Tuesday, 7 August 2007

The coy of sex

We like to think we're so sexually liberated nowadays, happy to talk about anything without a murmur. Gone is the old prudery of our strait-laced parents.

Well, not quite. A new report says over a third of Britons find talking with a new partner about condoms so embarrassing it puts them off using one. And over 40 per cent think mentioning them is a sexual turn-off.

The Family Planning Association, which did the research, is surprised at this reticence in the midst of a 'highly sexualised society'. It's also surprised that the young are just as inhibited as the old.

But there's a world of difference between the public flaunting of sex, with salacious stories and images in newspapers and on TV screens, and people's private lives, where dealing with anything outside the romantic norm of spontaneous orgasmic bliss can be perplexing and awkward.

Who wants to discuss their imperfect bodies or sexual infections or impotence? We feel like the party pooper at the sparkling soiree, sabotaging something precious. Easier just to get on with it, swallow our doubts and hope for the best.

We think that if we mention too many negatives, it might even frighten the other person away and snuff out the relationship before it started. Even if we feel bold enough to handle the stumbling blocks, can our partner do the same?

This sexual coyness is something we have to solve though. Among other things, it's feeding the rapid spread of sexual infections which blight so many lives. That lingering stiff upper lip needs to be loosened fast.


  1. I thought sex ed drilled the necessity of condoms from an early age and that it was a no-brainer today. When I was single I bought them to have on hand.
    Sexual imagery is everywhere today but not enough education I suppose to dispell the shame.

  2. Well Medbh sex education in the UK is still pretty sparse because of the bizarre idea that it only encourages promiscuity and teenage mums. The contrary evidence from other countries just doesn't penetrate the thick layers of prejudice. Of course in reality it's precisely the lack of sex education that leads to pregnancy myths, teenage mums, sexual shame and all the rest.

  3. I thought it was only the U.S. who thought that education made people act stupidly. I was reading Sam Harris' "Letter to a Christian Nation" yesterday and he said that the lack of sex ed in the states is the reason that the gonorrhea rate is 70 times higher for teens in the U.S. vs. EU rates. Same thing with the cervical cancer vaccination. Parents in the U.S. would rather see their daughters get cancer and die than allow them the opportunity to have sex without consequences.

  4. I wish there was a way of getting everyone in the country into the Big Brother diary room, one by one and hooked up to lie detectors, and getting them to give their honest opinion about all manner of Stuff. Then collate the results and produce brand spanking new policies on everything from scratch.

  5. Isn't it extraordinary though, this reticence amongst potential sexual partners. I know the truth comes out amongst pals (read gfs)when discussing some of these issues. Get this. When some of my gfs asked about condoms or provided them in a new reelationship, sex was withheld by the male. Off in a 'uff 'e went or cursed them or accused them of being STD-addled - well you get the rest. And we are talking middle-aged people here. Not teens.
    Apparently us innocent old geezers have lived virginal lives and let the whole free sex, drugs and rock 'n roll era slide right by our noses. Puhleese......

  6. Medbh - I can believe it! But even so, 70 per cent higher, Jesus. I just don't understand how parents can be that irresponsible for the sake of some fixed idea about the morality of sex education.

    Bel - the mind boggles. 100 per cent honesty about everything, that would certainly bring a few surprises! But yes, so many policies are based on politicians' preconceptions rather than hard and maybe awkward facts.

    www - I like to think that sort of blatant obstinacy and blindness by men is waning, then something like your gfs' experience pulls me up with a jolt. I think some men actually feel it's 'unmasculine' to use a condom - work that one out.

  7. Time for a post, Nick.
    No pressure!

  8. Who is this stroppy female anyway?? Not pulling my weight eh? As it happens, Medbh, in a few minutes' time (except that in Toronto it's the middle of the night, sorry about that....)