I read a lot of romance and erotica novels. And, I noticed from the very first contemporary novels that read that there were a lot of condoms in the novels employed during intercourse. Then there’s a lot of oral, and a lot of swallowing. Yes, I said “swallowing.” Sometimes, condoms are not used in anal intercourse. In historical romance it is very rare to read about protecting against STDs. I have often wondered how it is that all the men in books could visit prostitutes and have mistresses and weren’t all afflicted with syphilis or gonorrhea. But that’s neither here nor there for today’s discussion, today I want to talk about safe sex in books and what the author and publisher should be responsible for.
Often a few weeks after the couple in a book starts dating exclusively they swear they have other birth control and they have been tested and so they are safe. I have actually read a couple doing this the first time they have sex.
In all the books I have read there has only been one that used a condom for all sexual activity.
Author Maya Rodale talks about it on her web site:
One interesting tidbit is that novels have the ability to increase positive attitudes towards safer sex and intent to use condoms. The fact that they’re able to change attitudes and intent is really huge and demonstrates that they may have a lot of influence, maybe more than we give them credit for.
If they can positively influence condom use, it seems like they may influence how people use them as well. I haven’t dated since forever and a day but it must be very difficult to broach all these topics with a sexual partner. And, since characters in books usually seem to have a great deal of trouble communicating about almost anything, it’s hard to imagine them communicating about the most delicate of topics.
I did a little research because I recalled that all body fluids can transmit disease. Here is what one government agency says:
Use protection for all kinds of sexual contact. Remember that you don’t only get HIV from penile-vaginal sex. Use a condom during oral sex and during anal sex. Dental dams also can be used to help lower your risk as well as your partner’s risk of getting HIV during oral-vaginal or oral-anal sex.
So, while oral with a condom may not be a sexy to read about as oral without one, it isn’t as safe.
So why go with the pretense of using a condom for one and not the other?
And, is it the author’s responsibility to show safe sex at all?
Is the author irresponsible if she shows intercourse with a condom but oral or anal without?
Should publishers mandate safe sex in their books?
Here are some links to sites with information about safe sex: