I pondered over this article for a while and how to write it without sounding slutty (or, for the less presumptive readers, worldly). So I pretty much have to throw caution to the wind and just pray my dad doesn’t read this in a fit of “parent involvement.”
In what has arguably been the most interesting planning session for any issue of the Sundial this semester, I was meeting female editors in my office and throwing around ideas for this issue while reading aloud from the Kama Sutra – which I can assure everyone is not our usual routine.
The idea was broached about the fact that a lot of guys shy away from getting tested for STDs, leaving that – like many unpleasant things in relationships – for the woman to take care of. Nearly all of us identified with this idea, which only showed how common this problem is – and why it should change, especially in a modern age defined by sexual responsibility and equality.
I should clarify that I don’t mean to pigeonhole guys – I’m sure that not all guys are such wusses when it comes to this. The problem is that the guys who would have no problem with being tested for sexually transmitted diseases are the nice ones – those best friends you cry to and fake-flirt with, and pretty much never sleep with. But when sex enters the equation, men seem to assume that the STD testing that women fret over is a “girl problem” – a procedure that has absolutely nothing to do with them.
From a scientific point of view, men are seen as carriers of STDs – and because of this it is way too easy for men to be declared the “cause” of all STDs ever. This is completely not true – safe sex is a joint responsibility between partners, and to a certain extent women are just as guilty of passing on STDs. Studies have revealed that STD symptoms – in both men and women – are sometimes non-existent, and if they go undiscovered, serious health problems could be the unfortunate result. This warning seems to motivate most women I know, but men – unburdened by threats to fertility and, apparently, death – seem to treat STD testing as some bothersome activity that they need to complete in order to have sex with someone new.
I know testing for men can’t be much fun – come on, depending on what you might have or where you have the testing done, you’re looking at something that may be unpleasant. But when the alternative is death – or looking like you don’t care about the sexual health of your partner – isn’t a few seconds of discomfort worth it?
This kind of reasoning seems to work with women, the idea that we don’t want to infect others and don’t want a disease to cause further health problems. Because of the care and importance we place on the idea of testing, we’ve been backed into this idea that having these tests is our responsibility – and no one else’s. This bizarre excuse, sometimes offered by men who are too afraid to take the test, is very socially and medically negligent, and essentially erases the equality women have sought for quite some time. Why are women left to be tested in an uncomfortable procedure while men can sit idly by? Why do most women voluntarily get tested periodically, while one guy friend I have said that he only gets tested after engaging in sexual activities with someone who looks “whorish” and thus infected with every known STD and then some? Women shouldn’t be the only responsible party in a sexual relationship – for true sexual equality, men need to take responsibility and quit acting like frightened children. It’s your life too.