Friendly Atheist and Christian Nightmares blogged the same thing today (such is the circular nature of the internet blogosphere), and I was so taken aback by it that I had to say something about it. The Catholic “sex education” website 1Flesh put up a friendly, silly cartoon proposing that the only proper use for a condom is as a water balloon, because they are just not that effective.
Condoms, when used properly, are nearly 100% effective at not only preventing pregnancy, but preventing the transmission of STDs and the HIV/AIDS virus. This is not to say that they does not have risks (especially if used improperly, which is why education is important!), but that they are one of the best ways to protect yourself if you are having sex.
This means, in very practical terms, that condoms are one of the answers to some of the major social justice issues of our times. Condoms are one of the cheapest and most effective forms of birth control that is available, and in areas where HIV/AIDS happen in high rates, the use of condoms has been proven to reduce such rates – saving lives.
Look, I’m fine if you have a personal ideological objection to the use of condoms. That’s fine – just don’t use them, then (though, if you have a tendency to sleep around, I would hope that you would use them for your partner’s sake – no one likes an STD!).
But I will never, ever understand using that ideological objection as a justification to spread outright lies. If you have to lie to make your argument effective, then you seriously need to reconsider your argument.
Here’s the thing:
People have sex and people use birth control. Even in the Catholic church, most women have used some form of birth control while sexually active (crazy, I know!). Spreading misinformation and not giving people information on how to have sex safely does not stop them from having sex. Study after study after study has proven this to be a total falsehood.
Instead, the misinformation and lies create situations where consent is fuzzy, where STDs are transmitted, and unwanted pregnancies occur. There is an argument to be made for abstinence. Planned Parenthood even covers it as a birth control method on their website. But we should not have to lie about the things we oppose in order to support our beliefs. That's not how logic works. That's not how good debates work. And that's how you ramp up to disastrous consequences.
If you don’t know how to use a condom properly, here’s a helpful video [don't worry, it's SFW, unless your work objects to a demonstrative wooden dildo].
If you are having sex with multiple partners, are in a non-monogamous or open relationship, or have reason to suspect that your long term partner may have an STD: don't be a fool! Wrap your tool!