I was reading DearAuthor.com this morning and it made me think about condom use in romance novels.
In real life, I can’t imagine having lots of sex and having multiple partners without using condoms and likely some other form of birth control. One to prevent unwanted babies, the other to prevent nasty diseases.
I’ll admit I grew up in the 1980s when there was a HEALTHY FEAR OF AIDS. One of my middle school projects was about AIDS and what we could do to prevent the spread. Back then, we didn’t know a lot about AIDS, and I guess people were a lot more cavalier about sexually transmitted diseases. Penicillin had been discovered, of course. So the condom, condom, condom message was drilled in our heads over and over and over again.
In romance novels, though, I’m going to have to admit, I’m NOT a fan of condoms. A good sex scene has a certain flow, and when the hero pulls a condom from wherever, I’m usually pulled right out of the story. I want to know where he got it. Was he planning to seduce the heroine, because why else would he have that damn thing on him. If he didn’t plan it, is he just carrying condoms in his wallet hoping a woman would fall in his path? Did he check the expiration date?
Although I must admit when the hero says, “I’m clean.” I wonder about that too. Who gets STD testing regularly who’s not a porn actor? (Sorry, I live in the San Fernando Valley and we think about these things here). In my previous life, about half of my clients had STDs. So somebody was getting tested, I guess. I was always shocked by this. Who knew they were so prevalent? Sure we read a lot about them, but it’s never a topic of cocktail discussion.
So, I’m going to sit on the bad side of the fence. Since I love the friends to lovers trope, and love, love, love the secret baby trope – I’ll have to say no to condoms in those books. If you can’t trust your lifelong best friend, then who can you trust? Can you have a secret baby with condoms and the pill as backup? Nope, didn’t think so.
But for those books where the hero/ine picks up the other at a bar, on the street, in an elevator during a black out, etc., I say please use a condom, and I’ll forgive you.