Day By Day© by Chris Muir.

Sunday, September 18, 2005

Doing what's best for our children -- Part 2

[This is Part 2 in a post that was too long for a single display. If you haven't already done so, please see Part 1, above. Also, please leave any comments you may have in here, in Part 2.] I rushed off to Google, and promptly came up with this Cosmo sex advisor column (pardon the graphic language):

Q: My guy and I have great sex, but our condoms keep breaking. What are we doing wrong? We leave space at the tip, like we're supposed to. Could his penis be too large, or is it because our sex is so energetic? A: If a condom is used correctly, it shouldn't snap, no matter how active your sack session is. Rubber rupture can result from the following: storing your condoms in a hot place, like a glove compartment; using one that is past its expiration date; accidentally ripping it with your teeth or fingernails while opening the wrapper; and using the same condom more than once. You're right to be leaving space at the top to collect his little swimmers. If you don't, you're actually creating a balloon that is bound to pop. The trick to leaving enough room: Pinch the tip of the condom between two fingers with one hand as you place it on the head of his penis, and continue holding on to it as you roll the rubber down over his shaft with your other hand. Lack of lubrication is another common culprit. Add a water-based lube to the outside of the condom whenever you experience down-there dryness. And remember, any food, lotion or product that's oil-based will cause latex to wear thin and eventually go kaput. It's also possible that your condoms are not the right match for your man's member. Most are made to fit guys who are within the average range when erect (about four to seven inches). If the type you usually use does not cover his entire shaft, or if he complains that it feels too snug, try prophylactics specifically made for well-endowed men. By taking all the previous precautions, your condoms should stop breaking. But, if it does happen again, be sure to stop and put on a new one before you get back to getting it on. And, since this situation can put you both at risk for STDs (unless you and your guy are monogamous and have already tested negative for all diseases), visit your health-care provider for a thorough screening.
In other words, there's a whole host of reasons why these virtually perfect condoms may not provide the protection promised. In that regard, the Silver Ring program, which tells kids that condoms are not the magic bullet, is more accurate than those programs that promise kids that it will be. But that doesn't mean I'm embracing the abstinence program wholeheartedly. If all the kids are going to have sex anyway (scary thought, that), then wouldn't it be better if they ended up using a condom which is not entirely effective, but is still better than nothing? Okay, so I'm right back on that uncomfortable fence. How about if we change the focus? How about this not being about sex education, but about effecting a sea change, where premarital sex is an unpopular, uncool, sleazy thing to do, instead of a cool, "everyone is doing it" kind of thing. That's actually what Pattyn, the Silver Ring guy, is hoping to see happen:
"Our goal actually is to create a culture shift in America. We want to see the concept of abstinence be the norm rather than the exception."
I'd like to see that too. And maybe this generation of slip-ups -- the generation that takes the pledge and can't follow through -- is going to be the damaged generation that makes the transition that ends the sexual revolution. Their good intentions and their failures may pave the way for my children to grow up in a cultural millieu where premarital sex isn't cool, and where the risk of such sex is high -- kind of like the 1950s. And yes, I know that young people were having sex in the 1950s, and getting pregnant, and getting syphillis and gonnorhea, but certainly not in the numbers that are prevalent now. For all our education and our funding and our birth control and our openness, young people are taking a much greater hit than they did in the 1950s, both in terms of sexually transmitted diseases that can't easily be treated with antibiotics, and in terms of pregnancies. While it's true that the perfect is the enemy of the good, that doesn't mean that, having failed to achieve perfection, we should abandon the effort altogether. That is, however, what the condom-based sex education programs have been doing -- their proponents say that, since many kids can keep their clothes on, we should just assume that none should, and train them all as if they're going to be sexually active with multiple partners, and we should assume that this training leaves them emotionally equipped for early sex and fully able to handle those slippery little condoms. The condom-based sex program also ignores entirely a parent's role. I may be in for a rude surprise, but it seems to me that, as a parent, I can convey nuances about love, sex, safety, and emotionally and culturally appropriate behavior that some "here, have a condom" program at school can't. (Of course, it's equally possible that I'll gabble some meaningless stuff about birds, bees and "go ask your father," which would fully justify a comprehensive program at school.) All of which is to say that I like the idea of abstinence programs, in large part because I like the idea of seeing the sexual revolution buried before my children come of age. And while it's clear that this current generation of teenagers is going to take a hit during a transition, that doesn't mean that the effort should be abandoned.