Safe sex PSA fail

We need models of responsible male sexuality, including examples of how to responsibly talk about and use contraception. So why does this PSA from Sex Really waste its time on a disgusting representation of men and rehashing stereotypical gender roles? A warning that the video (and some other content at the Sex Really website) may be triggering:

Transcript after the jump.
So the motivation for having safe sex is that the guy you’re sleeping with is an asshole and you’re too clueless to notice? Otherwise sure, getting knocked up on accident would be no big deal!
And the best way for us to learn this is to listen to sexist, racist, homophobic “humor?”
The stereotypes in this ad are offensive to men and women. I find the idea that women have naive, tame, baby-obsessed conversations and that men are raunchy and sex-obsessed completely absurd. I’ve had the fairly unique experience of being in groups of both straight men and straight women talking about sex in a space understood as single gender. This is obviously a generalization, but in my experience women are much more open, honest, specific and yes, graphic about the sex they have and the sex they want. And of course I’ve also had plenty of conversations with men who are incredibly focused on their desire to have kids.
But it’s also been my experience that groups of cis men have trouble talking openly and honestly about the sex they’ve had and the sex they want. A PSA that models this sort of conversation with an emphasis on safer sex would be great to see. This ain’t it.
I’m struck by how much this PSA sounds like abstinence-only curriculum material, minus the nod to safety. It says men are horny and gross and that’s just the way it is and women are too focused on baby making to notice. Maybe this isn’t so surprising – as Shelby Knox points out at This is Misogyny, Sex Really, a project of the increasingly conservative National Campaign to Prevent Teen Pregnancy, is run by Laura Sessions Stepp. Yep, that Laura Sessions Step, who introduced us to the term “gray rape,” who says women who like sex make men impotent, and who authored the slut shaming book “Unhooked.” Not exactly the person I want running a campaign about responsible and safe sexuality.

Guy 1: And I’m able to grab one titty as I’m doing it and I grab the other titty this way and I was very happy.
Guy 2: Anybody ever do this, the Arabian Goggles, you know where you put your balls on the chick’s eyes.
Guy 1: You know I don’t know if there’s a tribal council or someone you can go to to decide if it’s a threesome or not.
Phil: You don’t have two dicks. You can’t bang them both at the same time. Wait I think I’ve done that, but we call it the Michael Phelps, cause of the chlorine you have to wear the goggles.
Guy 3: She sounded like a duck, she’s be like quack quack.
Guy 1: I’m sitting there I’m like OK it’s over, why don’t you get the fuck out of the apartment and she goes, can you do me a favor? And I was like, what? And she’s like, uh, it’s weird to ask. And I’m like well just fucking say it, I just fucked you all over my fucking abode.
Guy 2: [Unclear] knew how to handle a woman.
Phil: Some busters where you just haven’t got any in so long so you just stop giving a fuck. You’d hit that but if that wasn’t there you might suck a dick. Like, it’s that close.
Guy 2: Whenever I see a girl wearing tight tight jeans I think of yeast infections. That’s why I would never fuck a girl in the circus, cause they ride elephants.
Guy 3: You skull fucked?
Guy 2: No I had a friend of mine who used to like to skull fuck.
Phil’s girlfriend (on the phone): I don’t think it’d be that big a deal if I got pregnant. Well first off it would be a beautiful baby, and second I think he’d be a great father. He’s just such a sweetie.
Phil: I know, if she’s gonna wear a dress like that who’s not gonna lift that shit up.
Guy 2: When I fuck a chick I feel like I’m doing charity work sometimes.
Guys are a@#$%^&. Be safe. Every time.

Boston, MA

Jos Truitt is Executive Director of Development at Feministing. She joined the team in July 2009, became an Editor in August 2011, and Executive Director in September 2013. She writes about a range of topics including transgender issues, abortion access, and media representation. Jos first got involved with organizing when she led a walk out against the Iraq war at her high school, the Boston Arts Academy. She was introduced to the reproductive justice movement while at Hampshire College, where she organized the Civil Liberties and Public Policy Program’s annual reproductive justice conference. She has worked on the National Abortion Federation’s hotline, was a Field Organizer at Choice USA, and has volunteered as a Pro-Choice Clinic Escort. Jos has written for publications including The Guardian, Bilerico, RH Reality Check, Metro Weekly, and the Columbia Journalism Review. She has spoken and trained at numerous national conferences and college campuses about trans issues, reproductive justice, blogging, feminism, and grassroots organizing. Jos completed her MFA in Printmaking at the San Francisco Art Institute in Spring 2013. In her "spare time" she likes to bake and work on projects about mermaids.

Jos Truitt is an Executive Director of Feministing in charge of Development.

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    What’s wrong with this PSA?
    A lot of men talk about women and sex like that (when there are no women in the room)!!
    I have friends who sound just like that when they are talking about women to other men
    (or I should say lying – because a big part of man talk about sex involves flat out lying to your boys about sex you’ve never actually had in real life) – but who sound 180 degrees different when they talk to women that they want to have sex with.
    Yes, these men are loutish sexist assholes – but, I hate to say it, there are a whole hell of a lot of men out there like that
    Why not have a PSA that reflects that reality?
    Jos, I’m sure that you know men who sit around talking about how “who are incredibly focused on their desire to have kids.” but not all guys are like that (I certainly don’t know any guys who would have that “I want to have a kid” conversation with their boys – including guys who actually have kids and love their children very much)
    And I’m sure your right about women being “much more open, honest, specific and yes, graphic about the sex they have and the sex they want.” – that’s been my experience too.
    Unlike straight men in our society (who have to “prove our manhood” with sexual conquests) they can be honest about the sex they’ve actually had and don’t feel the social pressure to exaggerate.
    With straight guys, it’s actually a kind of male bonding ritual/pecking order thing – when engaged in a conversation like that, you are connecting with your boys and establishing a dominance hierarchy.
    That is, the man who has had the most sex and/or who has done the most hardcore sex acts is the dominant male in the group.
    And yes, it’s perfectly socially acceptable to flat out lie to your boys about what you’ve done and who you’ve done it with, to make it appear that you’ve had more sex and/or more extreme sex than you’ve actually had – I’m quite sure every straight man in America has done that with his friends (I sure as hell know I have!)
    In a real life version of that conversation, I’d bet money that none of those dudes have done any of the stuff they were bragging about!
    Bottom line, that PSA kept it real!
    Maybe straight women don’t know that this is how the vast majority of straight men really talk about you behind your backs – but if you don’t know, now you know!

  • Muffin

    That is so depressing. I agree that cis men could use a model for modes of honest discussion about their own sexualities that don’t require violence as a framing device, but even the conversations I’ve had in male-only spaces have never approached this kind of discourse (in the PSA). Why is it so hard to reflect real discussions, and show ways of improving those?

  • Gnatalby

    Is the baby supposed to be beautiful because Phil is a man of color? Because that’s a problematic statement from the “gallant” part of the equation.
    I don’t like that this perpetuates the idea that the woman unilaterally decide to be lax about contraceptives because they secretly want a baby with an unsuspecting dude.
    The reason that would be a bad thing to do is that it’s an enormous breach of trust in a relationship, which is why there isn’t actually an epidemic of women doing this. That Phil is sort of gross is beside the point.

  • Dawn.

    I am so effing sick of the heteronormative attitudes perpetuated in mainstream sexuality ed. Thank you for calling out this massive fail, Jos.
    There is so much misinformation regarding safe and responsibly sexuality in our society. It’s not surprising that teens and adults in my age group (early-mid twenties) believe all these ridiculous lies about their bodies and sexualities.
    Thank goodness for sites like Feministing, Scarleteen, and Planned Parenthood’s Teen Talk.

  • adag87

    Wow. Yeah. Epic fail!
    First of all, my boyfriend and I have talked about this and we believe that in general, girls are way more open about sex acts than men. Now, that is in GENERAL. I’m sure there are some guys who talk about sex openly, but the psa has kind of weird dialogue. It makes me wonder if the person who wrote that was a man or woman, or what…
    The message is what really kills me though: all men are barbaric assholes who don’t care about you at all and because you’re a woman, you’re clueless.
    Sometimes men ARE assholes. But you know what? Sometimes women are assholes too. Using a condom is a good way to protect yourself if you don’t trust your partner’s sexual past, or if you aren’t on the pill, or one of you already has an std – but let’s be real, it’s not going to protect you from asshattery in general. And if all men were like that in real life, well, I’d pretty much give up on relationships.

  • Aydan

    Can we add this to the “And they say feminists hate men?” list?


    “And if all men were like that in real life, well, I’d pretty much give up on relationships.”
    I wouldn’t say all – but a whole lot of men are like that.
    Of course most of them would never talk to you like that, because you are a woman.
    But this video accurately depicts how most of the men who I know personally actually talk about women and sex when there are no women in the room.
    Your boyfriend may be different (or he may be lying to you to avoid hurting you feelings) but I’d be astonished to find out that he’s never had a conversation like that when it was only men in the room.
    I’m not trying to justify this behavior – it’s a patriarchal custom designed to establish who is the most manly man in the group (with manliness defined by who has the most sex and/or who has done the most extreme sex acts).
    You and your boyfriend are right about women being open about talking about sex acts honestly
    But when men talk about sex it’s never an honest conversation – most of the time, it’s lies or a mix of lies and half truths and exaggeration.
    These kind of conversations are NOT honest discussions of sexuality – they are a bonding ritual among straight men, with the men bonding around lies about sexual prowess.
    And, for purposes of the ritual, it’s perfectly OK to lie about how much sex you’ve had or who you had sex with or what you did – because the bonding is based on bragging and boasting about sexual prowess (the truth of the sex stories is flat out irrelevant – as long as the lies are believable, it’s OK).
    That is, you cannot lie about performing sex acts X, Y and Z with Lauren Hill (because she is rich and famous and you are not – therefore, that story is not believable).
    However, you can lie about performing sex acts X, Y and Z with a coworker, or a classmate, or the barista in the Starbucks down the block, because that actually could happen (unless, of course, that coworker, classmate or barista happens to be the partner and/or relative of one of the other men in the conversation – that lie is unacceptable and can and probably will cause an argument).
    If men were to talk truthfully about sex we’d have to admit rejection, and failure, and poor performance, and just how few women we’ve actually had sex with and just how mundane the sex acts were.
    That would involve being vulnerable to your male friends – and a lot of straight men are deeply uncomfortable with that.
    So, instead, we have conversations like the one in the video.

  • Comrade Kevin

    It’s not just limited discussions of sex. It’s a very stilted, very scripted, very limited form of expression that passes for analysis or contemplation.
    And it gets reinforced all over the place.
    I share your frustration.

  • supremepizza

    Yeah, the PSA seems pretty realistic to me based on my encounters with most men, and what I’ve over heard my brothers & cousins saying. I mean I think its intentionally done in an over the top way to dramatize the point (a la Sex in the City), but at heart most men I know talk like this some time or another…At the end of the day there are lots of reasons to use condoms, that you don’t have to share child rearing with jerks like these is just another reason.

  • mahjani

    Well, obviously I agree that this psa is a total fail. However, I want to mention something that is bothering me a little in the original post and some of the comments. As a woman, I have never been in a situation where sex was openly and honestly discussed with other women. Ever. I am sure that it happens, but among my changing friend groups over the years, this just hasn’t been the case.
    Do some men act like this psa? Yes and I am sure some women do as well, but it isn’t all men or all women.
    Are some women open/honest in discussing their sex life in single gender situations? I am sure some are – as are some men, but, again, it isn’t all women or all men.


    GREGORYABUTLER: I think Jos’s objection here is less the fact that some guys actually bond with each other this way (yes, we’re not exactly not clued in to how patriarchal misogynistic bonding can happen, here) and more with the fact that this is for *a PSA advocating safe (heteronormative, apparently) sex*. Not because all people should engage in safe sex practices because that’s the sane thing to do, but because, uh, apparently, guys are … disgusting… or something. [I take it we lesbians need not ever bother with such silly nonsense. NOR DO DUDES apparently need worry about STDs.]
    You seriously don’t see a problem with the underlying message here? That the woman’s main concern should be — rather than her health — being impregnated by a guy whom the ad suggests is implicitly horrible, and not only that, but ALL (cis, het, I suppose) guys are implicitly horrible? I think that’s a pretty shallow and narrow message.

  • thecheesegirl

    The point you are missing here is that women are just as horny, and often, just as much of assholes as men are, irrespective of the fact that men can want babies too. But just because men talk about dirty nasty freaky sex doesn’t mean they’re assholes, or that women aren’t.
    The issue this ad perpetuates is that society pressures men to exaggerate and, indeed, simply make up, tales of their sexual encounters, especially at the expense of other aspects of their sexuality, like actually wanting kids, or other deviations from the societal norm of using sex to conquer others.

  • Sandi

    This would be completely reasonable, as a PSA for lesbian separatism.
    As it stands, I’m not sure what’s more offensive: this representation of men or the notion that women should reflect on whether or not their male partner(s) might behave in this way, and, upon concluding that indeed they might, not, say, dump them or maybe set them on fire, but duck into the nearest CVS for condoms.

  • sara

    I don’t get this at all. IIRC from high school biology, nothing a man SAYS about sex, however gross, can give you a disease or get you pregnant. But given how poorly informed many kids are about sex these days, maybe that’s what they’re telling ‘em now.


    In a world where there are a lot of men who think like the guys in the video – and there are a lot of women who have illusions about those men being “good guys” and who make real world life decisions based on those illusions – it would be helpful to bring a bit of reality to the discussion.
    And if that means telling somebody that she should use protection because she might not want to have a kid with the boyfriend who she thinks is a good guy but who’s actually a douchebag, well, what’s wrong with that?
    Unfortunately, most folks don’t have an evolved feminist way of looking at relationships – this PSA can reach those folks, in a way that a more feminist PSA would not.

  • LurkinMerkin

    If this was real, I’d never want to have sex ever again. Ever. Gross.
    It’s really very effective in that sense, as promoting abstinence only for anyone who’d normally enjoy sex with men.
    So yes…in conclusion….wtf.
    PS: I like my boyfriend too, but does that mean I’d be cool with getting pregnant? Absolutely not. I don’t care how beautiful that baby would be!

  • Emily H.

    Wow, WTF. That SexReally website is really bad; I’ve seen it before, it sort of does a poor impression of trying to be hip and progressive about sex, while really peddling stereotypes like these. When I try to avoid unwanted pregnancy, it’s not because “guys are assholes”; it’s because BABIES are assholes. They wake you up ten times a night & barf all over your stuff. I don’t want one right now, with a partner of any gender.
    Can I just add, too, that the fictional woman in this ad is the “asshole” for thinking that it wouldn’t be so bad to surprise her boyfriend with an unexpected baby. Slacking off on birth control because “it would be such a beautiful baby” isn’t how most women behave, and would be a much worse offense than having a raunchy sex convo.


    This PSA is trying to reach a certain audience, that is not as advanced on how they see gender relations as folks who read this website are.
    They did a really good job of tailoring their message to reach that audience – and if they get those folks to practice safer sex, then it’s all good, even if the political core of the message is not to our liking.


    But there are lots of men who think and act like these guys do – and there are lots of women who are sexually active with guys like that (in fact, there are lots of women who are actually attracted to dude-bro types like these guys!).
    Convincing them to use protection and practice safer sex is important – and the message has to be put in a way that they will relate to, or they’ll just tune it out.

  • allegra

    lmfao. Oh. My. God. What the FUCK IS this? Fucking morons.
    I don’t know how conservatives can disseminate this shit that is, quite honestly, degrading toward *men* (as well as women) while simultaneously claiming the male-headed household is the most superior family unit in the land. Why, in your own logical structure where men are huge assholes, would you want men to be “head of the household”? Why would you even want men around your *children*?
    And why are women supposed to be dating assholes who don’t respect women and talk about them like they’re objects who exist solely for men’s gratification?
    It’s too much. Their logical universe is like a fucking circus.

  • allegra

    Dude, I’m sorry. This shit is hateful, dehumanizing, and openly misogynist. I know for a fact that my ex did not nor would ever say such ignorant, inflammatory shit even to his friends. And his friends were not half this big of douchebags.
    It’s fucking terrifying to think that, as you claim, it’s the norm for men to talk about women like they’re lifeless, meaningless fuck-rags. Fucking terrifying. Especially considering the prevalence of domestic violence. Men who talk like this – even to each other – seem to me like they would at the very least be verbally abusive or borderline abusive to their girlfriends. I don’t think a person with a conscience could put on that elaborate of a “performance” to impress their friends without believing at least a bit of it.
    Or is there really that big of a cognitive disconnect in whether men are supposed to think of women as human beings? Is Robert Jensen really right in _Getting Off_ and _The Price of Pleasure_ ( )? I’d like to think not. But you’re not giving me much back-up here.

  • allegra

    P.S. ” … wear a dress like that … lift that shit up … ”
    Rape culture, anyone?

  • konkonsn

    Thanks for mansplaining that. Would’ve never thought of all those points otherwise…

  • Nik

    Making all guys assholes and all women silly baby-crazies is not the best way to relay information. Not even close. You’re functioning under the impression that all teenagers and young adults are not very intelligent or not very willing to listen to the facts. That’s false. I’m 19 and I don’t feel educated after watching this. I feel insulted.
    Look, you used the phrase “keep it real” and since no one says that, I’m going to assume you’re a little older than the target audience. So when the age group that this is focused on says, “Hey, this is shit that offends me!” maybe people ought to listen.

  • Nancy Shrew

    I may think these sorts of conversations are revolting in many ways, but I know they happen; I’ve certainly overheard enough of them. I’m getting a sense of “Not My Nigel” going on in this thread, and found this reply almost refreshing in its honesty. So…thanks, I guess.

  • Hawk or Handsaw

    I’ve got to say, I’m a guy and I’ve never had a conversation like that with any of my friends. The most I know about my friends’ sex lives are whether or not they have one and, sometimes, whether something really different has come up.
    Hell, I went to a school with a huge frat system and there was lots of talk about women that made me uncomfortable and it didnt even approach this level.
    I’m not going to lie. there are a lot of men (especially young men) who are more interested in getting laid than in having a serious relationship but that’s a far far cry from this sort of thing.

  • paperispatient

    Like you said, it happens in some groups but not in others. I frequently have very open and sometimes graphic discussions about all things sex-related with many of my female friends, but definitely not all of them – with some new friends, we’re not quite at that level of intimacy yet, and with some other friends, that’s just not one of the things we talk about, for varying reasons.
    I think a “conversation among friends” is one great setting in which to locate a PSA about safer sex – but definitely NOT how this PSA went about it.

  • Jennifer Walton

    Wow, what a sexist interpretation of how men talk with one another and how women view sex and contraception. I have been privy to some pretty raunchy conversations involving men and their sex lives, but this is just plain ridiculous. I refuse to believe that all men are such assholes that they simply don’t give a fuck about the feelings of their partners. They may talk dirty to get a rise out of their friends (no pun intended), but this kind of language is just sickening.
    And as for the person who was posting about “all being being this way”, etc. only behind closed doors, I also think that’s a tad of bullshit. How can one man, with a specific experience and group of friends, claim to speak for all of mankind and male-dom. It simply doesn’t fly. My boyfriend, for one, is traditionally very male in terms of his hobbies, etc. (according to the societal gendered stereotypes), but he doesn’t talk like that. We’re best friends and we share our group of friends and talk about even the most graphic of sexual experiences and he does not use degrading language to talk about the women he has slept with. I know being with a group of men alone would be different than having a woman present, for the whole machismo aspect, but I know my boyfriend is not comfortable using that kind of vulgar language. He will talk about his previous experiences with women, usually how much he loved going down on them, but mostly focusing on their pleasure and using THAT as his catalyst for pride.
    Anyway, this is a highly ineffective PSA for me, personally. It does not make me want to protect myself. What makes me want to protect myself is self respect, not the deluded notion that my partner is an asshole! If he were an asshole, I wouldn’t be with him. This PSA also thwarts women’s judgement about their own partners. Ugh. So many things wrong with this. But, hopefully it appeals to a select audience who has experience with this type of thing.


    I’m sure you are correct that your ex and his friends were not nearly as assholish as the men in this video.
    But I’m sure they know guys who are just like the guys in the video (I suspect every man in America knows guys like that).
    And, of course, the degree of assholishness and douchebaggery in this video is exaggerated for dramatic effect (real life conversations like this are generally not nearly so over the top as this video is).
    With that said, yes, it is correct to say that “…it’s the norm for men to talk about women like they’re lifeless, meaningless fuck-rags.”
    NOT ALL STRAIGHT MEN are like that, of course, but a whole lot of us talk about women like this when there are no women in the room.
    I don’t have any data to make any kind of educated guess as to what proportion of men talk like that – but I’d say it’s a pretty high number.
    As I said above, I’ve found myself in conversations like this – and I have at least one male friend who almost always talks about the women he has sex with the way these guys do (including exaggerating the number of women he’s had sex with and embellishing and outright lying about the explicit details of the sex acts).
    And the sad thing is, men who don’t talk about women like that are looked down upon as “unmanly” by the men that do
    Remember, the vulgar sex talk thing is a dominance hierarchy building exercise – and men who don’t have dehumanizing sex stories to tell about women they have had sex with lose status as compared to those who do.
    That’s why men always lie when they are in that kind of space (I know I always did) – because to not have a sex story to tell, or to refuse to tell details about your sex life (real or imaginary) means you lose face, and you are less than the guys who do have stories to tell.
    No, men don’t do this kind of thing all the time, there are men who don’t ever engage in this ritual, and this kind of thing is more prevalent among young guys than it is among older men.
    As I’ve gotten older, mercifully, it’s gotten easier to avoid these type of conversations – or, at the very least, to remain silent without losing face.
    And yes, if I were a woman, I’d be fucking terrified of this too – because there is a small but significant proportion of guys who are really invested in this view of women who tend to not care at all about enthusiastic consent when they get sexual with a woman and they don’t respect women’s boundaries or the word no either.
    To be blunt, they think like rapists.
    Not all the men who engage in this ritual are like that with women – but there is a percentage who are.
    In the context of that kind of discussion about women, those men – the non consent/rapist-oriented guys, are the high status ones precisely because of their rapist-oriented mentality, and the fact that their lack of respect for women’s boundaries or consent means that they “score” a lot more than other guys.
    Remember, none of these men in the video ever mentioned if the women they were being sexual with were enthusiastic participants, or even if they consented – status is based on how much sex and how many sex acts, not on how much enjoyment the woman got (if any).
    Beyond that, the woman’s willingness to participate in those sex acts is flat out irrelevant to these conversations, pretty much as a rule.
    This is about “notches on the bedpost” – not about mutual pleasure.
    In other words, there is some truth in what Jensen has to say.
    The crazy thing is, I always assumed that most women already knew that men talk about women and sex like that!


    You are assuming correctly – I am about a generation older than you (I’m 41).
    And, speaking as a former youth services worker (I worked with students in your age bracket in NYC for several years in the mid 2000’s) I’ve learned the importance of listening to young people.
    If you think this video doesn’t resonate with your generation, you might be right, and you’d know better than I.
    But do you think your peers agree with you?
    Because I know this video very accurately reflects how my male peers viewed women and sex when I was your age.
    Hell, it accurately reflects how many of my male peers view women and sex now as adults!
    And it certainly reflects the views on sexuality that my male former students presented [and, as their instructor, I assume I got the edited version of how they thought about women]!
    In any case, I do hope that you are right and I am wrong – I really hope so!
    But I have my doubts!!!!

  • Honeybee

    I think you’re going a bit too far just on the shock value alone. Fact is I can safely say at least 90% of men talk like this at least some of the time, or certainly have at some point in the past. Maybe 95% even. Does that mean they are all abusers and assholes? Of course not.
    If anything it points even more to the flaws in the patriachy and how men and women are each socialized around sex. The fact that men think this shit is normal and some women are disgusted by it just shows how far apart the two sides are.
    But I do think it would be unwise to draw too big of conclusions about someone just because of some banter they use with friends. Can you seriously tell me you’ve never talked or thought at least somewhat comparable thoughts about men before? I think most women have. I’ve certainly heard my share of it over the years. But I’ve never heard anyone complain about it.

  • Lilith Luffles

    I’m very aware that conversations like this happen, but normalizing them with a “they all do it, nothing you can do to stop it” attitude won’t help them go away. If the video instead showed a man beating a woman and then said that is why you should not get pregnant, I’m sure we would not be saying “shit happens, unfortunately.”
    Yes men talk like this, but what is the point of feminism if all we are going to do is moan about how bad it is then say “but it happens, so it’s realistic.” Can no media be criticized? When we get angry about women being portrayed as shopaholics who nag their boyfriends, must say “but there are women that do this so at least it’s realistic.” When men are portrayed as sports-loving dopey husbands must we say “but there are men like that, so it is realistic.” When black people are portrayed as thugs who rob banks, must we say “there are black people that do that, so it is realistic.”
    The truth is we don’t know how many men actually talk like this, and anyone who finds themselves surrounded by men like this needs to find new friends and tell those friends why unless they are complacent in women being talked about as though we are sex objects to be tossed aside as soon as some semen shoots out of the man involved. When an image pops up and says “group x does this” even if it is not flattering or in a good light it normalizes that behavior and makes people think that everyone in group x actually does that!
    I’m just offended that I’m being told that the reason I should not get pregnant is because my boyfriend is an asshole. What about my education? Job opportunities? My diminishing youthful years? My ability to travel to places I have yet to travel without worrying about the baby? My ability to enjoy sex with the “asshole” without worrying about the baby?
    And why is is that the assholishness of my boyfriend should only keep me from getting pregnant? What about my dignity and self-respect and right to have a sexual partner that values my sexual autonomy enough to put aside the desire to be “one of the guys” and not to talk about my body as if it exists for his pleasure?


    Mmm, while I see the point you’re driving at, I still disagree that the PSA’s message works. The message is (even says) guys are basically crap. Which begs the question… forget condoms, why even bother with guys, period (if we follow this message to its logical conclusion)? Oh, wait, because we need babiez so much and are so deluded. But instead, these mere brutish males are good for sex and tricking us, but shouldn’t be procreated with. Well, since guys suck (again, according to the ad), I don’t see how safe sex is really the cure to the stated problem.
    Plus, um, I just. Don’t see how this adds up. It’s the woman’s right to have a kid with a guy if she/he wish; more than advocating safe sex, I feel like this is suggesting women are just idiots and can’t tell who is actually a good candidate for starting a family with. That’s what especially skeeves me. I don’t see how all this relates back to safe sex when the woman in the ad is expressing thinking a kid would be OKAY. Basically, again, the message goes back to, she’s apparently too dumb to know better.

  • PatriarchySlayer

    I think everyone is up on the whole boy talk thing. You see it everywhere, in movies, on TV, in the locker room, etc. Do we really need to be reinforcing it on PSA ads?
    Just because it’s the “norm” doesn’t mean we can’t change it. Maybe if we can give show some healthy models of sexuality discussion that eventually that will be the reality. If we just keep rehashing the same old shit and saying, well at least they’re keeping it real…then nothing will ever change for the better.

  • makomk

    Mansplaining apparently now including talking about things primarily or only experienced by men. No surprises there, I guess…


    I was about to ask that question – is it really “mansplaining” if I’m explaining about things that some men do in all male settings?
    If you want to get philosophical about it, it probably doesn’t get more mansplaining-ish than that, what with the explaining about men and all!

  • paperispatient

    I’m very aware that conversations like this happen, but normalizing them with a “they all do it, nothing you can do to stop it” attitude won’t help them go away.
    This, this, this. And shouldn’t part of a safer sex discussion include some kind of “having sex with misogynistic assholes may be detrimental to your health and happiness” warning?

  • figleaf

    @GREGORYABUTLER10031, who said “What’s wrong with this PSA?”
    What’s wrong with the PSA, dude, is that it’s saying
    a) all men are obligate, reflexive, and sexual
    b) all women don’t care because they just want babies
    c) contrary to the surface “warning” to women the underlying message sent to both women and men don’t bother with condoms after all because men don’t like them and it just prolongs how often women have to have to endure icky old sex to get that baby.
    Which, d) is pretty much the dominant paradigm Laura Sessions Stepp earnestly reinforces every time she opens her mouth anyway.
    Never mind that even when men talk that way they tend to be considerably more attentive with their partners one-on-one. And never mind that women are directly interested in sex.
    Pay attention, instead, to the fact that the ad viciously stereotypes men and women, that it instructs men’s and women’s behavior by setting expectations for it. It’s instructing women that the only good thing they’ll ever get out of sex is babies. It instructs men that women really secretly do want unprotected sex, or at least don’t care if they do.
    In other words everything is wrong with this PSA! Unless, I guess, the public service they’re announcing is “if you’re not behaving this way then start.”

  • Lilith Luffles

    Sorry, but the ends do not always justify the means. Men saying that they like to cum and go is not a good method to sell safe sex, it is a method to sell stereotypes about how men talk about women and it reinforces that stereotype so men do talk like that about women.
    I’d like to think that women and their sexual health are worth more than how men talk about them. I would have gone the “you deserve better” route for this ad and to promote safe sex I would have said that a young woman’s freedom and life are too important to have a baby right now unless that is what you really, truly, absolutely want. I mean, what is she supposed to do when she is ready to have a baby? Give birth to the second Jesus because all men are still assholes when they turn 30, 40, etc?


    Ok, here’s the point you are missing: This behavior does occur. This can be generally taken as true. But this ad comes across as strongly condoning this type of behavior. In fact, oddly, seems to be on some level -encouraging- it. In many circles, ‘guys are dogs’ comments elicit grins and affirmation from men. This reinforcement of the idea that ‘men are a@#$%^s’ seems to be the central message of the ad.
    There doesn’t seem to be any actual link to safe sex here at all, aside from the fact that it’s mentioned. The whole thesis seems to be: women, use birth control because your guy might not be as wonderful as he seems, so you might not want a baby after all. So, I want to know, what country do the makers of this PSA live in where there are a significant number of young women who are -not- intensely aware that having a baby outside of a committed and serious relationship is generally a really bad idea? Because I’m pretty sure that most young women have got that idea down.
    Yeah, there are a lot of young people not using condoms, but I tend to doubt it’s because they are consciously rationalizing that, y’know, having a baby with ‘Phil’ would be cool.
    There are so many far better ways to send this message, that don’t reinforce horrible stereotypes, and that have a more coherent message. In fact, it’s rare to see it done any where near this badly.

  • Jos

    @figleaf *standing ovation*

  • Jos

    Dude, you just mansplained mansplaining. My head exploded.

  • Honeybee

    But clearly there are lots of times where we CAN say “lots of people X do this so it’s realistic”.
    I mean there wouldn’t even be such a thing as feminism if it wasn’t for this! As a group we generalize male behaviour, the patriachy, etc. all the time.
    If even having one person who goes against the mold means we can’t discuss the mold then we should quit feminism right now. For example, there are lots of men who don’t abuse their wives. So should we stop talking about domestic violence because not all men practice it? Of course not.
    You have to be able to talk about trends and behaviours. You just have to do so in a way where you don’t imply that everyone fits them.
    So yes, it’s perfectly valid to talk about women loving shopping, so long as you don’t say ALL women love shopping. But it IS ok to say “many women love shopping” since it’s true. But notice how different the language used is.
    The devil is in the details as always I guess…