I was never much interested in reading romance/erotic novels. They just seemed like a lot of bare chests and bosom thrusting. Lately, however, I've started reading more of them. They're like my guilty pleasure...without the guilty part.
Yes, some of these books are bare-chested bosom-thrusters, but others are excellent reads with good plot and character development, and tension that exceeds the sexual. The sex scenes are sensual...but there is one thing that continues to pull me away from the throes of fictitious passion. That is characters who are adamant about using prophylactics...except when they're engaging in oral sex.
It seems to me that if you are going to go to the length of using protection, you shouldn't half-ass the situation. The chances of getting an STI is considerably lower than that of infection being transmitted through vaginal or anal sex, but that doesn't diminish the risk. It's like when you see a product in a store with a shiny new label announcing, '"Now with 25% less fat!" That doesn't translate to "This is healthy!" It doesn't even give you an actual statistic.
Readers don't turn to fiction for education. Authors, understandably, don't want to be seen as shoving sex ed down their readers'- they don't want to write down to their audience. Some might argue that it even subtracts from the sensuality of the moment to clarify that "Remember, kiddos - no glove, no love!" Except that in the novels I read, characters all-too-often make a big deal about having safe sex. It just so happens that their caution doesn't cover all the bases.
It is one thing for fictional characters to be ignorant of the likelihood of getting an STI from oral sex. In fact, I might just write it off as an author's intentional reflection of reality. Only, it happens all the time. I can only think of two titles off the top of my head where the characters either get tested or use a condom before performing fellatio. Which leads me to wonder if it is in fact the characters who are ignorant, or the authors themselves.
There are several things that make me balk when I read romance novels. They often evoke my cynical side, but this is more disconcerting than humorous. Of course, I still enjoy these books. You can't get an STI from reading a novel...but it kind of bothers me that you apparently can't get one from being a fictional character in one either.
If you read or write about sexy times between fictitious personas, what do you think about this "only sometimes" rule when it comes to safe sex?