Condom use and the age old battle of the sexes by Cassy Novick

Two comments about the articles:

One of the results of the “Making Sense of Condoms” really caught my attention:

“As a rule, female authors tend to place greater emphasis on the agency and vulnerabilities of female characters by means of plots in which they avoid infection by refusing to have unprotected sex or are infected as a consequence of their failure or inability to negotiate condom use. Male authors tend to focus more on their e primarily male e characters becoming infected when they refuse to believe in HIV or to heed the advice of friends” (Winskell 2011)

This observation is representative of greater trend in the “battle of the sexes” if you will. Women are more likely to ask a man to use a condom than a Man is to initiate condom use on his own. This difference in a behavior I believe to be a result of difference in cost and benefit. Getting pregnant comes at a higher cost to women than it does to men. Assuming that a woman has a hard time communicating her preference to use a condom (which is often the case) we have a situation that is well represented by a coordination problem referred to as “the battle of the sexes” in public choice theory (see utility diagram below)


Battle of the Sexes






No Condom


1, 2

0, 0

No Condom

0, 0

2, 1

According to public choice theory, this is a coordination problem in that the man and the woman get more benefit out of coordinating than not (both choosing a condom or not choosing a condom), but the woman has a higher utility for wearing a condom than a man and vice versa. In attempt to maximize utility, the two end up not coordinating because the woman will choose/prefer condom and the man will choose/prefer no condom resulting in less benefit than if they have coordinating. This coordination problem can be resolved by communicating one’s preferences.

One other thing i meant to post, but apparently it didn’t make it through the cut and paste process is the following (might be a good addition to your comments)….

What I found interesting in relation to the article “Scenarios in Africa” was the role that cinema in relation to our own reality. Cinema, TV, Video Games, and all other types of screen entertainment have been proven to impact our everyday lives in many ways ranging from prevalence of violence in children who watch too much violence to Robert Putnam’s analysis of the affect of TV on Social Capital. With what we see on the silver screen becoming increasingly realistic with digital effects, 3D, and surround sound promoting the illusion of reality. Taking this into account and Robert Putnam’s theory on social capital I feel like the following could be true:

According to Putnam, the rise of TV has resulted in a decrease of social capital (aka people join less teams and social organizations and more often “bowl alone”). This lack of social capital is naturally connected to less connectivity and less healthy/numerous physical social relationships (no how many friends you have on facebook is not a gauge of how many social relationships you have). With less healthy social relationships, we communicate more poorly, which could explain why the preferences over condoms are not communicated. Furthermore (this may be a stretch but here it goes) less healthy social relationships encourage more ideas of “friends with benefits”, one night stands, and even prostitution. In these arguably unhealthy relationships the necessary dialouge about condom use is likely to not take place. So the lack of communication over condom use is not just an archaic form of paternalism, but a modern disregard for substantial, healthy social relationships. So I pose the question: Does facebook help or hurt or social structure? we may reach more people, but do we reach these people with more shallow interactions and connections?


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