Let’s talk about sex. Charles Bukowski once echoed that “sex is kicking death in the ass while singing”, and I really think he was right. But what does the Irish male actually know about the realm of sex? Growing up, we’re educated about sex from a myriad of sources. School taught us that we have to use a condom – otherwise we’ll get a deadly disease, get girls pregnant and that we really should stay away from it altogether until we’re “mature adults”. Now we have this Catholic riddled sexual education with an anxious sense of guilt hanging over us leaving more questions we’re almost afraid to ask.
Our more beloved teacher, known as the television, taught us a wildly different and diverse side to sex in a very different form of classrooms, known as the living room. These lessons visually expounded that sex was hot, steamy, and pleasurable and of course strengthened relationships among partners. Positive appraisal for seeking advice and support about sexual health seems to be an alien idea for us young Irish men under the age of 20 and now it’s up to us to educate ourselves.
Leaving home for the first time can see a lot of change. One of these changes is meeting a whole array of new people. It’s an exciting, flirty and energetic time of our lives. We bump into someone we find attractive, and suddenly one thing leads to another and we’re quickly abandoning our clothes, thrashing about trying to find that one condom we strategically placed behind our student card and bank card for this pivotal moment! Blinded by the flush of hormones, things take a twist, there’s no sign of it! Going against the school hymn of always being covered by Johnny, we shrug and proceed anyway thinking that it is okay! But here’s the thing Eros, it’s not!
You’ve immediately put yourself in danger of either contracting, or sharing a sexually transmitted infection (STI) and I can assure you that is the wrong way to be spreading the love around. STIs are “infections that are passed on from an infected partner(s) during unprotected sex (vagina, anal and oral) caused by specific bacteria and viruses”. Although you might not show physical symptoms, it can cause infertility and serious conditions later in life. Infections like HIV, syphilis and herpes are only a few of the types of infections out there.
Getting a STI test
There’s no shame in getting yourself checked for an STI. You’re no less of a man, much like girls are not “sluts”. If anything, you are actually acting like an adult. Our school educated us in a preventive attitude towards sex, but we need to adopt a more appropriate stance with it. Would you not get your teeth checked at least once a year? If your gums were bleeding, would you not go to the dentist immediately?
A check-up is simple, painless and takes 30 minutes at most. A physical examination is carried out for warts or ulcers along with a collection of fluids. If something does arise, then no problem. You won’t be branded, named and shamed to the world. You can get immediate and quick treatment with antibiotics just like a chest infection.
I used to roll my eyes and think people were using scare tactics every time I heard about these Sexual Monsters known as STIs. That’s just the way I was told about sex. Little did I know STIs were more than fiction, and the people around me were sexually active and open about sex. Even saying the word “sex” in front of my family would turn my face red forever. But moving out of home saw me landing in an environment surrounded by my peers, friends, and colleagues. Sooner or later, my friends and I realised that sex and sexual health does not have to be the shameful act kept under hushed whispers and giggles in the schoolyard, but a part of everyday life.
It helps men grow up, explore their sexuality and come to terms with who they are as people and what they enjoy. In fact, it’s pleasurable and special when two people share the intense connection together and that’s okay too. Although we’re educated in the standardised Catholic mantra of being afraid of something that feels great, there are some truths encapsulated under there. It’s up to us to shake off that shameful and embarrassed attitude stirred among us and be okay to talk about sex, or get checked. Television was right too; it is a great experience, and one that brings people closer. So if sex is indeed our way of kicking death in the ass while singing, let’s be smart about it. Let’s wrap up, have fun in a responsible way and make sure our sexual health is good and healthy.
In the words of Flight of the Conchords, “keep it real sexy, fellas”.
Remember: The age of sexual consent in Ireland is 17. If you're over 16, you can consent to medical treatment including any treatment or tests needed.