Earlier in the week our class was assigned to read “Safe-Sex Lies” by Meghan Daum, and my first impression was mild interest. I generally enjoy reading stories that go against society’s conventions because it instigates and fuels some class arguments pertaining to the story we read. I mean I would rather listen to people arguing, no matter how illogical, than listen to everyone trying to figure out the author’s hidden meaning which doesn’t ever really exist. Anyways, I come from the same safe sex background as many of my peers: a few days in high and middle school where my peers and I learn about the wonderful world of goneria, herpes, and AIDs. I was always under the impression that these diseases are legitimate and probably do exist, but there no realistic chance that I would meet someone with any of these diseases.
Despite what initial excitement I felt reading the title of the essay before reading the story dissipated into thin air as I began reading Daum’s unconventional essay. I did enjoy reading seeing that she strongly discerns the presses advocating safe-sex and all the propaganda they jam into the youth’s throats, but her reasoning was a little strange. For example, Daum disagrees with people trying to scare the masses in having un-safe sex, without a condom, because of the anxiety that is felt the days after. Despite her knowledge of how virtually no one of her demographic area will contract a sexually transmitted disease, Daum worries constantly about whether or not she has contracted one since her last experience in un-safe sex. To make matters worse, the blames all of her anxiety on the government and the press’s propaganda, because she reasons that everyone has been scared into having un-safe sex when in actuality having un-safe sex or safe sex or sex poses no threat.
This is where I believe Daum is beginning to exaggerate some. Personally, I don’t think it is reasonable to assume that the majority of sexually active people are worrying about whether or not they have contracted a STD every day and night. From my experience, whenever we were shown a picture in sexual education of the horrific symptoms of goneria or the gross illustrations of herpes, many of my peers would share their disgusted looks while others would let out an “Ewwww”, but no one was really moved by the whole endeavor. We simply brushed the imagery off and carried on with our lives never questioning the possibility of having sex before marriage. Daum also adds the whole bit about how in a magazine there were displayed people of all races and colors united and the title was something about AIDs. The magazine obviously implied that the depicted people had contracted the deadly disease, but there was no actual proof. Surprisingly, Daum calls the agency to discover that these are actually all just paid actors who have never contracted the virus. I will admit that this is an interesting example of propaganda, but the true effectiveness is lacking. Honestly, when I am in my doctor’s office counting the hours and I decide to pick up a magazine and the title flashes “AIDs: The Silent Killer” and there are depicted a man and woman of every race known to man holding hands and singing “kumbaya, my lord”, I will probably let out an ironic laugh and begin to flip through the pages in search for a crossword.