Up Front by Emma Hart

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

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  • Bart Janssen,

    Well Charles did have a pony tail for a while!

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 3267 posts Report Reply

  • Amy Gale, in reply to Louise,

    He loved the book I got, and especially liked ‘the purple swimming things’.

    I definitely recall forming the impression that paisley fabrics were representational in this regard. I also recall expressing this in formations such as "the tie with the sperms on". What I don't recall is having my plural corrected. Parents as first teachers my foot.

    tha Ith • Since May 2007 • 452 posts Report Reply

  • Craig Ranapia, in reply to Nik C,

    From the odious “Your Views” section: “I also tell her (daughter) that girls want love, boys want sex."

    I had no idea it was a zero sum game. But if I was a teenage boy, I’d be feeling pretty epically matron-ised right now. Here’s a crazy idea: If you treat men like Animal Penis Brains please don’t be surprised when they live down to expectations. Teach them (and sorry for sounding like a Madonna lyric) to respect themselves, and others, physically and emotionally – with a healthy side of reality – the outcome may well be more agreeable.

    North Shore, Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 11874 posts Report Reply

  • BenWilson, in reply to Craig Ranapia,

    I put it to the crowd source that there is a reason that quite a lot of people don't want to wear condoms. If they were as little of an interference to the sex act as a seatbelt is to driving, they'd be great. That's never been my experience, though. I'm sure I'm not the only one. Sex education is great, but it should also try to be as true as possible. The purpose of them is safety, and the cost is to reduce the experience in some cases. When you consider the highly competitive sexual market, I'm not surprised kids would ditch them a lot. It's important to acknowledge that the drivers of this aren't solely ignorance of risk.

    I think I might have been more convinced about them if I'd ever had a male sex-educator. Seeing women putting them on carrots and their forearms didn't really convince me. If they'd put it over their head and then tried to continue the lecture, it might have come closer to some of my own experiences with condoms.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 8323 posts Report Reply

  • Lucy Stewart, in reply to BenWilson,

    When you consider the highly competitive sexual market, I’m not surprised kids would ditch them a lot. It’s important to acknowledge that the drivers of this aren’t solely ignorance of risk.

    The anecdotes reported in this thread are about women avoiding using them, though, unless you’re suggesting those women were put off by male complaints.

    If they’d put it over their head and then tried to continue the lecture, it might have come closer to some of my own experiences with condoms.

    I know I’ve seen you venture this view before, but you’re seriously the only guy I’ve ever seen express that much antipathy towards them. Regardless, condom use is sort of non-negotiable for safe casual penetrative sex. It’s probably worth including education about the fact that sex which requires condoms is not the be-all and end-all of sexual experience, but there’s no real substitute for drilling into kids that you shouldn’t be engaging in casual penetrative sexual activity without them, and that there are steps you have to take before you can stop using them in non-casual sexual relationships.

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

  • Paul Williams, in reply to Jackie Clark,

    Jackie, your kindy sounds ideal, and I love the idea of teaching zen, or rather incorporating zen, philosophy into the teaching.

    On the issue of civics, I take your point that modeling the ideals is vital I also think being explicit about why helps. As part of the watching the rugby with my six year old I've made a point of explaining not just that booing isn't ok but why its not. It seems to help but I'm sure this is something you do as a professional I'm just, I guess, trying to explain what I mean by teaching civics albeit with a rather banal example (can rugby ever be banal?)

    Sydney • Since Nov 2006 • 2219 posts Report Reply

  • Sofie Bribiesca, in reply to BenWilson,

    If they’d put it over their head and then tried to continue the lecture,

    This is good. I probably would have turned up if we had that. Hell, I would have made it a subject for my photography class. :)

    here and there. • Since Nov 2007 • 6028 posts Report Reply

  • Isabel Hitchings,

    I don't recall it ever being a big deal to ask a guy to use a condom and though one or two guys weren't total fans I never noticed any cause for complaint once we got it on. As far as teenagers go I would have thought that anyone whose Mum washes their sheets or who borrows their Dad's car might well appreciate the mess containment that condoms can provide.

    Christchurch • Since Jul 2007 • 705 posts Report Reply

  • Jackie Clark, in reply to Paul Williams,

    Oh, but of course. Most of the time with the reasoning. But sometimes? Just because I say so. I also do an awesome line in frosty voice and facials.

    Mt Eden, Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 3123 posts Report Reply

  • BenWilson, in reply to Lucy Stewart,

    The anecdotes reported in this thread are about women avoiding using them, though, unless you’re suggesting those women were put off by male complaints.

    I'd expect they were put off by their experiences. These would probably have involved lengthy fucking around with condoms during which they felt stink because they wanted to have sex and it didn't happen, or it did but in a way that wasn't very enjoyable. There are also some women who actually prefer the feeling without, although they would seem to be much less than the number of men who feel that way.

    I know I’ve seen you venture this view before, but you’re seriously the only guy I’ve ever seen express that much antipathy towards them.

    Yes, I've mentioned it once before. My antipathy is only towards using them personally. Others certainly should try them, they might be part of the lucky majority who can use them. They're a vital part of the safe casual sex picture. However, if you rely on them alone, you're taking a hell of a risk. The first risk is failure of them directly. The second is that you will say "oh fuck it, let's just go without" after arsing around with a bunch of them for half an hour. This can and does happen, and needs to be acknowledged in the facts about that kind of device.

    It’s probably worth including education about the fact that sex which requires condoms is not the be-all and end-all of sexual experience

    That's likely to be discovered all on it's own. But being so, it should certainly be included in the education, if you want it to have any credibility. Learning to have sex as people have been doing it for millions of years doesn't require teaching at all, it's the way most people would do it without instruction. To use a condom requires practice. For some, it's not easy practice.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 8323 posts Report Reply

  • Sofie Bribiesca, in reply to Isabel Hitchings,

    I don’t recall it ever being a big deal to ask a guy to use a condom

    Well, that in itself may be entirely why Ben had difficulty ;)

    here and there. • Since Nov 2007 • 6028 posts Report Reply

  • Paul Williams,

    Ben, the following should not be misunderstood as a criticism or an argument with you; all men should expect and plan for any penetrative sex they wish to have with anyone to involve a condom (with the usual exceptions relating to partners and pregnancy). To expect or plan otherwise is indulgent. I don’t think women should have to ask a man to wear a condom, men should take responsibility for themselves.

    Sydney • Since Nov 2006 • 2219 posts Report Reply

  • Lucy Stewart, in reply to Paul Williams,

    all men should expect and plan for any penetrative sex they wish to have with anyone to involve a condom (with the usual exceptions relating to partners and pregnancy). To expect or plan otherwise is indulgent. I don’t think women should have to ask a man to wear a condom, men should take responsibility for themselves.

    Basically, this. Contraceptive value aside - and I certainly don't advocate using them as a sole form of contraception, where others are possible - they are the only safeguard against STDs. Even if they suck for some people, well, until vaccines are invented for a whole bunch of things or a better version comes along: they're what we've got. If acknowledging that they interfere with pleasure for some people will give kids more realistic expectations, that's a great idea, but their use except in very specific situations has to be considered a given. (That still won't get use up to 100%, but you do what you can.)


    And I'm a bit confused by this:

    These would probably have involved lengthy fucking around with condoms during which they felt stink because they wanted to have sex and it didn’t happen, or it did but in a way that wasn’t very enjoyable.

    For whatever reason I missed out on the "learn to put a condom on" bit of sex ed at school, but the first time I tried it with a partner, it was fairly obvious how it was supposed to work, and I don't recall any fucking around ever being involved (excepting the intended fucking, as it were.) They're not exactly complicated technology.

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

  • Emma Hart,

    Yeah, I've never had that happen - the extended 'trying to get a condom on' thing, not ever. And I hate to make suggestions, but the problem might be one touched on in this post. I would take that woman's advice on damn near anything. I've had times when there was a bit of awkwardness, but there was also laughter, and I like my sex with laughter.

    I don’t think women should have to ask a man to wear a condom, men should take responsibility for themselves.

    Fucking ay. If only for your own sake. You're seriously prepared to give control of your own health to some chick you just met?

    And yes, sometimes condoms fail, but unlike other methods of contraception, you know when they have, and you can do something about it. I mean, yeah, I won't say it wasn't a relief to get to a place where contraception is no longer something we have to worry about, because my partner's had a vasectomy, and there were certainly times in my life when condoms weren't used when they should have been, and I'll take my share of the responsibility for that. But it should NOT be that difficult, it really shouldn't.

    Christchurch • Since Nov 2006 • 4340 posts Report Reply

  • BenWilson, in reply to Lucy Stewart,

    Well, I've had considerable trouble with them over hundreds of encounters. I'm sorry if that breaks the narrative. My only real purpose in this is to assert my actual existence, and I expect that explains the existence of women who are also condom-reluctant. I'm happy to leave it at that.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 8323 posts Report Reply

  • Steve Barnes,

    Personally I find the idea of casual sex a misnomer. It makes it sound like something you would do whilst waiting for a bus or between TV shows...
    "Oh what to do? Cup of tea or a fuck?"
    Casual? give me a break. It is one of the least casual things an adult can do, all that sweating and grunting is never a good look in my book let alone having rip open a foil wrapper with slippery fingers, it's like trying to open those jam pottles after you have opened the butter packet. Then you have all the bother of finding the damned wee thing and slip it into a stretchy bag that is already too big and it's dark and you can hear the drumming of fingernails on the bedside cabinet and the sighs of displeasure from your erstwhile partner while you fumble under the covers then the dog jumps up on the bed and the kids want a drink and...
    Casual? I think not.

    The wireless north ;-) • Since Dec 2006 • 4704 posts Report Reply

  • Danielle, in reply to Lucy Stewart,

    Yeah, I think the vast majority of my experiences with condoms were 'stick it on and off you go'. I mean, they don't feel *as* good, and I'm glad I don't have to use them any more, but... not exactly a crisis.

    Charo World. Cuchi-cuchi!… • Since Nov 2006 • 3628 posts Report Reply

  • Lilith __, in reply to BenWilson,

    When you consider the highly competitive sexual market, I’m not surprised kids would ditch them a lot

    Ben: was this really your experience of sex as a teen? A competitive sexual market? My teen experiences weren't remotely like that, but then my social circle may not have been a typical one. You're saying teens get in a situation where insisting on condom use leads to being ditched for someone less fussy?

    I have been in situations where blokes were unwilling to use them, but in all cases they've either changed their minds or we've settled for a non-penetrative option.

    Dunedin • Since Jul 2010 • 3419 posts Report Reply

  • Paul Williams, in reply to BenWilson,

    My only real purpose in this is to assert my actual existence, and I expect that explains the existence of women who are also condom-reluctant. I’m happy to leave it at that.

    I think that's a fair point and I wasn't arguing against it (though I suspect the word "some" might be inserted before "women").

    Sydney • Since Nov 2006 • 2219 posts Report Reply

  • BenWilson,

    Ben: was this really your experience of sex as a teen?

    I had no experience of sex as a teen, so fierce was the competition ;-). But sex education isn't limited to teens. And absolutely I personally judged whether I would want to repeat with someone based on what the first encounter was like. If it was painful and humiliating (I usually opted to take the blame, but there's no way that the other person can't feel that it's not partially that you just don't think they're hot enough with their clothes off), then it really didn't matter how compatible we were in every other way.

    but in all cases they've either changed their minds or we've settled for a non-penetrative option.

    You wouldn't have to persuade me to change my mind - you'd have to persuade my penis to change its mind. I never refused to use one, that was a purely physical response, which vexed me greatly. If I then had no-condom sex, it was always at the suggestion of the girl. If it was great sex, sue me. I didn't plan for things to go that way, but that's the way they went. I'm sorry that I like sex with vaginas rather than rubber tubes, but I can assure you that's it's been more of a burden for me over the years than any of the girls. The only girl who ever had a medical reason to regret sex with me was that way because she got pregnant when the condom broke.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 8323 posts Report Reply

  • George Darroch,

    What Emma said, really. If you're not prepared to keep the other person safe, and keep yourself safe, then you really aren't being very considerate to anyone.

    Sure, if you start to use it and then they they then insist on condomless penetration, and you're into that kind of thing (ie, putting major health risks and possible pregnancy (depending on the penetration) on the line), then sure.

    The People's Republic of … • Since Nov 2006 • 2132 posts Report Reply

  • Martin Lindberg,

    Stockholm • Since Jul 2009 • 790 posts Report Reply

  • Alice Ronald, in reply to BenWilson,

    Guys like you are the reason I got an STI & have used the morning after pill 3 times. In combo with the frankly lackluster sex ed I received, which in no way equipped me to insist on condom use when faced with someone who wasn't keen.

    Thankfully, I'm no longer an inexperienced 19 year old who is so scared of rejection & confrontation that I acquiesce at the first hint of "but I don't wanna" whining.

    I think the most useful sexual education experience for me was finding my parents' copy of The Joy of Sex when I was 8. It didn't tell me anything about contraception or STI prevention, but it did plant the seed that there were other things to do than PIV penetration.

    Christchurch • Since May 2011 • 48 posts Report Reply

  • 3410,

    finding my parents' copy of The Joy of Sex when I was 8.

    Ditto.

    Guys like you are the reason I got an STI & have used the morning after pill 3 times.

    I don't think that's entirely fair.

    Auckland • Since Jan 2007 • 2618 posts Report Reply

  • Alice Ronald, in reply to 3410,

    Yeah, it's a hard line, but I'm not sure Ben realised just how strong an influence it can be to have a guy insist that he can't wear a condom/doesn't want to when you're horny, eager to please & slightly self-conscious. I made some pretty crap decisions there, but why was I put in the position to be that gatekeeper in the first place?

    Like I said, my own inexperience, fear of confrontation & libido had a part to play there too.

    Christchurch • Since May 2011 • 48 posts Report Reply

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