Sex has given the world of alcohol some of its most memorable drinks: Sex on the Beach, Orgasm, Blowjob, Slippery Nipple, Fuzzy Navel, Dirty White Mother and many more. Although I haven’t had any of those and by had, I mean drank, I have had many opportunities to observe the complicated relationship between alcohol and sex. Far from the idyllic peanut butter and chocolate, this combo is more like batteries and a campfire: powerful, but dangerous.
The first time I got drunk, I remember being amazed at how simple life became. When an idea came into my head, instead of pondering pros and cons and logically deciding whether it was a good idea, I just did it. Luckily, that night I only talked the ears off my friends, saying pretty much whatever came to mind. But, that same mental state makes it easy to see sexual situations as simple, when they are, in fact, very complicated.
One of the most basic prerequisites for sex is that the people involved want to have sex. This sounds very obvious, but rarely does sex start with the couple intoning “I want to have sex” to each other. This is unnecessary because (usually) a combination of subtle and not-so-subtle clues. These can be quite hard to accurately interpret when you aren’t operating at 100 percent. The “look” in someone’s eye can easily be found, even if it does not actually exist.
Even when both people would have wanted to have sex anyway and were just benefiting from “liquid courage,” sex while drunk is not exactly magical. Although low doses can make one feel sexy and more relaxed, larger doses of alcohol have the potential to sabotage the act of sex, suppressing both erections and feelings of arousal. Even if everything’s working fine, the possibility of throwing up all over the person and not even remembering the sex at all (and the worst sex is sex that you don’t remember) might make you reconsider what the “courage” you gained was worth.
Of course, because of its power to impair judgment and cause blackouts, alcohol is often used when someone doesn’t want to have sex. In fact, around 75 percent of people involved in sexual assault have been drinking, making alcohol the most commonly used date-rape drug. Although it not wise to allow yourself to get drunk enough that sex could happen against your will, rape is never the victim’s fault. Legally, a drunk person can’t consent to sex, so if upon waking up the next morning the drunk person feels that the sex was against their will, they can prosecute.
Alcohol, like sex, permeates our culture, affecting people’s thoughts and actions. Drinking can affect one’s sex life positively or negatively, and the line between the two is extremely fine. The loss of self-control is a powerful thing, especially in a sexual context, and therefore alcohol should be treated with the caution that it deserves.
In response to the comments made about my last article concerning free pregnancy prevention: According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (www.cdc.gov), Fertility Awareness methods are 75 percent to 99 percent effective at preventing pregnancy, which is comparable to the 85 percent to 98 percent effectiveness of male condoms. These methods can be combined for even more protection. Fertility awareness does not prevent the transmission of STIs, so it should only be used when this is not a concern. Fertility awareness should only be used by properly trained individuals.