disobedia : editorial
how well do you know the person you are f***ing?
[cautionary tales about doing the nasty]
issue 4.3 | winter 1999-2000
Welcome to the battlefield...but do not expect to find canons and tanks. Do not expect to see fiery smoke-filled fields or to hear artillery breaking the jungle silence. This fight usually starts with a kiss -- and ends with your life.
Funny how things can become so twisted. What is sex supposed to be about? The instinctual drives are so strong, the emotions so clouding, that the gravity of the act is the last thing on the minds of so many when they seek to "do the deed."
What a messy situation. A world full of people with powerful urges to have intercourse -- often doing so under conditions where either they are unwilling or unmotivated to determine the outcome or they are inhibited by others from determining the outcome. And by outcome, I mean their own health and safety, the emotional impact on themselves and others, and the potential to create a child. How ironic that most of the people having sex -- straight, gay or otherwise -- are unprepared, unwilling or unable to handle the outcome when it is not favorable.
We live in a less-than-ideal world. I take that back: we live in hell. In a different world, you could have sex and not be at risk of contracting disease and death. In a different world, it would be expected of you to plan if and when to have a child, and you would do so under conditions you found agreeable or promising. In a different world, with the absence of control over your desire to copulate, you could at least comfortably and safely control the essence of your bodily function...by not ovulating or by not producing sperm in your ejaculate. In this world, however, there seems to be little planning, and effective methods of "protection" are either inconvenient and costly, affect pleasure and spontaneity, or could endanger your health. They can usually be described as merely "better than nothing."
Some simply propose abstinence, but who on earth really thinks that's a realistic solution? That's like suggesting that people never eat because they run the risk of becoming overweight or that people never go to bed because they might accidentally sleep through the alarm in the morning. The urges are very strong and they are very natural. Could you -- should you -- go without what your body needs and wants?
So then it becomes an awful lot like having a medical condition where your life could be ruined if you get rained on, but there is no way you can avoid going outdoors, so you have to carry an umbrella and galoshes every single day because there's always some chance of rain, and however remote that chance might be, you must never be unprepared. I suppose we can all try to get into the habit, right? The trouble is: how many people truly have the fear, the discipline and the foresight? Do you?
Most people get tired and become lax. They really don't want to talk about it. Hell, they don't want to even think about it until they get there, but by then it's too late. There's no time to think about it once the organs have taken over. Oh sure, of course there is some chance that you can turn the sled back around before you slide right over the precipice edge, but gravity is strong, isn't it.
So many people taking their chances. So many people overcome with the desire to have it feel good and to not stop. So many people awkwardly caught in a place where they are too desperate, too ashamed, or too unempowered to voice their real feelings and concerns-- and so they engage in silence. Others finding it easier to assume that their partner is taking the responsibility to protect them, whether they have evidence of that or not. And still others with a partner who perhaps offers, assures, or promises to take on the responsibility but who is stupid or sloppy -- or worse, who is lying. Can you trust your lover? Are you clear-headed enough, are you objective enough to ask the question: how well do I know the person I am about to fuck? How long have you known this person, and even if you spent a lifetime with them, can you assume that you could predict and trust them well enough to place your very life in their hands? Sometimes, the person does not even know he or she has a disease. Sometimes, the person doesn't care.
Between the sheets, there lies danger, and all the romance in the world will not protect you. It saddens me to advise that if you want to be safe, it may not be wise to trust your lover or your spouse. And consequently, you should not be offended if they in turn do not trust you. Furthermore, you can complain all you want about the methods, but unlike the past, at least you have some options for control and safety. Though there remains the temptation to avoid thinking in advance, to make excuses, or simply to continue resting in denial, you must take it upon yourself to be prepared for sexual encounters, to protect yourself, to take advantage of these options however imperfect they are. And accordingly, you should not think it presumptuous that your lover or spouse do the same. You are foolish if you think you can resist your desire, and likewise you are foolish if you arrive unprepared and hope that everything will turn out okay. You cannot wing it. You must accept responsibility for yourself. You must find foresight, discipline, and fear. No joke. To think otherwise is to invite pain, illness, pregnancy or death unto yourself.
Before I continue, I would like to invite any pro-life fanatics to stop reading and go make some toast. They will have a fit if they find out that I believe a woman has rights over her body and that she can choose to preempt the supposed rights of her unborn fetus. I would also like to ask any militant feminists to stop reading and go make some toast also. They will surely break out into seizures if they discovered that I believe men have rights, too. I fear to think how much toast there will be versus how many readers will continue on, but I persist.
The idea that in this day and age, a new life can be created in the bosom of ignorance and/or unpreparedness, to me, is disturbing. I must state for the record that on this polluted, overpopulated, dying planet, I cannot believe there are people who still believe that humans should be fruitful and multiply. Human reproduction is out of control, jeopardizing the quality of life for this and future generations. It amazes me the sheer number of people still having "accidents" -- not from failed birth control but from sheer lack of precaution. What amazes me even more, however, are the people who live in circles where power and information are accessible, where they are urged and coached to think before they act, and still -- still these morons are making messes left and right.
If only the mistakes people made affected themselves alone. It would be so much simpler if you were the only one who would reap what you sowed. You could be warned but if you did not listen, then the burden would be solely on you and there would be no pity for you. Unfortunately, conceiving a child is not such a mistake. Even when a person wants a child, it may not always be wise to have one. And if you do not want one but suddenly find you have one, it can really screw up your life...and the life of the child you have inadvertently created.
I cannot reiterate enough for those who are not aiming to have a child just yet, how important it is that you know your sexual partner. Their views, their attitude, their true desires and their consequent actions will not only determine the odds of pregnancy but also what will happen to you, your life and your rights in the event of pregnancy. One of the strange tragedies of an unexpected pregnancy is the manipulation and coercion that go on in the name of owning up to the mistake or straightening things out.
If you do not want a child, you should not only take every precaution to protect yourself from getting trapped in an undesired situation, but you must also make your position clear to your partner. You must understand, though, that by taking such a position with a partner who wants a child, you run the risk of losing the invitation to sex and possibly losing the relationship altogether. These are losses you must be willing to accept in order to avoid pregnancy. You have no right to proceed under false pretenses.
Similarly, if you are hoping for a child, you ought not have sex with someone who does not want a child. If you do, you must accept that you cannot get what you want. You have no right to achieve your ends through trickery. If your desire for a child is that strong, you should be seeking an entirely willing partner -- not just one willing to engage in sex, but one who is also willing to conceive and raise a child with you.
These difficult conversations must take place before intercourse...and by "before," I mean well before -- I don't mean after you've already taken your clothes off but just before you stick it in. If you do not know your partner well, or if you are making assumptions about where your partner stands on the issue, you might end up surprised, disappointed or destroyed later on.
Unfortunately, many sexually active heterosexuals will not get to the conversation until it is too late. Also unfortunate are the accidents that will happen to people who have been forthright and have taken precautions but whose methods failed. There will be many who can justify their unwilling participation in bringing a life into this world, thinking they are doing the right thing. Most of them will discover they've made a mess of both their own life and the life of their innocent child. If you do not want the child or if you are not ready, you should not go along with it. You are doing both yourself and the child a disservice. Contrary to popular folklore, it does not usually work out for the best in the end; frequently the result is a handful of broken people with broken lives and broken dreams.
Nonetheless, should you end up an unwitting or unwilling participant in the conception of a child, I believe each party still has certain rights, obligations and responsibilities once the seed has been planted. The following are some frank and unsightly guidelines -- and I must warn the remaining readers, if you don't agree with me, you can also go make toast.
CASE #1: NOBODY WANTS IT. The man and the woman may both agree that they do not want to become parents, but that doesn't make the baby go away. A choice between abortion or adoption must be made. In addition, a decision must be made about who will foot the bill. If both parties agree, then at least the mess can resolve without an ugly dispute. And unless one person is feeling generous, the financial responsibility should be split evenly.
If for whatever reason the man feels more comfortable with adoption, but the woman prefers to abort the child, since it is the woman's body, the woman should have the right to do whatever she wishes. The man is only entitled to suggest to her that she carry the child to term and give it away, but ultimately he should have no final say. In such a case, though, he should not be obliged to pay for any part of an abortion if he is against it. While some would argue that the fetus is a living person with rights but who is unable to protect itself, the reality is that the fetus is also a foreign object hijacking the woman's body against her will. If you woke up one day and suddenly found a dying old man tethered to your belly via an intravenous catheter, and doctors told you that you would have to stay bedridden for nine months while this man shared your kidneys with you or he would die, should that old man's rights supercede yours?
On the other hand, if the woman feels more comfortable with adoption and the man prefers that she abort the child, again it is solely the right of the woman to make the decision. The man is entitled to ask her to abort the child and should be relinquished from paying the cost of adoption if that is not his wish, but that is where his rights end. Some men may not wish their progeny to exist at all or to be raised by others, or perhaps they fear the offspring might come back to haunt them. Still, a man must understand his risk when he engages in intercourse: once he permits his sperm to spill into her, it is no longer his. Graphically put, if you offer someone an apple and they eat it, if you later do not like how they shit it out, you cannot ask them to give that apple back afterwards; it's been consumed.
CASE #2: SHE WANTS IT; HE DOES NOT. Unless a man verbally expressed the desire to become a father or made a promise to act as a one, whether or not he took any precautions, he owes the woman nothing. And if a man actually expressed that he did not wish to become a father, then he definitely owes her nothing. As long as he does not care what happens to his sperm, he really has nothing else to lose. A woman must understand that though she may not like it, since it is her body that is in danger of being impregnated, the duty of protecting herself falls on her foremostly.
If the woman becomes pregnant and she wants the baby, she most definitely has the right to keep the baby. And, of course, she may ask the man to marry her, to finance the child and/or to fulfill the emotional role of father. The man, however, has no obligation to do any of these things if he does not wish to do so. A woman is only entitled to his sperm and to the baby -- not to getting a man who will pay for and raise her child. If she is looking for a father for her child, she should only have sex with a man who is looking to achieve the same ends or a man who agrees in advance that if an accident should happen he would rise to the occasion. If a man was never looking to become a father, she should not be able to force him into fatherhood -- she has no right to blackmail him into the caring for or paying for a child. When she consented to unprotected sex, then she automatically accepted the sole responsibility for whatever might grow inside her as a result, and the man, by engaging in sex with her, automatically relinquished his rights to his sperm. He deposited it inside her so it became hers. She can do with his sperm whatever she likes, including creating and keeping a baby. If he does not like that, that's too bad. He should have thought of that in advance and should have declined to have unprotected sex with her.
CASE #3: HE WANTS IT; SHE DOES NOT. I have to admit I don't think this scenario is as common, but it does exist. Since it is not his body, he cannot make the choice; but since it is his offspring, it would be nice if he had some recourse. Sadly, he does not. Unless a woman verbally expressed the desire to join the man in having and raising a child together or expressed an acceptance to conceive a child and give it up to the man, she really owes the man nothing. The man is entitled to ask that she marry him or to offer to play the emotional and financial role of a father. The man is also entitled to ask that she carry the child to term and give the child to him, rather than her aborting the child. In the end, however, it is the woman's decision to abort the child, to give the child away, or to keep the child (whether or not she accepts the father in any capacity).
There's one exception. If she does not wish to abort the child or keep the child, and if the biological father wants the child and is capable of caring for the child, she should then be required to give the child to him. She cannot deny him his child when she plans to give it away. Also, in such case, she cannot then change her mind later on; she has no right to later disrupt the life of the child and the father if she abandons her child to him.
CASE #4: RAPE. If a man has sex with a woman without her consent or without her knowledge, then the man must be obligated to pay for anything associated with that child in the event of pregnancy. This encompasses an abortion, an adoption, or the entire childhood if she decides to keep the baby. In such a case, the woman has the right to make the choice, and she also maintains the right to deny him any other role as the father besides the financial one. The difficulty comes in proving the violation against the woman, about which I have no easy answers.
CASE #5: HE CHANGES HIS MIND/SHE CHANGES HER MIND. When I die, I can't change my mind and be alive again. That's just the way life is. Naturally, people will struggle to develop technologies for reversing damage or reverting things to their original form. Certainly it would be beautiful if we could always undo, forgive and forget. The truth is you cannot have your life to do over again, and sometimes when something is given or taken, it's permanent. You can fight it all you like...and sometimes you can win the battle. Hey, sometimes the victory even enriches the life of another as well as your own. But you cannot expect a victory.
I am tired of watching people go through life thinking all their choices can be undone, thinking they are entitled to change their minds whenever it suits them. Here's the way I see it, plain and simple. Deciding to keep a child, give it away, or turn your back on it is as permanent as aborting it. If you back out of your role as a father or mother, do not think that you have the right to come back later. I am not saying that you should not be allowed to change your mind, nor am I saying that after doing so, others would not be willing or even delighted to accommodate you. I'm simply saying that just because you've changed your mind, it does not follow that others must or will honor your newfound desires. So listen carefully! If you give away your child, you cannot return later and take it back. Sorry. And if you turn your back on your child, you cannot return later, be forgiven and assume a role that was once your right. Furthermore, once you commit to the role of mother or father, you are signing on for the entire life of the child. It's a covenant that must be kept, and a promise like that cannot be retracted (particularly when life gets difficult for you) so it should not be made lightly. Once you enter and your child is born, if you try to back out, you should be held accountable.
So, the next time you feel butterflies in your stomach because you think you are in love, the next time you feel the lusty flame of desire burning a hole right through you, take a deep breath and stop. Think -- even if it's only for one moment. You know you want to get naked with them, but how well do you know them? Proceed...but with caution. The conversation you have over dinner could be the one that saves your life and your future.
Are you afraid that the topic of venereal diseases and family planning is embarrassing, unromantic or presumptuous? Are you afraid that the subject will scare off this person you want so badly? Before you decide that you cannot or should not bring it up, perhaps you should first ask yourself one simple question: is this person really worth dying for?
eristikös launched exsanguinate online in April 1996
How well do you know the person you are f***ing? copyright © 1999 eristikös multi.media
this page design copyright © 1999 eristikös multi.media