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August 5, 2008

No glove = love?

Filed under: News — posted by Amanda @ 8:00 pm

NPR’s recent on-air essay about sex without condoms has drawn quite a bit of debate. Speaking on the “What’s the New What” series, Oakland teen Pendarvis Harshaw reported that for his peers these days, forgoing condoms “signifies taking monogamy to a new level” — one where “partners are required to trust each other completely.”

Harshaw called this Commitment 2.0 “the new engagement ring.” Several commenters on the story agreed that in an age where people choose to get married later in life, or not at all, this step is an unspoken strengthening of an already serious and monogamous relationship. Harshaw — since you’re wondering, slash, getting nervous — urges that both partners get tested for STIs and use other methods of birth control.

While other commenters voiced outraged at Harshaw’s report — saying the choice was a decision more of passion, or at least of nice-try excuse, than of love and respect — others were quick to remind them that married couples face the same risk of unwanted pregnancy or disease if a spouse strays. So if sex without a condom is the new engagement ring (and I myself know several instances of people waiting until marriage or an actual engagement before choosing this), then going off of the “orange is the new pink” theory, is sex WITH a condom the new emotional/committal virginity?

While we’re on the subject, here — maybe — is one way to avoid the risks of “the new engagement:” a safe sex license. Gothamist reports that, in a program founded by Bed Stuy’s Eli Dancy in 2004, over 15,000 people — after providing proof from a doc — have been issued their STFree cards. We’re wondering: would you trust the validity — or at least currency — of these licenses, and/or would you consider becoming a card-carrying member yourself?


  1. An interesting study and from my personal experiences, a somewhat accurate one. I have 4 close friends all in relationships, all choosing to go without condoms. In all of the cases the choice was made initially after tests were done, after long discussions, other methods of birth control are being used and also as the partner both being eachother’s first. In three of the cases, the relationships years later are still going strong. However, in the fourth the friend has now made this promise to at least 4 partners since then, now forgoing the tests and trusting that their new partners are healthy. I believe this new way of thinking is multi-layered. It can add a level of intimacy and trust, but it can also lead to developing very dangerous habits. As in the case of my friend “Well, I just don’t LIKE sex with a condom anymore.”

    As far as an STI free card. If federally mandated ID’s and passports are counterfeited every day, I’m sure not going to trust a doctor’s get out of sex free card.

    Comment by Hilary — August 7, 2008 @ 8:09 am

  2. I do find this article intriguing, especially considering that I too made the commitment with my boyfriend to not use condoms and rely on other forms of birth control. While the decision was very personal and took time and testing (on both sides) I didn’t really consider that it’s become a growing trend. However, with more couples moving in together before marriage (us included) it seems like another logical step.
    However, like moving in together and saying your I love you’s, it should NOT be taken lightly. It’s unfortunate that some people do take it for granted and consider honesty as an acceptable form of birth control for a first time relationship. People lie, and in this case some lies can be deadly. I guess the best response I have on this topic is you should not only love the person but be loved in return. Trust them but also be there for them and be willing to go through the testing. And talk, talk, talk about it till you’re too tired to even have sex. Then you’ll know that you’re ready for that so-called “new engagement ring.” Oh and ladies, make sure your man’s offering up something for you too besides a condom-free penis (i.e. real engagement rings don’t hurt).

    Comment by Kari — August 7, 2008 @ 2:12 pm

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