Recently a woman wrote to me saying that she’d tested positive for HPV, asking me to remind her why being slutty is fun. She went on to write that the nurse had informed her 70 percent of adults test positive for some form of HPV, so it wasn’t something she needed to be informing her partners of, and that given she’d been vaccinated for HPV she likely didn’t have one of the scary, cancer linked strains.
Yet she also went on to write “I’m getting very tired of my body’s revenge on my sex habits.”
Slutty. Revenge. In the spate of recent attention the word “slut” has gotten courtesy of Rush Limbaugh I suppose I shouldn’t be surprised to discover that such judgmental opinions are held even amongst sex positive thinking individuals, even if they only apply them to themselves.
Being sexually active and adventurous is fun because, well, sex is pretty fun. But, yes, it comes with risk. So do lots of things. For whatever reason we’re more judgmental when it falls in the sexual realm. We still give power to those who would label those who have sex and then get ill as sluts, as people who brought misfortune on themselves, in a way we don’t for people who play sports and break their arms or their legs or their necks. That reckless Sidney Crosby – what was he expecting? Hockey is nothing but rampant concussions and neck injuries. That hockey harlot has no one to blame but himself.
Too many in society are more sympathetic to smokers who get lung cancer and heavy drinkers who get liver cancer than are understanding of those who get HPV or herpes or HIV or (insert STI variety here.)
But let’s get away from substances and go back to activities. Should we look down on sun sluts who get skin cancer, whether it’s because they spent every spare minute soaking up the rays on the beach sans sun tan lotion, or simply because they got a few bad burns as a fair skinned kid?
Secret: I got athlete’s foot back when I was working out at the gym, likely because I made the mistake of showering without foot wear. I don’t know if you’re familiar with athlete’s foot, but suffice it to say it’s yucky. Now it was my responsibility to treat that, and I did, but should I be looked down upon for my poor judgment in showering? Should I have decided to stop going to the gym because of it? Should I have said “I will shower no more!” (Actually, not showering might have led to further flare ups at the time, but I digress….)
The fact is that my friend most likely doesn’t have a “scary” strain. And while she could have minimized the chance she would get it by having fewer partners she wouldn’t eliminate it, or necessarily reduce her chances all that much either. It’s not just how many people you’ve had sex with, it’s how many they have or how many partners the people they’ve slept with have slept with.
So, people, start thinking of sex like a sport: if you want to play you wear the proper gear, you minimize your risks, and then you enjoy playing the game. You’re going to suffer a few sprains and injuries along the way and hopefully not anything worse. In the end I think you’ll find you’ve enjoyed life more out on the field than you would have simply watching from the sidelines, safer option or not.