29 December 2003
The wrappings of misconception
To imply that women who do not carry condoms are failing to protect themselves from AIDS which is what amfAR's Web site explicitly states as it refers to the ad's "shocking statistics" is an insult to me personally and to every responsible, non-condom-toting woman I know.
The true message of the amfAR ad is that everybody's doing it, and those who don't "protect" themselves are just plain irresponsible. This is a valid message if one's target audience consists of B-girls, bags, bawds, bimbos, blowers, broads, call girls, camp followers, cats, chickens, chippies, concubines, courtesans, fallen womans, floozies, harlots, hookers, hostesses, hustlers, loose women, molls, nymphomaniacs, painted women, party girls, pickups, pink pants, pros, scarlet women, sluts, streetwalkers, strumpets, tarts, tomatoes, tramps, trollops, white slaves, whores, and working girls.
It is not a valid message if one is targeting ordinary single women.
(I break in here to note that I don't know anyone meeting the above description, and if I did well, never mind, you know the joke.)
If amfAR truly wished its ads to be "arresting," it would go against the pop-culture stream and take a stand in favor of sexual restraint. But scientists will find a cure for AIDS long before that organization dares to profess that people should be "responsible" for anything other than "protecting" themselves from the effects of their own irresponsibility.
Myself, I don't claim that my ongoing extended period of celibacy is any kind of moral statement. On the other hand, it is quite clearly effective in warding off HIV, not to mention substantially less expensive than other techniques. (Condoms cost money; dates cost even more money.) And while I have had my own doubts about abstinence-only programs, it's clear that at least some of them work, and I'm not inclined to sneer at the results they get: the age groups at which these programs are directed really should not be sexually active, for reasons which go beyond the simple Thou Shalt Not.
Then there's this:
I still have urges to do things that would require what amfAR so delicately calls "protection." But I know that even if such protection were 100% effective against HIV, it would still be 0% effective against a much more certain disease arising from sex without love: heartsickness. Loveless sex is a very poor Band-Aid against loneliness, and it ultimately keeps the wound from healing.
Twenty years ago, I probably would have scoffed. Not today.