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The Complete Guide to Safer Sex by Ted…
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The Complete Guide to Safer Sex

by Ted McIlvenna

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In modern America, civic initiatives to improve the lot of homosexual men began in 1950 when a handful of them based in L.A. organized a civic group they called the Mattachine Society. In 1956, a spin-off called ONE, Inc., published "Homosexuals Today: A Handbook of Organizations & Publications." It recounted that in May of 1953, the seven founders of the groundbreaking homosexual group "took their last inventory...They had openly circularized the candidates for the School Board on the issue of modernizing the sexual hygiene programs in City Schools to meet the needs of the potential deviants."

Following the Stonewall Riots of 1969, Howard Brown, M.D., a former New York City Health Commissioner who had escaped threats of exposure as a homosexual by becoming a professor at NYU, lent his support to colleagues who created an American Foundation for the Prevention of V.D., Inc. In a succession of booklets composed, advertised, and circulated to publicize advice about how to avoid getting and spreading sexually transmitted infections, this foundation emphasized the value of washing involved body parts with soapy water as soon as possible after a sexual episode. It suggested that cleansing intimate bodily cavities could be facilitated by washing with the help of a bidet.

In 1979 and 1980, this American Foundation for the Prevention of V.D. placed full page ads that reproduced selected instructions for post-sex washing in the first and second editions of an unprecedented National Gay Health Directory. But in June of 1982, members of a radical San Franciscan collective called the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence leafleted participants in that year's Gay Pride Parade in San Francisco. Their glossy handout was headlined "Play Fair!" The accompanying image depicted a lineup of men positioning miniature mops at the rear ends of the man just ahead of him.

The text of this leaflet included the first widely publicized alert about what would soon become known as AIDS. It said, "Gonorrhea, syphilis, herpes, scabies, intenstinal parasites and hepatitis (not to mention widespread warts and guilt) have reached epidemic proportions in San Francisco. Mysterious forms of cancer and pneumonia are now lurking among us too. We are giving these diseases to ourselves and each other through selfishness and ignorance....Please read this pamphlet, and become aware, become responsible, and share the knowledge with your friends."

Now came a listing of "Recommendations to Help Create A Disease-Free Convent and Community." The first three dealt with the rarely addressed subject of post-sex washing.
First: "SOAP& WATER. Wash your hunky little body before and immediately after sexual contact(s)."
Second: "THE AFTER-SEX PEE. Pee as soon as you can manage it after sexual contact. The sooner the better."
Third: "THE OLD DOUCHE. Absolutely not! Stop douching. It can spread a little infection further inside you, making it a big infection."

What did the authors of this pamphlet mean by douching? Being typically American, they were likely to be unfamiliar with the history of post-sex washing, hence unaware that in the late 1700s the French had innovated on this score by inventing low, stand-borne wash bowls to facilitate the careful handwashing of intimate organs. They dubbed these propped up bowls bidets because that was their nickname for a breed of French horse so low-standing and slim that adult riders had to stick their rear ends high into the air in order to ride one, assuming the very position required for the bidet-facilitated washing of the innards of derrieres and genitals.

Thanks to censored history, absent sex education, limited foreign experience, and taboo-sustained public silence, few Americans knew much about the history of French bidet use. None but foreign-born or cosmopolitan Americans tended to install bidets in their bathrooms. Thanks to the arrival and promotion of manufactured soft-plastic packets full of medicated liquid or diluted vinegar said to be good for disinfecting intimate orifices it was squeezed into, most Americans equated douching not with intimate washing of the kind facilitated by traditional bowl bidets, the French meaning of this term, but with the hand-deployment of manufactured, liquid-filled, plastic squeegees -- soon blamed for producing intimate infections by forcing germ-laden fluids even deeper into vaginal and anal cavities.

Had concerned American physicians and civic leaders known more about the history, rationale for, and mechanics of French bidet use, they might have been able to educate their own about the long Southern European history of using sink-like bowl bidets to facilitate intimate washing. They might have explained that washing sex-deposited fluids out of intimate cavities with the help of skillfully applied water obtained from bidet bowls is very different from using pre-filled, squeegee-like plastic "douches" to force medicated and perfumed fluids into intimate organs, at least without making provision for these innards to be carefully rinsed and drained afterward.

Back in 1966, Professor Alexander Kira of Cornell University set out to dispel harmful ignorance and promote healthful use of traditional bowl bidets by producing a respectably published book about the results of his decade-long study of American toilet facilities. Called "The Bathroom: Criteria for Design," this authoritative elaborate case for incorporating bowl bidets into American bathrooms made little headway -- even as the case for post-sex washing with the help of bidets to prevent STDs was being formalized and popularized by the Manhattan-based American Foundation for the Prevention of Venereal Disease.

Instead of welcoming these new ideas, persisting popular ignorance, sustained with the help of stubborn taboos, stymied the efforts of these precocious American proponents of bidet-facilitated intimate bathing designed for routine maintenance and the prevention of sexually transmitted infections. Not until the arrival of the 21st Century did Japanese entrepreneurs succeed in overcoming widespread public squeamishness about this matter, in part by equipping standard American toilet bowls with tiny water-fountain attachments that could be strategically targetted for the washing of intimate vaginal and anal canals.

Thanks to pioneering proponents of post-sex washing such as the well-credentialied authors of this "Complete Guide to Safer Sex," increasing numbers of sexually active Americans have been made aware of the organ-maintaining and STD-preventing virtues of skillfully executed intimate washing. Manufacturers of traditional French-style bowl bidets are now greatly outnumbered by domestic producers of toilet seats undergird with targetable water-spraying fixtures designed to facilitate both the routine maintenance and post-sex cleansing of intimate cavities. Post-sex hygiene is slowly but sruely rejoining condom use on the roster of recommended safer-sex practices. ( )
  toby.marotta | May 4, 2011 |
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