Sex educator: how to tell someone to wear a mask (like you should tell someone to wear a condom)

Oh, for sure. I didn’t mean to say the message should only be that. What bothered me is that there’s no mention of female agency anywhere in her advice. It’s only “here’s how to browbeat the dude into protection”. The message can be “how to talk about condoms and remember walking away is always an option”.

The baseline assumption in her advice comes across as “how to make the best of this terrible situation” instead of “here’s how to still have fun with this and do it on your terms”.


I was always astonished at other men who would brag about not using condoms/complain about having to use them. Unlike many of them, I paid attention in sex-ed class and was a very big fan of the condom.

Condom use is the last point of call where the male has any kind of veto over what happens next. Any pregnancy that happens later, the male can have an opinion on what to do, can have input into the conversation, but definitely has no veto on the outcome. It may be that awareness (that the woman decides what happens to her body) is what separated me from the other guys, but even from a selfish perspective I was very interested in controlling when I would become a father.

It’s been decades since I was in a ‘first time with someone’ situation, but I am appalled that it is still an issue.



This is completely wrong.

Condoms are not supposed to be a useful thing in public space. By the time the condom conversation is happening, we are very much in private space, minding our own private business. The tradeoffs and exchanges are nobody’s business but our own. (Maybe future partners, hypothetical future offspring, and people directly adjacent.)

Masks are for the very opposite end of the public/private spectrum. If I see someone in public not wearing a mask, and if I choose to do the patriotic thing as a citizen and pressure them to change, there’s a nonzero chance that they’ll react in a dangerous way. Whether or not they’re spreading covid, a spray of droplets accompanying a verbal response, is not going to make my day any better.

The sensible option for me is to cede the public space to the most dangerous person in the room. Not wearing a mask is kind of like open carry: only other open carry people get to have unbiased conversations about it.

This post really highlights the difference between a unified public response, where we all have the support of the authorities in encouraging best practices - and a vigilante world where it’s everybody for themselves.

Being out in public needs to not be as emotionally fraught as when people are about to have sex. Until that changes, the economy really does need to take a back seat to personal safety.


My defense of the message here assumes these tweets were advice for people on how to deal with a specific situation they might find themselves in. If they are the first and last word on sex education offered by Cavill and don’t fit into a body of information and advice that offers good messages around consent (and other issues) then I agree they are very limited.


Your comments really reminded me how different public spaces have always been for some of us. My experience is in the vigilante world you described, where being out in public can be emotionally fraught and dangerous depending on who you happen to encounter. We can’t count on the authorities, either. Unfortunately, too many of us have had to cede the public space (or change how we navigate in it) to avoid being targeted by dangerous folks who mean us harm.

So, the anti-maskers are unwittingly forcing some people to walk in my shoes for a while. Just when I thought 2020 couldn’t get any weirder…


Once outside Austin’s “Blue Bubble” it’s a free-for-all.

I was talking to our county’s sheriff’s deputies in April at their station branch, and none wore masks when they got within arm’s length. None.

So yeah, ceding the public space has been our default, pretty much since the beginning of 2020. I hear you.

Last month, a nearby neighbor derided all the “rag-faces” and I can scarcely believe he said it. Given his own history though, maybe talking to him using the sex educator’s script might be the only if unlikely way to try.


The most disturbing emoji I’ve ever seen. It won’t go away when I close my eyes.

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