Op-ed: Make someone uncomfortable this Valentine’s Day
Happy Valentine’s Day! Did you know February 14 is also National Condom Day in the United States?
Sexual health advocates have worked hard to make the message clear: while you’re doing whatever sexy things you’re doing on Valentine’s Day, be sure to wrap it up. Unless you’re looking for a sexually transmitted infection (STI) or tiny human in the next nine months, condoms are your best bet.
Last year, I wrote a blog about the importance of female (or internal) condoms as a dual protection method against pregnancy and STIs. On National Condom Day, more than ever, it is crucial to highlight that everyone deserves access to over-the-counter protection, whether they have a penis or not.
But if we’re being real about the practicality of internal condoms, they can be bulky and expensive, and sometimes outright embarrassing to use. I don’t know about you, but that doesn’t make wrapping up on V-Day sound very sexy.
When I first read Priscilla Pine’s proposition in “Love And Hope And Sex And Dreams: Make a Man Uncomfortable Today,” it struck a chord. If you haven’t read the piece, I highly recommend doing so, but here is a brief synopsis: men deserve to be called out when they act like jerks. Many women are socialized to respond to male indecency with apologies and kindness, but we should push back.
Today, on February 14, I have a follow-up proposition – Make a Man Uncomfortable Today: Talk About Your Birth Control.
A few months ago, a slew of articles came out about a clinical trial for a male birth control shot. Spoiler alert: researchers stopped the trial short after men began dropping out because they were experiencing adverse side effects like mood swings, weight gain and acne.
It doesn’t take a genius to recognize the irony of a situation that women have dealt with for decades; it’s one that reminds us all of that time (probably several) that a partner asked to forego a condom because it was inconvenient or uncomfortable.
The suspension of the male birth control trial is yet another painful reminder of how much blood we’ve shed (literally) in the name of reproductive health – and what cis men are either unwilling or unable to handle because of it.
So next time you are in that awkward condom negotiation situation, consider this: Pine suggests we reclaim bits of our power – when he doesn’t respond, “text him again” she says, “fav his subtweets.” Before you start a new sexual relationship, make a point to tell your partner what kind of birth control you use.
Make him feel the implant in your arm or remind him that a doctor recently shoved a piece of metal through your dilated cervix. Let him know that if you can remember to pop your pill every night at 11:01 p.m., he can wear a condom.
As long as we live in a world where the consequences of unprotected sex fall disproportionately on those who have the least control over it, don’t be afraid to make someone uncomfortable by asking them to cover up this February 14 (and every other day of the year.)
Jane Haines is a senior in the School of International Service and the College of Arts and Sciences.