People like me who live in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania hear the jokes and the questions all the time. Yes, there are some towns here with some funny names. They’re the kind of names that evoke chuckles from folks who don’t live with the familiarity that we have. Of course, the most famous of all those little town names is Intercourse. Yep. We’ve got a town named Intercourse. In fact, there’s an entire shelf of tacky “I Love Intercourse (Pa.)” souveniers at the Harrisburg International Airport. I’m sure that people who don’t believe it’s true search for Intercourse on the map. And, they’ll find it.
Now, Planned Parenthood of the Great Northwest is “mapping Intercourse” in a different way. It seems that during National Condom Week (sorry. . . I didn’t realize there was such a thing), the group distributed 55,000 condoms throughout western Washington state. Nothing unusual there. Planned Parenthood has been distributing condoms for years. In fact, I wrote about my visit to a Planned Parenthood clinic back in the late 1980s. I walked out with a bag full of condoms that I had scooped out of basket in the lobby. It was all part of a little fact-finding trip. These 55,000 condoms, however, were a bit different. The packaging featured a QR code that users would scan with their smartphones that would send them to a website. A website? What website?
Well, here’s a link to the website in question. The site is called “Where Did You Wear It?” and it features the web address wheredidyouwearit.com. It gets even more interesting and creative. Condom users are asked to answer a short battery of questions that establish some of the “whos” and “wheres” of the sexual encounter. . . which then is translated into a dot marking the location on a map. As of today, the map extends across the entire U.S. with dots that can be filtered to see who is doing what and where they are doing it.
The questions? Well, you can see for yourself on the “Where Did You Wear It?” website. But here’s a short rundown. After filling in a blank with the approximate address, visitors are asked to choose their own gender from “guy,” “girl,” and “trans.” They are to assign a gender to their partner (same three choices), and then they are to give their age. Then, it gets very interesting with a complete the sentence: “My relationship is. . . ” A drop-down menu offers a variety of answers from “all about love” to “what relationship?” The words monogomous, married, and committed aren’t anywhere to be seen. The survey is complete after respondent answer three more questions with drop-down options. The questions ask for reasons why a condom was worn, how good the safe sex was, and where the condom was worn (beach, hot tube, etc). The media coordinator from Planned Parenthood says the thinking behind the site is to “create some fun around making responsible decisions.”
What’s most troubling about this whole thing is that it reveals our basic understandings, motivations, and presuppositions about sex and sexuality. In Genesis 3:6 God’s good and perfect plan comes undone because we decided we had a better way of doing things. That undoing includes the wonderful gift of our sexuality. How wonderful it would be if there were cultural artifacts and institutions pointing the way to sexual flourishing and Shalom. Sadly, those realities are diminishing and disappearing.
It’s time to put Intercourse and everything else wonderful about our sexuality on a map that sends us all in the right direction. Why? Because we’re really, really lost.