Let’s talk about it…

I’ve just been joining in a friendly debate on Twitter following news that the morning-after pill is going to be freely available over the counter in Ireland. While I enjoyed the debate, it’s very hard to get my ideas over in a few characters, especially when putting in five or six usernames too!

NB Whilst I have some strong religious views on some of this stuff, this isn’t what the post’s about. Just so you know.

I have long been of the opinion that sex is being totally devalued, and this just confirms that. There are so many deep emotional links to sex, and there should be, it’s the most intimate experience you can have. It should be special and important and romantic, and whether that takes place in marriage or not is a whole other question and completely down to the people involved. But the fact remains that it should be valued and taken seriously.

Quite apart from the health risks in promiscuous sex – yes HIV but also STDs and the Big P, Pregnancy – what kind of emotional fallout is there from not valuing your body or affections enough to take sex seriously and treat it as a big deal? I understand that people want flings and no-strings-attached affairs, but I don’t, personally, think it’s healthy. I understand that people want sex to be fun – it can be, and it can and should be better in a monogamous relationship. Trust and affection are a huge part of what makes sex fun and these are things that are overlooked but should be highlighted. You are opening yourself up (if you’ll pardon the expression) to an awful risk by being that intimate with someone – they can see all the parts of you that are normally hidden, both physical and emotional. Wouldn’t you rather that person was committed to you? And that that trust was being taken seriously?

I think one of my biggest worries in the whole debate is the question of pregnancy. It’s a huge deal, but it’s used far too much as a cover-all.

My husband went along as part of his job to watch a local company deal with the issue of sex in a secondary school. He came away shocked that by far the biggest emphasis of the training was about not getting pregnant. The overriding message being sent home with some pretty young kids – if I remember rightly there were some under 16s there – was that sex was fine in any context as long as you didn’t get caught, and that’s how pregnancies can be treated – getting caught. We talk about ‘unwanted pregnancy’ as if it was crabs or syphilis or even HIV – an undesirable illness to be avoided. I’ll leave aside for this post the whole issue about life before birth, it is much more than that, and repercussions can come out years later. But reducing sex down to the possible bringer of unwanted consequences totally devalues it, and THAT’S my problem today with the morning-after pill debate. It’s been available for years as a contraceptive, and if you needed it you had to go to a little extra trouble to get it. You had to just think that little bit more about what you were doing.

It’s as if sex is a hobby that can be fun but dangerous. Like rock climbing. You don’t want to fall off the cliff but if you know that extra rope is there it’s fine, take whatever risks you want. Sex isn’t a hobby. How many people will now have more and more casual sex, knowing that that pill is there if they want it, and regret it later? And if it’s available over the counter, what are the restrictions on it, for example age-wise?
*edited from original*
On the other hand, someone’s sexual choices have to be their own. I just think it’s important that they are educated choices. I’m basically saying it should be as freely available to use as it is needed but while the current phase of celebrating casual sex is in full swing (again, pardon the phrase…) can we make sure we’re upping the education as much as the celebration? Talk about it, but take it seriously.