A straight female reader chimes in:
As I was listening to Dave Cullen discuss Truvada I could only think … well, welcome to my world! The birth control pill was “unleashed” on women in 1960. I graduated from college in 1967 and moved to Chicago to work. When I went to my doctor to get a prescription for them, boy did I get a lecture. “Now, you aren’t going to have an affair with a married man are you?” At that point I was dating a divorced man, so maybe that was the same? But the feelings about the pill and women were almost exactly the same as Cullen was talking about and which Limbaugh expressed when Sandra Fluke testified about the contraceptive requirement in the ACA. We were going to be irresponsible; we were sluts – all because we wanted to protect ourselves from getting pregnant when we had sex, just like Cullen wants to protect himself and others from HIV when he has sex.
We haven’t gotten very far, have we?
The comparison to the birth control pill brings to mind this great quote from Jim Pickett, the director of advocacy for the AIDS Foundation of Chicago:
You’re here because people barebacked. Your grandmother was a barebacker. That secretary in your office, when you’re invited to her baby shower, she’s a barebacker. You’re bringing gifts for someone who engaged in risky fucking behavior. What the fuck are you doing? She’s a bad person. We would never [say] that. We’re like, ‘Yay! You’re pregnant! What is it? Woohoo!’ With a gay man, it’s like, ‘Oh my God. You’re reckless, you’re careless, you’re insane, you’re self-destructive, you want to hurt yourself and others.’ And we ignore the fact that gay men have the same needs to feel close and intimate and pleasure.
Another reader asks:
How is Gardasil – an intervention to prevent a potentially incurable disease – somehow morally correct and non-contributory to increased sexual activity, and yet Truvada is not? In the name of prevention and facing the realities of sexual behavior, we have railed against Christianists’ opposition to sex education, condoms for teens and now a vaccine. It’s time we are consistent about ourselves.
Another responds to this video from Dave Cullen:
As a straight female, I have real issues with the whole “it feels better bare so why not do it that way.”
My late husband and I had a good marriage, but one area in which he was difficult was birth control. He didn’t like condoms and didn’t want to use them. He didn’t want to go to the store and ask the pharmacist for condoms. He refused to have a vasectomy when he didn’t want more kids, so I got a tubal ligation.
All the things he feared and resented I had to take on. I had to go to the store and ask the pharmacist for birth control pills (and deal with the side effects); I had to research and decide on an IUD and a doctor to insert it; I had to have a tubal ligation after my last pregnancy. And yes, I had to do those things because we didn’t want and couldn’t afford a large family. If we had not both been products of the 1950s, the marriage probably wouldn’t have happened, because I would not have been as subservient and the relationship would not have progressed with his issues about birth control.
Although I like sex without condoms better if I’m protected from disease and pregnancy, being a widow means condoms are in my future if I meet a guy who wants to fill them. I don’t think censoring opinions about “bare is better” works. But anyone who exalts barebacking should do so while communicating that there’s no good mutual sexual experience – one that is good at the moment and also good in memory forever – that leaves one partner worried or angry about pregnancy, disease, or discomfort. Bare isn’t better if it isn’t the best mutual choice, and it isn’t a decision that should be made on the basis of penile nerve endings alone.
Read the entire PrEP thread here.
(Video: A brief history of the birth control pill)