I’ve decided that it’s Condom Week around here at Unhushed. Melissa White over at Lucky Bloke recently asked if I wanted to provide content for her new safer sex education website, and of course I was delighted! But when I went back to look through my blogging archives (both here and at www.unhushed.net/blog), I found that I had written terrifyingly little about condoms. So here I am, rectifying that problem with Condom Week, on both sites. Here at KarenRayne.com I’ll be writing about teachers and other educators’ issues about condoms in the classroom. At Unhushed.net I’ll be writing about parental concerns about condoms. Interested in receiving KarenRayne blog posts as they happen? Sign up here. You can sign up to receive Unhushed blog posts here.
I want to start Condom Week by addressing some of the myths about condoms. These raise their ugly heads in the classroom over and over again and having solid responses to them lets you respond with charisma, humor, and ease.
- Sex doesn’t feel as good with a condom. Well, this is (clearly) a personal preference. Some people will agree, others will prefer condoms, and that’s important to acknowledge in a classroom environment. But the social meme is certainly that condoms don’t feel good. You can address this in some ways by bringing condoms into the classroom and asking students to put them over their hands see what they can feel through them. While it may change or reduce the sensation, it certainly doesn’t restrict all of it. I find that this commercial does a fantastic job of having the rest of the conversation:
- You can’t buy condoms if you’re underage. I can’t even tell you how often I hear this from students! And even more amazingly, it often doesn’t even come up until I ask about it. Young people believe that age restrictions on things that they want to do, but adults want them to not do, are ubiquitous, and they often incorrectly believe that applies to access to safer sex as well. The best way to dispel this myth, if you’re in a sufficiently liberal teaching environment, is taking young people to a store and supporting them through their first condom buying experience. While Planned Parenthood and other organizations give condoms away for free, it’s sometimes harder for young people to access those clinics than it is for them to access a grocery store or a pharmacy with $20 in their pockets. Short of an actual field trip, assure young people of their rights to sexual health and do some cashier-consumer role plays in the classroom.
- Condoms don’t work. Particularly in those states with the highest teenage pregnancy rates and lingering propensity towards abstinence only until marriage sex education (like Texas, cough, cough), too many young people have been taught that condoms don’t work. You should point young people in the direction of the concrete research that says otherwise. If they are dismissive or uninterested in actual research, remind them that they are talking about important things – and making allegations without backup. Sexuality and sexual health are not topics to be flippant about. If they are old enough and responsible enough to be engaging sexually, they should be old enough and responsible enough to be finding real answers to the sexual issues they are facing.
- If my partner wants to use a condom, it means they’re cheating on me. Wow, that’s a doozy of a myth, and I find it’s more insidious in its less overt form: If my partner wants to use a condom, it means they don’t want to be as close to me as possible, that they don’t love me as much as I love them. My post on Thursday is going to deal entirely with this and similar topics: how to support students in talking with their partners about safer sex and condom use.
There are, of course, many more condom myths than the ones I am including here. What are the myths you have run across most frequently, or the ones that tripped you up the most?