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Wise Guys – Why Do Men Seem Less Concerned About STDs & Pregnancies

Tue, Jun 22, 2010

Advice, Wise Guys

photo by Alaskan_Dude

Advice from three of our guy friends. This week a straight woman asks,”It’s been my experience that it’s the woman who has to insist on the condom, and that if she were happy to forgo it, then he would automatically be too? What’s with that? Why don’t guys seem to be as concerned about STDs and unplanned pregnancies?

Gay Single Guy (Jay Dyckman): I can emphatically state that I am one of those guys who do not worry about unplanned pregnancies.  Score one for the gays!  But yes, I do believe that most guys prefer not to use a condom because it simply
feels better not to use one.  (I’m not advocating it, I’m just saying what every guy knows to be true.)  If the woman doesn’t insist on one, I believe most guys will assume she’s on some other form of birth control.  As for STDs, the only one I think most guys worry about is HIV.  And there is a common perception that it is quite difficult to get if you are the penetrative partner.  (Again, not advocating or validating this, just stating what seems to be a general belief.)  So because the risk factor seems low for the worst STD, and the other STDs can be annoying but effectively treated (I know, I know, herpes might not be curable but it’s not fatal), the concern level about catching something doesn’t appear to be as high for men as women.  And as for pregnancy, well, most men have trouble thinking a week in advance so nine months might as well be 2072.

Straight Single Guy (Tyler Barnett): Maybe I’m in the minority here, but I’m usually the one who has to insist on the contraceptive, knowing that if I should choose to go without (which I NEVER do unless in a committed relationship) my partner would most likely forgo it too. Maybe the women I am with know how responsible I am when it comes to safe sex and as a result have less concern. Maybe when women start to have babies on the brain, their guard, both literally and figuratively, goes down quite a bit and the daily suppression of human nature calling for reproduction lets loose after a few drinks. Maybe it’s a modern form of feminism — the idea that they will have a baby when they want to have a baby. That said, I do, unfortunately, know more than a few guys that will do the deed unprotected, risking unplanned pregnancy and STD contraction for a few minutes of pleasure. Ultimately, maturity is much more of a factor than gender in determining who is more responsible for protection.

Straight Married Guy (David Felsen): When it comes down to it, most guys think with their dicks, and the dick wants what it wants. It’s also a lonely hunter. The dick brain doesn’t care about getting burned (though it should) or making babies. I wish it weren’t this way, and I’m sure there are lots of guys out there who mentally override their dick brains (manual override is something altogether different) and do the responsible thing, but we’re generally pretty shortsighted and selfish. It’s our nature, it’s our culture and while the worm is beginning to turn, it’s still on the wiser sex to be responsible.

Our “wise guys” are a rotating group of contributors, some of whom wish to remain anonymous and some of whom like the attention. This week’s Straight Married Guy is NY writer-comedian David Felsen; our Gay Guy is Jay Dyckman, an LA copywriter; and our Single Straight Guy is Tyler Barnett of Tyler Barnett PR in LA. To ask the guys your own question, click here. To ask the guys your own question, click here.

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13 Responses to “Wise Guys – Why Do Men Seem Less Concerned About STDs & Pregnancies”

  1. johnny Says:

    I second the opinion that men are actually more responsible with rubbers than women. At least that’s been my experience.

    The STD thing is tricky. True, the only one I’m worried about is AIDS, and if it weren’t for that, I’d probably never use a rubber. Occasional herpes outbreaks in exchange for a lifetime of no-condom sex? Worth it.

    Except it’s not that simple. It is highly probable that I have something like HPV, which for me isn’t even noticable, but which can give my parnter vagina cancer. But I’m not going to use condoms forever – not with any partner. So what to do?

    Immunize boys with the HPV vaccine, that’s what. I wish that had been around when I was younger.

  2. frenchmix Says:

    “while the worm is beginning to turn, it’s still on the wiser sex to be responsible.”

    Really, David Felsen? Did we just move back 15 years? If we consider what you wrote in terms of preventing pregnancy, then should I assume that if the (heterosexual/bisexual) woman is always responsible for contraception, then, legally speaking, will she always be responsible for the child? Under your claims, it would be her fault that a man couldn’t control himself or be responsible enough for his own penis. (God forbid he be responsible for a child!)

    Furthermore, most forms of birth control are often fallible (like the Pill, the Ring, the Patch, etc) and difficult to take or, for women like me whose hormones are already off-balance, many of the forms simply aggravate emotional and physical issues. Most forms of birth control that don’t require extra amounts of work in the middle of getting it on (i.e. diaphragms, contraceptive film, etc) also come with a load of side effects and costs, which I assume that you would expect the female to bear. Condoms are one of the more cost-effective options, with little side effects other than less immediate sensation/possible allergic reaction, and they don’t take much time to put on.

    Now, I’m not saying that women aren’t at all responsible for birth control (or condom buying). I think that women should have a box of condoms at their place (and some in their purse) if they plan on having sex (esp. outside a ltr) and most common forms of birth control don’t protect against STDs, and I think it is a very good idea for women to be on some other form of birth control in case the condom breaks. But seriously, women can also be horn-dogs who want nothing more than to rip a man’s pants of and have sex without protection. Or we could be the drunk ones at a man’s place and, having forgotten our condoms, still want to have sex. I think that the “burden” of birth control/STD protection is on BOTH parties in order to keep sex safe and enjoyable. For example, at the time of writing, my boyfriend is in charge of the condoms but I’m about to get an IUD. Yes, once the IUD is in place, we could (relatively safely) have sex without a condom, as the IUD is 99.9% effective, and I’m sure once and a while we will. But to avoid any accidents, we plan on still using condoms and my boyfriend will still be in charge of purchasing them.

    Finally, by simply saying the “wiser sex,” you aren’t acknowledging that both women and men both come in a wide range of intellectual capacities/sense of responsibility. Instead, you resorted instead to a trite cliche used (probably) more for laughs than as a genuine response to the question. I’d appreciate it if you treated both the males and females in this audience as intelligent human beings.

  3. angel Says:

    It is perfectly possible to transmit a virus without ever showing signs of that virus. research typhoid mary.

  4. angel Says:

    abortions are a relatively harmless procedure though deemed cruel by the religious. what is cruel is birthing an unwanted child.
    spend time with foster children and hear their stories of baby rape and you will emphatically support abortion.

  5. erin Says:

    um, Angel

    Typhoid Mary passed a bacterial infection by the oral fecal route. What does that have to do viral STI’s? If you wanted to talk about asymptomatic viral transmission maybe you should have used herpes as an example.

  6. Madamoiselle L Says:

    french, David is a comedian. He was making light of the truism that men think with their dicks. I think he did mean for us to take his comments tongue in cheek.

    I don’t think there was any reason to get so upset. He was just being funny…..and truthful a little bit. I don’t he meant “women are on their own when they get pregnant” he said nothing of the kind. :)

    David, I thought your comment were hilarious. :D

  7. Black Iris Says:

    Some men’s brains haven’t caught up with reality. A woman can choose to have an abortion – or not. If you get a woman pregnant and she doesn’t want an abortion, you will be paying child support. A guy’s choice in the matter comes when he puts on a condom – or not.
    And of course STDs will get anyone they can, male or female.

  8. Lily Says:

    ‘It is highly probable that I have something like HPV, which for me isn’t even noticable, but which can give my parnter vagina cancer. But I’m not going to use condoms forever – not with any partner’. I can’t believe you just said that, Johnny. WTF.

    I am so sick of the ‘ it feels better without a condom’ argument. I actually had a guy refusing to have sex because I insisted on him wearing one. He was, of course, the biggest arsehole I ever managed to drag home when I was young, drunk and desperate. And he had a willing ‘ no rubber is ok’ woman in every town. But still, WTF 2.

    Luckily, most men I encounter with nowadays are lovely and mature and more than happy to protect both of us, but I still find that a lot of men will not wear a condom unless I insist.

  9. johnny Says:

    ^ What if I want kids one day, Lily? Can’t do that with a condom on.

  10. frenchmix Says:

    Madamoiselle L ,
    I know that he’s a comedian (as I wrote in my last paragraph). I’m just tired of comedians often perpetuating stereotypes about both women and men just in order to get a quick laugh, especially when it comes to sexual health. I was bothered by his “It’s our nature, it’s our culture,” which has been used to justify a whole range of horrifying practices. While what he was writing about isn’t “horrifying” per se, I simply exaggerated his claims to show how ridiculous/harmful his comments would be if we were to take his words seriously. Mostly, I was just surprised to see a comment like that on a website that I enjoy because I find this website has a sophisticated approach to modern sexuality.

  11. figleaf Says:

    I had to think about this for a little bit. In a way it would be nicer if men just calculated that their chances of receiving an STI during sex was at least marginally lower than a receptive partner’s. Based on reading and conversation, though, I’ve always had the impression men worry a great deal about getting STIs, and to a lesser extent they worry about unplanned, unwanted pregnancies. (As to the latter there’s a whole school of paranoid man who’s just dead sure women are going to “trick” them into marriage by deliberately getting preganant. Cough.)

    Instead I think aside from the (slight) comfort factor and the (much bigger) problem of wilting while trying to put them on, men have a sort of panicky relationship with… I dunno… call it validation by going further… or something like that. Anyway, I mean to the extent men feel validated by persuading someone to have sex with them in the first place, they feel even more validated the further into it they can push it. (Which has to be, by the way, the main reason guys get so obsessed about anal intercourse, for instance — it doesn’t feel that different but it’s way harder to get a partner to agree to it so…)

    So anyway, I don’t think men are necessarily actively conscious of it but I think it’s a big motivator.

    But only after the preceding problems of slightly diminished sensation and the much-greater and, sorry to say, more pragmatic issue of struggling to roll a condom on what can often be an increasingly floppy penis.


  12. figleaf Says:

    Doh! I forgot to mention that the general upshot is that for men the possibility of greater validation tends to outweigh the possible risk of foregoing condoms.

    I’ll also mention, though, that this whole business about male validation through sex, while perfectly real to the individual in the socially-indoctrinated sense, also quickly falls apart as soon as you start to look closely at it.


  13. elyau Says:

    Unfortunately, in terms of “traditional” heterosexual intercourse it’s often easier for women to contract STIs through men than vice versa, condom or not (I saw some mention of herpes in a post- definitely true there).

    I’m all for women being as sexually liberal as men, but biologically we can carry a greater risk of contracting STIs…and the tables won’t be completely even in the foreseeable future. Frustrating but important for a girl to keep in mind!

    So, I can see how especially a man might over time become less worried…still not acceptable, of course.

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