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August 30, 2004



I'm uncomfortable with condoms in general-They give a false sense of security for a start, and a false sense of responsibility. It's a little like a man saying, after he gets a woman pregnant: "But I paid for the abortion". It's an anaesthetic which gives the illusion of responsibility (without the substance) and an excuse to avoid thinking about the real harm which promiscuity and pre-marital sex can do. And I do agree with them that the attraction of porn is the illusion that it is spontaneous and natural-You have written yourself about that.


I think what they're getting at is that people in porn movies seem to have sex without fear, hesitation or hedging. (At least, unless we're talking about violent porn, which apparently we aren't.) In real life, you don't feel that uninhibited around somebody unless you know and trust them (or are under the influence of something), so the fantasy is that you get the thrill of that kind of openness without any of the worries. Condoms signal fear, and thus mess up the fantasy.


I agree with elements of what you both are saying, but the overwhelming popularity of condoms as a method of artificial contraception suggests that they don't have a solely negative meaning. To put it academic language, condoms are "dual signifiers" to which we can ascribe a variety of meanings.

David Morrison

Hugo, you're comment seems to make the assumption that the mere popularity of artificial contraception makes it positive meaning. I would posit the popularity of condoms, or of any contraception, merely indicates the accuracy of W.C.Fields observation that there is "one born every minute."


Here's where religious and secular language lead to some serious divides. Religious language presumes that any sexual relation outside of heterosexual marriage is defective, and whether it is "protected" or "unprotected" by a condom makes no difference. Sin is sin is sin is sin.

Secular language doesn't let the best be the enemy of the good. Even if we assume that the "best" is sex with the practice of Natural Family Planning by a husband and a wife who are open to children, surely even the most entrenched conservative would prefer that two fornicators use a condom rather than have unprotected sex that is likely to lead to transmission of STDs and/or an abortion...

Or am I forcing a choice on conservatives that they don't want forced?


Yep. The Rev. Mr. Barclay made this argument in "Ethics in a Permissive Society", and I agree with it in so far as if a couple were absolutely determined to fornicate, then giving them birth control would only be sensible. Take the lesser evil over the greater one, but both are evil. But I don't think that anyone is absolutely determined to fornicate, insofar as they have only shouted down their consciences for long enough to ignore them. I think the "People will do it anyway" argument is weak and irrelevant to whether something is moral or not-I have the same position when people use it to justify the legalisation of drugs, the lowering of the drinking age, and condom distribution in schools. Bad things happen "anyway" every single day. It doesn't mean we should like them, tolerate them or promote them. Likewise, behind the presumption that people will "have sex anyway" is usually a mind-set that says either self-control is impossible (Not true) or not having sex is repressive and abnormal (Also not true). It's a nasty secular mindset, and the more I hear it, the more prophetic "Humanae Vitae" seems to me-And I'm as Protestant as you can get.


Perhaps it's my defective theology again, John, but I don't see it as starkly as you do.

Theological faithfulness, to me, has always been like the game of horseshoes. Ideally, you want to hit a "ringer" every time. But if you can't do that, you score points by being close. It is closer to the mark to have protected fornication than unprotected fornication. From a traditional perspective, all sex outside of heterosexual marriage is defective -- but surely, surely, there are degrees of defectiveness.

I think we're more in agreement here than not.


I honestly think it's simpler than that.

1. Porn is overwhelmingly consumed by men.

2. Men don't like condoms because they reduce the physical sensations of sex.

3. Therefore, they do not want to see anyting that suggests the sex they are watching is other than 100% perfect, wonderful, and mind-blowing.

I'd also note that there is no scientific, unbiased survey showing porn viewers will stop buying anything that includes condoms. It sounds more like the producer in question simply doesn't want to deal with it because *he* doesn't like condoms.

The really sad part is that a law would obviate the problem. Nobody wants to be the first, so to speak, but a law would require everyone to use condoms--and then people buying/renting pornography will have no choice but to deal.

They give a false sense of security for a start, and a false sense of responsibility.

Isn't that like saying seatbelts are a bad idea because they'll just encourage people to drive recklessly?


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