Culture + Entertainment / Lifestyle / Pop culture + TV / Sex

Where Are All The Condoms?

Unsafe sex scenes in films and television shows are leaving real relationships unprotected. And women are at risk.

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Scene from Love & Other Drugs

I am not going to lie, I enjoy a great sex scene. I leaned in when Anne Hathaway and Jake Gyllenhaal fooled around on the kitchen table and floor in Love & Other Drugs. Although I was set aback a little, I didn’t turn away when Mila Kunis and Natalie Portman shared an imaginary moment in Black Swan; and I almost shed a tear in The Notebook when Ryan Gosling and Rachel McAdams had finally reunited in a summer storm after feeding birds. Each scene intrigued me. I wasn’t hot and bothered, but I appreciated each one for what it was. But while these scenes managed to capture intimate moments with such passion and vulgarity, they all seemed to forget one thing: the condoms.

My sex life by no means is anything like the movies or television shows. There might be a little passion and vulgarity thrown in there but there is also comedic relief in some one bumping their head against the headboard or the awkwardness of pulling out a condom. And that awkwardness lingers for a good couple of seconds. These movies and shows I spent hours watching never shared that moment. There was no reaching into a bedside drawer or getting up to pull it out of a wallet; the condoms were simply irrelevant in each of these scenes. Sure, I liked watching them, but I felt there was a sense of injustice being done here. I don’t think cinema has the obligation of capturing the reality of sex with normal people per say, but shouldn’t it promote some idea of safe or responsible sex?

I don’t need a movie to tell me to use a condom. I’ve definitely made the mistake of having unprotected sex in my lifetime, but after weighing the health consequences and pregnancies some of my friends have endured, I became a stronger believer of the use of condoms. I’m a believer so much now, that I made the last guy I had sex with redress and drive to the nearest 7-11 to get a pack of condoms or the night was over for us. He complained that we were already in bed, but I didn’t care. I went with him since he didn’t want to go alone.

My point is, bringing up the condom topic is awkward and uncomfortable. Most likely you’ll get a guy who doesn’t care to use one and you’ll have to demand that he use it anyway. But that’s reality. The movies I watched never managed to capture that and in that way, robbed me as a viewer. Even further than accurately depicting sex life, I wondered how these movies were affecting the safety of its viewers, more particularly its women viewers.

In these sex scenes you would see women and men tearing off clothes, messing up hair, and mounting each other. After the scene, they would lie there in each other’s arms or laugh about something, but I wondered if this scene were an actual couple, would the conversation lean towards a discussion of how many sexual partners they had or if they had been tested for STDs? That’s not the best after-sex talk, but that’s what they were inherently running the risk of. Especially those characters who were having multiple sex partners in a span of two hours.

I’ve sat on couches with guys that I was attracted to and watched these movies. When it reaches the sex scene, things always progress to being kissed on my neck or touched. I don’t think these movies necessarily give the idea that condoms are bad, but the immediate action between those characters ignite the same idea of immediacy in us. Even with that promptness, I try to pull back and suggest the use of a condom. No one ever refuses completely, although there might be a little tug and pull before going along with it. But I try to make everyone understand that I don’t want kids and I don’t want STDs.

There’s a social stigma going around that holds STDs as disgusting viruses and people who have them are something short of a lepor. They are actually more common than you would assume, but at the same time, if I can be healthy and STD-free, I’d choose that option every time. Same goes for pregnancy; I want kids some day, but not right now, not this soon. And I guess that’s where my urgency to use a condom comes from. I know the difference between a condom and no condom; I know how it feels and I get some of the pleasure, but in reality, the consequences aren’t worth the hype. Of course a man can contract an STD just as a woman can, but many of the times STDs react differently in women’s bodies and produce more serious symptoms. Also, last time I checked, a pregnancy doesn’t necessarily affect the man in the same way. If I were pregnant, I would be the one carrying around a tiny human, and my partner could very well leave.

I have a strong standpoint on the matter, but outside of myself, how many girls were watching these scenes and getting sucked into a sex life with no condoms? Like I said, there is responsibility on the two people involved, but a fourteen-year-old girl doesn’t have the same understanding as one who is older. Many girls and women need to see the reality of using a condom and how although there are a couple of seconds of awkwardness, everything works out fine. There are scenes like the one between Sanaa Lathan and Mike Epps in Love & Basketball that accurately captures the moment, and they end up still going through with everything. It’s scenes like those that help women know that it’s okay to stop for a second and make the night a safer one. But when there are other scenes suggesting that it’s more fluid and intimate when you just lead right into things, it’s hard to make sense of it all.

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