Knowing about ‘safe sex’ doesn’t mean you’re ready to take the plunge

Safe sex is boring.

Before you all go throwing your condoms out the window or flushing your birth control pills, let me explain.

I was told by a very smart colleague that, “the number one way to get people to not read your article is to talk about safe sex.” So we won’t talk about it yet.

But if most of you have the ability to be safe, then why are so many students getting pregnant or dealing with sexually transmitted infections?

It’s because minimizing those consequences doesn’t only depend on how physically safe you are, but how smart you are about being emotionally safe.

I have airbags in my car, but that doesn’t mean I’m going to drive into a wall.

Sexuality is more than just the physical act. It involves an emotional readiness being ignored by people today out of the need to ‘grow up,’ but it’s much more adult to make a decision regarding sex using your head and your heart.

Are you really ready to make a decision about sex? How can you tell?

If you paused to think about the first question, you just answered the second. You might be ready.

Jumping to a quick ‘yes’ means you’re a bit too eager to be able to use good judgment when the opportunity arises, pun intended.

Don’t panic if you think I’ve just told you that you’ll be a mental virgin forever. Try again.

Here is a list of well known words: penis, vagina, breasts, nipples, clitoris, anus.

Did you flinch? Giggle? Maybe you turned red or looked over your shoulder to see if anyone saw you reading naughty words.

You should probably not do that when you get to see those parts on another person.

Here’s a final test. It’s one I plan on putting my daughter through.

Go to a store and buy a pack of condoms if you’re a girl and a pregnancy test if you’re a guy. Don’t buy anything else and go to the longest checkout line with an older cashier of the opposite sex.

If you can get through the line without trying to hide what you’re holding from the other people in the store and can buy your item with as much calm as if you were buying a pack of chewing gum, congratulations. You have the maturity and know how to trust a decision you make regarding sex.

This includes the decision to not have sex.

The National College Risk Behavior Survey shows 84 percent of college males and 88 percent of college females were not virgins as of 1997. A more recent survey in 2002 by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention indicates a significant drop in those percentages among college freshmen to 64 percent and 68 percent, respectively.

If you’re going to lose your virginity, make sure you won’t want it back in a month.

And remember, if you’ve lost your virginity, it doesn’t mean you’ve hung an ‘Open for Business’ sign around your neck. If it felt wrong the first time, give it some thought before having sex again.

I’m not coming at you from a moral high ground. In fact I lost my virginity to the first nice boy who picked me up in the parking lot after a great party when I was 18 years old. Don’t worry, though. He was a gentleman. He offered me hot dogs afterward.

I enjoyed it.

Sex doesn’t have to be between man and wife to be meaningful.

A piece of paper and a ceremony planned months in advance doesn’t miraculously make a person ready to have sex.

I’m sure the nearly 40 percent of 15-year-olds marrying in Africa right now would agree.

And marriage doesn’t keep you safe from everything.

20 percent of women who have abortions are married as reported by the 2003 survey of The National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion.

A marriage certificate also doesn’t guarantee sexual health. Waiting until marriage should be a choice, not a rule applied to people who all have different readiness factors.

Sex before marriage doesn’t mean you’re definitely going to get an STI and not all single women have abortions. I didn’t.

Regardless of who you choose to have sex with, it has to be meaningful for you, not your parents or your friends.

So go ahead and make your choices, but be smart.

Be sure you want to have sex when you finally do.

If your partner is pressuring you, she’s not ready. And the idea that you’ll get naked with someone to prove you love them is about as antiquated a thought as physical exams to prove a woman is a virgin on her wedding night.

Be smart, be safe, and listen to yourself because sex with the right person for you when you’re ready is far from boring.

Send all questions, comments and ideas to Chandra Niklewski at [email protected]