The world RESPONSIBILITY is one of those words that we’ve heard our parents and teachers say millions of times since we were little. Sometimes we believe we understand it since we’ve heard it so many times, but do we know what this word really entails
Today I bothered, for the first time in my life, to look up the exact definition in the dictionary. I found various ones, but the one I liked most was:
RESPONSIBILITY: The existing capacity in any active individual of the right of recognizing and accepting the consequences of a freely made decision.
Credit: Flickr / Horia Varlan
I also looked up what RESPONSIBLE means: it’s said of a person who puts care and attention into what they do or decide.
According to these definitions, each one of us has RESPONSIBILITY in our bones; it’s innate. But how do we act on it? Who guides us towards RESPONSIBILITY or towards being RESPONSIBLE? And here we have a big dilemma, like what came first, the chicken or the egg.
We reprove teens who have had an unwanted pregnancy, saying: “How irresponsible you were.” But in reality, did we responsibly guide them towards being responsible? Certainly adults, whether they’re parents, extended family, or teachers, have the RESPONSIBILITY of broaching the topic of contraception. Who besides us, with the experience that comes from living all these years, can better teach them how to successfully have affectionate, sexual relationships?
We’ve already faced hard reality; we’ve gone through the famous “trial and error.” But we, who believe we are so intelligent, decide to wait until teens have committed an “error” in order to teach them how they could have avoided it. What kind of intelligence is this, that makes us think they have to go through it like we did? Is this a kind of revenge or the way of life?
I disagree with this attitude. You have to talk about sexuality with young people when they’re young, giving them indications and notions of what can happen to them if they are not RESPONSIBLE with sexuality. Now, if we’re already teens or young adults, actively having sex, the best manner of discussing contraception is with our partners. It’s a discussion that always has to end on good terms, where the winners are contraceptive methods.
This isn’t an easy discussion. That’s why communication between partners is so important: not just when it comes to contraception, but also so that their sexual relationship is pleasurable—a relationship that’s open but responsible, passionate but intelligent.
Credit: Flickr / samcaplat, Sam Caplat
Personally, in my years of experience, I can tell you that this discussion has turned into a necessity. There can’t sex without protection, or better yet, double protection: contraceptive pills and a condom. We can be very much in love, but we can’t fully know the sexual history of our partners. You only have to have sex with someone with HIV once to contract the virus, and after that, you can transmit it to others without even knowing.
As a result, if you’re at the point of having sex for the first time with someone, the decision to be RESPONSIBLE, in regards to contraception, has to be made together, as partners, like a team. If one of the two doesn’t want to protect themselves, the other, literally, should run away. Surely, like here in Colombia, you will find prejudiced individuals that don’t like that fact that we carry condoms in our wallets. But there has to be respect for our beliefs, our life plans. To want to wait to become parents is a decision that is in our hands.
A few years ago I led a campaign in which the woman also had the right to say “I CARRY A CONDOM” and the reactions weren’t expected. It was revolutionary, since is it more socially acceptable for a man to carry condoms. Some women take contraceptive pills without telling their partners, as it is supposedly their responsibility for not getting pregnant. Then who is responsible for not spreading a disease to their partner? Take note: both!
Credit: Flickr / linh.ngân Bùi Linh Ngân
If we’re going to have sex on the first date, what do you think is correct: are we going to act immature and inexperienced by not requiring a condom? Or do we admit that we enjoy sex and that it will be much more pleasurable if we are safe and protected? You have to talk about it, always. The scenario? Whichever. It’s never excessive to clear up doubts; asking is not a crime; and we can’t know everything.
But most importantly, each person is RESPONSIBLE for their own future. Every one of us has the CAPACITY, like the dictionary clearly states, to accept the consequences of what we freely choose to do.