So I was reading this story last night, and the more I think about it, the more ticked off I get.
High school students and college-age adults have been complaining to District officials that the free condoms the city has been offering are not of good enough quality and are too small and that getting them from school nurses is “just like asking grandma or auntie.”
So D.C. officials have decided to stock up on Trojan condoms, including the company’s super-size Magnum variety, and they have begun to authorize teachers or counselors, preferably male, to distribute condoms to students if the teachers complete a 30-minute online training course called “WrapMC” — for Master of Condoms.
Why does this story make me so angry? It’s not because I’m against teenagers using condoms if/when they have sex. Heck, they can use condoms for whatever they like, as long as, you know, they’re not constructing bombs out of them and hijacking planes or something. I admit, however, that I have never been a big fan of giving free condoms to kids. I was never really particularly against it–historically, I’ve had bigger fish to fry–but neither could I muster up the enthusiasm to particularly support it, and this story demonstrates exactly why.
The rationale for distributing free condoms to students is to encourage them to protect themselves against sexually transmitted diseases, especially HIV, if/when they have sex–and conventional wisdom says, “Let’s face it: the kids are going to have sex. No one should have to die because they had sex. Therefore, we should make it as easy as possible for them to have protected sex.” There’s only one problem with this rationale, and it’s this: You can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make it put on a condom.
If there’s anything teenagers are better at than risky behavior, it’s making excuses for their risky behavior. First it was that they had to schlepp all the way to the store to get the condoms, and after all that trouble, you had to pay money for them. WHAT’S UP WITH THAT? So well-meaning grown-ups made the condoms available on school campuses for free, and now what? The condoms aren’t the brand they like, and the people giving them away aren’t cool enough. (Oh, and they’re too small. Of course!)
“We thought making condoms available was a good thing, but we never asked the kids what they wanted,” said D.C. Council member David A. Catania (I-At Large), chairman of the health committee.
Mr. Catania, you don’t have to ask what the kids want because I will tell you. What the kids want is not to use condoms. How is that not abundantly clear to anyone born before yesterday? I believe that there are some poor sexually-active kids out there who simply don’t have any disposable income at all and don’t live anywhere near a Walgreens and who simply must have sex with other people who also can’t afford them and don’t live near a retail drugstore–but the vast majority of sexually-active kids who don’t use condoms are not using them because they just aren’t especially motivated to use them. If you really want to avoid getting pregnant or getting a sexually-transmitted disease, you will use a condom. You will probably even pay for it yourself, much as it might pain you, because it’s actually important to you to protect yourself when you’re having sex.
But if you’re the kind of person with an underdeveloped frontal lobe, who acts impulsively and thinks you’re invulnerable because you’re young and stupid and who cares more about not being embarrassed than about not dying, plus you really just prefer the way sex feels without a condom, no free condom will convince you to have one on your person and use it when the crucial moment arises. The free condoms could be made of gold and distributed by Barack Obama himself, and it would make no difference. That is just how teenagers are.
This is D.C. taxpayer money, so theoretically I should not be so exercised about it, but this isn’t really about money, as far as I’m concerned. This could be some sexy private philanthropist deciding to donate free condoms to teenagers, and I would still disapprove because I really think this is bad for kids’ character development. Not because they’re having premarital sex, but because the implicit message is that they are not responsible for their own choices, that actually they are entitled to a risk-free life–and not only a risk-free life, but a risk-free life in the style to which they’ve become accustomed. They are entitled not only to free condoms, but to a wide selection of free condoms, and their failure to use those condoms–and the unpleasant consequences that accompany that failure–should be blamed on the fact that the free condoms weren’t hand-delivered by someone young and hip and “with it.” People who aren’t expected to be responsible for their own decisions never learn to make responsible decisions. They also never learn to be happy because they don’t have a sense of control over their own lives–because everything bad that happens to them is a result of someone else failing to anticipate their needs.
So instead of giving away more expensive condoms, how about every person caught complaining about their free condoms gets a free punch in the face? Or better yet, a punch to the groin. Then they won’t need any condoms, no one will have to pay for them, and some lucky individual gets to punch whiny, punk-@$$ teenagers. WIN-WIN-WIN.
Madhousewife is the Safe Sex Czar for the Obama administration.