Remember the episode where they watched the videotape of how Ross and Rachel had sex, leading to Rachel being pregnant? There was some debate over ‘who came on to whom’… and it was revealed that it was in fact Rachel who came on to Ross. This came to light because earlier in the episode, Joey told Ross a story (about Lake Tibidabo) to tell women that was sure to get him laid. Rachel used the same story on Ross – but claims that she heard it from a girl who slept with a guy named ‘Ken Adams’… ‘Ken Adams’ is Joey’s fake name. Full circle. So – this got me thinking. (Oh sidenote real quick: My fake name is ‘Chase McAllister’. What’s yours? Tweet me.)
Anyway – yes – I got to thinking about how our sex lives can affect other people’s sex lives, as Joey’s did to Ross and Rachel’s. This led me to the ever-popular topic of PrEP and ‘slut shaming’. But this isn’t an anti-slut-shaming article. It’s pro. I’m pro-slut-shaming. But before I launch into my rationale (which, by the way, some of you will rail against and call me out and that’s fine but this is my column and my opinion and if you want to voice your opinion get your own column), I want to break down what we are talking about when we say ‘slut-shaming’.
A ‘slut’ is defined as someone who has many casual sex partners. Ok – we can all agree on that – we all know what a slut is (or who the sluts are). It’s the ‘shaming’ part that I think is tripping us up (sorry to end that sentence with a preposition, but it’s an easy way to get into my PrEP position … and I just nailed that wordplay.)
OK – I’m gonna pause here, because I want to be very clear on a few things before those of you who are going to lose your minds lose your minds. I am not on PrEP. I don’t fall into what most consider to be the high-risk category, and I don’t like to take anything I don’t have to take. And, while I am unbelievably optimistic that PrEP will be an essential part of eliminating HIV, we don’t yet know the long-term effects (if any) of those who take it. Am I completely opposed to it? Absolutely not. I am pro-PrEP when combined with regular STD checks. I am pro-PrEP when it comes to assisting sero-discordant couples. And as I said, I am pro-PrEP, as it has begun to revolutionize the way we discuss HIV transmission and prevention.
Also, lest you think that I am some cuckoo bananas germaphobe, I have dated positive guys – I was in a monogamous relationship with a positive guy not too long ago. And honestly, someone being positive used to be an automatic dealbreaker for me. But, I fell very deeply in love with him. He is undetectable, but due to my own boundaries, we used condoms when he was…driving. (We did not use them when I was… driving.). I found out after we broke up that he had spent some time as a… rental car for people who want to… rent a car by the hour, if you catch my drift. Now, I have no way of knowing if people were renting his car while we were together – we’ve never discussed it. In fact, I don’t even think he knows that I know. (I guess he will if he reads this…) I certainly don’t blame him for his choices… I was angry for a while, but I took comfort in the fact that at least I had the wherewithal to express my boundaries – those were my choices, and I am grateful that he respected them. (Plus, I still think fondly of him. Which is – well, whatever…)
The thing is, as far as I’m concerned, identifying sluts is an important part of anyone taking control of their own sexual health. For example, I have moved to four different cities in my adult life. You learn very quickly who the sluts are… sometimes they’re sexy sluts that you might still want to sleep with (I mean that many people can’t be wrong, so they must be doing something right, right?) Sometimes they’re a punchline to a sad joke, and because of their reputation they may never be taken seriously. But the fact remains – everyone knows who the sluts are in their world. (And the joke goes, if you don’t know any sluts, odds are it’s you in your group of friends.) Regardless, more often than not, we will avoid inviting them into our boudoirs for special horizontal time because the simple law of averages dic(k)tates that they are probably carrying some version of an STI.
But now, we have added PrEP to the equation – and what is happening is that STI rates are increasing, because people have greatly reduced their condom usage. Yes, I know the studies. Yes, I know the samples aren’t yet large enough to be statistically significant. But I am talking about this statement which I have heard over and over and over again: “Well, I don’t care about STIs. I just don’t want AIDS. And I can get a shot for everything else.” These are our choices?! What about NO STIs? Is that just not something we are going to be daring enough to strive for? Is that not something we deserve?
Or this sentence: “Well, I’m on PrEP, so… you can totally do, like, whatever.” This is a sentence that has been uttered to me in different iterations over the last few months. And yes, I am aware that PrEP has been shown to prevent HIV transmission. I understand. But now what’s happening is that the Ken Adams’ of the world are going to cause me to get super-syphilis because they don’t respect their bodies. For those of you who are saying “That’s not going to happen – you’re being such a Dramaqueeninthetrifle…”, let me remind you that when the morning after pill was introduced, STI rates shot up dramatically. Why? The mentality among some young women was “Well, we don’t have to use condoms. Sure, maybe I’ll get gonorrhea, but I won’t get pregnant cuz I can just take the morning after pill, so….”This is the same thing that’s happening in the gay community. And I’m not wrong. So please don’t come for me. I’m just not. Yes, if you’re on PrEP and that is your only form of prophylactic, you almost certainly won’t get HIV, and if we stop the transmission of HIV, we can probably see the end of it in our lifetime. And that’s awesome. But what’s next? Something is always next, and logic would dictate that the fastest way to give rise to a new STI (or a new aggressive, antibiotic resistant strain of an existing STI) is to stop using condoms. Yet, a lot of gay men remain unconcerned. For this reason, I super want to know who’s a slut, and who isn’t.
But with or without PrEP in the equation, we seem to have lost sight of the fact that the most important person in any private horizontal time is you. Not the dude(s) who you are with. We seem to be continually willing to settle with the possible negative consequences of a few hours of sex without really knowing who someone is, or not caring about what they may or may not bring to your penis. Or your butt. Or your mouth. Or your life.
My point in all of this, is this: Ken Adams may look super great with his shirt off, and he may allow you to meet his butthole uncovered – and it may feel really great. But do you know what doesn’t feel great? Chlamydia. Trust me… I know. So please, stop being selfish. PrEP or no PrEP, care enough about your sexual health – and mine! – to wrap it up.
(Oh – and one last thing – ‘#PrEPHero’ is not a thing. Rosa Parks is a hero. If you need a hashtag to justify your commitment to unsafe sex, you’re not a hero. You’re a slut.)
Dan has a Bachelor’s degree in Sociology and Master’s degree in Higher Education. He worked as an Assistant Dean at Emory University for 5 years before moving to Los Angeles in 2008 to pursue his lifelong dream of writing television. Since then, Dan has written for ‘Make It Or Break It’ (ABC Family), “Pop-Up Video” (VH1), and currently writes for ABC Family’s hit show ‘The Fosters’, and he says he’s going to finish writing his first movie any day now. You can find more at beefinthetrfile.blogspot.com, and you can reach him on Twitter and Instagram at @beefinthetrifle