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Howard Student Writes Controversial Essay for National Public Radio (1852 hits)

By Aleesa Mann -- Black College Wire


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Pendarvis Harshaw

"For a lot of my friends, the transition from having s*x with -- to s*x without -- a c*ndom is seen as a symbolic engagement," says Pendarvis Harshaw, junior telecommunications major and Freelance Content Producer for National Public Radio's (NPR) Youth Radio organization.

"It shows trust, commitment, and the prospect of a shared future," he adds.

As bold as the statement may be, it is a part of Harshaw's essay, "s*x Without c*ndoms Is the New Engagement Ring," where he explores the way today's youth approach monogamy in relationships.

The essay was submitted as a part of Youth Radio's "What's the New What?" series, a series that highlights new trends in youth culture.

In the on-air essay, Harshaw acknowledges the dangers of contracting STDs and the risk of unexpected pregnancies. He emphasized that while youth may ditch c*ndoms in their s*xual activities, other forms of birth control are still widely used.

After conducting an informal survey, Harshaw said he came up with the leading argument for his essay.

"[I spoke with] everybody from friends, to co-workers, to residents about relationships-how to approach getting into a monogamous relationship, and I saw a consistent trend," says Harshaw. "A lot of people were talking about the most major step is the step toward unprotected s*x."

The controversial issue tackled in Harshaw's essay has definitely raised eyebrows among the NPR audience and has received harsh criticisms and empathetic remarks alike.

"I believe the feedback was mixed because older folks just plain do not want to hear the truth about young people encountering heavy s*xual situations at younger ages. These situations are definitely adult, and used to be taboo to even talk about, but children have been bombarded with so much s*xual imagery by the media, that the situations themselves have become common," says senior Matt Cody, film production major and founder of HowHood University Records.

Harshaw, who set out to shed light on youth perspective of monogamy with this essay, has been surprised and pleased with the feedback surrounding his argument.

"This is like I set off a fire alarm or something, really it just went haywire," he says almost incredulously. "I love the fact that people are talking about it. I love the fact that people are disgusted by it and I love the fact that people who aren't of the demographic I surveyed, actually agree with it."

Many Howard students have also shown support for Harshaw's essay. "His essay really does make a valid point and raises the question about the meaning of s*x to our generation," says Joya Dupre, junior biology major.

Dupre feels students may be weary of traditional engagement practices, and marriage altogether, because of increasing divorce rates. Yet, considering the risks of s*x with a c*ndom Dupre said, "So many couples today are engaging in unprotected s*x but not getting engaged. In fact, they believe that s*x without a c*ndom is less risky than tying the knot, when in actuality it isn't."

Brandon Williams, a junior international business major, also feels Harshaw's essay gives voice to a rising sentiment among youth.

"When I look at the younger generation behind us I see that what they hear, see and learn they attribute to their daily lives," Williams says. "Marriage is just as common as divorce now, so for a younger generation to feel safe they may say that unprotected s*x lets them know how committed to the situation [a] love interest may be."


Comments on this article (2)


Aleesa Mann writes for The Hilltop, the Howard University student newspaper, which originally published this article.
Posted Aug. 15, 2008
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Wednesday, August 20th 2008 at 3:37PM
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I tink its dumb to have s*x without a c*ndom I would never trust another woman telling me not to wear one or even take it into consideration thats why kids are born and black people have a way higher aids rate than an other race from a bioogy major attending allen university.8.0.3 for life.
Wednesday, September 3rd 2008 at 12:17PM
wow that is the crazies thing I have ever heard of...are we worth so little these days? Men and women have worth and there is still value in us..WHO lied to us that we no longer want to do things the RIGHT way??? What is wrong with waiting? Does anyone teach that any more? I followed that logic for far too long and I wish someone was this bold with me at a younger age. I am not outraged at those thoughts, however I wish there were more people to counter those thoughts with self-love, higher esteem and just out right transformation of our minds. This world is going to hell in a hand basket and does any one care? I DO!!! (those last two words are a whole other deal)..One luv!!!
Friday, September 5th 2008 at 7:20PM
I hope this isn't being labelled "a black thing" because I heard of this in the white community before I knew Blacks were doing it. Has no one seen this expressed in numerous movies over the past decade?
Friday, September 5th 2008 at 9:36PM
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