SEX ED: What’s in your wallet?

Written by: Jaqueline Goncalves

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NOTE: With this article The VOICE debuts our SEX ED feature. Based on sad findings in a sex survey of Mercer students taken in the fall 2012, the editors worked together to devise a way to address the shamefully inadequate education our students have received about how to care for their sexual health.

 Then the hunt began for a writer who could speak frankly and do the research needed to help students become better informed. The perfect person joined The VOICE at just the right time. We welcome Jaqueline to the staff. She is an Honors students with a 3.5 GPA. Originally from Brazil, Jaqueline is on the Mercer cross-country team and works as a peer mentor at Mercer. We hope students will enjoy the column, and while it can never take the place of talking to a medical professional about any health concerns, we hope it will provide useful information and food for thought and discussion.

Every woman remembers the excruciating embarrassment of the first time she had to buy a box of tampons at the drugstore. She endures the long walk to the pimply faced kid at the checkout, and there’s no way to disguise the box. Then comes the day she needs to buy a box of condoms. Many women feel so anxious and embarrassed about doing this –worried that they will seem slutty– that they just avoid the situation altogether and hope their partner will be the one to come prepared.

It may not be fair that women have to deal with all the dirty work, and we’d all love to think the hot man in our lives will be considerate enough to come prepared, but we owe it to ourselves to march up to the counter with the Trojans and hold our heads up high.

In a recent VOICE survey of 61 female Mercer students, 82 percent said they didn’t carry condom with them and 19 percent said they felt it was unnecessary for either women or men to carry condoms.

These numbers make me want to scream in a different way than I do when I have a condom with me.

Brittany Magsamen, a 20 year-old Liberal Art major at Mercer, is part of the 18 percent who should be applauded for carrying a condom and looking out for their own health. She told the VOICE she is always protected.

“I was at a party with this guy I am involved with and that was the first time we ever had sex” she said. “During the foreplay, we were doing oral sex when I told him I wanted the ‘real thing’ and he told me he did not have a condom.”

Magsamen told him not to worry, she had a condom. “He said that I was great and we have been together for seven months now.”

Women like to talk about relationships and sex, but when it comes to breaking taboos about sexual health, we are very backwards.

Dr. Denise Ingram, a professor of Sociology from the Liberal Arts department at Mercer, explains that women won’t carry a condom because “in American culture, the condom is a symbol that represents the intent to have sex.”

Women may be worried what conclusions others will draw about them if they carry condom, but their sexual health should come before anything else.

Dr. Ingram explained that gender roles play a significant part in sexual behavior. “The cultural perception of condom purchase and availability by gender establishes a negative value in women’s sexuality.”

The biggest reason to engage in protected sexual activity is to avoid the contraction of sexually transmitted diseases or infections. Besides that, using condoms can also prevent unwanted pregnancy.

According to the Communicable Disease Service-Sexually Transmitted Disease Program 2011 report, NJ reported 34,528 cases of STD’s. Mercer County had 1,952 cases, of which the vast majority, 1,434, were reported in Trenton.

Professor of Health and Fitness at Mercer, Jacqueline Franz, says she believes that children younger than 16 years-old should be taught abstinence at school.

“If these children have fulfillment in all aspects of wellness, it is much easier for them to stay away from trying sex as an escape from peer pressure and lack of confidence.” Franz said.

Dr. Karen Bearce, professor of Psychology from the Liberal Arts department, said “What people learn from movies, magazines, and friends is how to have sex and not about human sexuality. Also, the likelihood of extracting good information from such means is very small.”

That does not mean that you should throw away that Kama Sutra book you have or unsubscribe to Cosmopolitan Magazine, but it is a wake up call to women to be more aware of their sexual health, seek reliable information, and find ways to protect themselves.

If the problem is the fear of others seeing the condoms in your bag, there is a solution on the market. The “Just In Case Compact” is a condom case that looks like a woman’s make-up compact. It is a real make-up set with a place for a condom at the bottom of it.

Another objection coming from eco-friendly people is that condoms are made of animal products and tested on animals. If you are one of those who do not carry condom because you want to save your environment, start by saving yourself first and buying a vegan condom. Yes, they do exist!

Vegan condoms are made of natural rubber latex and are not tested on animals. It is cruelty-free and safety-full lifestyle.

Some people complain that condoms taste bad during oral sex and make it hard for women to have an orgasm during vaginal intercourse. No more complaining: there are many brands that offer flavored condoms and textured condoms that maximizes female pleasure.

It is better to carry a condom with you and never use it than to have to cope with STD’s or unwanted pregnancy. Watch out for expiration dates though! Condoms are not good forever. Expired condoms lose strength, flexibility, and are more likely to break especially if you keep them in the car or wallet.

Now go and enjoy yourself, but stay safe and stay smart!

Next month’s SEX ED hot topic? Masturbation. See you soon.

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