"I can't feel anything, it's like a paper bag."
"I'm too huge for condoms -- they always break."
"Other girls never make me use them."
It might be understandable if these excuses were coming out of the mouths of teenagers, but as most sexually active women know, you're just as likely to hear them coming out of the mouth of most any professional, college graduate and on any first, second or third date.
No matter how high the stakes, most adult attitudes surrounding safer sex are formed (and stuck) back in high school.
If you've been reading the latest mainstream articles about the growing popularity of the 'pull-out method' with the well-educated, or (who could miss) the fervor over the sexualized escapades of Miley Cyrus dominating media, you probably already get my point.
It doesn't take a genius to point out that we, collectively, are in a lot of danger. Especially when you begin counting the number of sexual partners we've each had individually... and then add in the number of sexual partners we're likely to have over the next decade. Oh, and then multiply it with the partners our partners have had.
So, we've heard sexually transmitted infections (STIs) are aggressive and on the dramatic rise (*yawn*). But, you might wake up when you hear that experts predict that soon, 1 out of 2 sexually active people have or will have a STI (so, on average, that's you or your future partner). And did you know that most people who have one feel healthy at first, maybe even for a quite a long time, and don't know they're infected? That's neat. What kind of epidemic is it going to take to radically shift our collective thinking towards practicing protected sex?
When I'm at a cocktail party and 30, 40, 50-year-old men hear that I'm the CEO of Lucky Bloke (a purveyor of better condoms from around the world), the next thing to inevitably come out of their mouths, tinged with pride and bravado, is how they never wear condoms and how they excel at talking their way out of having to use them.
Stay classy, gents.
When you consider that in the last decade, AIDS cases in women over 50 are reported to have tripled (while heterosexual transmission rates in this age group have increased over 100%), you don't have to wonder what is on the horizon for those even more sexually active in their 30s and 40s.
Now, couple this with women confiding (at these same cocktail parties) that they feel slut-shamed if they carry their own condoms. They also share that invariably, when they are ready to have sex with someone new, these grown men arrive condom-less. In the best cases, they might manage a sheepish inquiry as to whether or not the women have condoms.
How do they get away with it? Well, because women let them.
Because we want them to like us.
Because their ubiquitous excuse is condoms suck.
Sadly, this concept is so pervasive that most anti-condom-users refuse to change their convictions. And most of us simply aren't prepared -- or lack the information and resolve -- to address that.
The truth is that condoms can indeed (absolutely and totally) suck. I won't begin to argue. I agree wholeheartedly.
But if this is the stance you cling to like a sinking ship, you're absolutely using the wrong condom.
A lot of guys are apparently so invested in disliking condoms that they're simply unwilling to broaden their perspective -- perhaps for fear of being proven wrong -- by finding a condom they love.
What guy isn't up for a little experimentation in the bedroom? Apparently, the line was previously drawn at condom test drives.
Through our own extensive global condom reviews and studies, we know for a fact that not all couples hate condoms. In fact, quite a few couples like them -- even before taking part in one of our international initiatives, which have resulted in 97% of participants finding a condom they love.
With percentages like that, condoms can't universally suck. So why would you want them to?
We've found that when men dislike condoms it is because they are:
1. Wearing the wrong size condom (yes, here is how you find out your condom size)
2. Relying solely on free or cheap condoms
3. Honestly clueless about how to find the right condom for them (not to mention
Guess what? Under those assumptions, you're totally right. Poorly chosen condoms can only be a let down of craptastic proportions.
But that's no excuse for ignorance. The fact is, there are many pleasurable, premium condoms on the market. And chances are, if you're in the League of Condom Haters, you haven't tried any of them. Luckily, it's not too late to save your skin -- and self -- from a sexually transmitted disease.
So, unless an STI is on your holiday shopping list this year, it might be time to shift away from negative thinking surrounding condoms.
So, where do you start?
1. When you're with a new partner demand they use a condom.
No guy is worth turning 25, 35... or 50 only to learn you've caught a STI. Lucky
for us, the majority of guys would rather have sex with a condom than not
at all. But sometimes you do have to take a stand.
2. Have your own condoms. Respect your body, health, and future.
And if you are dating/sleeping more than one person, get yourself a condom
sampler with a variety of condom sizes.
3. Make sure your partner is wearing the right size condom.
(Read this: How do I find out my partner's condom size?)
It may take an army of strong, sexually savvy women to turn the tide on STIs, but guess what: we're too smart not to turn it. And with the right condoms, safer sex will be hotter than ever.
We'll know we've made progress when the next Miley Cyrus isn't licking construction equipment, but instead opts for her favorite flavored prophylactic.
ALSO ON HUFFPOST:
Okay, this is more a series of moments than a single moment. 2012 brought a refreshing number of films that tackled formerly taboo aspects of sexuality. "The Sessions" explored an unconventional love story between a physically disabled man and his sex surrogate, "For A Good Time Call" showcased the rewards female friendship, as hilariously revealed through the two main characters' adventures as phone sex operators. "Magic Mike" took on the world of male strippers, "Elles" complicated the notion that student prostitutes are victims, and "Hysteria" told the story of the invention of the vibrator with humor and wit. If you haven't seen these films, we recommend you go rent them ASAP.
The famous "Harry Potter" author proved her, um, flexibility by publishing her first novel for adults, which turned out to be very, very adult. According to Gawker's count, "The Casual Vacancy" contains the word "breast" 17 times, "condom" 10 times, "c*nt" 8 times, "f*ck" 214 times and some variation of "penis" 10 times. We're not at Hogwarts anymore.
When Ryan Lochte played a "sex idiot" on an episode of "30 Rock" in October, it seemed to meta to be true. It definitely was the role of a lifetime for the Olympic swimmer. The more Lochte we have in our lives, the better.
Valiant effort, Trojan! The condom company set up carts in New York City in August, where they gave away thousands of free vibrators to some very lucky passersby. On the first day, the carts got shut down, but by the next day -- with proper permits in stow -- Trojan successfully gave women a whole lot of pleasure.
Women are well aware of the financial value of contraception, but in an election year when some GOP politicians showed so little understanding of women's bodies, lives and choices (more on that later), it especially behooved the incumbent Democratic president to spell it out. Obama acknowledged the economic side of birth control access during a presidential debate in October. He said: In my health care bill, I said insurance companies need to provide contraceptive coverage to everybody who is insured. Because this is not just a -- a health issue, it's an economic issue for women. It makes a difference.
In October, Bodyform, a British feminine hygiene company, responded to a snarky comment made on the company's Facebook page with a brilliant, hilarious video that poked fun at both feminine hygiene ads with their clear blue liquid and outdoor activities and the idea that these ads have actually deceived anyone about what periods involve. If you haven't seen it, go watch it right now.
Olivia Wilde became our new favorite person when she performed an honest and poignant monologue at Glamour's "These Girls," a night of monologues written by, for and about young women. Wilde spoke openly about her divorce and the difficult process of admitting to yourself when a relationship isn't working. "You can lie to your relatives at Christmas dinner and tell them that 'everything on the home front's just peachy!' but you cannot lie to your vagina," she said. We agree.
In October, Zosia Mamet uttered one of our favorite quotes about dating at Glamour's "These Girls" event. After discussing a particular date during which a boy suggested they spend a day together having room service at a hotel -- and then suggested that her father (David Mamet) pay for it all, Mamet said: "If you slept in my bed and Lewis and Clarked my body ... it might be nice for you to offer to buy me breakfast the next morning. Or a protein bar."
In November, Adele spoke out about the media's non-stop discussion of her weight since her hit-filled album "21" catapulted her to musical superstar status in early 2011. "I've always been a size 14-16 and been fine with it. I would only lose weight if it affected my health or sex life, which it doesn't," she said, according to Us Weekly. We couldn't possibly love Adele more.
TV shows pushed the boundaries of what we normally see and discuss on the small-screen when it comes to sexuality. "Mad Men" explored a dominant-submissive sexual dynamic between Don Draper and his wife Megan, and Joan was pressured to prostitute herself for a business deal, while Kalinda on "The Good Wife" got into the very complicated intersection between eroticism and violence. These scenarios weren't necessarily empowering or desirable for the female characters involved, but they did show that sex can take a turn that isn't empowering or romantic, and that whether or not that's a bad thing isn't always clear.
No words necessary. Just WATCH.
Caitlin Moran made her thoughts on porn known In her laugh-out-loud amazing book, "How To Be A Woman." (Although the book came out last year in Britain, it wasn't published in the U.S. until this year, so it makes our list.) This is one of our favorite excerpts: In a world where you can get a spare kidney, a black-market Picasso, or a ticket to ride into space, why can't I see some actual sex? Some actual f**king from people who actually want to f**k each other? Some chick in an outfit I halfway respect, having the time of her life? I have MONEY. I'm willing to PAY for this. I AM NOW A 35-YEAR-OLD WOMAN, AND I JUST WANT A MULTIBILLION-DOLLAR INTERNATIONAL PORN INDUSTRY WHERE I CAN SEE A WOMAN COME. I just want to see a good time.
52-year-old Cindy Gallop is on a mission to show the masses what "real" sex looks like, and thereby counteract the influence of porn on individuals' sex lives. She told the New York Times that many young people are being taught that "what you see in hard-core pornography is the way that you have sex.” In response, Gallup launched MakeLoveNotPorn.tv, a website full of erotic videos submitted by real people. According to the New York Times' Cara Buckley, "Compared with the harsh lens of mainstream pornography, the videos come across as sweet, earnest, languid, playful and deeply human." If this gets us closer to Caitlin Moran's vision, we're all for it.
Also in porn: After watching high school girls dancing on poles in a club in Florida, photographer Ronna Gradus and journalist Jill Bauer began working on a documentary that would demonstrate the way the porn industry affects ordinary women and girls. The film follows a retired adult entertainer, a 22-year-old young woman who has chosen to have labiaplasty and a precocious 12-year-old Manhattan school girl. Together their stories cast in stark relief how the contemporary porn industry has changed the way women and men evaluate women's bodies and how young women learn to be sexual.
After photos emerged showing actress Kristen Stewart cheating on longtime boyfriend Robert Pattinson, she was called a "whore," a "homewrecker" and a "trampire," and as a result was dropped from the sequel of "Snow White and the Huntsman." Blogger Nico Lang summed up one of the most disturbing aspects of the shaming Stewart endured. He wrote: ... for young women, the culture of slut shaming that the Kristen Stewart scandal represents won't go away. I might not be concerned for K-Stew, but I am concerned for all the young women today who are tuned into this scandal, ones who are learning that it's not okay to screw up, ever.
When Nora Ephron died in June, we lost not only a great filmmaker, screenwriter and author, but a woman with a lot of wise thoughts on love and sex. Here is one of our favorite Ephron quotes: "In my sex fantasy, nobody ever loves me for my mind."
In the lead up to the November 2012 presidential and congressional elections, a number of GOP politicians revealed how shockingly little they know about pregnancy and rape. Among the worst offenders were Missouri Republican Congressman Todd Akin, Indiana Republican candidate for Congress Richard Mourdock, Pennsylvania Republican Senate candidate Tom Smith, Iowa Republican Congressman Steve King and Illinois Republican Congressman Joe Walsh. All but King lost their election bids on November 6th.
Judging from the large volume of accidental nude photos that got Tweeted this year, it's clear that celebrities need a lesson or two in sexting etiquette. (Allison Pill, Hayley Williams, Dean McDermott and AnnaLynne McCord, we're looking at you.)
During the Summer Olympics Ryan Lochte simultaneously became the best and worst public figure ever. We were endlessly entertained by his interview skills, his fashion choices and his easy-on-the-eyes face and bod. But we had to draw the line at his mother discussing his sex and dating life on national television. TMI.
In September, a reporter asked Ann Romney, wife of Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney, about birth control access and its economic impact on women. She responded, "You’re asking me questions that are not about what this election is going to be about. This election is going to be about the economy and jobs." Actually, as a September study showed, women consider access to contraception very important to maintaining their financial independence. And judging by the way women voted, contraception was in part what this election was about. Watch a video of the interview here.
We loved that Lena Dunham's breakout hit "Girls" portrayed early twenty-something sex as it often is, ranging from awkward and uncomfortable to unsexy and basically bad. We also applaud Dunham for putting her own normal, health body on camera, often in the nude, in a culture where airtime is usually reserved exclusively for waifish women. What we didn't love was some critics' shock at the mediocre to disappointing sex portrayed, and especially claims that Dunham is wrong, that it isn't actually that way. We remember being 22 and 24, and we can state without hesitation: sex in your early 20s is often that way.
Who knew E.L. James would go from unknown Brit to household name in less than a year? The erotic novel topped the New York Times' bestseller list and got lots of women (and men) thinking about what they wanted from their sex lives --- and that's a great thing. Less great: The degree to which the trilogy is about all of the gifts Christian Gray buys for Anastasia; Ana's unrealistic ability to orgasm in any position, on command; the wider cultural implications of the notion that women just want to be dominated; and the simple fact that, for all of its Charlie-Tango-Red-Room-Of-Pain appeal, "Fifty Shades" isn't very well written -- at all.
Despite the plethora of easily accessible online pornography, this year it got even easier to get the specific XXX content Internet users desire. In September, a porn-only search engine (Search.xxx) launched. Helpful functionality, or will this expand porn's influence on real sexual relationships? Remains to be seen.
Depending on how you look at it, either nasal sprays got a lot more sexy this year, or performance-enhancing drugs got a lot less. In October, a drug called Tefina, meant to boost female arousal, entered clinical trials. Sounds promising, but seriously ... couldn't we get it in pill form?
The G-spot is real, maybe. But the orgasm you may or may not have there is completely distinct from the clitoral orgasm. Also, women can have orgasms from exercise, dubbed "coregasms." And apparently, according to proponents of a Viagra-like drug for women, 43 percent of women suffer from some form of female sexual dysfunction. It's great that researchers are interested in female sexuality, but making whether or not women orgasm into a problem to be studied and solved suggests that certain ways of being sexual are good and some are pathological. And you know the last thing women need? One more entity informing them that they need to be fixed.
Follow Melissa White on Twitter: www.twitter.com/theLuckyBloke