Talk:Safe sex

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Does the article say touching hiv +ve blood or vaginal fluids with no apparant cuts or open bleeding wounds cause aids? —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talkcontribs) 08:14, 17 September 2008

Expert advice requested from appropriate projects[edit]





Proposed new section: risks other than STIs[edit]

According to this article, safe or safer sex deals with avoiding STIs. This was the original meaning of the term. However, it soon (the concept having left the gay, or men-who-have-sex-with-men environment) came to take on avoiding unwanted pregnancy as well. The article says nothing of this, and in my view, it should. No, I don't have reliable sources.

The risks of sex are not just medical. There are emotional dangers. One's reputation may suffer, leading to bullying, slut-shaming, job or family loss, even suicide (Tyler Clementi, the guy at Rutgers who jumped off the GW bridge). Can we say the article deals thoroughly with safe sex without discussing these risks? No, I don't have reliable sources.

deisenbe (talk) 13:41, 27 August 2015 (UTC)

Actually, this would require a rewrite of the article. deisenbe (talk) 13:47, 27 August 2015 (UTC)

External links modified[edit]

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Today, I added additional external links to primary documents from the early years of safe-sex promotion.ProfMurphy (talk) 19:40, 14 September 2018 (UTC)

Limitation of condoms detail[edit]

ProfMurphy, I appreciate you cleaning up the article. I tweaked some of the text. But regarding this and this, like I stated in my edit summary, extensive detail on the limitation of condoms doesn't belong in this article. It belongs in the Condom article or perhaps the Comparison of birth control methods article, or in its own article if you are willing to create it and editors such as Doc James (who watches the Condom article like I do) think that a separate article for it is a good idea. It's not a sexual practice or a practice; so that's another reason I felt it shouldn't be a subsection in the Practices section. Of course, some material on condoms not being 100% effective should be in the article, and I left that material in. It's the inclusion of the extensive detail that I object to. Also, per WP:MEDRS, we should typically not rely on primary sources. Flyer22 Reborn (talk) 22:16, 12 September 2018 (UTC)

Inconsistent use reduces effectiveness, yup if you do not use them they do not do anything... Doc James (talk · contribs · email) 05:08, 13 September 2018 (UTC)
Doc James, thanks for your note. The content on condom effectiveness was already present in the article, as were all references; I just moved it for the sake of organizational clarity. In the abstract, it could be helpful if effectiveness info was included for each of the safe-sex methods discussed in the article. But some of what was in the existing article seemed bent on promoting abstinence by over-stating limitations of certain safe-sex methods. Also, there was a lot of content that wasn't specifically about "safe sex" and I either removed or relocated it. Finally, I'm not sure I agree on the use of the word "outercourse" to describe masturbation. Words like "intercourse" and "outercourse" aren't very helpful in this context because there is no agreement on their meaning. Is anal sex intercourse? Oral sex? Because of anatomical and behavioral vagueness, that term is not commonly used in human sexualities textbooks. Colloquially, I've never heard of (solo or partnered) masturbation described as a form of "outercourse" but it is commonly referred to as a risk reduction strategy by many public health organizations, AIDS service organizations, and human sexualities textbooks.

ProfMurphy (talk) 16:52, 13 September 2018 (UTC)

There was already some "limitation of condoms detail" in the article, but you added extra. Struck part of sentence. Turns out you simply moved the content. As for the rest, like I stated below, we follow what the WP:Reliable sources state with WP:Due weight. I don't see that the article was promoting abstinence at all, given that it was clear about the ineffectiveness of abstinence-only sex education before you started editing the article. It is not true that "intercourse" is not commonly used in human sexualities textbooks. Also, the term is usually stated in full as "sexual intercourse." There are different definitions for it, but it most commonly refers to penile-vaginal sex. There, however, is no need to state "intercourse" and we shouldn't state it since it can be vague. Instead, stating "penile-vaginal sex," "penile-anal sex," "anal sex," "anal intercourse," "oral sex," "oral intercourse," or similar, suffices. As for "outercourse," it is an alternative term for "non-penetrative sex," but, although "non-penetrative sex" is more descriptive, "outercourse" is used a lot more than the term "non-penetrative sex." Plus, some definitions given for "outercourse" include everything but penile-vaginal sex, or everything but penile-vaginal and penile-anal sex. So it can include sex acts that actually are penetrative; this sometimes makes it more accurate than the term "non-penetrative sex." And "outercourse" is not used in the article to refer to masturbation as commonly defined; it is used in the article to cover mutual masturbation. Flyer22 Reborn (talk) 20:06, 13 September 2018 (UTC)
Flyer22 Reborn (talk Let me see if I can address these issues point-by-point:
  • I do not have a problem including caveats for any of the named safer-sex practices so long as there's something like parity/balance. If we're going to offer caveats for one safe-sex practice, we need to attempt to do it for all of them (where the literature supports it). Disparaging condoms (and all other safe-sex practices besides abstinence) is common among the AOUM crowd and I'd like the article to avoid a rhetorical structure that echoes the AOUM position as that would represent a form of implicit bias. But if we're going to include caveats for each safer-sex practice (listed in the Practices section) that would seem to contradict the larger organization of the article into effective and ineffective practices. Perhaps the solution would be to combine these two sections, list the practices, and include the caveats (as supported by the literature)? It is also not clear if these "practices" are public health organization recommendations or descriptions of actual behavior--clarifying that would seem in order.
  • I completely agree with your description of how the word "intercourse" is typically used and agree that it is not always inappropriate. My objection, which I did not state clearly, was use of this word as a synonym for "sex" or "sexual behavior." "Intercourse" (using the dictionary def.) doesn't necessarily have anything to do with sexual behavior. It's only when modified (as you've indicated) that it becomes so. In my professional experience (teaching, researching, writing) about human sexualities, that term is not now commonly used alone because of this vagueness. I'd favor more precise language, as you offered.
  • "Outercourse" is a very problematic term. I searched my library of about 20 current university human sexualities textbooks last night and found none that use this term. A quick Google search indicates that it's a cutesy neologism coined in the 1980s as a (faux) antonym to the term "intercourse." As such, its use contributes to the belief that "intercourse" is a synonym for sex (which it's not without the modifier "sexual" preceding it). The use of the term "outercourse" peaked in the 80s and declined by the late 1990s, likely because it contributed to misunderstanding rather than clarity. As the safe sex article already states, STIs can be transmitted/acquired through non-penetrative sexual activity (skin contact, etc.) so "outercourse" is not an effective safe-sex practice. Moreover, the term seems to be used most often in the context of pregnancy avoidance, not STI risk reduction (Planned Parenthood currently uses the term on its website in this context). Discussion (above) on the Talk page seems to have narrowed the focus of the safe sex article to STI risk/harm reduction rather than pregnancy avoidance (the literature supports a focus on STIs, not pregnancy). Including the term "outercourse" under a section on effective forms of safer sex seems problematic, if not wholly inaccurate and misleading. I'd be in favor of excluding the term from the article altogether and/or removing it to a historical section of an article on contraception, sex education, or the like and/or removing it to the section on "Ineffective methods." Retaining it in the Practices section does not seem an accurate reflection of what sources tell us about what the term means and how its been used, and it contradicts the larger organization of the article. BTW: this is an example of the cis-heterocentrist bias of this article. A term associated with pregnancy avoidance has wormed its way into this article, even though the placement of that term (as a safe sex practice--which it's not) is specifically contradicted by other content in the article.ProfMurphy (talk) 14:55, 14 September 2018 (UTC)
I'm only for including caveats if WP:Reliable sources do. And I think they should be included with the practices they are about rather than split into a separate section that goes over all the issues with each practice.
"Outercourse" is a problematic term to you. But what WP:Reliable sources call it problematic? What WP:Reliable sources state that "it's a cutesy neologism coined in the 1980s as a (faux) antonym to the term 'intercourse.' As such, its use contributes to the belief that 'intercourse' is a synonym for sex (which it's not without the modifier 'sexual' preceding it). The use of the term 'outercourse' peaked in the 80s and declined by the late 1990s, likely because it contributed to misunderstanding rather than clarity."? I get that you don't like the term. You apparently hadn't even heard of it to refer to mutual masturbation, while I had. But it is a standard term to refer to non-penetrative sex or sex that is not penile-vaginal, or sex that is not penile-vaginal or penile-anal. The term isn't widely popular, but it is used in a number of academic books, as seen on Google Books if searching under phrasing like "outercourse safe sex." For example, this 2012 "Issues in Ethnicity and Health Research: 2011 Edition" source, from ScholarlyEditions, page 23, states, "The levels of participation in outercourse were low across the sample; also low was the perception of outercourse as being real sex. Outercourse appears to be, primarily, a precursor to penetrative sex, especially with steady partners. If culturally sensitive prevention messages were to promote outercourse as real sex and as an ultimate sexual goal, couples might be able to maintain an intimate, yet safe, sexual relationship."
You recently used Planned Parenthood as a source in this article. Well, as you noted, Planned Parenthood also uses the term "outercourse." It uses the more restrictive definition (any sexual activity except for penile-vaginal sex), but like this 2011 Cengage Learning source I added to the article, states, "Some people consider outercourse to mean sex play without vaginal intercourse, while others consider this to mean sex play with no penetration at all (vaginal, oral, or anal)." And then there are sources like this 2005 Springer Publishing source or this 2008 Simon & Schuster source, which define outercourse as any sexual activity except for vaginal sex and anal sex. So, no, it's not true that the term is mostly used in the context of pregnancy avoidance rather than STI risk reduction. Planned Parenthood is a source that obviously focuses more on pregnancy issues. There is nothing to support regulating the term "outercourse" to being a historical matter. And it doesn't belong in the "Ineffective methods" section since non-penetrative sex is often not an ineffective method, which is why the Non-penetrative sex section is not a subsection of that section. Flyer22 Reborn (talk) 20:24, 14 September 2018 (UTC)

Cis-heterocentric/argumentative language[edit]

This article is plagued with cis-heterocentric language, sex/gender bias, and argumentative (rather than descriptive) language. It refers to safe-sex practices imagined too often as only involving penis-in-vagina sexual activity by people of different sexes (a "man" and a "woman"), implies that there are only two sexes, ignores transgender people's sexual activities, and uses outdated/hetero-centric terminology (like "intercourse"). Example: barrier methods are not just about covering penises prior to penetration into vaginas. They can be used to cover LOTS of other things. Example: calling condoms "condoms" but internal condoms "female condoms". Prophylactics (like all inanimate objects) do not have a sex or gender. There needs to be some de-gendering of these terms and broadening of description of how barriers are used, to include a more diverse array of sexual activities and gendered persons. Also, in several places the article uses words like "should" to make sexual health recommendations, rather than simply describing existing activity or crediting any recommendations to reputable public health agencies (like the NHA or CDC). I have made some edits to broaden the scope of the article to encompass sexual activity by a wider variety of sexes and genders and to edit language so that "shoulds" are minimized.ProfMurphy (talk) 17:25, 13 September 2018 (UTC)

  • ProfMurphy, I'm with you on the terminology for female condoms for instance, but on Wikipedia we have to go by what the sources say; we're really not allowed to be normative. User:Flyer22 Reborn, you do a lot of sex, right? --- Oh, I was going to call you up, but I see you already showed up. Thanks. Prof. Murphy, congrats on the tenure. Did you tell the committee you edited Wikipedia? You can add it to your productivity report or whatever they call it, but I'd discuss that with the chair first, haha. Drmies (talk) 17:45, 13 September 2018 (UTC)
Drmies, I wouldn't state that I "do a lot of sex," LOL. But yes, as you know, I watch and edit a lot of sexual topics.
ProfMurphy, like Drmies said, we have to follow the literature with WP:Due weight. If the Safe sex article was heteronormative, it's because the literature is. The literature is heteronormative on the vast majority of sexual matters. As NeilN, Nigelj, Johnuniq and Grayfell (who all also watch some sex articles) can tell you, per WP:Due weight and WP:Advocacy, it is not for us to challenge the literature and to try to artificially balance an article (in this case, with LGBT content). For example, the literature on sex education is heteronormative as well, but we did not artificially balance that article with LGBT content. Instead, the article has an LGBT section that summarizes LGBT sex education issues (including the fact that LGBT sex education gets little attention) and points to the LGBT sex education article for further detail. I do not know see that the term "intercourse" is outdated. It's true that it most commonly refers to penile-vaginal sex, but it also at times refers to "anal intercourse" and "oral intercourse." That stated, yes, there is no need for unnecessary gendered language in the Safe sex article. When it comes to STI risks, however (and when not considering gender identity), researchers are more concerned about sex between heterosexual couples and same-sex male couples because (since penile-vaginal and penile-anal sex are usually or commonly involved, respective to the couples) the STI risks are significantly greater for them than they are for lesbian couples. That is why the article might validly state "penile-anal sex." After all, pegging (a woman penetrating a man anally with a strap-on dildo) is not common and the STI risk for it is not the same at all (unless there has been sex toy cleaning issues with the dildo). Condoms are usually just called "condoms" on Wikipedia for the same reason that our Wikipedia article on it is titled Condom rather than "Male condom." It is the common understanding of the term -- something that goes on the penis. It usually does not need to be contrasted with the female condom by calling it "male condom." The Condom article does state "male condom" at times, but it mostly just states "condom," and the article is mostly about the male condom because the literature on condoms is. This is why we have no "Male condom" article and shouldn't have one. Furthermore, as the Female condom article makes clear, female condoms are used significantly less than standard (also known as "male") condoms. You would have to take up the term "female condom" with the creators of it. That sort of advocacy doesn't belong on Wikipedia. "Condom" and "female condom" are also clearer than "prophylactics." See WP:TECHNICAL, which addresses using simpler language. Plus, "prophylactics" can be referring to dental dams (although they are rarely used for safe sex) and gloves (which are also rarely used for safe sex).
I moved the Abstinence section out of the "Practices" section because abstinence is often excluded as a safe sex recommendation these days, and this is because abstinence-only sex education has repeatedly proven to be ineffective. That is why it actually did fit in the "Ineffective methods" section. But, for now, I've left it in its own section. It's still recommended enough, but, again, studies consistently show abstinence-only sex education to be ineffective. No one challenges the fact that not having sex prevents STIs and unwanted pregnancy, though. As for "only two sexes," you might be interested in the sex and gender distinction topic. A number of genders have been recognized, but many would say that sex and gender are not the same thing. Intersex people usually are not treated as a third sex and they generally don't like to be treated as such; they usually identify as male/a man or as female/a woman. Notice that "third sex" redirects to the Third gender article. I agree about not using "should." Flyer22 Reborn (talk) 19:50, 13 September 2018 (UTC)
Drmies, in fact, I do include contributions to Wikipedia in reports about my professional scholarly activities and those contributions are recognized as legitimate and valued by the various personnel committees at my university. I have no idea why you think I would need to discuss those professional activities with the chair of my department (especially when I sometimes AM the chair of my department....) Please read my Wikipedia profile for information about how my work here reflects my various areas of scholarly expertise and relates to my professional responsibilities.ProfMurphy (talk) 17:53, 14 September 2018 (UTC)
ProfMurphy, OMFG, settle down dude. I was just trying to give you some friendly advice in case you hadn't had to deal with how some of our colleagues look at Wikipedia work, like I did a decade ago. If this is your level of collegiality, have a great life and no, I'm not interested in your user page and whatever: goodbye. Drmies (talk) 22:51, 14 September 2018 (UTC)
Flyer22 Reborn (talk) This: ("If the Safe sex article was heteronormative, it's because the literature is.") represents circular logic. All it tells me is that the authors of the article didn't bother to look beyond their own, narrow experience to reference a wider variety of more-inclusive sources. Those sources exist; they were just ignored. Also, the remedy for a heterocentric narrative isn't necessarily the ("artificial") inclusion of LGBT content. It's a recognition that human sexual behavior comprises a wide variety of activities beyond penis-in-vagina sex--and that statement is WELL supported in the sources, if one bothers to look. That's what I meant by "plagued with cis-heterocentric language" and "gender bias." But, also, that so much of the content of this article, and its organization, is so intertwined with narratives about contraception, pregnancy, and PIV sex that it has difficulty maintaining a focus on the ostensible subject of the article: "safe sex." Addressing this cis-heterocentric bias does NOT require the inclusion of minority sexual practices. It requires reference to a broader array of sources that better reflect the diversity of human sexual experiences. It means recognizing that condoms and dental dams are not just used to cover penises, that rectal mucus is a potential infectious agents, and that hands/fingers ALSO enter orifices (not just penises). Those facts are discussed in the sources, if one cares to look. Their addition to the article is both accurate and appropriate. This is not "advocacy" or "challenging the literature." I will happily provide sources to support this content where needed.
Regardless of the (irrelevant to the topic of this article) arguments of AOUM proponents, the practice of "abstinence" should be included in this article and should be included in the section on practices. Many, MANY sources list abstinence (from partnered sex involving direct physical contact) as the first item on a list of of safe(r) sex practices--the contradiction of a non-practice being listed as a "practice" notwithstanding.
Yes, I might be interested in reading all about the sex/gender distinction, third sex/gender designations, and intersex people if only because I read, write, and teach university students about those topics on a regular basis. It's what I do for a living. Please visit my Wikipedia profile so you can understand the professional qualifications I bring to edits I make to Wikipedia. The top of this talk page makes a call for expert contributions. I AM that expert. No, I don't know everything about human sexualities but my contributions here are informed by much more than personal opinion or experience.ProfMurphy (talk) 15:42, 14 September 2018 (UTC)
ProfMurphy, that's not circular logic. It's the way Wikipedia works. We follow what the literature states with WP:Due weight. We do not try to balance out matters because of perceived injustice. Like I stated above, the literature is heteronormative on the vast majority of sexual matters. That is a fact. You stated that "all [an article being heteronormative] tells [you] is that the authors of the article didn't bother to look beyond their own, narrow experience to reference a wider variety of more-inclusive sources." And yet there are enough sources that are clear that LGBT sex education is significantly lacking. The vast majority of the literature on sex education, including on safe sex, focuses on heterosexual pairings. Pregnancy among teenagers is a main focus of many of the sources. The article wasn't even well-sourced and it still isn't. So editors were not focusing on certain types of sources anyway. You called the article heteronormative because it used terms like "male," "female", "man" "woman," and "intercourse." There are going to be cases when those terms or similar terms are needed on a topic such as this. We typically don't state "pregnant person" here on Wikipedia, regardless the existence of transgender and genderqueer people. We typically state "pregnant woman" because not only is it typical and less confusing than "pregnant person" to general readers, but it's what the sources state. Unless there is a specific need to mention transgender people, we aren't going to mention them just for the sake of perceived balance. Furthermore, there are some acts, like the missionary position, that are almost exclusively about heterosexual couples, and the literature is clear on that. You will not find a lot of quality sources about the missionary position among same-sex couples, no matter how hard you try to look for them. Similar goes for the woman on top topic. Recently, at the Woman on top talk page, I and others discussed inclusion of the male-male variant of the cowgirl position. Clearly, I was for including information on the cowboy variant there in that article without that article giving undue weight and artificial balance to the cowboy variant. The cowboy variant is still currently in that article. Primefac initially objected to the content being there, but we worked together to give same-sex material space without violating any Wikipedia rules.
Nowhere did I state or imply that human sexual behavior does not comprise a wide variety of activities beyond penis-in-vagina sex. I simply stated that the literature on sexual activity is mostly focused on sex among heterosexual couples. And with as much as I've researched sexual matters, I should know. If you look at the research on sex positions, for example? It's mostly about heterosexual couples. I don't have to look into this matter. I know. If I was some ignorant "straight couples rule" editor, I highly doubt that so many editors, Doc James, Jytdog, Drmies, Rivertorch and Ritchie333 included, would seek my opinion on sexual topics and trust me to edit sexual topics. I wouldn't have spent time working on articles like Lesbian sexual practices or Frot. That stated, I agree with you that a broader array of sources is a good thing. All I'm saying is that we should not let our personal beliefs get in the way of following Wikipedia's rules. Well, we typically shouldn't anyway. Condoms are not only used to cover penises, but they mostly are. It is not for us to try to challenge this with some artificially balanced language. Mentioning that condoms can be used in some other way for safe sex? That's fine. Not mentioning first and foremost that it's meant to cover the penis? And trying to limit further wording that relates the condom to the penis? That's not fine. That is "advocacy" and "challenging the literature." As for dental dams, I helped include sexual material on them in the Dental dam article. Like I stated above, dental dams are hardly used for safe sex. They have been marketed to lesbian couples significantly more than to heterosexual or same-sex male couples. Yes, we should cover them in this article, but we shouldn't be giving undue weight to them.
As for your expertise, it does not matter here at Wikipedia. Not generally. Per the WP:EXPERT essay, "Expert editors can be very valuable contributors to Wikipedia, but sometimes have a difficult time realising that Wikipedia is a different environment from scholarly and scientific publishing. The mission of Wikipedia is to provide articles that 'summarize' accepted knowledge regarding their subjects, working in a community of editors who can be anonymous if they wish. We generally find 'accepted knowledge' in high quality secondary sources like literature reviews and books. Wikipedia has no formal structure with which to determine whether an editor is a subject-matter expert, and does not grant users privileges based on expertise; what matters in Wikipedia is what you do, not who you are. Previously published reliable sources, not Wikipedia editors, have authority for the content of this encyclopedia. Please do not use Wikipedia to promote your own papers (see WP:REFSPAM and WP:SELFCITE), and please do not author literature reviews in Wikipedia (we summarize reviews; we don't generate them here)." I could throw my weight around as well, but I don't. I don't discuss my profession(s) on Wikipedia. I let my edits, knowledge, and respect for the rules speak for themselves. Flyer22 Reborn (talk) 20:24, 14 September 2018 (UTC)
I haven't got a bloody clue about sex-related articles. Seriously, I'm a total ignoramus, I know it can produce children and ... er that's about it as I generally identify as asexual (broadly construed with occasional exceptions). So it's nice to be able to read about them here and get some idea of what goes on in other people's heads while I'm busy looking up what date the western platforms extensions to King's Cross St Pancras tube station opened. But I absolutely have to trust what is in the articles is factually correct. So, we need the best possible sources available for information here, that has been properly peer-reviewed in the scientific community (where applicable) and is giving safe and sound advice. We cannot promote individual theories, as they may give dangerous advice to the layman or uninformed reader; Jytdog in particular is good at ferreting these out. It's nothing personal. Ritchie333 (talk) (cont) 20:34, 14 September 2018 (UTC)
User:Flyer22 Reborn, I think we all got a taste here of professionalism and collegiality. Listen, you don't have to prove your expertise to me. I know you know Wikipedia, and you know a bit about sex too. Whether your counterpart knows Wikipedia is not a given. Drmies (talk) 22:54, 14 September 2018 (UTC)

Clean up for History section[edit]

As already noted, the History section of the article has a large amount of content without sources/citations. Other content in this section duplicates info in the article's intro and elsewhere. I have added some material I'm aware of due to my familiarity with the history of HIV/AIDS activism. If there are no objections, I will delete un-sourced/un-cited material (only) and clean up the language to eliminate redundancies/keep the focus on the history of the term. I am also willing to develop some content about the conflicts over safe-sex guidelines in the U.S. gay male community when they were first proposed. This would also seem the proper place to broach the relevant parts of AOUM programs, with links to more in-depth Wikipedia articles on that topic. Whether or not one agrees with AOUM advocates/programs, they are a legit part of the history of safe sex as a concept and practice.ProfMurphy (talk) 19:58, 14 September 2018 (UTC)

Per WP:Preserve, you should try to retain material that should be retained. It is usually easy enough to source unsourced material. And material you add should obviously be sourced. It should not be based on your knowledge. Flyer22 Reborn (talk) 20:24, 14 September 2018 (UTC)