Sexual Health At Vandy: Negotiation in the condom conversation

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Sexual Health At Vandy: Negotiation in the condom conversation

Sara Saeed headshot, Taken on 10/04/2018 (Photo by Claire Barnett)

Sara Saeed headshot, Taken on 10/04/2018 (Photo by Claire Barnett)

Claire Barnett

Sara Saeed headshot, Taken on 10/04/2018 (Photo by Claire Barnett)

Claire Barnett

Claire Barnett

Sara Saeed headshot, Taken on 10/04/2018 (Photo by Claire Barnett)

Sara Saeed

Sex is not black and white, but our attitude on the difference between consensual sex and assault leaves the gray middle out of the conversation. Consent is freely given and all partners must be informed and agreeable to all the terms of the sexual experience.

“Do you have a condom?”

“No, but do we have to use one?”

“Yes.”

This conversation should always end here, but, unfortunately, there is often pressure or attempts at negotiation from one partner to forgo condom use. “Don’t you know I can’t finish with a condom?” “But haven’t we already done it without a condom before?” “Aren’t you on birth control?” are all coercive questions asked with the intention of persuading your partner into having sex on terms they were not initially satisfied with. “I can’t have sex without a condom.” “That was a mistake and I want to use one now.” “Yes, but there are other benefits for using one,” are examples of assertive responses to excuses to have unprotected sex. Clarity in communication leaves no room for compromise or debate.

Both partners have the right to wake up in the morning with the peace of mind in knowing they enjoyed their experience and engaged in healthy sex. Condoms aren’t solely a method of preventing pregnancy; they inhibit the spread of STIs and common infections like bacterial vaginosis. They protect and benefit both partners and are not a burden. Discomfort with condoms can be avoided by using water or silicone based lubricants, correct sizing or the right condom style.

There is no shame in being vocal about your limits and terms of sex. You should never have to abandon your own comfort and safety for your partner’s pleasure and convenience. No one wants to leave a sexual experience disappointed with their lack of adamance when convinced to not use a condom. Being taken advantage of or caught off guard while in a vulnerable position is not your fault and a partner who is selfish enough to prioritize their desires at the expense of yours is not mature or educated enough to be having sex.

If you suggest having unprotected sex and your partner’s answer is a firm yes that doesn’t require persuasion, have sex under your agreed upon circumstances. However, if your proposal to have unprotected sex is denied, respect the wishes of your partner and either find a condom or don’t have sex.

It’s easy to find yourself in a position where the only barrier to having sex is a partner opposed to using a condom or simply not having one. To prevent an awkward or uncomfortable situation, it might be a good idea to have the condom conversation before anything happens. To be on the same page before having sex is crucial for avoiding having to have such a serious conversation in the heat of the moment. Bring your own condoms! Be clear with your partner! Know your limits!

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