The Other McCain

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Dear @LaurenDuca: Could You Please Define ‘Sexually Active’ More Clearly?

Posted on | June 30, 2016 | 51 Comments


Dear Ms. Duca:

Please pardon the rather unfortunate circumstances of this introduction, but while I was updating my blog readers on the latest lunacy from herpes-infected feminist Emily Depasse, I noticed you had interviewed Ella Dawson, Poster Child for the Feminist Herpes Epidemic.

If You’re Sexually Active, Getting
Herpes Is Practically Inevitable

Well, no, actually, it’s not “inevitable,” and to see such a misleading headline published at Teen Vogue is disturbing in the extreme.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the rate of “seroprevalance” (positive blood test) for genital herpes (HSV-2) was 6.6% for males ages 20-29, and 14.4% for females ages 20-29. As troubling as these statistics may be, they certainly do not suggest that herpes is “inevitable” for everyone who is “sexually active.”

Whereas it is the goal of herpes-infected feminists like Ella Dawson to “destigmatize” their disease, most people — surely including the young readers of Teen Vogue, to say nothing of these girls’ parents — would prefer to learn how to avoid the disease. As Ms. Dawson learned to her regret, condoms are ineffective at preventing herpes, a fact that exposes “safe sex” as dangerous myth, a misguided idea can be traced historically to the outbreak of the AIDS pandemic among gay men in the 1980s. Permit me here to recommend “The Origins of a Political Epidemic,” in the book Destructive Generation by Peter Collier and David Horowitz. This article was first published in 1983, when the AIDS epidemic was first making headlines, and when gay activists blocked the public-health measures which might have saved many thousands of lives.

“Everyone who preached free love in the Sixties is responsible for AIDS. . . . This idea that it was somehow an accident, a microbe that sort of fell from heaven — absurd. We must face what we did.”
Camille Paglia

“Free love” — the delusional myth of sex without consequences, sex without commitment or responsibility — killed a lot of people in the 1980s and ’90s, Ms. Duca, including friends of mine. America ought to have learned a lesson from that bitter experience, but instead we have allowed the Condom-Industrial Complex to promote what might be called the Gospel of Latex Salvation: “Party on, kids. Just use a condom.”

Well, how did that plan work out for Ella Dawson?

“I was the editor of my campus sex magazine. I had some one-night stands. I explored my sexuality and what I wanted, and I met a guy at a party and he was amazing. He was super-charismatic and sexy and funny and brilliant and I fell really hard for him. We started seeing each other and then, three weeks later, I woke up with an outbreak of genital herpes.”
Ella Dawson, September 2015

In other words, Ella Dawson was rolling the dice, ignorant of the risk despite the fact that she was majoring in Feminist, Gender, and Sexuality Studies at elite Wesleyan University (annual tuition $47,972). For that kind of money, you might think her professors would have bothered to inform this young genius that (a) condoms don’t prevent herpes, and (b) promiscuity increases your risk of being infected. Ella Dawson said she was “shocked” by her herpes diagnosis, which “didn’t make sense, as I’d never had unprotected sex in my life. . . . How could I have caught something when I had always been so careful?” Ella Dawson was a fool, who is now foolishly encouraging other young women to emulate her folly, and why is Teen Vogue assisting in this foolish project, Ms. Duca?

While it is true that anyone could become infected the first time they have sex, if their first partner already has the disease, anyone proficient in basic arithmetic can see that a combination of caution and a knowledge of risk factors can greatly decrease the likelihood of getting herpes. In 2010, the CDC reported that the herpes rate “was nearly twice as high among women (21%) as men (11%), and more than three times higher among African-Americans (39%) than whites (12%). The infection rate among African-American women was 48%.” For obvious reasons, risk is correlated with the number of sexual partners you have. The CDC found that about 27% of those who reported 10 or more partners during their lifetime are infected with herpes, whereas the rate was only 4% among people who reported having had just one sex partner ever. In other words, the difference between having one partner and having 10 or more partners is a 675% increase in your risk of contracting herpes.

If we analyze Ella Dawson’s story in the context of epidemiological data, we realize that when she began having one-night stands, each new partner represented an increase in her risk. We may suppose that Ella Dawson was not seeking partners with no previous sexual experience, and we may further suppose that the “amazing . . . super-charismatic and sexy” man who infected Ella Dawson with herpes had previously been with a lot of sexual partners. What was the total prior number of partners for each of them on that night in 2013 she “met a guy at a party”? According to the CDC, the genital herpes rate for males with fewer than five previous partners is 7.3%, which rises to 10.1% for males with 5 to 9 previous partners, and 19.1% for males with 10 or more previous partners.

In other words, to reach even a 1-in-5 chance of having herpes, a guy typically has to be with a lot of different women. You see, Ms. Duca, that the facts completely debunk the claim in your Teen Vogue headline that herpes is “practically inevitable” for anyone who is “sexually active.” And your cooperation with Ella Dawson’s effort to “destigmatize” herpes — spreading the message that this incurable disease should be considered innocuous because it’s “practically inevitable” — puts you in service of a propaganda technique known as The Big Lie.

There is no such thing as “safe sex.” That phrase was born during the 1980s as a result of the gay community’s belated recognition that the AIDS epidemic had been spread by, uh, specific types of sexual behavior that resulted in the transmission of a virus through the exchange of bodily fluids, to explain this problem in the most polite way possible.

“The present epidemic of AIDS among promiscuous urban gay males is occurring because of the unprecedented promiscuity of the last ten to fifteen years. . . . It has been mass participation in this lifestyle that has led to the creation of an increasingly disease-polluted pool of sexual partners.”
Michael Callen and Richard Berkowitz, 1982

“I didn’t become a homosexual so I could use condoms.”
Konstantin Berlandt, 1983

In 1982, the CDC reported that that the “median number of lifetime male sexual partners” for gay men diagnosed with AIDS was 1,160.

Repeat: One thousand one hundred sixty.

To comprehend what that means, if a man was diagnosed with AIDS at age 30, after having 1,160 partners since becoming sexually active at age 18, he would have had 97 different partners in an average year, i.e., nearly two new partners every week, or eight new partners per month. This was the “at-risk” population among whom the epidemic was incubated in the late 1970s and early 1980s (a story told in Randy Shilts’s book And the Band Played On). Extreme promiscuity under conditions of almost complete anonymity (i.e., bathhouses, “glory holes,” nightclub pickups, etc.) had become so widely accepted in gay culture in the 1970s that when public-health officials first urged gay men to use condoms during the, uh, specific types of sexual behavior by which the virus was spread, these official recommendations were suppressed.

Bill Kraus, a gay activist in San Francisco, was shocked by the refusal to publicize the earliest AIDS research findings: “How can these people do this? How can they try to suppress this data?” Kraus said in an interview quoted by Collier and Horowitz. “They intimidate people into silence by saying that they’re homophobic, anti-sex, and all kind of other things people don’t want to be called.” Gay radicals falsely blamed the Reagan administration for this epidemic and, in the ensuing propaganda wars, a bizarre new myth emerged: “Everyone is at risk of AIDS! We must teach ‘safe sex’ in every school and distribute free condoms to everybody’s kids!” Guess what happened to parents who raised common-sense objections to this agenda? They were called “homophobic, anti-sex, and all kind of other things people don’t want to be called.”

Well, Ms. Duca, you only graduated from college three years ago, so you have no direct memory of how the AIDS crisis of the 1980s helped fuel the Culture Wars of the 1990s, and I suspect your left-wing professors at Fordham and NYU never explained it to you the way I’ve explained it here. My purpose in relating this history to you is to explain how it was that Ella Dawson, an intelligent young woman majoring in Feminist, Gender, and Sexuality Studies at an elite university, could have been as ignorant as she was of the herpes risk. Because the “safe sex” ideology was created in response to AIDS — a disease that was predominantly transmitted via the exchange of bodily fluids between gay men during specific types of sexual behavior — the Gospel of Latex Salvation has tended to omit certain truths that are of particular interest to young heterosexual women. Examine this data, Ms. Duca:

Herpes simplex virus type 2 (HSV2)
seroprevalence, U.S. females

Total (ages 14-49) …….. 20.9
Age 20-29 ………………… 14.4
Age 30-39 ………………… 25.2
White ………………………. 15.9
Black ………………………. 48.0
1 lifetime partner ……….. 5.4
2-4 lifetime partners …. 18.8
5-9 lifetime partners …. 21.8
10+ lifetime partners …. 37.1

The total number of lifetime partners is the controlling risk factor in the prevalence of sexually transmitted diseases. By simple arithmetic, you see that the overall HSV2 infection rate (20.9%) is a little bit higher than midway between the rate for women with 2 to 4 partners (18.8%) and the rate for women with 5 to 9 partners (21.8%). In other words, the average U.S. female (ages 14-49) has probably had five or six sexual partners. A similar calculation reveals that a typical U.S. woman in her 20s has had no more than four partners. Your Teen Vogue headline claim that it is “practically inevitable” for anyone who is “sexually active” to become infected with herpes is not only false (e.g., even 63% of women with 10 or more partners remain herpes-free), but it also makes the dangerously misleading implication that there is nothing a young woman can do to reduce her risk of herpes. You describe the young fool Ella Dawson as someone who is “spreading sexual health,” yet her message — “Herpes is so common! More or less everybody has herpes! Let’s fight stigma!” — is certainly not healthy. Ella Dawson conflates HSV1 (cold sores) with HSV2 (genital herpes) as if the difference was irrelevant. She does not discuss the actual prevalence of HSV2 or the correlation of risk and the number of partners. In terms of prevention, all she says is “get tested regularly.”

Look at the data, Ms. Duca. If we know that females ages 20-29 have a 14.4% herpes rate, and that the infection rate for white females (15.9%) is substantially below the overall rate (20.9%), does mere bad luck suffice to explain how Ella Dawson got infected at age 20?

If one in six people had genital herpes, how was I the only person I knew to do the ultimate walk of shame from the student health center clutching a stack of STD pamphlets? . . . On a logical level I knew that getting herpes had nothing to do with my actions and didn’t say anything about my character; it was simply luck of the draw.

Alas, “luck of the draw” tends to become cumulative the more often you draw. Never in my life had I seen a poker hand in which a full house got beat by four of a kind until the night in Wheeling, W.Va., when I decided to shove all-in with a full house and . . . Well, “luck of the draw.”

Play enough poker and you’re likely to see even the most improbable things happen at least once, and the odds of me winning with a full house were much better than Ella Dawson’s odds of avoiding herpes that night in 2013 when she met Mr. Amazing Charismatic Sexy Guy at a party.

Ella Dawson can’t stop writing about the guy, who she says tricked her into thinking she had given him herpes, rather than the other way around, and really, how can we possibly know what the truth is? How many different women had he been with before he met her? How many guys had she been with before she met him? If Ella Dawson had never met this guy, but had instead continued her pattern of one-night stands and “exploring her sexuality,” wasn’t it likely that she would have gotten herpes anyway? The risks are cumulative, which is why Ella Dawson’s dismissive “luck of the draw” remark about her herpes infection is as wrong as the “practically inevitable” headline on your article, Ms. Duca.

There is no such thing as “safe sex.” We can be thankful to Ella Dawson for destroying the Gospel of Latex Salvation, but a herpes infection is never an accident, and Ella Dawson was not the victim of “a microbe that sort of fell from heaven,” as Paglia said of the AIDS crisis. Sexually transmitted diseases are correlated to behavior, and thus do not occur randomly. Like other behavioral phenomena — automobile accidents, for example — the fact that we cannot entirely eliminate risk does not mean we should not try to reduce risk. However, when we are discussing risks related to sexual behavior, we are apt to find ourselves accused of Thoughtcrime by people who insist they have a “right” to have sex with whoever they choose, however they choose to do it, without regard to avoidable risk — including the risk of spreading disease.

“Slut-shaming” is the new homophobia. The same way some gay activists in the 1980s used accusations of “homophobia” to suppress information that might have saved thousands of lives, now we see feminists deploy accusatory language — “misogyny,” “rape culture,” etc. — to suppress information that might help young women avoid risky sexual behavior. When you suggest to Teen Vogue readers that all “sexually active” women get herpes, this conveys the idea that it is futile to try to reduce their risk of becoming infected. Yet the vast majority of young women do not have HSV2, and most never will. Why? Because most women do not have a large number of sexual partners. Most women do not have one-night stands. Your headline implies that “sexually active” is synonymous with the high-risk behavior of recklessly pursuing hookups. Why? Because you’re afraid you might hurt somebody’s feelings? Because you can’t tell Teen Vogue readers to avoid dangerous habits?

“Oh, well,” you say, “herpes isn’t all that bad, and I’m careful, so there’s no chance of me getting AIDS.” Fine. Whatever. Here’s something to think about: Antibiotic-Resistant Gonorrhea.

This city is headed for a disaster of biblical proportions!
Fire and brimstone coming down from the skies!
Rivers and seas boiling! Forty years of darkness!
Earthquakes! Volcanoes! The dead rising from the grave!
Human sacrifice! Dogs and cats living together! Mass hysteria!

How many omens of doom do we need? How much more Old Testament wrath-of-God stuff will it take before people finally wake up?

Robert Stacy McCain



51 Responses to “Dear @LaurenDuca: Could You Please Define ‘Sexually Active’ More Clearly?”

  1. ARG is right: Antibiotic Resistant Gonorrhea | Eternity Matters
    July 5th, 2016 @ 6:44 am

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