This is a post by one of my Summer 2013 interns. Find more posts from her and other current and former interns under the Intern Corner section. – Shanna
Belief #4: Only people who sleep around get STI’s.
Science says: STI transmission does show to have a mild correlation with number of sexual partners. However we should be reminded that correlation does not equate with causation. The number of partners can increase the probability of STI transmission because there are more instances of contact one could potentially have with an infection, but there is nothing intrinsic in the individual that makes him/her more susceptible to contraction by virtue of sleeping with multiple partners, especially if the said individual is diligent about using the necessary precautions.
Yeah, but what does this mean? If you get an STI, then you are “one of those” people who sleep around. The stigmatization that surrounds those who sleep with multiple partners can be extrapolated into a whole other rant, but for the purpose of this argument, I will keep it brief. Slut-shaming is a very powerful tool that has been used by both sexes to clearly disrespect women based solely on their sexual habits. As a result of this, women are hypersensitive to the criterion that defines someone as being sexually promiscuous (STI contraction being one of them). Generally speaking, women typically don’t view their behaviors as being “slutty”, and therefore if they do end up behaving in a way that would be thought of as “slutty behavior”, it becomes much easier to justify ignoring the repercussions.
“Well, if only sluts get STI’s, and I have an STI, what does that make me?”. The idea is distressing as it is problematic. The only thing worse than going around calling other people sluts based on their status is actually internalizing that you are one. One unfortunate aspect of this self-deprecation is it has a role outside of our sex lives as well; it carries a profound implication in many different facets that make up one’s character, including self-esteem and interpersonal relationships. None of this fosters a healthy psyche, nor does it feul a supportive society.
Solutions? Start thinking about the math. Using Chlamydia as an example, it is estimated that 4.5% of individuals will contract Chlamydia at least once in their life. Think about this when you are sitting in a crowded room, like a lecture hall, or you are on a bus. For example, if you happen to be in a room with 100 people, then statistically speaking, about five people sitting in the very same room could potentially have it. Be sure to keep in mind that these people are not necessarily women who might be labeled a “slut”, they really could be any gender, any race, with one or many partners.
***Editor’s note from Shanna; it is 100% to identify as a slut (or promisculous, etc), to choose to have multiple partners, to have as much consensual sex as you would like, or all of the above. This post serves to discuss the issues around STIs and partners, NOT to judge anyone’s sexual choices.***
Part V will be posted in a few days.