Wear a mask while having sex, Canada’s top doctor suggests. This is an actual Reuters headline. The piece begins with this advice: “Skip kissing and consider wearing a mask when having sex to protect yourself from catching the coronavirus.”
Upon reading this, my immediate thought was of a scene in the 1990 film Pretty Woman. Julia Roberts, who plays a prostitute in the film, explains to Richard Gere’s character that she has a no kissing rule because, “It’s too personal.”
Pretty Woman is one of many Hollywood films that delighted my generation during our formative years. We watched over and over again, rarely if ever giving any deep thought to what we were watching, and that was Hollywood’s hope. Via films like Dirty Dancing, laden with its abortion commentary despite never using the term, and Pretty Woman, a film that suggests prostitution is a legitimate way to meet a handsome, rich man who might fall in love with you after picking you up on a street corner, a generation of young people were inundated with subtle but destructive messages about love, intimacy, and sex.
I don’t know how old I was the first time I heard Julia Roberts say, “It’s too personal,” with regard to kissing and, for the first time, thought, “Is sex not personal?” I am sure I was watching Pretty Woman on cable as I have so many, many times, and for whatever reason paused to think about the dialogue.
There is so much tragedy wrapped up in this absurd suggestion that people “skip kissing” and wear a mask while having sex. Forgive me while I put on my Mom hat and share a few thoughts I’ve shared with young people I’ve taught and whom I care for so much. Set COVID fears aside for a minute. What if, instead of advancing this bizarre no-kissing, masked-sex advice, we encourage people to view sex not as the equivalent of a transactional exchange with anyone willing but as something sacred to be shared within a loving, committed relationship? Wild idea, right?
To quote Nick Hornby’s High Fidelity, “I lost the plot for a while then. And I lost the subplot, the script, the soundtrack, the intermission, my popcorn, the credits, and the exit sign.” We have lost the plot, people. Doctors are recommending people wear a mask during sex and suggesting they go ahead and have (masked) sex but maybe skip the kissing. It is time to ask ourselves some questions about why we wear masks and why (and with whom) we have sex.
No one loses the plot faster than a government official, and the extent to which we have veered off the rails since the arrival of COVID is staggering. Canada’s chief medical officer has sincerely suggested people opt out of kissing during sex and consider wearing a mask. It’s so absurd and sad it is beyond even the scope of a Babylon Bee headline.
I humbly suggest two things: unless they’ve tested positive and are quarantining, you probably don’t need to wear a mask around the members of your own household, certainly not your spouse with whom you share a bed; on a related note, if you have sex only with someone to whom you are committed, perhaps even, yes!, married, you not only do not have to worry about a mask during sex to avoid COVID, you do not have to worry about the myriad of emotional and physical consequences that accompany casual sex. I am not a medical doctor, but to me this seems to be the best approach to sex not only during COVID but at all times.