Shamelessly Safe

Fighting the stigma of being prepared – Matthew Bobbu

Feature by Matthew Bobbu | 05 Aug 2014
  • Condom

My student years were exciting, unpredictable times. Each night out could end with me in bed with a beautiful man; struggling to keep my dignity while having sex on a leather sofa; or passing out in a garden ten yards from my front door because rum hates steep hills. Like any sensible person who engages in sex in unforeseeable locations – sometimes with unforeseeable people – I carried condoms with me.

Yes, condoms plural. Not even just one or two: some people are allergic to latex, or the spermicide included in some condoms. Some people enjoy flavoured condoms, while others don't like cock to taste like rubbery fruit salad. So for the safety and pleasure of everyone, I kept several in my pocket.

Of course, as with every man who carries condoms in his wallet, I acquired a reputation. Despite merely acting responsibly to protect my health and the health of others, I was simply known as a shameless man-whore. I was having the time of my life, but I would increasingly wonder if it was a positive thing that I was always prepared to be safe. Sounds absurd, doesn't it? And women who exercise healthy, consensual sexual freedom have to face far worse judgements than I ever dealt with.

So I stopped carrying condoms. I decided to shake off the reputation, maybe convince people I liked that I didn't just want to fuck them. It seemed clear to me that not carrying condoms would help me to stop sleeping with all those wonderful people, as I wouldn't be prepared for it all the time. Clearly I could not find a long-term committed relationship while I was still behaving like a man who carries condoms.

I realised the stupidity of this one day when I was at my girlfriend's house. We were getting naked and sweaty when she realised she had run out of condoms. I didn't have any with me, because I didn't want to be a legendary man-slag any more. It made no sense – that my reputation and happiness should rely upon being unwilling to take responsibility for my own health and safety. I decided right then to start carrying condoms again: it's my health, it should be my responsibility to look after it.

What's more, I realised that I was trying to get away from a reputation that made no sense. We see adults having safe, consensual sex, and we judge them for it to the point where we discourage them from staying safe. We shame the people who choose to always be protected, because this society still somehow thinks that having lots of sex is a bad thing, no matter how you do it.

So now I, like a good scout, am always prepared. And whether I have sex with the pretty girl from the pub, or my boyfriend of two years, is none of your damn business. Unless you want to join in, in which case – make sure you bring your own condoms, too.