In 1992-1994 I worked for the Family Planning Association WA as a sexuality educator for a youth peer sex education project called Promoting Adolescent Sexual Health (PASH). I looked it up recently and was pleased to see that it still exists.

My friend, academic and comedian Nelly Thomas, has more recently been performing a show called The Condom Dialogues, which uses comedy as a way to communicate a strong sexual health message.

When read the January 9 Age article What happened to safe sex? by VicHealth CEO Rob Moodie, my ongoing interest in this subject prompted me to write about the issue of sexual health here.

I agree with Moodie that the rate of abortions in Australia is unnecessarily high. This is because surgical abortion is used as a form of contraception. To put it objectively, this is incredibly inefficient. I think abortion should be completely legal, but given the variety of contraceptive choices and the extent of sexual health information available, it should be less common, simply because it is complicated, expensive and inconvenient. Surgery entails the risk of infection and other complications. Unnecessary surgery is unnecessary risk.

I also agree with Moodie, based on my own experience, that sexual education for young people is fundamentally inadequate. They need more facts and concepts, but they also need social skills – how to negotiate consent for different acts, how to define limits, and confirmation that it is natural to enjoy being a sexual person.

The failure of both men and women to use contraception is a monumental stupidity. Sex is primarily a recreational activity that is enjoyed more than it is thought about. Sex can have serious consequences.

As a man who does take responsibility for contraception, I feel derision towards men who don’t. Their whinging about being tricked into fatherhood is pathetic – their behaviour is dumb and insensitive.

Women are sometimes no better. I have met women who are willing to have unsafe sex, in terms of contraception and sexually transmitted infections. Their indifference to their own wellbeing is totally incomprehensible to me. Women make complete sense when they criticise men who don’t take responsibility for contraception.

A study found that 65% of women surveyed want men to play a greater role in choosing a method of contraception, and 75% want men to play a greater role in ensuring contraception is always used.

I would like to read a critique of why women also don’t take responsibility for contraception, because I don’t understand it.

Women stand to suffer greater losses from terminating unwanted pregancies or having unwanted children than men. Logically, that should entail a greater sense of self-preservation and should result in women acting in their best interests – by refusing to have sex with men who won’t use condoms or engage in a contraception plan for the relationship. That this often doesn’t happen is perplexing.

A further unfortunate complication is the role of Catholic fascists in the provision of health care in Australia. While proactive experts like Moodie are trying to develop beneficial public health strategies, Catholic health organisations are buying private hospitals and competing for government contracts to run public hospital services. Once they gain control, they shut down services they don’t like, including contraception, abortion, IVF and support for rape victims.

A January 11 report indicates that Catholic controlled hospitals are refusing to refer women rape victims to rape crisis centres that would recommend the morning after pill to the women. Supplying emergency contraception means that the victims do not have to suffer the trauma of a pregnancy from their assault. However, the Catholics care only about their medieval agenda, not about the women’s suffering. This could be happening in the 21 public hospitals controlled by Catholics – paid for by federal government tax income and Medicare. This is inhuman and a political and ethical travesty.

I would like to see every man (and the Catholic church is an extremely patriarchal institution) involved in formulating this policy to be savagely anally raped and then denied access to health services. They need to experience the consequences of their decisions, and this is the closest equivalent I can think of. I want them all to experience incredible pain and significant unnecessary suffering. They believe in unnecessary suffering and they should live their beliefs.

playing safe in a dangerous world

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