What happens when a group of pro-abstinence college kids who are not untalented at making graphics but could use some advice when it comes to slogans (um, we all know JT brought sexy back in 2006) reject their parents' world of "sky-high rates of divorce, abortion, and STDs; a world bored with sex and bored with romance" in search of "sex free from fear, love free from use, and a world of people who love and respect their own bodies"? You get a campaign in support of bareback — and therefore wholesome — fucking.
We at Jezebel also "want women and men to be respected and loved for who they are, to the very depths of their being." But we have to disagree with the 1flesh crew when they say they think they've "narrowed all the wackness down to its primary cause: The widespread use of artificial contraception." You hear that? Every time you tear open a condom wrapper, sexy takes two steps backwards.
"So contraception isn't quite as awesome as the world makes it out to be," the site declares. "What now?" A litany of arguments against contraception and for "100% organic" sex follow (sample brilliant dissertation: "sure, getting pregnant and raising a kid may very well be, to some, inconvenient, expensive, hard, and maddening at times, but it's a hell of a lot better than being dead"), complete with Pinterest-Pinnable images, like a condom standing in for the "O" in "LOL." It's all very wannabe subversive and "now," like a world in which Rick Santorum knows how to use Instagram.
Are the founders' attempts at snarky propaganda just plain pitiful (like the image at right, taken from their website, as is the one further below), or are they dangerous, too? The site is clearly geared towards a younger crowd, and it's rife with misinformation that we could pick apart for hours if we didn't have better things to do with our time, like donate to Planned Parenthood. Some quick examples: 1flesh argues that condoms ruin sex by making it feel shittier (cool story bro, I think my high school boyfriend told me that one already) and because they're toooottally ineffective in fighting against HIV and other STDs, a statement so destructive that even the Vatican has admitted that contraceptives do occasionally have something to do with safe sex. The site also claims that birth control doesn't reduce the rate of unplanned pregnancies, an argument a Patheos blogger eviscerates well:
This one falls somewhere between outright false and outrageously misleading. It is a kernel of truth buried under a pile of BS. 1Flesh cites a CDC statement that 49% of pregnancies in the US were unintended. They then crow that this is despite the "near universal use of contraception." Unhelpfully for them, the CDC statement they link to directly contradicts this. In fact, unintended pregnancy is higher in those populations least likely to use contraception, namely the very young and the poor. The CDC states that these stats can be improved by both expanding access to contraception and increasing consistent and correct usage amongst the sexually active. I guess 1Flesh would have its readers believe that the CDC is a solid, unquestionable source for one paragraph, but a biased, unreliable source for the next.
The whole "name drop a bunch of reputable sources and make a snazzy distracting infographic" strategy might not be working out so well for 1flesh, though, because you can no longer find this particularly infuriating infographic (image via Patheos) on their site. Maybe the FDA, CDC, and Planned Parenthood called them out for using their organizations to propagate lies?
1Flesh responded to criticism on its Facebook page by claiming that they're promoting saving sex until marriage over telling teenagers to "ditch their condoms and get busy." And that's somewhat true; behind hopelessly lame graphics like the cartoon wedding couple holding a phallic balloon under the words, "Sex is Better Naked," the subtext is constantly "...only if you're hitched," a disclaimer repeated throughout the site:
The first thing we want to emphasize is the beauty of saving sex until marriage. Sex speaks a language in its unitive and procreative nature, and in its release of couple-bonding chemicals like oxytocin. It says forever. It's a promise. So don't just make the promise of forever with your body, make it with your whole life. Put a ring on it. If both members of a couple save sex until marriage, their risk of an STD is annihilated.
Groups like 1flesh love to blabber on about how contraception success statistics are bullshit because people don't know how to use condoms properly, but they always ignore the oft-proven fact that abstinence-only education — the idea that it's oh-so-simple to wait until marriage —DOES NOT WORK AT ALL. And that's why the movement is more than a laughable attempt to make antiquated notions of sexuality relevant. 1flesh should be held accountable for more than its lameness.