Monday, September 11, 2006

Discussing the Video

There have been some really interesting email discussions going on, among people reacting to the condom video. I'm going to cut and paste some choice comments out of the discussions here, so you can get a little bit of the feel of it.
This video implies that sex is a one-person activity. There is no mention of a partner. None.

Especially a female partner.

From one perspective it appears that the video has been produced to show a guy how to put a condom on another guy. While that does have some education value, some of us have never really been in the position of needing to do that. And if the classroom is half girls, you wonder, what are they getting out of this?

At worst, it shows a guy how to put on his own condom, which is useful, but ... is there another person with him? What're they doing? Can't they help? Do they have anything at all to do with all this?

It's not a joke. It's something really strange in this video: Lone Guy Sex.

Ah, somebody caught something subtle and important.
The statement "Condom use may decrease, but does not eliminate..." the word MAY does not belong there. It implies that the question of risk reduction is still up in the air. The narration should state that condoms do reduce risk and that the level of reduction is a direct result of the how correctly and consistently condoms are used.

Yes, I saw a study once that showed that even using it wrong, even if the thing breaks, it still obstructs the passage of some semen and germs, at least a little bit. Even a broken condom is better than nothing. So it's not that it may decrease the risk of something -- it will decrease the risk.
The message that a fresh condom should be used before every sex (oral, anal, or vaginal) act is not strong enough. The message that the condom should be applied before the first genital contact is not strong enough.

I agree -- this is the kind of information I think needs to be there.
The video does not advise the viewer to discard the condom if it has been mistakenly applied inside out.

Exactly. Another one of those pieces of information. This one really needs to be there, especially since it's so easy to say, it's not obvious, and I can't think of any way to misconstrue the statement as something lascivious.
The video does not tell the viewer to turn away from his partner before removing the condom.

The video does not advise the viewer to wipe away remaining semen after removing the condom.

The FDA actually has a web site that has a whole list of things like these. As far as I'm concerned, the whole list should be in the video. The thing we're trying to do is to teach students how to use the condom effectively, not just how to roll it on and peel it off, but what are the things you need to do, and not do.

Because not all of it is obvious.

Here's a nice comment that somebody made:
The video states that more information MAY be available in class. As a parent, I say that more information had better be available in class. Look, if the teachers have to add a unit in which they go over all of the information missing in this video, let's ditch the video and have the teachers do the demonstration themselves.

Then somebody else came back with this comment, which I thought was correct and also kind of fun:
As for me, the "video"(more like a bad power point) is boring, unclear(does anyone think a teenager knows water based from oil based lubricants-adults don't!) and not very helpful. It has been years since I used a condom - but this video wouldn't do much to teach me if I had to do it again. I mean gosh- we don't want to be graphic(oh, noooooo)- but didn't the old video say -never use your teeth to open a condom- because I know I did(of course, this was only within the confines of a monogamous heterosexual marriage- and it was the one time we had sex not for procreation- the other two times produced our two children-god fearing, flag loving, non-authority questioning children). Why did they leave out so much but choose to emphasize that using two condoms isn't better than one? I thought the problem was that kids don't even use one-are so many of them using two or more???

Yes, several good points there. The video tells students not to use an oil-based lubricant, but who knows what that means, really? OK, I know Vaseline is oil-based and K-Y is water-based. Are those the only two lubricants in the world? And do teenagers know the difference? I doubt it.

And, sorry, but most guys are going to use their teeth to tear open that package, unless you explicitly point out to them that they can tear the condom that way. It's easy enough to mention, and it should be mentioned.

Here was an interesting message:
Last night ... my husband and I watched the video together. He is furious about the boring affect of the video; he thinks it will make students less likely to use condoms ...

What I don't agree with is any dumbing-down or skating over actual information. If they want to de-sensationalize the context, then I want them to be right up front about the content.

There is a real problem with the style of the video, which has upset a lot of people, and there are real problems with the content, which is very sparse. I hope the citizens committee will be discussing both these aspects of it.

Now, here's a good idea that MCPS will never approve!
I think that the on-going video dramas are good evidence that the teachers should be doing the demonstration in class and the KIDS should be putting condoms on those icky models. They should be giggling about it and horsing around and "getting over it" so that when the time comes to have a conversation about condoms with a sex partner, they don't back down.

You know that's true. But because the holier-than-thou critics have made this such a polarized issue, you know it will never happen.

One person who used to TA a college sex-ed class noted:
One interesting thing, most of our students said they knew how to use condoms, but most of them failed the written quiz given at the beginning of the class, before the demonstration.

The point being: we need to make these lessons very clear, and very informative. People think they know what they're doing, but they don't.

Somebody else asked about the oil-based / water-based thing:
You'd think people would know that PETROLEUM jelly is OIL based, wouldn't you? but people don't. What about hand-cream, if that's what you have sitting by the bed. Is that oil-based or water-based?

OK -- do you know the answer to that one?

And then another one of those points was mentioned:
What about saying, "Always use a condom even if your girlfriend is on the pill or has put in her diaphragm."?

This next suggestion is another one of those that you just know MCPS would never permit:
What about telling girls that sex is less messy when guys use condoms?

I am finding it interesting, just hearing these suggestions and knowing that some of them have zero probability of getting into any class. And why? It's not that it's inaccurate or unhelpful information. It's because of our society's schizoid view of sex, the simultaneous phobia/obsession that makes the topic so insanely hard to talk rationally about.

Girls: it's less messy if he wears a condom.

Hmm, here's one I hadn't thought of:
What about telling guys that orgasms do feel good with condoms, and that furthermore, the small diminution of sensation actually lets you have sex a bit longer?

Uh, yeah, that's another one we won't be hearing in Montgomery County health classes.

This one, maybe:
What about saying that if the person who wants to have sex with you doesn't want to use a condom, then that person doesn't have enough
self-respect or respect for you to be that close to you? The answer to "If you really loved me you'd say yes," is "If YOU really loved ME you wouldn't suggest it."

That one should actually be part of the curriculum.

But again, this is part of the strange denial of girls' participation in any of this. Young women should take control of their sex lives, you hate to think they'll just wait under the covers until he's ready, and then remain passive until he's "done." But this curriculum so far leaves them out of it entirely.

Or as one person emailed:
what about telling girls anything!!! this video is only aimed at boys, from what I see. gee, I wonder why.

It sounds like they think they know the answer to question. I don't. I wonder why, too.

Here was a more poetic comment:
The penis is wooden, as is the video. What has changed is that the original video implied that sex was ok and natural, and this video implies that sex is dangerous. that is a huge difference, and ... I would opt out. The take-away is that sex is scary, dangerous, and bad... Better to not have a video at all, in my opinion. I can show my kid a condom at home and teach him that sex is natural, and fun at the right age, and with the right partner.

A secondary take-away ... is that men are in charge of sex, and that girls should have no say in their reproductive health. If I had a daughter, no way would I let her see this video.

Facinating problem here. Can you imagine if anyone in this debate -- a teacher, a parent, a doctor, a lawyer -- actually came out and said that sex is a good thing? Imagine if someone pointed out that it is a pleasurable act, and something that people really enjoy doing. Man, that would be so unacceptable.

Is that weird, or what?

Finally, someone wrote:
I am not objecting to the 'boring' I don't really care about that. I am objecting to the real messages--1. men are in charge of sex, and 2. sex is dangerous and bad...

Regarding this last comment, I have some opinions.

First of all, I really doubt that MCPS staff met and decided to convey the principle that sex is a guy-thing. I do think they made the narrator a male because of criticisms about the cute girl in the previous video, and that they made a decision not to include any female persons at all on that basis. The effect though, is ... well, it is pure sexism of the worst kind. See how that happens?

I would be sure that somebody decided to cut off the actor's head -- that could not have happened by accident. And why would they have done that? To make the video impersonal. Not necessarily to portray sex as an impersonal act, but to make a video where they could not be criticized for glamorizing teen sex. But the effect, of course, is that it portrays sex as an impersonal act. It's something guys do to girls, not something girls participate in. And guys don't do it as people, they do it as faceless, truncated beings. I doubt that anyone who sees this video will miss that point. I don't believe that was the intent of the people who developed it, but that is the effect.

I agree with this last person, boring isn't necessarily bad. I think kids'll watch the video, even if it's boring, because it's about sex, which is not boring. But the other messages are potentially dangerous. There needs to be a little personality, a little respect between partners, faces with expressions. And some background music would be nice, too.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

It's a funny world. Last week, was portraying CRC as immoral and illegal for posting the video on its website. Now, they're getting tons of e-mail from their supporters who have all seen it and agree that it needs to be jazzed up.

September 12, 2006 8:46 AM  
Blogger JimK said...

Anon, don't forget, we were allowed to share the link with members of our organizations. We were asked not to share it with the public.


September 12, 2006 8:49 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Did they use the term "members" or the term "constituents"?

September 12, 2006 10:11 AM  

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