing Russian Roulette.
    I am 30 and I still hear my mother saying ” when you sleep with someone,you aren’t sleeping alone but with every partner each of you have been with. Gross thought but true.
    Thing is some girls may feel uncomfortable asking questions.
    You know all the dangers of STD’s and the viruses a woman can contract when she has unprotected sex with a partner who was had several sexual partners without the use of a condom.
    The most logical and perhaps the most unromantic is an HIV test prior to having sex.
    Sex is a serious step especially when there is so much at risk for a female. Spontaneity is one thing but stupidity is another. It only takes one time to become pregnant and one time to become infected with some nasty disease or virus that could result in cancer down the road.
    The message I would like to stress to the younger girls :
    Sex has very little to do with a lasting relationship. Don’t be pressured by a guy to have sex. If He is doing that that is all he wants from you. He is not considering your feelings.If YOU do decide to have sex use a condom .Don’t get caught up in the moment and do something that you will regret later.Be responsible for your body and your own actions.Go to Planned Parent Hood that is what they are there for.
    They will spend time showing you pictures of diseases and different methods of birth control.
    Granted they do support wearing condoms.

  39. marilove
    Posted August 6, 2008 at 10:20 am | Permalink

    Um. For those saying not wearing condoms is soley for the man’s pleasure? WRONG. Condoms suck. They tend to irritate me. As do most lubes. I can deal, but CONDOMLESS SEX IS JUST FUCKING BETTER. And I’m a girl.
    We’re not all alike, people. Just because condomless sex for YOU isn’t any different, doesn’t mean it isn’t for me. And I happen to like the “mess” that comes with condomless sex.

  40. Mikaela
    Posted August 6, 2008 at 12:26 pm | Permalink

    I haven’t watched yet, but reading all the responses brings up a lot of interesting points.
    I know I’m considered one of those younger women (almost 20) who might not feel comfortable talking with her partner about being safe and all, but its just not true. When my boyfriend and I got to the point when we both knew that having sex was just around the corner, we talked about everything. How many people we’d been with before hand (including oral sex, though most people my age don’t consider that sex? weird), talked about what would happen if I became pregnant (with no hesitation “whatever you want to do, I’ll be supportive, but its your body and all your choice”), and before I could bring it up, he confirmed his wishes for using a condom every time.
    In my crazed sexual state I’ve tried to convince him to go without a condom (I really just like it better) but he always protests. However, when I went on birth control, knowing we were both clean and that we were exclusive, we stopped using them. We knew about the risks, but felt we were responsible and mature enough to deal with the outcome of possible pregnancy.
    I’ve gone off the pill now and back to condoms, and its not a big deal at all.
    We’re not alone in our practices. Any friend I’ve talked to about it uses some form of birth control every time (usually after learning that the $44 to pay for Plan B the next morning isn’t worth it.) Maybe this only seems more common because I’m limited to my circle of friends and their practices, but for all of us it just seems like how things are suppossed to be done.

  41. ess236
    Posted August 7, 2008 at 7:55 pm | Permalink

    I agree with Marilove – condoms are HORRIBLE. In my last long-term relationship (we are now broken up), I was the one who insisted on going on the pill, I was the one who refused to use condoms, etc. etc. etc. Condoms hurt, require more lubrication, and irritate me for days afterwards. I now admit that it was irresponsible, but I was the one trying to get him to have sex with me without a condom even if I had forgotten to take my pill that day. So this “sex without condom” engagement ring would definitely have been a gift for me, not him.

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