This article discusses a mature topic. Our 17-year old and younger readers are encouraged to read this with an adult.
After seeing the film Don Jon (starring the incredible Joseph Gordon Levitt), I’m left wondering if there’s anything JoGo can’t do – he acts, writes books, plays guitar. Heck, he even lip syncs. To top it off, his latest film asks us to critically analyze media portrayals of gender and sex. And the film portrays the character using condoms during sex scenes. I’m impressed.
Whether or not you’re a fan of JoGo or the film, it’s great to see a movie that points out that we are all influenced by the media and cultural ideas about what it means to be a man or woman. These ideas can affect our relationships and our sexual health. So, in honor of what I think is a monumental occasion in mainstream movie history, this month’s Ask Elizabeth will focus on some of the issues that come up in the film.
Do you have a question that you’d like to see answered in this column? Send them to me at AskElizabeth@pp-la.org.
Q: What can I do to make condoms feel better?
In the film, Don Jon’s character says that “condoms suck”—but they don’t have to. Condoms—and sex in general—usually feel better when both partners are relaxed, comfortable and communicating with each other. Once that’s established, lubricant can also make a big difference. Water-based lube makes sex more slippery, which can make it more enjoyable and help keep condoms from breaking. Put lube on the outside of the condom, and you can also put a drop or two on the inside to increase sensitivity. (Just make sure not to put more than that inside so it doesn’t slip off.) Also, there are a lot of different brands and types of condoms. Try out different ones to find the one you like best. Remember, it’s important for sex to feel good for both partners. For more info on condoms, visit the Planned Parenthood website.
Q: Is it okay to want sex all the time?
Yes, each person has different levels of how often they’d like to have sex. Many of our ideas about sex are influenced by gender roles. In our society, women are often told that they shouldn’t want sex, while it’s expected for guys to want sex all the time. In reality, we know that both men and women have a wide range of sexual desires—that’s normal and healthy. If you’re in a relationship, it’s important to communicate openly with your partner about sex, what you each like, don’t like and how you’ll protect yourselves.
Q: How do I know if I’m in a healthy relationship?
At Planned Parenthood Los Angeles, we believe a healthy relationship—whether it’s casual or serious—is a two-way street. One side of the street is how you expect to be treated by your partner. The other side is how you treat your partner and show them respect. When you’re evaluating your relationship, think about whether or not you’re able to exercise your rights. Everyone has the right to:
- Say what I need to say.
- Always be treated with respect and as an equal.
- Be myself and have my own space.
- Say no to something I don’t want to do.
- Abstain from sex or practice safer sex.
And, on the other side of the street, everyone has a responsibility to:
- Always treat my partner with respect.
- Own up to my actions.
If someone doesn’t feel like they’re treated well, or they’re not treating their partner well, it could be a sign that it’s not the best relationship for them. Healthy relationships should be two-sided, with give and take, both partners need to take an active part in keeping it healthy and strong.