To The Men Who Try To Have Condom-Free Sex

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If you try to pressure a sexual partner into not using protection, you’re acting like a disrespectful, coercive, pouty little shit.

You know that thing when you’re about to have sex with someone and you’re feeling all warm and fuzzy and fun things are happening and you anticipate more fun things are coming and you’re in this groove and then, instead of the telltale ripping of a condom wrapper, or the brief pause when he sits back on his heels to assess and discuss the protection situation, he tries to slip it in like you won’t even notice?

And you, upon realizing what the moron down between your legs is doing—or rather, neglecting to do—you hear in your brain that screeeeeeeech like tires slamming to a halt because instead of warm and fuzzy you feel confused and indignant. You feel overlooked, irrelevant to this bodily conversation you were excited to get going just seconds before. You feel, suddenly, like just a hole, and not a person with opinions on the subject of contraception, with aspirations for a baby- and disease-free future, with a 50% stake in what’s about to go down.

Do you know that feeling?

If you have been so lucky as to avoid it, pat yourself on the back, cross your fingers, and continue whatever rain dance you’ve been performing that keeps condoms falling from the sky and conscientious partners in your bed. Because the rest of us? Man, we are sitting out here in the cold and it sucks.

To those of you who, after discussion with your partner, choose not to use protection, I’m not talking to you. This is not about the objective merits of condoms or birth control; as long as you two are on the same page, what you use or don’t isn’t our business.

And to those of you who are thinking, fuck you, lady, I do what I want, who are actively hoping we won’t notice the lack of latex, who couldn’t care less about the consequences, this is not addressed to you either. Your pathology starts too deep to address in this short essay.

This is for those of you who call yourselves “nice guys.”

Fellows, this is where the rubber (pun intended) meets the road. Whatever progressive, egalitarian, lady-loving rhetoric you’ve been spouting is worth nothing if, when the time comes for you to act on it, you’re a disrespectful, coercive, pouty little shit.

And let me be super clear: If you try to pressure a sexual partner into not using protection, try to guilt him or her into compromising his or her health and safety, try to trick someone into thinking you’re using contraception when you’re not…you’re acting like a disrespectful, coercive, pouty little shit. You do not get to call yourself a nice guy.

Condoms are sometimes unpleasant, we get it.

You know what else is unpleasant? Unwanted pregnancy. STDs. Feeling like your partner doesn’t care if you feel safe and comfortable. If the condom truly is a deal-breaker for you, then you need to man up and discuss alternatives (alternative contraception, alternative sex acts). There is a possibility that that discussion may result in you not having sex right that very second, but such are the compromises that adults make to respect the boundaries of their sexual partners. Don’t make us always have to be the adult.

When I polled the Internet about their experiences, I got bombarded with stories of the bareback-pressurers, “Don’t you trust me, baby?” whisperers, and the worst offenders, slip-it-off-mid-coitus-no-condom-ninjas. The issue is so widespread that it seems obvious it’s not a question of a few bad apples, but rather a persistent misunderstanding of the rules of engagement.

When all is said and done, this issue doesn’t boil down to pleasure or what particular form of contraception you choose, it’s about consent. Or rather, as J. put it in his response, it’s about micro-consents, all the tiny little “yeses” we say after the big yes. “Just because someone wants to sleep with you,” he wrote, “doesn’t mean there aren’t anymore questions.”

Role Reboot regular contributor Emily Heist Moss is a New Englander in love with Chicago, where she works in a tech start-up. She blogs every day about gender, media, politics and sex at Rosie Says, and has written for JezebelThe FriskyThe Huffington Post and The Good Men Project. Find her on Facebook and Twitter.

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