When Sex education fails
You may have seem the article about the colour changing condom, designed by teenagers, which has won a science award. If you have I hope like me you instantly saw the hugely problematic issues with it. As a lot of science types seem to have been distracted by the shiny shiny of changing colors it might be time for another of my world-famous (in my own mind at least) lists
- Your Sti status is private, this is a non consensual (unless you decide to use this as your testing method, which is all kinds of fucked up) STI test. It violates a persons boundaries and ignores the fact we have a right to non disclosure
- Imagine the condom changes colour what now? Holy fuck did no one say to these kids, erm, this might lead to assaults and even murders? Mono couple having sex, colour change, a partner is just going to say “oh look you have an STI, what a surprise, never mind darling” Every single time? And notice it changes on insertion, so it’s a test for the evil nasty disease riddled vagina, patriarchy 101 coming from school kid.
- What is this for? For a group of kids to be naive enough to think it’s so mono cis het couples can never have sex again until they are purified is perhaps OK, but why did no teacher initiate a discussion of what need it was supposedly fulfilling? Surely that’s stage one of any design test?
- STI tests are not intrusive! The article quotes one of the designers, at length saying how intrusive STI tests are. Just what we need, another thing discouraging people, especially young people from being tested.
- False positives and negatives. Some people will think they have an STI, when they don’t, others will assume they are “safe”. A whole world of consequences anyone with an ounce of imagination can envisage. Again if the kids couldn’t see this, why didn’t a teacher, or the competition organisers?
- Another excuse not to use condoms, exactly what the world doesn’t need.
- Another tool in the drawer marked “reasons boys pressure teenage girls to have sex without a condom”
- STIs can change lives, some need treatment, life long treatment. Thats why clinics have counselling. Hey, my condom says you have herpes is not the support someone needs.
There are I am sure many more issues. At heart though this speaks to how our sex education is failing children and young people. The children here seem to have a host of misapprehensions and falsehoods around sex and sexually transmitted diseases.
“We wanted to make something that make detecting harmful STIs safer than ever before, so that people can take immediate action in the privacy of their own homes without the invasive procedures at the doctors.
This quote sums up so much that is wrong here. No one asked the kids what action, no one discussed what living with an STI might mean, no one discussed consent, no one discussed the reality of STI testing. Its our sex ed summed up, no discussion, no consideration of different kinds of sex, the emotions behind relationships, or consent. That this ever passed the brain storming stage is a fail on the part of the children’s teachers. That it has won a prize shows how poorly as a society we think about STIs. FOr so many it’s still a stigma, something so shameful even going to the doctors is to be avoided. I don’t want to blame the kids, but every adult who did not raise the issues here should hang their head in shame.