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It Takes a Village...To Buy a Condom

Posted by Ryan Morgan on May 01, 2014 at 11:58 AM

MelissaAnne C SBy MelissaAnne Cunningham Sereque, MBA A few years ago, I remember sitting in a booth across from my minister at the time and asking that most pertinent of questions. “Why are so many people, especially in a religious culture like the South, embarrassed to buy condoms?!” He looked me straight in the eye and gave me the best answer I have ever heard. “It’s a pre-admission of guilt.” That is it!! That is, if not the exact answer, the core of every issue or act leading up to sex… including Sex Ed, buying condoms, taking birth control, obtaining an IUD, and even drinking to get the nerve up to have sex… and we all know that alcohol leads to great decisions! (I’m kidding of course.) For one reason or another, sex and talking about sex scares the crap out of people. As a new step-parent to 2 teenage daughters, I have discovered a new fear concerning sex. I now look at teenage boys like terrorists. I give them death stares though my imaginary FBI-framed-sunglasses while speaking into my imaginary wrist-wire like I have just spotted a target in need of eliminating. Sorry… I’ll take a breath and calm down. It seems these days that politicians and clergy are scared to remember their teen years. Our society (American, and especially in the South) showers SO much shame on the natural psycho-sexual development called puberty. Over the past 6 years, I have been doing research for my book (hopefully done this fall) called, “God, Church, Sex, & Me”. After interviewing countless couples, singles, students, religious & medical professionals, school administrators (go read my blog “Dinner with the Decision Makers), and even from my own personal experiences, I know the act of buying condoms is typically NOT an enjoyable one. A few years ago, The South Carolina Campaign to Prevent Teen Pregnancy did a study where they sent teenagers into various stores to buy condoms. They concluded that their experiences were not that bad. Only 11% reported having a bad experience. I, personally, think that is still a pretty BAD number. But this experiment was also conducted in the 21st century. I assume and hope things have gotten better and more accessible over the years. Let’s come back to that in a minute. Let me ask you if this scenario sounds familiar. Should I buy a condom, I have to battle a litany of authoritarian voices going through my head. Like a cartoon, in addition to the “Angel” and “Devil” debating my condom purchase in each ear, the rest of the lineup of condescension and judgment may include all or some of the following: father, mother, siblings, friends, classmates, church youth group peers, teachers, school principle, head minister, youth minister, grandma (Grandma! Get out of my head!), grandpa, the sweet little lady running the cash register, the nun behind me in line… AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHH!!!!!!!!!! And NOW we apparently need to add POLITICIAN to that mix. Does that sound familiar? I know I’m not alone people! So ponder this. After my last article and over the years, I have had several parents recite the rhetoric in favor of ONLY teaching sex ed at home. I am the biggest proponent of having healthy and helpful talks about sex at home. BUT just like Calculus, not all parents are equipped to do that properly. Kids pick up on everything. Your shame, awkwardness, guilt, vulnerability, and confusion become affiliated with those discussions, and the cycle of negative emotions is handed to the next generation. How can we look at young people and say, “You should feel confident and comfortable enough to talk to us (elders/parents/guardians) about sex” when most of the adults I speak with are not? Most adults I have interviewed would rather have a root canal performed through their butt than have that conversation. I know there is a happy and healthy place where parents and educators can meet. I know parents are frightened about relinquishing control of this subject to law makers and the school system. Please educate yourselves on what is going on. You are a big part of this legislative process. Click here and email your senator about passing meaningful sex ed reforms before the session ends! Now, I have to go keep watch for those “terrorists”. :)

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