Thursday, January 10, 2008

Dress that Soldier!

Over the past few days, I've had several conversations with fellow writers about condoms. Oh, the excitement of a romance writer's life. Some writers admit trying to find a way "around" using a condom. Others skim over the action. And still others just refuse to use one at all.

That might be acceptable in a fantasy or futuristic world where there are no sexually transmitted diseases or where there is possibly the medical wherewithal to prevent STDs, but in the contemporary world we live in, both past and present, it isn't acceptable for me. I won't argue morality, because that's not what I'm discussing here. A condom automatically implies sexual activity. And the reverse should be true. Sexual activity automatically requires the use of a condom.

I've read many excuses for not using a condom. It stops the action. It interupts the story flow. It's awkward to dispose of afterwards. They don't need to use one because she's on the pill. They don't need to use one because he says he's "safe". Hogwash.

I have one simple reason for using one. It saves lives.

All that other stuff is just waffling around because the truth is, putting a condom on can be very sexy if you want it to be. Even with up-against-the-wall, hurry, hurry hot sex, there's a way to make the condom part of the action. And if writers can't find a creative way to do that, what kind of writers are they? If the writer is grown up enough to write about sex, then he or she should be able to handle a flimsy little thing like a condom with grace and humor. If not, then go back to writing sweet romances where all the action is behind a closed door.

I believe that romance writers have a responsibility to mirror reality. Reality is that death is a real possible consequence of unprotected sex. Someone very dear to me has an STD that will likely down the road lead to cervical cancer. Already she has pre-cancerous cells. She was infected by her ex-husband in her late teens or early twenties... they haven't been together in over five years. They thought they were "safe" because she was on the pill and married. She's twenty-nine.

I lost another friend to the complications of HIV. She was infected by her long-time lover. She was faithful. He wasn't. They were yuppies in their mid-thirties. She was forty-one when she died. We talked about this issue before she died. One time she said to me, "I'd like to tell all those young ladies out there that this is definitely not a romantic way to die. Screw romance. Use a condom."

As for disposal, well I would hope that the guy is mature enough to deal with it. That's what tissue and trashcans are for. But hey! That could be part of the action, too. Let the lady fetch a warm washcloth and clean up her man afterwards. There's no rule that says he has to do all the work. The important part has already taken place. They used a condom!

If you want to read a wonderful book that illustrates all of the above points, try Linda Howard's Moving Target. I don't particularly agree with the time that they didn't use one, but then they were trying to have a baby, which brings us to an entirely different subject--birth control. That one's for a different day.


Don't forget to drop by Kelly's blog at to scope out the new episode of the Saga. And then scoot over to Amarinda's place at to see what she's up to. Blessings on your day!


  1. Totally agree. If you write sex you have to write condoms and having the heroine only on the pill to stop 'problems' is naive and unrealistic

  2. Thank you for a realistic reminder that our hero and heroine may face disaster if they don't follow safety regulations. I'm so sorry about your friend. What a horrible way to end a love story.

  3. Sorry for your loss, Anny.
    Good blog.