Up Front by Emma Hart

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Up Front: It's Not Sex, and It's Not Education

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  • BenWilson, in reply to Sacha,

    By all means, share an experience. But why the urge to insist it's definitive or common? It's OK to be an outlier..

    I was referring to the discoveries in the linked article:

    "The researchers found that 37% of men had at least one erection loss either while applying condoms or during sex in the previous three months. Men who reported erection loss had more unprotected sex over the study period - an average of 10.6 times, versus 7.0 times for those with no erection loss.

    And 40% of men with erection loss reported removing condoms before sex was over - twice as many as those with no erection problems. Men who had three or more sexual partners over the study period, participants who had trouble applying condoms and men who experienced problems with condom comfort were all almost twice as likely to lose their erections. "

    and

    "We know that a lot of men aren't aware that it is usual to lose your erection. So it's not just education about proper condom use, it's about men's sexuality. No man is completely invincible, even younger men. It's how they respond to erection loss that is important."

    I personally find erection loss deeply unsatisfying, but again, I'm not going to make a universal claim. How do you find it? Enjoyable? By all means share.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 8450 posts Report Reply

  • Lucy Stewart, in reply to Emma Hart,

    You can’t possibly know which kids are the non-straight non-vanilla ones, but it doesn’t matter because EVERYONE benefits from exploring a broader idea of “sex”.

    I just cannot conceive how utterly boring sex would be if I thought that it consisted solely of Tab A going in Slot B. (I understand this is a very big problem for people who Save Themselves for the Very Special Wedding Night, but don't educate themselves on more than the bare mechanics of, well, penis-in-vagina.)

    Amherst, MA • Since Nov 2006 • 2093 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown, in reply to Rageaholic,

    While I was at Family Planning they asked if I needed any condoms, and I got some extra-large ones on a hunch. Sure enough, my partner had never tried them or even thought to, and he said they were significantly more comfortable and easy to use.

    This is emerging as a very significant point. To take things back to the topic, I hope this is forming part of the curriculum material, because, as Ben said and the Kinsey study indicates, telling young people that condom use is gonna be totally sweet might be a serious problem when up to a third of users find otherwise.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 18824 posts Report Reply

  • James Butler,

    Kids at school can be really hard on gays.

    A bit OT, but I thought of this fact, and refrained from commenting, when Craig brought up on twitter this morning the Android app that purports to tell parents if their son is gay; the good liberal answer being "I don't care; I love him just the same either way".

    Now I don't doubt that the app is bullshit, and made with borderline-homophobic intent. But if my son or daughter are gay, I would like to know about it as soon as (if not before) they do; for the simple reason that life is still harder for non-straight kids than otherwise, and it's part of my responsibility as a parent to help them through that. My hope is that we have a sufficiently open and loving family that my wife and I would be the first people our children would turn to for this kind of discussion; that we wouldn't need an app for that.

    Auckland • Since Jan 2009 • 801 posts Report Reply

  • Fooman, in reply to Rich Lock,

    As long as we don’t start going down the same road as clothes shops and getting ‘vintage’, or ‘pre-loved’ condoms.

    "The regiment votes for repair!"

    FM

    Lower Hutt • Since Dec 2009 • 87 posts Report Reply

  • James Butler, in reply to BenWilson,

    Wow. How many years?

    *counts* 8-9 ish

    Auckland • Since Jan 2009 • 801 posts Report Reply

  • Lucy Stewart, in reply to Russell Brown,

    While I was at Family Planning they asked if I needed any condoms, and I got some extra-large ones on a hunch. Sure enough, my partner had never tried them or even thought to, and he said they were significantly more comfortable and easy to use.

    Do the extra-larges come under the 144 for $3 deal? It would definitely be helpful if the question of size were brought up when you asked for a prescription for condoms, which in my experience it isn't. More info about what normal, large, and small sizes *are* for penises would also be really handy for kids. And about the diversity of genital appearance in general - useful both for self-esteem and ability to spot real abnormality. I dunno if that's in the curriculum now, I don't recall it when I was in school.

    Amherst, MA • Since Nov 2006 • 2093 posts Report Reply

  • Rich Lock, in reply to Fooman,

    That story reminded me of this old ad from the uk:

    And while looking for it I found this one:

    In the past, I've used condoms in long-term relationships as primary contraception for years, for many of the reasons people have already mentioned (hormone problems with the pill, etc). I don't really like them, but I always thought the accidental alternatives were potentially a lot worse....

    back in the mother countr… • Since Feb 2007 • 2396 posts Report Reply

  • James Butler, in reply to Lucy Stewart,

    And about the diversity of genital appearance in general – useful both for self-esteem and ability to spot real abnormality.

    Indeed. Especially since said diversity seems to have diminished in mainstream porn, just as the availability of porn images to young people has hugely increased. Teenagers are very easily able to find images of what the porn industry thinks genitalia should look like, and they all look the same.

    Auckland • Since Jan 2009 • 801 posts Report Reply

  • BenWilson, in reply to Russell Brown,

    Can I propose that we retire the word “anecdata” now?

    Well, mine is still anecdata, that was a fair claim. I only gave it for the entirely non-statistical purposes of painting the picture, which might help people to understand that condom induced impotence actually happened and it wasn't enjoyable, and it alienated me from them entirely. I fully expected to be psycho-analyzed for my "illness", and "irresponsibility", "lack of diligence", "lack of research", and so on and so forth, because sex-education is a political process, and things that are off-message are often met with outright hostility. I actually expected there to be wide speculation that I must have an abnormal penis, and a whole bunch of jokes about it. I've been pleasantly surprised by how little of any of that there was here. Lucy's been great, really, a mine of information.

    But your finding is interesting. Another one I noticed but didn't raise, mostly because it seemed suss, unreplicated, and borderline homophobic, perhaps even slightly religious, was the study by a Scottish researcher that found mental health adversely affected by birth control, especially condoms. I don't know about his argument from evolution, but I can say that they certainly caused me feelings I've come to know as depression. At the time I thought I should just harden up. Oh, the irony. But there was something quite oddly true about just how much I enjoyed sex during the two periods when my wife and I were actively trying to conceive. All too brief - both were rapidly successful.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 8450 posts Report Reply

  • Moz, in reply to Lucy Stewart,

    No-one is arguing for teenagers to not be told things.

    Count me as saying that teenagers should not be told things. Specifically, things that are known not to be true, even when those lies might be effective. The lies would need to be significantly more effective than truth, IMO, to even be considered. If you're open to teaching known falsehoods, why stop at "condoms work"?

    I appreciate that there are simple questions you will not or cannot answer. But refusing to discuss things with adults, here, makes me wonder just how open you are to discussing those things in a sex education context.

    They are arguing for them to be told that for them to achieve maximum safety from STDS, while having penetrative sex, they must use condoms. You have failed to come up with any argument against that. They are the only thing that works.

    Well, other than me saying that you're mistaken and giving examples. Which you keep ignoring in favour of chanting "condoms are the only thing that works". I say condoms don't work. They may work less badly than most of the alternatives, but that's different from, as you put it "they are the only thing that works".

    Things that do actually work: femidoms and dental dams. Both are, as far as I can discover, almost 100% effective at preventing both pregnancy and STD transmission (excluding insect STDs like scabies and nits). Femidoms even work for PIV sex. From what I can see the rate of HSV-2 transmission between condom users is between 25% and 50% of that between non-condom users, so they do have some effect. But between femidom users it's thought to be zero (no cases are known). Unfortunately there are also suggestions that HSV sufferers are less likely to use condoms during episodes, making those stats more shaky that I'd like (unfortunately this is a result of me emailing and asking questions because the info wasn't on the web, so I don't have a link).

    I know it's easier to just say "always use condoms" and pretend that that is all the information that people need. I don't deny that. What I deny is that stopping there is desirable.

    And Lucy, I'm sorry for assuming from your name that you're a woman. You being a man who prefers condoms over other contraception hadn't occurred to me until you said as much. It makes your insistence that everyone else should do the same a little more understandable.

    Sydney, West Island • Since Nov 2006 • 463 posts Report Reply

  • Ross Mason,

    Anecdata.

    I feel it in my bone.

    Upper Hutt • Since Jun 2007 • 1494 posts Report Reply

  • Emma Hart, in reply to Moz,

    And Lucy, I'm sorry for assuming from your name that you're a woman. You being a man who prefers condoms over other contraception hadn't occurred to me until you said as much.

    Moz, settle. Pretending you think Lucy was pretending to be a man is not helping anything. If you actually want to have the conversation, stop sabotaging it.

    I know it's easier to just say "always use condoms" and pretend that that is all the information that people need.

    Nobody said that. Seriously. Nobody said that.

    Christchurch • Since Nov 2006 • 4354 posts Report Reply

  • Lucy Stewart, in reply to BenWilson,

    I only gave it for the entirely non-statistical purposes of painting the picture, which might help people to understand that condom induced impotence actually happened and it wasn't enjoyable, and it alienated me from them entirely.

    I think it didn't help that you were a little oblique about the impotence bit and I (and a bunch of others) then assumed you were just not trying very hard to put them on, which set things off in an adversarial manner. Such is the internet. I think we actually are agreeing on the broad outlines of how sex education could be improved (and that it really needs to be.)

    And Lucy, I'm sorry for assuming from your name that you're a woman. You being a man who prefers condoms over other contraception hadn't occurred to me until you said as much. It makes your insistence that everyone else should do the same a little more understandable.

    ...I. Er. Wha?

    I know it's easier to just say "always use condoms" and pretend that that is all the information that people need. I don't deny that. What I deny is that stopping there is desirable.

    No, okay, you actually aren't reading anything anyone is saying here. That makes a bit more sense then.

    Amherst, MA • Since Nov 2006 • 2093 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown, in reply to Emma Hart,

    Moz, settle. Pretending you think Lucy was pretending to be a man is not helping anything. If you actually want to have the conversation, stop sabotaging it.

    I see how Lucy's comment was misread there -- it wasn't deliberate. But +1 on the Moz, settle. So that's two disembodied moderators saying that.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 18824 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown, in reply to Moz,

    Things that do actually work: femidoms and dental dams. Both are, as far as I can discover, almost 100% effective at preventing both pregnancy and STD transmission (excluding insect STDs like scabies and nits). Femidoms even work for PIV sex.

    Has anyone used a femidom, or had sex with someone who did? Reports?

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 18824 posts Report Reply

  • James Butler, in reply to Moz,

    I say condoms don't work. They may work less badly than most of the alternatives, but that's different from, as you put it "they are the only thing that works".

    It's also different from not working. I think you are differing on where you draw the "works" line, for which there is no right answer (well, there might be; with my fuzzy recollection of my time at Uni I can't decide whether it's "below the Planck length" or "at the 3dB line").

    Auckland • Since Jan 2009 • 801 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown, in reply to James Butler,

    "below the Planck length"

    If we weren't all on our best behavior I'd have snickered at that.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 18824 posts Report Reply

  • Moz, in reply to Russell Brown,

    Has anyone used a femidom, or had sex with someone who did? Reports?

    They suck. A lot. The only redeeming feature was that it sucked for her as much as it did for me. So we got to have the "wow, sex with significantly reduced sensation really isn't a lot of fun" discussion. Also, the mechanics could charitably be described as humorous. I mean, this was a woman who had used a diaphram successfully for some time so it's not as though "down there" was a mystery. And I have a few ideas about how this stuff works. But it still took a lot of instruction-reading and trial and error to make it work. Once we had that down it was just "sex in gumboots".

    Sydney, West Island • Since Nov 2006 • 463 posts Report Reply

  • Fooman, in reply to James Butler,

    (well, there might be; with my fuzzy recollection of my time at Uni I can't decide whether it's "below the Planck length" or "at the 3dB line").

    You don't sound 95% confident about that.

    FM

    Lower Hutt • Since Dec 2009 • 87 posts Report Reply

  • Emma Hart, in reply to Russell Brown,

    If we weren't all on our best behavior I'd have snickered at that.

    See, I was looking at "the 3dB line" and thinking, man, anything under about 120dB and I'd say it wasn't working...

    Christchurch • Since Nov 2006 • 4354 posts Report Reply

  • Fooman, in reply to Emma Hart,

    See, I was looking at "the 3dB line" and thinking, man, anything under about 120dB and I'd say it wasn't working...

    It all depends on how you define the frequency response.

    FM

    Lower Hutt • Since Dec 2009 • 87 posts Report Reply

  • James Butler, in reply to Emma Hart,

    See, I was looking at "the 3dB line" and thinking, man, anything under about 120dB and I'd say it wasn't working...

    Physicists and engineers tend to measure signal level in negative dB, where 0dB means "AS LOUD AS IT GETS".

    Auckland • Since Jan 2009 • 801 posts Report Reply

  • James Butler, in reply to Fooman,

    It all depends on how you define the frequency response.

    Snap.

    Auckland • Since Jan 2009 • 801 posts Report Reply

  • Emma Hart, in reply to James Butler,

    Physicists and engineers tend to measure signal level in negative dB, where 0dB means "AS LOUD AS IT GETS".

    OIC. I was working from a hearing-impairment perspective. I now think I should just... (ironically and impossibly) quietly withdraw.

    Christchurch • Since Nov 2006 • 4354 posts Report Reply

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