The media and their lame herpes jokes

Scenario: The school bully keeps poking and prodding the new kid. “Nice shoes, dweeb.” (I was a Calvin and Hobbes fan as a kid; that's just what bullies say.) If the kid believes his choice in foot fashion is something left to be desired, he’s liable to hang his head low and take the abuse. “He’s right,” the kid thinks, “my shoes DO suck.” So the bully continues the merciless teasing throughout the school year, picking on every easy target he can: his glasses, his acne, his Dora the Explorer backpack ...

But what if (and this is the pivotal scene where the inspiring music starts to play) the kid actually doesn’t see any problem with his shoes, glasses, acne or backpack? Then he’s liable to stand up for himself with unwavering confidence and say something like, “Thanks! I like my shoes, too" and walks away. The bully knows an unwilling victim when he sees one, so he goes to pick on someone else.

So yes, us folks with herpes, are that kid allowing people to call us dweebs and get away with it. If we’re being real here, herpes really is just a skin condition “down there” that happens to be the surrogate for our deep-seated shame around sex in general. And if that’s the case, we can start acting on that truth and not buying int.

So, changing society’s perception of herpes starts with us changing our relationship to herpes and to ourselves. Let’s start now, shall we?

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