I was not belittling you in the slightest, but I think it’s very telling that you read my comment that way. Your defenses are clearly up. I find it interesting that folks are holding you to a higher standard than you’ve held for yourself perhaps when you initially penned this, and you’re not necessarily willing to engage deeper in those responses. I tried to use my words very carefully so as not to attack you. I didn’t feel like you answered the question you posed as thoughtfully as you could have. There was no real acknowledgment that practicing sex without a condom can be considered self-destructive - and no parallels drawn to other such behaviors. I find that really interesting and a bit problematic. I don’t see that as belittling you or calling you a name. I did want to check you on the privilege exhibited in this article. As someone with privilege, I find it important. I get that being checked can be hard. But for the record, calling you privileged is not calling you a name. Thanks for acknowledging that you worked with organizations. Doesn’t necessarily prove to me that you have a vast understanding of the consequences your rhetoric could have on those communities. You’re not schooling me and you’re not fooling anyone to ignore the incredible and pervasive barriers to care that these communities face. They don’t all just live in Philly, and they shouldn’t all have to flock to Philly to get relatively easy access to care. If you wanna have a conversation about being sex-positive, as I’ve seen you mention here, then have that conversation. I get the shame thing, as I think I outlined earlier. But there’s a way to have this conversation, be sex positive, be inclusive of communities you don’t belong to, not shame people, and still acknowledge the enormous risk you take when you have sex without a condom.
Let’s take out barebacking for a moment. The reason why it’s so hard for anyone to talk about behavior like you’re describing is because it’s often hard for human beings to talk about doing something “against our better judgment.” (Your words) When you engage in a behavior, no matter what it is, that is against your better judgment, you feel guilt because you know you engaged in a behavior that either you or someone else has deemed wrong. And shame is the voice in your head that is chiding you for not living up to a certain standard. In some cases, that standard is bullshit. For example, gender norms. The shame we feel from stepping outside of a gender norm is real, but it’s also not necessarily a behavior that is inherently wrong. It’s a behavior that society tells us is wrong. And as we often know, society fucks things up. Willfully engaging in a behavior that increases your risk for contracting a disease and others not mentioned here that have the power to destroy your body is quite literally a self-destructive behavior. I don’t think it’s moralistic (unless you wanna get balls-deep philosophical) to say that protecting one’s self and one’s body against disease is what one ought to do. I get not wanting to tell people how to live their lives - but asking people to be safer to help save and preserve their quality of life is a good thing. It shows compassion, it shows concern for life, and it shows a respect to the ideal that self-destructive behavior can be a really negative thing. I’m sorry that you (and others) feel shame from that kind of concern. I find it stunning and odd. So, yes. It’s difficult to talk about barebacking, or any behavior that highlights potentially self-destructive behavior because it’s an admission on your part that you’re doing something - not wrong - but risky. You didn’t mention any of this in your essay, and talking about why it’s so hard CAN be named in a very real way. PS - You write from a position of extreme privilege - most of which isn’t even acknowledged here. I don’t take issue with your courage to try to start a conversation about this, but to not acknowledge all of the factors that play into your privilege and to not even acknowledge the complexity of trying to have this conversation in, oh say, communities of color or with trans* folks or folks who don’t have access to the studies and tests that you regularly engage in - I think that’s a real fucking travesty.
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