Monday, April 13, 2020

What Social Distancing and Sex Ed Have In Common

Social distancing is like Abstinence Only Education.  Hear me out.  So, in much abstinence only sex ed, the instructor shows up, says don't have sex until your married, and then blathers on about how violating this rule makes you bad and worthless. 

So the folks in the audience who have children and are not married tune out. 

The folks in the audience who are already having sex tune out.

The folks in the audience who can't imagine a scenario in which they would ever want to get married tune out. 

Sure there are folks who keep listening.  And some of them think, okay cool, I just won't have sex until I get married.  And they don't ever engage in any sexual behavior until they get married. 

Some of the folks still listening think, okay, I'll just skip sex, but surely they meant like married sex, right?  So that's like a penis and a vagina together.  There's tons of stuff I can do that's not that.  No worries.

And I feel like we have arrive at this approximate place with social distancing.  Some people are healthcare workers, construction workers, food workers, pharmacy workers, grocery store workers, security guards, landscapers, bus drivers, first responders, taxi driver, and other essential employees, and so they are still going to work. Some of them have been given PPE and some have not. 

Some people have a job that is either currently cancelled, has transitioned to work from home, or was always work from home.  Some of those people have fridges and pantries large enough that they can go weeks without leaving. 

And they are either staying entirely inside, or going out with face coverings, exercising social distancing as they do so. 

Some people have kids or dogs or tiny spaces that don't let them keep several weeks of food stored up.  They are used to going outside every single day, multiple times.  So going out once or twice a day, feels like a huge adjustment already.  

Some people don't have homes, and while my city's current stay at home please order encourages you not to be homeless, I could hardly blame someone for deciding even now, especially now, that the street is safer than a shelter, where social distancing is near impossible.  (See also, jails.)  

And some people hate rules, and so they are going to do what they want to do, and if some stupid germ comes for them, so be it. 

It isn't even that last group that's the most dangerous.  They may be out there, mask and glove free, touching all the things and still spitting in the street, but they are clear dangers.  As with so many things, the person who thinks they are social distancing well, and yet continues to go out and touch all the shiny things outside, they are, in my humble opinion, the one who's gonna be the big infection vector. 

In the sex positive sex ed class that I teach we do an exercise with candies.  Everyone gets a bag with an randomly assigned batch of candies and they can go and trade with their classmates or not.  When we did this with adults in the training, one of the adults decided not to share with anyone.  A couple of us went wild, sharing with anyone who asked. 

At the end, we were told which colors represented disease, which represented condoms (ie PPE for sex), and which meant nothing.  It's a silly exercise, and a great excuse to get the whole class hopped up on sugar.  But in the end the idea is that the people who look just like your friends may be sick and not know it.  They didn't mean to infect you.  But the interactions you engage in without protection are the ones that don't only have risk to you. 

And yes, there is a PPE shortage in this country, and medical professionals do not have enough.  Do not use medical grade PPE unless you have been assigned it by your job or your medical professional. 

But we have to think not only about our risk, but that of others.  Maintaining equilibrium with those beings inside your house is important too.  I am not trying to take that away, especially as we face what looks like a longer bout of this. 

But so far we've been given a lot of don't go out unless it's essential.  And it seems, based on my recent trip to get some food, folks definitions of essential is where we are seeing a lot of variance.