Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Party Animals (part one)

Though I'm not always the wildest when it comes to nightlife and therefore have had little firsthand experience with this, I have to tell you that New Year's Eve can be an evening of a million mistakes. Indeed, my pals from Planned Parenthood told me they make bets on how many people come in for emergency contraception. It's the biggest day of the year for the morning-after pill, actually. So this post will be in two parts: first, advice for preparing for a night of potential poor decisions, and second, information on what you can do after said decisions are made.

Here's some advice for you to have in mind before you go out this evening. This website has some great information about the dangers of drinking/drugs and sex and what kind of effect they can have on long-term relationships and short term decision making. Of course, if you absolutely do not want to get pregnant or contract an STI, your best route is not to have sex and not to drink or do drugs because those will impair your judgement. Mixing those two can be very dangerous indeed. However, I don't want anyone to think that the only two options out there are knitting with your cat until midnight or getting pregnant and chlamydia, because that is simply not the case. While having sex at all, especially with impaired judgement, is always risky, there are many ways to make it safer. You deserve to know how to protect your body.

With that disclaimer in mind, here's some advice if you absolutely must go to a wild party this evening:

1: Condoms. I cannot stress this enough. Even if you're on the pill, keep in mind that you might start to find random strangers very appealing, and you probably won't have time to get them tested. Make sure you have condoms aplenty-- put them in your pockets, tuck them into your bra, paperclip them to your boxers, do what you need to in order to get a condom on. This is a time when female condoms are actually very advantageous because you can put one in before going out when you're good and sober.

2: Make New Year's Eve Resolutions-- that is, decide what you want to do before you leave the house so you can be prepared. If you definitely don't want to have sex, take some measures to make sure that doesn't happen. Be extra lax with your body hair grooming, for instance, and establish to your group of friends that you would like to wake up alone in your bed the next morning. I also had a friend once who wrote "I have herpes!" on her stomach once before a night of wild times. I never heard how that worked out for her, but the point is that you should be making decisions and taking measures to stick to them while your mind is still clear. This also applies to how much you want to drink etc.

3: Buddy system! Never go out with the intention of drinking/getting high by yourself. You'll want a wingwoman or wingman to keep tabs on what kind of substances you put into your body and in what quantities and who you go home with and when. When you're impaired you're more likely to get in a fight, get lost, get injured, and get taken advantage of, and having a buddy is a great way to prevent this from happening. This is also very important because you'll need someone to call for help if you start to show signs of alcohol poisoning. Keep track of your buddy, make sure they have a condom, and never leave a party without making sure your buddy is okay and has a safe way of getting home.

4: Parties are also dangerous in terms of being taken advantage of sexually (this is another reason why having a buddy is so important). Never, ever leave your drink unattended, don't take drinks from strangers, and make sure your buddy knows where you're going and who you're going with before you leave. Try to avoid being in dangerous or isolated situations with people you don't know, and make very clear how far you'd like to go with potential hookups. Also remember how important it is to be respectful of other people's physical boundaries. Silence is not consent, and it is illegal to have sex with someone who is incapacitated because of alcohol or drugs. Don't have sex with someone without getting their clear, lucid consent.

Go out this evening armed with this knowledge, my friends, I will write to you next year!


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