**ETA: I have to crow a bit. Marc Barnes emailed me not long after this post was published to thank me for my writing and for the constructive criticism. So far they have changed the masthead to better reflect that it’s for “Sex Au Natural” within marriage and the controversial condom info graphic has been removed. The site is going through quite the trial by fire, so if you are in support of their cause, be sure to let them know!**
This past weekend, Marc Barnes (BadCatholic) and company launched a new website called 1Flesh.org. This site is branded as being secular, evidence based, and a place for people to go to learn alternatives to chemical birth control and/or barrier methods.
Initial reaction was favorable, which makes sense as most of us who knew about the site were already following some form of FAM/NFP or were in the BadCatholic club. Yesterday, (Sunday) another blogger made the claim that the site was encouraging people to stop using condoms because condoms don’t work among other false allegations (It’s not, btw.) In reading the bloggers post, I really wonder if she took the time to actually read and watch everything on the blog, or if she took a couple of quick looks at the memes and info graphics and drew conclusions from the pretty pictures. Like this one below:
We live in a culture of short attention spans. We love sound bites and we prefer our news to be limited to 140 characters or less. This was probably most illustrated by the “news coverage” of the recent Supreme Court decision on the Individual Mandate: In a rush to be the “first” to report the decision, major cable news networks reported the WRONG decision. (It was very much a Dewey defeats Truman moment.) Why was the wrong information posed? Because people didn’t wait until the speaker was done speaking.
I became sexually active when I was 21. (Strangely enough, it was also the same age at which I became Catholic. My RCIA instruction shared no information about the Church’s teaching on human sexuality or contraception.) I first went on birth control pills at the age of 16 (for it’s skin clearing action and for migraine help) and over the years I had been on the Pill, The Patch, The Shot and ultimately, The Ring. To my knowledge I was the only one of my friends, at that age of 21, who was NOT sexually active and I will say that my mindset became one of ” Everyone else is doing it, why shouldn’t I?” I can’t help but wonder if I was exposed to the notion that some men and women do wait for marriage for sex, or if I had been exposed to a site like 1Flesh, rather than the pro-sex information all around me, if the outcome would have been a little different.
The 1Flesh website is not encouraging young people to eschew safety and shuck their birth control and condoms, while still engaging in risky behavior. Instead, it is proposing a cultural shift… one away from the emphasis of the pleasures of the flesh and one toward the respect of the person. The message it is sending is clear if you stop to look at the mission statement:
We promote saving sex until marriage, and thus eliminating your risk of STDs, and practicing a natural, effective method of family planning within marriage, thus eliminating the negative effects of contraception, especially hormonal contraception.
With all of that, however, I would love to see some design changes:
- Make the Mission Statement front and center. This should be the first thing that people see and so they know that the site is promoting saving sex for marriage and not just saying “Condoms suck, don’t use them.”
- Inclusion of other forms of NFP/FAM. Right now the site is dedicated to primarily the Creighton Method, and there are so many other forms of NFP/FAM for couples to choose. Creighton may work well for one couple, and SymptoThermal for another, Billings for still and other and Marquette for another. To imply that there is only ONE method to naturally chart your cycles really isn’t comprehensive. (To that vein, iuseNFP.com should be up and running very soon!)
- Editing of the Condom info graphic to read that the failure rate for condoms with regard to STI transmission stems mostly from the failure to use the condoms consistently and correctly, not due to an inherent flaw in the structure of the condom itself. Yes, condoms break and not all condoms stop HIV but if someone is choosing to engage in casual or risky sex, they should be wearing a latex or polyurethane condom.
- An encouragement for teens to consult with their parents, physician or another trusted adult for sexual health questions. Teens are impulsive. Their prefrontal cortexes are not fully developed and as a result, are not able to fully assess the risk of a given activity. Basically put, many teens can’t see past the here and now. (Watch some You Tube videos, or America’s Funniest Home Videos to see what I mean.) Critics of the site assert that some teens may visit 1Flesh and deduce that condoms are not worth it and will decide to engage in sex without condoms, and I am inclined to agree. Again, this could be alleviated by emphasizing that the site is about saving sex for marriage, etc.
Bottom line: If you are ready to shift your focus and want information on non-hormonal, non-barrier, all natural sex within your marriage, 1Flesh is a great site. If you have chosen that casual and/or multiple partner sex is more your style, or that charting and taking daily measurements/ observations/ periodic abstinence is too much of a burden, 1Flesh is not for you.
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