You can't open an internet browser these days without hitting a loud opinion about how the decline of marriage — or, for less ambitious traditionalists, monogamy — is tearing society apart. Everything from hormonal contraception to gays have been blamed for the falling marriage rate in the US, and marriage proponents can't figure out how to save it. Lucky for them, their deus ex machina has arrived: drug-resistant gonorrhea.
Of course, I'm making this claim at least partially (OK, mostly) in jest. Drug-resistant gonorrhea is nothing to cheer; it's scary and unpleasant, a disease that causes such maladies as swollen testicles, an itchy anus, and an inflamed vulva. A terrifying article in The New Yorker about a year and a half ago detailed alarm within the medical community over the new STI superbugs, and recently released data concludes that current courses of treatment — a shot and some antibiotics — are now ineffective in 10% of cases. A new study shows that if what doctors currently have available to them is ineffective in 10% of cases, every year we'll see a 7% increase in cases. That's tens of thousands of newly infected people every year walking around with superbug-encrusted genitals, according to The Verge.
Now, my first reaction to reading this news was basically that gif of a terrified-looking octopus crawling swiftly across the ocean floor while block text reading NOPE NOPE NOPE displays below the moving image. My second thought was that if things don't work out with the guy I'm currently seeing, I'm never taking my vagina out of its case again. Too dangerous. I will devote my life to discovering a way to make Wanda Sykes' brilliant "detachable pussy" idea a reality, and then I will lock mine up in a fireproof box that I keep in my closet next to my folded fitted sheets.
My third thought was this: if sex becomes too dangerous (or potentially expensive), will people choose to have less sex? Or, like during the height of the AIDS epidemic in the US, will they continue to have sex, but just be shit-scared about it? Will sexually nonmonogamous people be choosier with partners? Will people consider breaking up with their college partners in order to sow their wild oats in the Big City for a few years, only to consider the itchy crotch horror that awaits them and say eh, fuck it? Will they get married or remain coupled because it's a big, scary, drug resistant gonorrhea world out there?
That remains to be seen. But if, in fact, long-term coupling falls back into fashion, wouldn't it be ironic (and a little darkly funny) if conservative marriage advocates had drug-resistant STD's to thank?
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