This phrase really bothers me. It bothers me because I think that it is a lie.
I am told that if I’m going to be sexually active, I might as well do it safely. But what does it mean to be safe?
For sure, safe sex almost always refers to wearing a condom so that I will be safe from STDs and the horrific accident of making a baby. But if we are safe (or safer) from the terrible consequences of exchanging sexual fluids, does that really mean that the sex is safe? If my girlfriend tells me to wear a condom, does that mean that she is safe from my violent sexual advances, e.g., rape? If I wear a condom am I safe from the pains of a relationship cut short? Am I safe from falling in love? Am I safe from being caught if I am having sex with a woman who is not my wife?
My rhetorical sarcasm clearly suggests that the answer is no. And I would argue that our society finds this as no surprise. And so we see the emergence of “just sex” or “friends plus benefits” or “f*ck buddies.” If I wanted to, I could look up in the SF Guardian, craigslist, or Yahoo! Personals to find someone who is only interested in sex. “Not interested in relationship, I just like to f*ck.” I just made that up, but I’m sure someone has that posted under their personal. Friends get caught up in a swirl emotions (or booze) at a party and end up in bed. The next morning, they agree, “Let’s not make this awkward; it was just sex.” And so voila, safe sex.
I think that if we understand sex properly, as more then just the mechanical in and out action between one or more persons (hey, I’m just keepin’ it real), but as both the expression of and the playing out of a holistic union between man and woman, the the only thing that safe sex is guaranteed to keep us safe from is sex itself.