Jul 31, 2008, 12:29PM

Ditching Condoms Is The New Engagement Ring

A recent story by an NPR youth corresdpondant argued that the modern sign of a commited relationship isn't an engagement. Instead it's
agreeing to STD tests and having sex without condoms. The blustery reaction of older people to this idea has been met with indifference from a yougner generation that's grown up skeptical of marriage and comfortable with a range of sexual experiences.

Condom.jpg?ixlib=rails 2.1

Photo by Alana Elliott

According to testimony from Pendarvis Harshaw, an NPR Youth Radio correspondent, when a couple decides to ditch condoms, get tested for STIs and make the transition to other forms of birth control like the pill, the patch or the shot, they're not only taking a symbolic step forward in terms of sexual health, but also a leap of faith in the scheme of their relationship. As Harshaw states, sex without condoms is the modern substitute for an engagement ring.

In a 3-minute spot on NPR, Harshaw defends this new "Engagement 2.0" as a realistic replacement for an overpriced ring that, given today's divorce rates, doesn't mean much. Caring about your partner's sexual health, Harshaw believes, is the ultimate act of respect and intimacy, because "it shows trust, commitment and the prospect of a shared future." And eschewing latex is in no way a symbol of the urge to take on larger responsibilities or engage in risky behavior: "The majority [of young adults] want to steer clear of children and disease while enjoying the pleasures of healthy sex," he says.

NPR's main demographic may not be the 18-to-24-year-old set, but the generational gap that screams through the comments is indicative of the seemingly impossible reconciliation between the young and the old. Most younger commenters qualified Harshaw's point of view, offering missives of support and solidarity. "People need to get over their hang-ups on young people talking about sex and on the idea that a lot of us have an unfavorable view of marriage," one wrote. And another nearly dismissed Harshaw's account as old news: "My generation knows all too well the long walk down to the health clinic as a somewhat romantic feat, filled with a lot of the meaningfulness of a long walk down the aisle. In fact, my partner and I just made that journey last week. We considered it a great date."

  • I believe a lot of what this says majorly untrue. Recently, because of media (such as jamie lynn spears) and other circumstances, teens and some young adults are much more eager to have children, even if its with someone they don't know. Mostly its because of unconditional love and some sort of responsibility in the kids lives. Also, in some places, being pregnant is look at as a sort of honor, wrought with the prospect of great popularity. Also, even though marrige is disgustingly twisted in our country, (what ever happened to seperation of church and state?), I think that If we changed some laws and took it more seriously, then we wouldn't be resorting to condomless sex as a promise of "i love you forever". I have no idea what demographic this guy was looking at, but it obviously it wasn't a realistic one.

    Responses to this comment
  • well it just goes to show you how out of touch npr is with the demographic they're supposedly focusing on: 18 to 24-year-olds. I don't see what this article is talking about much at all, and I doubt it will gain any sort of traction in young people. with that being said, who are you talking about when you say young people want to have kids? I don't think I've ever met or even heard (aside from the obvious mini-britney) of a sub-20-year-old couple consciously deciding to have kids, or even deciding to keep the kid if it happened to have been a mistake. that is where you confuse me, monrobot, but otherwise spot on. npr of all media outlets should not be the ones commenting on today's youth when that hack ira glass is still on the air.

    Responses to this comment
  • Here's an earlier Splice article that talks about young girls trying to get pregnant: http://www.splicetoday.com/pop-culture/lego-my-prego

    Responses to this comment
  • Well, can you honestly tell me that you are in touch with todays youth? Just two weeks ago i met a girl who was 14 with a child and another on the way, both from two different men that she wasn't in touch with at the moment and hadn't been since they impregnated her. The demographic i'm talking about are not couples, theyre irrational kids, many of them hardly knowing the person who's carrying or fathering their child. It goes to show how blind people can be when theyre trying to focus on a non-existant positive.

    Responses to this comment
  • well a lot of that has to do with the piss poor quality of sex education in our schools. kids don't know any better and abortion is portrayed as a last resort/morally questionable choice that not a lot of kids end up wanting to pursue. I doubt many kids are happy and satisfied with buns in their ovens, I think they're just confused and trying to get through a pretty crappy situation.

    Responses to this comment
  • I suppose sex ed is crappy, but as I remember from middle school, none of the students took it seriously, including myself. I don't think you can blame the teachers on this one.

    Responses to this comment

Register or Login to leave a comment