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 SEX!! (that should get their attention)

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Gomez
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PostSubject: SEX!! (that should get their attention)   Thu Dec 03, 2009 6:23 pm

Wow, this place is so not busy. We need a bit of controversy. Here's something I've been wondering:

Everyone says the way to stop the AIDS epidemic is to increase condom use. We've been doing that since the '60s. Is there any evidence the epidemic has been subsiding as a result? I submit that it's actually gotten worse. Einstein said that insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result. I agree with him and say this is madness.

I don't have AIDS, or any other STDs, and I don't fear them. Why? I've had sex with only one person in my lifetime, and she's the same way. (Sure, I could sit on a needle or some stupid thing, but the odds of that make it less worth worrying over than being struck by lightning or something.) They* tell me this is impossible. I say impossible or not, I'm doing it, and so are just about all my friends. Don't talk to me about impossible while I'm in the middle of doing it. If you tell me that it's maybe impossible for other people besides me, I'll just say that it's impossible for that idiot holding the lightning rod on the roof to come inside. We have free will. We really do. We can chose to turn left or right if we decide to. Now if people are unwilling to live safely, that simply means that they're willing to take the chance. They'll chance getting syphilis because the momentary pleasure is worth it to them. It's not to me, but whatever; takes all kinds.

Back to the condom thing: We've been promoting condom use forever and if there's any information evincing that it helps even a little bit, I haven't seen it. What I've seen is that everywhere we promote "casual sex" we've seen the epidemic flare up. In more conservative places that frown on promiscuity, it tends not to be quite as bad. Oh, don't get me wrong, it's still there. There's no place on Earth, no Islamic nation, no monastery, no convent untouched by this evil, granted. I'm simply trying to deal with the notion that places with lots and lots and lots of condoms have a demographically lower instance of STDs. Is there anything in the real world to support that theory? There are plenty of opinions and treatises on how it "should" work, how it "will" work, and how it "can" work, I'm sure, but if it "will" work at any point, that should mean it already has. We've had free access to condoms in school for how many generations of students now?

Now the argument I generally get to this sort of thing is something along the lines of:
"Well, being as we already know abstinence won't work, we need blah blablablah blah blah blah."

At which point, as you can see, I've tuned out. Not because I'm closed-minded, but because there's a logic-gap there you could drive a Mack Truck through. We "already know" what now? When was abstinence training given serious consideration on a national level (in whichever nation)? What HAS been tried on a grand scale for decades is condoms. Guess what. They failed. Sorry about your hypotheses. Sorry about your ideals. Sorry about what you think "ought to" work, but it failed. Faith in the airscrew won't get you off the ground, and faith in condoms failed to stop this epidemic before I was born.

I say I can turn that argument on it's ear.
"Well, being as we already know that condoms won't work..."

I think that's where the discussion needs to start here at 40+ years after the Sexual Revolution.
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PorcelainPirate
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PostSubject: Re: SEX!! (that should get their attention)   Sun Dec 06, 2009 11:13 pm

Interesting stuff. I have to say, I'm not a believer in teaching abstinence - I think that the arguments against it ring true often enough to offset the times it WILL work - but your point about condoms is interesting.

I've always worked on the assumption that while condoms may very well be effective, the culture of promiscuity they encourage is dangerous, because those who don't use condoms are also immersed in that culture.

Clearly decades of ' You really do need to wear condoms' hasn't worked, just as 'You really do need to abstain' almost certainly won't work. There are always going to be people willing to take the risk. Which leaves us, as far as I can see, with few options. I can't see our sexual culture, or our methods of dealing with STDs, changing anytime soon. All we can do is look at which of our current methods are the most effective, and encourage those.
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EvilHippyEmperor
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PostSubject: Re: SEX!! (that should get their attention)   Tue Dec 08, 2009 6:32 pm

For a start I suggest that abstinence is the best defence against STD's, and that reciprocal monogamy comes in a fairly close second.

Human nature being what it is, there will always be those who consider either of the above to be too restricting. To be fair, I doubt I would have the willpower for the first, but I find the second both easy and enjoyable.

Thus let us make the assumption that some people are going to have sex outside stable monagamous relationships.
I believe wearing a condom will lessen the chance of an STI being transmitted.

"Lessen", not "eliminate".

I wonder how much safer people are, compared to how much safer they think they are, and how much this affects the frequency with which they have sex.

Let's use Russian Roulette as an analogy.
Suppose in my game of "Unprotected Russian Roulette" I load three out of six chambers in the revolver. Anyone wanting to play knows they have a 50/50 chance of ruining my wallpaper. Since the prize is a kiss on the cheek from our own Porcelain Pirate, there will be those who consider it worth the risk, but they will think quite carefully about it before agreeing to play.

Now I introduce a game called "Protected Russian Roulette". This time I load two chambers, but I tell prospective players that I have only loaded one chamber.

Do I have to hire more cleaners, or fewer? How many more people will play the game now that they think the odds are so much better?

We'll play with Maths students because they will work out the odds (and they are expendable):
We give 36 of them the opportunity to play Unprotected Russian Roulette. Half of them decline because they don't like the odds, and we lose half of those who do play, giving us 9 fatalities (Don't worry, we can always get more)
Now we give another 36 the chance to play the protected game. Since they think only one chamber is loaded 5/6 of them decide to chance it. But of our 30 players only 2/3 survive to claim their prize, the remaining 10 come to a sticky end.
Even though the game is safer, we have more fatalities as we have more players.

OK so it is a simple and quite limited analogy, but I'd argue that if anything it understates the case. Our maths students have worked purely by probability: In the real world there are other factors to consider, such as
1) The tendency for humans to believe "it can't happen to me"
2) The desperation of maths students to get close to a real live girl
3) (to return to the analogy for HIV) The poster campaign would lead some potential players to believe that the gun isn't loaded at all in the protected game.

To summarise ("Too late" I hear you cry) I reckon that condoms make each individual sex act safer, if rather less enjoyable, but by engendering a false sense of security make the overall problem worse.

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Gomez
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PostSubject: Re: SEX!! (that should get their attention)   Fri Dec 11, 2009 6:41 pm

Quite so.

Also, you rather insinuated this, but I'd like to state it outright:

Condoms have a very low failure rate, this I'll grant, but that rate applies to a single use. Statisticians will realize that the odds increase with each use.

Say a condom gives you a 5% chance of a mishap. Fairly good odds. However, if you use one twice (yes, yes, smartypants, if you use TWO one time each - you full well knew what I meant) then your odds of an problem go up. They don't double, but they increase. With each usage, the probability of a condom failure approaches 100%. It never quite reaches it, but after 40 or so "protected" sexual encounters it gets quite close. The math is tedious and I'm tired, but you see the point.

What happens if you play Russian Roulette with only one chamber loaded, but you play it 500 times? Well, mathematically, you might easily hit an empty chamber each and every time, but the odds of it are so low as to be negligible. After a lifetime of condom use (I shudder think how you count that many sexual encounters) what are your odds of just one breaking just one time.

And FWIW, I do know a girl who had one snap right open the first time she tried one. This is also statistically unlikely, but I do know for a fact that it's possible.

My point is that I have little faith in the masses mathematical prowess, and I'm not convinced they realize that your odds of a failure increase as rapidly as they do.
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