The dirty little secret is out. Olympic athletes make love not war.
While we in Jamaica are here getting ourselves worked up about medal counts and whatnot, apparently athletes — ours included, presumably — are looking to get their groove on in London. Well, that's what a newly released book would have us believe. The anonymous, salacious tell-all, The Secret Olympics, claims that it took only one week for 70,000 free condoms to finish in Sydney 2000, and how the 100,000 ordered for the Winter Olympics in Vancouver 2010 were still not enough. The author, who has described himself as a former British Olympian, has caused quite a ruckus with his outrageous claims that the Olympic Village — which we lesser mortals think of as practically a cathedral for the reverence with which we accord it — is nothing but a hotbed of sex, drugs and secret escapades. Remember, too, that the Olympics have also been described as a "sex fest" by former British table tennis star Matthew Syed, who supposedly admitted that at the 1992 Games in Barcelona he "got laid more often in those two and a half weeks than in the rest of my life up to that point".
Still, it doesn't seem like an exaggeration, does it? Look at all those fine specimens of toned physical perfection, and all of them together in one space. Testosterone must be falling like rain. These Olympic sex claims seem to be borne out, to the horror of pearl-clutching puritans among us, by the fact that the 2012 Olympics will be poised to break the record for most condoms distributed to the athletes. Durex has already tabled its plan for distribution. Some figures have it to be at least 150,000 units.
OK, so if there are 10,000 athletes taking part in this year's Games, 150,000 condoms tell me that there's a hell of a lot of sex anticipated. To that I say godspeed. I'm sorry. If these guys can get down like that and then turn around and win medals and break all kinds of records in their fields, you have to admire them. But you've got to admire even more their sexual maturity. Nobody can legislate morality, as I've said many times in this column. The rampant condom use at the Olympics may be an affront to some, and the organisers of the Games are understandably upset about the event being sullied by this negative attention. But if sex galore is going on, then what's the big ado about? Condoms are a good thing.
Many years ago, I was awakened late one night by a distraught girlfriend who was calling me with a request to follow her to an "ends". It was maybe two in the morning and I surfaced groggily from sleep to glean what was going on. Apparently, she'd received word that her daughter's father's vehicle was spotted there, at a certain woman's address, which was somehow confirmation of her suspicions that he was involved with hanky-panky. My friend was beside herself and not thinking straight. Her first instinct was to lock her sleeping infant in the house and drive straight to the place where the reprobate was shacked up. Thank God, she had enough presence of mind to call me before she acted rashly. What she wanted was for me to come to her home and take charge of the baby since she was in no state of mind to do so herself, and then for us all to head to the house in question where she was determined to throw a cinderblock into his windscreen.
(Where do Jamaicans get these street-blocking, war-waging implements at the drop of a hat? Is there some local government department/private enterprise that rents out/sells cinderblocks, old fridges, mattresses, and the burnt-out shells of cars? No, really. I want to know.)
Anyway. I like to think of myself as a ride-or-die girlfriend but I'd never been asked such a favour in all my life. One thing I knew about myself back in those days was that, in the immortal words of Michael Joseph Jackson, I'm a lover, not a fighter. I will cuss you out until you cry, but I don't do physical violence. I knew of the other woman's reputation and I knew she could beat us like two rented Guadalajara mules. Well, my friend could possibly hold her off a while, but not me. I had nails to protect back then, an image to preserve and, well, I'm a bleeder. So I did what I was good at, instead. I talked her off the ledge. Let's not catch a case tonight, I reasoned. It was going to be too much trouble finding a lawyer. We'd come this far without police drama, how about keeping our records pristine? Besides, were we willing to become those kinds of women over some trifling ignoramus who, at the height of the AIDS panic, still refused to wear a condom during sex because he didn't like them -- this despite him being involved in multiple relationships -- and didn't we all have to "die of something one day, anyway"? I remember when my friend casually admitted they never used a condom, I'd been appalled. Listen, the guy was likeable; we'd done a bit of rum-and-Coke-fuelled liming together. But his wilfully ignorant attitude toward sexual responsibility, I'm convinced, is by far the biggest piece of carelessness I will ever come across in my life.
This was maybe 15, 16 years ago, and mercifully, my friend has long since broken up with him. Luckily, she got out sexually unscathed. I don't know if he has become less reckless in his outlook during the intervening years, since, as a good girlfriend, it behoved me to break up with him, too. I can't imagine anyone being that ignorant today, knowing what we do about condom usage from reports by UNAIDS, WHO and UNFPA that the male latex condom is the single, most efficient, available technology to reduce the sexual transmission of HIV and other sexually transmitted infections, and that consistent use of them leads to an 80 per cent reduction in HIV incidence. And yet, for all this information available to us, we know that ignorance still abounds.
Certainly, provincial attitudes do. And there are those who prefer to not address issues surrounding sexual practices. I was shocked by a story carried in last week's Observer informing that calls are still being made for the introduction of sex ed in the school curriculum. Knowledge about correct condom use, for example, is essential when you understand that the latest Reproductive and Health Survey shows that nearly 12 per cent of Jamaican girls are having sex before they reach the age of 15. We've got to stop being in denial about what goes on with our children and young people, and that the doctrine of abstention is all they require. Believe me when I tell you: it isn't.