Well, I promised to take a break from being so serious and post some fun projects and essays for 2006, and what’s more fun than sex? I missed Valentine’s day with these posts, but it’s still February so love and lust are the topics of the hour.
Knitting for Change is starting a new column written by guest authors and designers. To stick to our topics of safe sex and dangerous knitting, this month I’ve invited Naomi Dagen Bloom to write about her invention of knitted condom amulets and her concern for the education of seniors about STDs and safe sex. We usually think of sex education and risky sex when we think about teenagers, but Naomi points out that today’s seniors may be at more risk than young people because they grew up in a time before HIV and AIDS and when people were embarassed to talk frankly about sex and STDs. As widows and divorcees enter the dating game again in their 50s and above, they face a scary world.
Naomi also is a proponent of urban composting and has been making knitted worms to promote the idea. You can read more about her work on her website at cityworm.com.
This month I talk about Safe Sex in my personal essay. Well, I guess that’s at least partly serious, but there’s some fun stuff there too!
Learn how to make double thick fabric or a circular piece on two needles using Double Knitting.
Check out Dangerous Knitting for links to a bunch of sexy knitting projects.
Inspired by Naomi’s work, I’ve designed several Condom Amulets.
Guest author Naomi Dagen Bloom shares her concern about sexually active seniors
Safe Sex for Seniors
by Naomi Dagen Bloom
Why would a 70+ woman be wearing a Condom Amulet in New York City?
It’s not the new style for the “Sex in the City” crowd. I invented it to get your attention. I’m worried about women over 50 . New divorcees married forever, then dumped for a younger woman. I worry about women recently widowed at 65 who start dating and have never heard about STDs. Their doctors don’t tell them. No one tells them.
In Pennsylvania’s Allegheny County, advocates guess the number of HIV/AIDS cases will rise among people 50-plus because the county’s senior population is the second largest in the U.S. outside Palm Beach County, Florida. It’s up to you to tell your mother to carry a condom, talk to her about risky sex.
Knit her a Condom Amulet—to wear around her neck, or as a pin. “Mom, someone said this was a great way to use my odds and ends from knitting. Pretty cute, right? Couple of beads on it. Oh that? It’s a condom. You’ve been telling me how things are getting cozier with the guy at the senior center. I guess it’s my turn to talk to you about the facts of life and how HIV isn’t just about gay men.” You might save her life.
I featured a photo of Naomi’s condom amulets last year.
For more information on safe sex for seniors and HIV prevention, see:
- Intimacy and aging: Tips for sexual health and happiness from the Mayo Clinic on CNN.com
- For Seniors: How to Maintain Sexual Health and Intimacy from HealthyPlace.com
- What Are HIV Prevention Needs of Adults Over 50? from the Center for AIDS Prevention Studies at the University of California San Franciso
The Safe Sex Part
WARNING: Sexually explicit and strongly opinionated material follows. If you’ll find this offensive, please click here to go to this month’s links, pattern, and knitting lesson and skip this material.
Unfortunately, many young people today are not being taught the truth about safe sex because the US government is sponsoring innacurate and innefective abstinence-only education in our public schools with the disasterous results of increased teen pregnancy and and STDs because of decreased condom use wherever this program is in effect.
I think the whole premise of abstinence is stupid. Although I do believe that young people should wait to have sex until they are ready and should not be pressured into doing anything they find uncomfortable, it is foolish to abstain from sex until marriage. Why? Well, for several reasons.
First, what fun is that? I wasted too much of my youth being afraid of sex and pretending that I was trying to be holy when I was really just trying to avoid growing up. I wouldn’t wish what I went through on any teen. Fortunately, I somehow escaped being told that masturbation was a sin, and when I was a teenager I read an article in Cosmo that encouraged young women to explore their bodies so they’d be comfortable with sexual contact and know how to please themselves. (Today Cosmo has a special edition for teens called Cosmo Girl as well as a column and a book on sexual positions called the Cosmo Kama Sutra. And for some educational and entertaining information about sex, see the Sex Week at Yale magazine online.)
I’ve since heard that many kids were told that masturbation would make them go blind or crazy, or even grow hair on their palms! I also was very sad to hear that many women go through their whole lives without experiencing a single orgasm. Eve Ensler talks about this in her wonderful book and play, The Vagina Monologues, which she wrote to encourage women to talk frankly and comfortably about their bodies. We should celebrate and enjoy our bodies, not be ashamed of them. Well, eventually I did grow up and you’ll never guess what I discovered:
Woohoo! Sex is fun! It’s normal! It’s natural!
It’s good exercise. It makes you feel good. It cures headaches.
It’s better than chocolate. And it’s (usually) free!
Ok, I admit that having fun isn’t the best reason to make a major life decision. So….
Second, you wouldn’t marry someone before getting to know if they can balance a checkbook, whether they are a neatnick or a slob, or if they put the toilet seat down and the cap on the toothbrush. So, why would you marry someone when you don’t know if they are a sensitive or good lover? Although many (if not most) hetero men can enjoy sex with any naked woman, most women need lovers who take the time to make sure they are satisfied. How sad to go through life with an insensitive lover or with a lover who can’t or won’t take the time to give you an orgasm! Too many women in the past have lived like this and it’s not acceptable.
Third, it’s almost unheard of for people to marry in their teens these days, and few marry in their early twenties. In fact, many people put off marriage until their 30s, some decide not to marry at all, and gay men and lesbians are not allowed to get married in most states in the US. Are these people, like the character in the movie The 40 Year Old Virgin, supposed to abstain from sex for their entire lives? It might make a funny movie, but how sad (and unrealistic) for people in the real world!
Finally, sexual repression is not healthy for people or for society. The idea that you should only have sex with one person in your entire life is based on tribal taboos that have nothing to do with a realistic view of human nature. It is primarily religions and reactionary politicians who promote abstinence, looking back to the “good old days” of the 1950s and beyond when Ozzie and Harriet represented the happy and normal “family values.” No-one seems to remember that this facade was covering up the unhappy marriages, frustrated and oppressed women, and sexual repression that led to the social upheavals of the 1960s. If we bottle up our sexual feelings, we will eventually explode.
Regardless of whether you agree or disagree with me that it’s not a good idea to remain a virgin until marriage, the fact is that most people won’t do this. Sex is natural and fun, and when we’re in our teens and 20s our hormones are raging, making it all but impossible to remain sexually inactive. We need to make sure that all people, whether young or old, married or single, striaght or gay, have information on safe sex and easy access to contracteption. It is the moral thing to do. While a lot of people make noise about morality and sexuality, morality should not about who we fuck. Is should be about alleviating suffering and helping people live lives filled with joy, peace, and love.
So, what does sex have to do with knitting? Check out the Dangerous Knitting portion to find out…