Pleasure, pleasure and intimacy are highly effective drivers in younger folks’s sexual resolution making. However they’re hardly ever thought of in the case of methods for decreasing the danger of sexually transmitted infections (STIs) or selling condom use.
Stubbornly excessive charges of STIs within the UK, notably amongst under-25s, exhibit that the plethora of messages and campaigns centered on danger of an infection as the motive force for condom use have didn’t resonate with younger folks. Or extra precisely, with all younger folks, on a regular basis. It’s time to transfer away from constructing messages round intercourse as a danger of an infection or being pregnant, and as a substitute to develop campaigns round intercourse as pleasure, intimacy and pleasure.
Some latest follow and analysis is beginning to put the pleasure agenda within the foreground of sexual well being. For instance, latest empirical analysis in the US has highlighted how younger folks’s motivation to hunt pleasure was crucial issue behind their lack of condom use. This precedence means pleasure is an element we will’t afford to neglect.
For younger males, intercourse can be pivotal within the development of their sense of masculinity. Pressures on younger males to be good at intercourse, to take the lead and to take care of and maintain an erection are excessive. Condom use can threaten or undermine these imperatives by putting this efficiency in danger. Younger males worry that the interruption to use a condom might trigger them to lose their erection and make them seem fumbling and not sure. It requires a stage of negotiation and dialogue which they will discover tough and embarrassing and it doesn’t match their conception of intercourse as spontaneous and thrilling.
This mix signifies that, regardless of having the information about its significance, condom use in itself constitutes a extra rapid and important danger to younger males than that of an infection, which is commonly seen as trivial and treatable.
Embracing and looking for to regulate danger is a valued masculine attribute. Consequently, being seen as sexually dangerous and adventurous by rejecting social conformities referring to protected intercourse may also improve masculine standing.
Nonetheless, it’s not solely younger males who’re immune to condom use. Analysis reveals that younger girls even have preferences for condom-less heterosexual intercourse, usually citing condoms’ affect on emotions of intimacy and belief as essential components. And whereas gender stereotypes and masculine expectations imply that this “romantic” rationale is just not sometimes related to or acknowledged by younger males, it doesn’t imply that, within the privateness of an encounter with their companion, the need to be intimate and the pleasure of this closeness is just not additionally privileged by younger males.
Speaking extra about pleasure would allow us to higher promote condom use amongst younger males. It will allow us to discover options to penetrative intercourse, talk about the nitty gritty (reminiscent of tips on how to handle condom use with out fumbling and embarrassment) and problem the preoccupation with intercourse as a efficiency to be mastered.
Placing pleasure and pleasure on the coronary heart of our discussions with younger males supplies us with a coherent, inclusive and significant place to begin from which to speak about intercourse. It brings coverage and interventions alongside the pursuits of younger males relatively than in opposition to them and presents an area by which to handle the issues referring to masculinities that hassle them.
Rachael Eastham receives funding from the ESRC.
Mark Limmer doesn’t work for, seek the advice of, personal shares in or obtain funding from any firm or group that may profit from this text, and has disclosed no related affiliations past their educational appointment.