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HIV, in fanfic and in real life - Mo's Journal — LiveJournal
June 21st, 2005
02:03 pm

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HIV, in fanfic and in real life

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From:mofic
Date:June 23rd, 2005 12:14 am (UTC)
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Nowadays I try to be realistic in portraying condom use, and to reflect the way people actually behave. This is sometimes different from the way they should behave for maximum safety. For instance, I've never written condom use for blowjobs, because I think very few people actually do that. And I've had characters who were overwhelmed with emotion simply not bother to use a condom for anal sex, either.

I agree that very few use condoms for oral sex. In a recent story, I had a couple consider doing so (because one of them was occupationally exposed to HIV, so it's a more present threat now) but up until then, I'd never had any characters even talk about condoms for fellatio. And these guys end up not using them for that.

And I'm certainly not suggesting that all fanfic ought to show consistent safer sex, because safer sex clearly is not consistently practiced in the real world, either. I think there are lots of ways of dealing with this, but to me just ignoring it doesn't feel very realistic, which I think is what you are saying, too. And there's something kind of funny about talking about realism in this context. I mean, I write about mutant superheroes and you write about vampire killers, and we're worried that lack of concern about HIV makes it unrealistic :-)? But it's a matter of taste, I guess, and my preference is for everything but the fantasy elements of the canonical premise to be as realistic as possible.

The truth, I guess, is that I do tend to find condoms unerotic. But they're a part of our sexual world, now, so they're a part of my stories, too.

Can you find ways to make them less unerotic?
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From:kindkit
Date:June 23rd, 2005 03:21 am (UTC)
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I write about mutant superheroes and you write about vampire killers, and we're worried that lack of concern about HIV makes it unrealistic :-)?

*grins*

Well, the Buffyverse (I can't speak for your fandom) is sort of the real world plus--the "plus" being vampires and demons and slayers. And in the show's canon, real world concerns are handled realistically. So it makes perfect sense to me that HIV would be among those real-world issues for the characters.

Um, which I guess is a long-winded way of agreeing with what you already said.

Can you find ways to make them less unerotic?

Hmm. I could try, I suppose, but to me it would feel sort of forced--like I was deliberately including a safe-sex message ("condoms can be fun, kids!") in the fic. Some writers, I'm sure, could have characters using condoms erotically in a great, fun, non-preachy way. But I'm not at all convinced that I could.
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From:mofic
Date:June 23rd, 2005 10:24 am (UTC)
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Well, the Buffyverse (I can't speak for your fandom) is sort of the real world plus--the "plus" being vampires and demons and slayers. T

Yes, it's similar with X-Men movieverse. For me, that's a whole lot of the charm of the movies. The people feel real. They react the way I think real people would to finding they have superpowers. I find, as I've said elsewhere, that what keeps my willing suspension of disbelief going is making everything but the superpowers as real as possible. That's not in any way limited to sex. X-Men are based in a suburb of NYC and I live in NYC - when someone gets the New York stuff wrong it throws me out of the story just as much as if there's something unrealistic in the sex.

As to making condoms less anaphrodisiac - I don't think it needs to be preachy, but I also don't think it needs to (or ought to) be a constant thing. I think it's possible, and a good idea, to show people reacting differently to condom use, to have some people mind it and wish they didn't have to and some eroticize it and some screw up and forget.

Some people really hate them, and a gazillion workshops on eroticizing safer sex and/or using them consistently all their lives won't make them hate them less. (Aside: As mentioned elsewhere, I have a couple in my fiction who decide to stop practicing safer sex through a practice called Negotiated Safety - they're both HIV- and agree to have sex only with each other and to disclose any lapse immediately and go back to latex. Anyway, one of them thinks he doesn't like to top in anal sex. He finds out he just didn't like it with a condom - he'd never done it without. but I digress). OTOH, some people really do find them erotic after a while, through classical conditioning, if for no other reason.

I remember in the mid-eighties when men in my social circle started using them, one guy told me that he found himself getting hard in the dentist's chair! As soon as the dentist put on his gloves, the smell of latex went straight to his mid-brain :-) and from there to his genitals :-).

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