I had the opportunity to attend a panel discussion this past week titled “Protection is the New Black: Are You Sleeping with Clair Huxtable or Nicki Minaj?” The event was put on and moderated from the stage by Verneda White, founder of Human Intonation—an apparel brand dedicated to using fashion to raise social awareness on various topics. The focus for this particular panel was creating dialogue around the factors that play into people having medium rare or unprotected sex and exposing themselves to STDs. There was a lot of talk around communication, expectations, bedroom awkwardness, and one night efficiency.

I captured so many thoughts and quotes from the event that it made it pretty damn difficult for me to sit and write this. I wanted to do an overall recap, but that got pausably long. I wanted to do a video blog, but my eyes looked tired and my visually noticeable frustration with this post-nasal drip and accompanying cough would have been overwhelming. So in an effort to save my chin hairs and avoid the stress of not meeting a deadline, I’ve put together a list of 5 things (quotes, event segments, etc.) that got me thinking at the forum:

1. “80% of new HIV infections are Black/African American. That’s the future of our race.” -panelist quote

That’s also pretty f*cking scary. Whether that number is inflated or not, I’m sure we can all agree that the rate at which it’s contracted in the Black community is significantly higher. I remember thinking “that is not the future of my race” then realized I was distancing myself from the issue because I didn’t think it applied to me or any of the people I know. This line of thinking can easily become destructive. I know I’m not the only person thinking this way.

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2. “Sex isn’t intimacy. It’s a physical act.” -panelist quote

Some people (maybe a lot) view sex like fast food. They want it when they want it. It’s easily accessible. It fulfills a basic need despite the potentially hazardous side effects. People actually think it’s better for their own good to not ask questions about it, which is incredibly backwards.

3. Clair Huxtable vs. Nicki Minaj Comparison

What I got from the event was that Clair Huxtable could represent a person with low risk of contracting or having HIV/STDs versus a Nicki Minaj character that could be described as high risk. When I think low-risk, I think of the type of woman I could confidently call a girlfriend with longer term potential. I think of descriptors like educated, good upbringing, well-kept appearance, mature, and free of STDs/The Monster.  I’m going to approach her differently and not focus on how quickly I can get to the cooty cat. When I think high risk, I think of words and phrases like promiscuous, loose, reckless, and hoetry. Someone that gives off this vibe will be dealt with 1-3 times max. I’ll be much more direct and may possibly bring a magnifying glass in addition to reinforced condoms to the bedroom. The likelihood of her getting face is nil. As you can imagine, much debate was sparked around this.

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The Cliff Note Summary: Just because someone looks clean of STDs doesn’t mean they are clean. A lot of the people testing positive in clinics for HIV are middle class and in “committed” relationships. Nicki stans also noted that she’s had the same man for years and her characters aren’t a reflection of her character. No comment from me on that.

4. Attendee Question: Do Women Buy Condoms? Is there a negative stigma attached?

I was chatting with Verneda about this question after the event and she gave me the following:

“Yes. Of course women buy condoms. I still feel there is a negative stereotype around women buying them. She is looked at as being promiscuous, easy, and the exact opposite of the type of woman a man will bring home to mom.”

If a chick is out and about with condoms, it means she’s sexually active and she’s prepared just in case something should happen. I hadn’t really thought about how I processed this before, but now that I think about it…there are some factors at play. If I just meet a chick, we go home, and she whips out condoms, I’m going to assume she knew exactly what she wanted. I’m probably going to go ahead and have sex with her since she seems to be the safe type at the moment. In the morning or after the glow wears off, I’m going to experience the Moment of Clarity (I didn’t make this up) where a man recalls what he just did and starts analyzing the stupidity of his move. More than likely, I’m going to wonder how many times she’s done that before. Her resume and cover letter may very well get put into the pile of despair.

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However, if I don’t see these condoms, I take some time to get to know her, and then we get down to business and she has them, I’m not going to think much of it. It’s less about her having condoms and more so about when I see them. The same goes for conversations about s*x itself.

5. Some People Really Don’t Know How to Ask a Partner If They’ve Been Tested Or If They Have Condoms.

Yet they know how to get naked and do what it do anyway.

So yeah, these are just a few related thoughts on the event that sparked some ideas. What do you think about women having an adequate stock of protective supplies? Does it give off the wrong image? Why do we struggle so much when it comes to having conversations around using protection and testing when it comes to sexual partners? What traits and characteristics do women typically associate with low risk vs. high risk men? Is it even thought about? Have you been to any interesting events on sexual health lately? Other thoughts are welcomed of course.