After working on stories about sex parties, college sex tapes and the crazy lifestyles of college students, I made a shocking discovery… one that has somehow eluded the rest of the country – Malaysian young people are having sex.
Okay, so maybe that won’t win me the scoop of the year. But the fact that you acknowledge that, and that it ain’t news to you, shows that there’s no longer any doubt that young people these days are getting it on. Unfortunately, not all of them are putting it on.
Two months ago at the Bayer Schering Pharma-initiated World Contraception Day (WCD), it was revealed that about one in three Malaysians aged 18-21 who participated in a survey conducted by TNS Healthcare have already done the dirty deed.
To put it into context, what those numbers mean is that even if you were the Jonas Brothers, at least one of you would have had use of another kind of ring.
In fact, some of the college students I’ve interviewed seemed like they could laugh at the idea of a purity ring.
A 23-year-old told me she and her college friends had “porn weekends”, where instead of watching movies, they do other stuff that also tend to lead to happy endings. (Read about it in my college sextapes story.)
Another girl, 24, told us that her sex party community sent out invites through everybody’s favourite youth hangout, Facebook (and your parents thought FarmVille was a problem). As for the lurid details the girl divulged about their activities, let’s just say they were too lurid for us to publish. (But we did publish whatever we could in me and NASAssistic‘s “sexposé” on sex parties.)
You might think those are extreme cases, but them existing at all points to an environment where sex is the norm.
In any case, one in three of the 200 youngsters who took part in the WCD survey have already had sex before 21. You can expect that number to grow exponentially if you factor in the late 20s when generally, emancipation and greater spending power start to overcompensate for the reduced hormones.
But I’m not one to judge on things like this. I ain’t no moral authority.
What I feel compelled to comment on, however, is how we constantly ignore the fact that all this is going on.
Whether something should be done to discourage premarital sex is a debate that is way beyond this column. But what we can and should discuss, is how we can better protect those who inevitably decide to do it anyway.
According to the WCD survey, a frightening 30% – again, almost one in three – did not talk about contraception before their first sexual experience. Another 30% did eventually talk about it, but with great difficulty.
Fifty-six percent of the girls in the survey (remember, they are aged 18-21) have already had sex without contraception, while 46% of males too were stupid enough to leave themselves open to whatever sort of crabs crawling around these days; not to mention the ever-present danger of HIV infection.
In 2008 alone, there were close to 3,700 new cases of HIV infection in Malaysia, added to the over-80,000 cases reported over the last decade. It’s scary to think that almost half of our young people have at least once exposed themselves to the risk of infection by not practising safe sex.
Still, the most appalling statistic is that Malaysia, for all our talk about being a developing nation and society, has the highest rate of unplanned pregnancies in the Asia Pacific region.
Spitting it out
Now some of you might be thinking it highly inappropriate of me to be addressing what seems to be such a serious issue so flippantly, but that is kind of my point – we need to learn how to chill and start talking about it.
There’s a reason why two out of three young Malaysians either didn’t talk about safe sex, or found it extremely difficult to initiate such a discussion before they actually went ahead and put their lives, and potentially those of future (or in some cases, simultaneous) partners, at risk.
The solution, it seems – apart from the obvious one of abstinence – lies in us opening up, no pun intended. Yes, young people need to be smarter about safe sex, but close to 60% feel they’d be more willing to talk about it if they had someone to talk to in confidence. If you asked me, I think that says a lot about how we communicate with our youths.
I understand that it can be a tricky situation, seeing as how talking about safe sex can be seen as encouraging sexual activity; but do we stop teaching kids how to drive safely in case it encourages them to drive faster? I know it’s not a fair analogy, but you get my drift.
Ianyway, in case you don’t, consider this: here’s what young Malaysians in the survey considered contraceptive methods (FYI, none are considered effective) – 40% believe in the “withdrawal method”, 20% in sex during menses, 13% in having a shower or bath after sex, 4% in having sex in a bath, 4% in coca-cola rinses (yes, that is exactly what it implies), and 3% in the woman-staying-upside-down-for-two-hours-after-sex method.
Surely talking about safe sex can’t be as uncomfortable as all that.