There has been much controversy lately over the Pope’s remarks that condoms are not the answer to the issues of HIV/AIDS — particularly in Africa.
Many mainstream secular people think he’s just being a morally judgmental, celibate old man. But I think the Pope is onto something.
A condom to sex is a bit like a seatbelt to driving.
Most people buckle up these days because they know that the research proves that sea belts save lives. But they still drive like maniacs.
They do that, probably in part because they believe that a seatbelt protects them 100 per cent.
Wearing a seatbelt reduces your chances of being injured by 50 per cent, and your chance of dying by 45 per cent. These are better than the 75 per cent risk of dying if you are ejected from your car, but they are still not great odds.
Now consider that the seatbelt is a very sturdy device, designed not to rip or tear in critical places or at critical times. Yet it still only provides limited security to the wearer.
So it is with condoms.
No doubt about it that these devices are much better than nothing, but wearing one doesn’t give you 100 per cent protection — not ever. And do you ever know if the stranger you met is infected with HIV/AIDs?
So I think what the Pope was getting at, was that condoms will not protect the user(s) from their own ignorance, stupidity, lack of responsibility, lack of morality or the statistical failure rate of condoms.
Therefore, the only real way to prevent the spread of HIV/AIDS, especially in Africa where it is endemic, is to insist on abstinence.
Most secular people in North America hate that thought.
Abstinence sounds dumb after the love, peace and flower movement of the hippie ’60s and now with its boomer resurgence in the form of swing clubs.
But millions of orphaned children in Africa now pay the price for their parent’s lack of responsibility, education or, in many tragic cases, their mother’s need to support the family by being a prostitute.
Obviously condoms are not going to be effective in a context of poverty and desperate measures to survive — wouldn’t you buy food first?
One positive note — for African women and their sisters everywhere — a women’s condom has been invented that is particularly designed to stop and tag unwanted intruders. It is called the Rape-Axe and it sounds like a great way to reduce the incidence of rape — another way that HIV is spread.
Rape-Axe is like a tampon outside, and inside it’s filled with the equivalent of barbed wire-like fish-hooks that grip the attacker and won’t let go.
The rapist is required to go to hospital in order to remove the device; pretty easy for the cops to pick him up from there.
In war-torn Africa, rape is a common weapon of war against women and there are very few hospitals for the perpetrators to go to for help. I hope aid agencies start to distribute the Rape-Axe devices with food.
In the meantime, back home in Canada, applying the ABCs to intimate relationships can drastically reduce the incidence of pregnant teenage girls and young women.
Research in the 1990s by the Robin Hood foundation discovered that most of these girls are just used by an older guy for a good time and then abandoned.
How odd that we have a society that values sex but not children — and that so many men don’t even value their own sperm. This is their half of the contribution to the creation of a new human being! The continuation of the human race — of themselves!
I think the Pope was getting at the “throw-away thrill” mentality of condoms.
Sex is an act of pleasure and love, but it really is a means to procreate. So it should be treated seriously.
Condom use with a seatbelt mentality turns the act into a cheap thrill.
The risk of failure is high; HIV/AIDs are effectively a death sentence and create an enormous health burden on society.
Be abstinent, be faithful, be thoughtful, and if you can’t do that use condoms. Or as the RapeAxe designer said of her product: “Don’t put what belongs to you where it does not belong and you will never run into trouble.”
Michelle Stirling-Anosh is a Ponoka freelance columnist.