XOJane Writers Are Stupidly Spreading Herpes

what herpes looks like xojane

EVERYONE: USE CONDOMS UNTIL YOU AND YOUR PARTNER GET TESTED.

This is probably the least surprising statement I could ever make, but apparently I am going to have to make it every single day, because not taking precautions and being careful about your sexual health is now interpreted as bravery.

An XOJane writer who has herpes claims she got it because:

I was a bit of a loose girl who had sex to prove her worth and wasn’t crazy about condoms. At the time, I went straight to the doctor (responsibly!) and had the itchy, burning rash (which had developed on that part of my ladybusiness where the mons folds in half, just above the clit) scraped (as pleasant as it sounds, I can assure you), then went home to wait on tenterhooks for the results.

Okay, that’s awful. That is a nightmare story. And herpes is obviously a tricky disease that condoms only help in preventing – but then condoms help in preventing the spread of herpes. They will decrease your risk of contracting it very considerably.

So, I will say it again: please use condoms until you and your partner have been tested. I realize the testing conversation can be uncomfortable, so one way I approach it is to say, “I am a fucking neurotic, and you almost certainly do not have anything, please go get tested for all the STDs now.” In an attempt to be edgy – and yet relatable!  – I will note that as a loose woman I have said this to more than one man. I believe one was remotely offended, but we were both virgins at the time, so… he had a point. And he still knew where I was coming from. The rest have universally been receptive to this. No one has thought that it’s crazy, although I have clearly chosen to couch it in the language of being some sort of Woody Allen character. Most people have just seen it as being responsible, and a reflection of me not wanting to get a whole host of diseases, which is one definition of “being a sane adult.”

If your insurance does not cover being tested at your doctor’s, go to google and type “free STD testing + your city” in. Clinics are available in most major cities. They will run blood tests on you and get you results in about a week. Though, if you suspect you have herpes, because you’ve begun developing symptoms on your ladybits, please go to your doctor.

Just so we’re clear – this is not slut shaming. I am entirely down with you fucking everything that moves if you wear a condom or take other sane person precautions. This is stupid shaming.

But, okay, this girl fucked up. Fine. I completely understand that. We all fuck up sometimes. That happens, you go in, you do the testing, you are ashamed of yourself for being reckless, you go on with your life. You get your disease treated and alert your partners in the future, and everything is fine. If this happened to myself or a friend of mine, I would really like them to play up the “you get this treated and everything will be fine” message. That’s alright.

Except that the writer didn’t do this. This is what the writer did:

A few days later, a call from the nurse revealed that the test had come back “inconclusive, due to mishandling of the specimen.”

She asked me to come back in and have another sample taken, but the rash was already gone. I know I shouldn’t have, but I went about my sexual business in the usual way.

Somehow, in my head, it was justified. Like, “Look, I don’t know for sure that I have an STD so why freak out about it?”

No. Be responsible. Please, please, please, go get tested when things are wrong. You’re adults. This is what adults do.

And then she did this:

About a year later, another rash appeared, this time, further up on my mons, in the furry bit. I went back to that same doctor (I was having a good run of consistent health insurance coverage) and had another scrape.

A week later, another call with the same “inconclusive” results. Apparently, the sample has to be refrigerated or frozen or something, as soon as it’s taken. Even sitting on the counter in the exam room for the amount of time it takes the doctor to ask if you have any questions will destroy it.

I was frustrated, but I still didn’t change my sexual behavior, even one bit.

It’s interesting that XOJane ran this with an adorable picture of the author rather than a picture of what herpes looks like. You can check the top of our post for confirmation that herpes is something you should really take serious steps to avoid giving to people. Doing otherwise is monstrous.

Though I think part of the lesson we should derive here is “get a competent doctor who doesn’t keep fucking up your test results” but perhaps that’s beside the point.

Eventually, years down the road, a doctor pointed out that the writer has herpes, which is what seemed likely (and the writer was clearly suspicious of) all along. After she presumably went around spreading it to many, many people. If you are strongly suspicious that you have herpes wait until you get a conclusive result before going out and having unprotected sex with a bunch of people. I italicized the parts of this statement that were hardest for me to type without swearing.

Now, to her credit, the author does say that she feels bad about being so reckless. So, lots of points for that. Good for her for acknowledging that this was unbelievably reckless on her part.

She ends by saying – and I suppose this is the message of this piece,

Shame kept me from being realistic about my condition and I don’t want anyone else to go through the same things I did (and still do).

Yes, but you did not give readers a single piece of advice on how to prevent it. All you did was write a piece saying “look at me, I have herpes, and seemingly, an astonishingly inept doctor, and I spread it to a bunch of people because I make appalling choices.” Being aware that “people have herpes” is not really helpful to anyone who has ever taken a sex ed class, any more than being aware of the existence of chickens would help you make an omelet.

Here are some commenter responses to this:

Jennifer, that sucks! But I’m glad you shared your story. You’re so courageous for sharing this!

Is there an award for xoJane superhero of the year because you have my vote!

You are hella brave!  let’s talk about this shit! I get scared every time I get an ingrown hair “down there”  (I’ve gotten about 4 in the 12 years or so that I shaved on a regular basis) and yet, I’ve never been tested.  i don’t even know how it works.

Superhero of the year.

Who are these people? Stop clapping for women’s bad decisions as though they’re roadside attractions. Riding around on a high horse that’s been cobbled together out of mistakes and stupidity is not an admirable way to go through life. [tagbox tag="xojane"]

But more important, and this is something I am saying again – stories like these are not “brave” or “heroic” so much as they are “why politicians don’t think women are capable of making responsible decisions about their sexual well being”. Stories like these, that people respond to with delight, make women as a whole seem as though they are utterly unable to take care of their own bodies. The Plan B ruling just got overturned. Ohio is considering passing an anti-abortion bill. These are going to be serious issues in the next election. As a woman, this is not the time to applaud idiocy.

Though frankly, no time ever is.

Share This Post:
    • CatTheSplat

      But she recognized that she was wrong! Never mind that she probably caused a herpes-infested ripple effect. She knows she was wrong and THAT’S what matters. Just ask all of her former partners…

    • Jennifer Dziura

      Thank you, my editrix/true love. From your fellow adult.

    • eplilonious

      Love the article, love the comments.

      This ranks up there with “Let’s call it whoopsies instead of herpes, that way it’s cute!” levels of silly.

    • Olivia

      I don’t get how Jane Pratt sits back, looks at these pieces, and thinks “Why yes, this really sets a great example! All the applause! Womens right!”

      I just wish she would stop, that all those women would just stop, this publication would just fucking stop, because it’s slowly ruining my fond, fond, Sassy memories.

      • Olivia

        Oh dear sweet Jehovah in one wicked ironic twist they published a piece about why emergency contraception should be available to everyone.
        DO THEY NOT FUCKING GET THOSE PIECES, THE MENTALITY OF THE WHOLE WEBSITE IS EXACTLY THE KIND OF SHIT HOLDING US BACK? CONSERVATIVES SEE THIS STUFF AND INCORRECTLY GENERALIZE THAT WE ARE ALL AS STUPID AS THESE PEOPLE. OH AND WHAT A LOVELY RUSTY COAT-HANGER GRAPHIC, xoJANE. REAL NICE.

        I just want to peel off my skin like an orange peel right now Jesus fucking Christ.

      • Megs

        Jesus, woman, will you CHILL THE FUCK OUT?!

        Go have a drink, lady. Quite wasting your time working yourself up replying to all these comments.

      • Mel

        “I just want to peel off my skin like an orange peel right now”.. This made me lol :) But yes, I agree with you Olivia.

    • Simone

      Amen, amen, a-fuckin’-men. I can’t believe how irresponsible (and, frankly, annoying and poorly-written) XOJane is.

    • Maris

      What a horrible article on XOJane’s part. “Not crazy about condoms”? Yeah, I guess I’m not either. However, I am definitely “not crazy” about STDs. Ugh, what an inconvenience.

      • Jenny

        I thought the SAME thing!!

        I’m really not crazy about unplanned pregnancies and syphilis. I don’t understand how women can be so dumb.

        I also don’t understand how so many of the commenters here don’t get the point — she exposed countless men to herpes. Who gives a crap about the rest of it. She was reckless and doesn’t even seem to have remorse.

        By the way — civil suits are popping up all over the place for STD infection. There is even a concept of “criminial STD transmission”. The author doesn’t necessarily fall in that category, but lets face the facts. What she did is ridiculously irresponsible and dangerous.

    • Niki

      The cutesy tone of that article is probably the worst. Oh look, i have herpes! lol these condoms expired in 2008! I’m such an adorable, ditzy klutz, forgetting protection, spreading herpes, and carrying around expired condoms! no biggie! teehee!

      ..gag.

      • Niki

        oh, not to mention the fact that she waxes poetically about her terrible fate, how sorry she feels for herself, how could this happen to me, ME ME ME, MY sex life is ruined, my ladyboner is killed!!…………. while showing positively no concern for the numerous partners who she exposed.

        FUCKING FANTASTIC.

    • eelizg23

      I read this piece on XOJane the other day, and it didn’t bother me as much as it did you. I mean, I agree that her behavior was irresponsible, and I’m not going to even try to defend that. I’m a religious condom user and regular tester myself. But she does point out the shame that’s associated with it even though it is incredibly common.

      • L

        I’m sorry, if you knowingly spread a disease around, because you didn’t feeeeel like going back to the doctor because your burning/itchy/oozing rash on your labia went away already so whateverrrr, you deserve to feel shame about it. Shame about being, you know, the kind of person who gives other people STDs because they’re too inept/selfish to figure out their own sexual health/safety.

    • sara

      That whole website reminds me of a dorky, ditzy older sister who keeps trying to give you advice even though you are already light years ahead of them in every single way.

      Am I the ONLY person who was a teen in the Sassy years and ALWAYS thought Jane Pratt was super lame?

    • MM

      Thanks Jennifer. The reason I read theGloss is because you guys are SMART. I actually like a lot of the writing on xoJane, but unfortunately the decent stuff is overshadowed by brilliant pieces like this one or Cat Marnell’s rich-girl adventures.

      And the audience that reads it is RIDICULOUS. Cat also wrote this incredibly insulting article about Occupy Wall Street and the commenters were cheering her on for being ‘fresh’ and ‘real’ or whatever.

      • Olivia

        I agree with this 100%. I really just despise Cat Marnell, though.

    • L

      ~OMG! ONE IN FIVE?! WHO KNEW!!???~

      uh…everyone that fucking paid attention in health class. What is wrong with these people?

      “I was frustrated, but I still didn’t change my sexual behavior, even one bit.” Yeeeahh, this girl should tooootes get super hero of the year award, deefffinitely.

    • Caitlin

      Yeah, that writer made some really idiotic decisions (to say the least), but I think the fact that she’s writing about it in that public of a forum is courageous: She’s admitting that she was a dumb dumb and was in denial. I’m positive there are others who’ve gotten “inconclusive” tests back and just went about their merry way because you think, if you had something, it’d DEFINITELY show up in the results. I’m sure she feels like crap about what she did, and putting her story online only makes her more open to criticism, but she obviously thought it was important to share because it makes this problem more REAL and tangible. I don’t agree with all the choices XO makes editorially but…. I feel like you guys have been piggybacking off them. You’re kind of bullies! I love ya’ll and think you’re hilarious… but this kind of thing just feels lazy and mean and uninspired. You’re basically just making points the author is trying to make between the lines of her personal account. That’s all…

      • daisy barringer

        This.

      • Olivia

        Oh come on. That’s just a childish defense. The author put her piece out there, it’s subject to commentary. It is not real and tangible, it is foolish and irresponsible. Just because she uses an overly cutesy tone does not make it “real”. And I don’t understand in the slightest how this was uninspired, articles like hers are actually HUGELY detrimental to women.

      • Niki

        I appreciate that she is putting herself out there, but the tone of the article put a bad taste in my mouth.

        Its one thing to do something irresponsible and then show real remorse for it. But that isn’t what came across in the XO article. The author not only made her dangerous, reckless decision to expose numerous partners to STDs seem like a cute little “oopsie!” moment, but the entire tone of the article was “ME ME ME, WHAT ABOUT ME?”

        She never once mentions contacting ex partners or feeling any real remorse for what she has done to them – only remorse at the consequences that she thinks her diagnosis will have on HER sex life and her general comfort. Its extremely irresponsible.

    • Fabel

      I read this, then I clicked over to the XOJane article. Your description of the author’s picture did not prepare me for seeing her frowning all cute-like at a pack of expired condoms. I understand and support efforts to reduce the stigma of having herpes, because as stated in the article, it IS ridiculously common & many people don’t know they have it. Buttttt that’s why you’re supposed to use condoms.

      On another subject, how has that one commenter only had 4 ingrown hairs in the twelve years she’s shaved? Four, really? Is there something I do not know about shaving & what products to use?

    • Megs

      Don’t start this back-and-forth insult crap again.

      You’ll really only lose more ready TO XOJane… CatGate 2011 was all I needed to make XOJane my go-to site. The Gloss became an afterthought (which isn’t bad, I still love you too!) because to be honest, the writing I find there is funnier, more insightful, and far more “real” and raw.

      Sure, not the best behavior, but at least the writers over at XOJane are perfectly willing to admit that they are not perfect and that they make mistakes- and will write about their experiences in poignant and hilarious ways.

      • Cara

        Couldn’t agree more! I found out about XOJane through The Gloss during CatGate 2011 — It’s now my favorite website!

      • Niki

        Sorry, but I really fail to see what is so hilarious about a woman who turns the fact that she refused to have safe sex, ignored warning signs, and spread an STD to numerous partners as ‘hilarious’. Particularly when they turn around and make it all about them, while not showing a lick of remorse for the partners they exposed.

        Somehow, if a man had written an article like this, detailing how he refused to use condoms, had glaring symptoms of an STD, an ‘inconclusive’ STD test that they couldnt be bothered to follow up on.. and then continued to have unprotected sex with numerous partners? .. He would be torn to shreds (and rightfully so). Why exactly are we giving this chick a pass?

      • Megs

        Nobody is “getting a pass”. But you must accept than humans make mistakes. She did. That was dumb. I’m sure you have fucked up before, do you think you deserve to be shamed and picked on because you’ve made mistakes? Probably not.

        And I was not referring to the author of or the article itself, if you actually read what I wrote maybe you’d have seen that I was referring to the writerS collectively at XOJane. STDs are not hilarious. Spreading STDs is not hilarious. But the writerS at XOJane ARE hilarious. Have you ever checked out the site? Maybe you should and you’ll see what I mean.

      • Niki

        Shamed and picked on? No. But if your ‘mistake’ involves exposing numerous partners to an STD after you have knowingly had symptoms and failed to test negative, and all you can seem to find remorse for in the situation is the fact that it put a damper in your sex life.. well yes, someone should call you on your shit and how incredible irresponsible, selfish, and dangerous your attitude is.

    • Syd

      ONE writer wrote about her behavior. The title of this article is just kind of bullshit, otherwise.

      • BeccaTheCyborg

        In conjunction with their many other fuckeries, this is what we call “a pattern”.

      • Syd

        Not really. And actually, I think that’s a pretty dangerous way to view things, and certainly oversimplifying what is happening. Two writers wrote explicitly about dangerous sexual behavior. Not the entire staff. While this kind of title will certainly draw hits if people happen to google, it’s not accurate and it just seem like it’s hating on another site.

        It is a shame though, because this (the gloss article) did make some good points. But as it’s now the 4th article slagging off XOJane, it just seems like the author is looking to target them. This article could have easily gone with another title and made the same points.

        And for the record, I like and read this site, as well as XOJane.

      • no no no

        no no no…there are other articles like it! they may be between the lines or blatant. glamourizing one night stands, group sex, flings…those all mean no tests were done. you can’t wait two weeks for a test with a one night stand. none of their articles have a discliamer about health or mentioon condoms or blood tests. they just launch rith into the hook up story. sob sob i was lonly so i hooked up sob he fat shamed me. the end.

    • Elle

      Is XOJane actually the worst? (yes)

    • Nick

      This company provides confidential, convenient and rapid STD testing
      You can call Toll-Free:
      1-888-317-6087
      Mon-Sun: 7:00 am to 10:00 pm (all times Central)

      Cheers and good luck :)

    • Nora

      The tone was a little off, but condoms don’t protect against herpes and you can’t get tested for herpes until you have an outbreak. She was irresponsible, but you are also propagating false info.

    • bbqcornnuts

      Oh lord. Xojane is rapidly become the bane of my existince. A former in-law of mine is airing some family dirty laundry over there. She is changing some names but she gives enough details that you could easily figure out who she is writing about. And, of course, she is a victim, like everyone on xojane.

      • E

        “And, of course, she is a victim, like everyone on xojane.”

        DING DING DING. That is why I fucking hate that site. But of course, it’s okay that they take the position of victimized martyr all the time. It’s not their fault! God, don’t JUDGE them!! This is the place where women are selfish, and their selfishness is celebrated!!!

      • xojane is sooo bad

        Yes! These stories cannot possibly be fact checked. These bloggers could completely lie. There will only ever be their perspective presented. All these sex stories etc have other people involved who will never have their say or grant permission. It’s not just their business to tell yet people always take their word for it.
        I know a girl who posted to the Hairpin and she was sooo fake. In real life she was a callous bitch for real. But online she cultivated this cute personality and people ate it up. She required validation and got it. I imagine every writer is like that. Catty, manipulative wench who goes online for their own brand of revenge/valiation. It is like soft core revenge porn out there.
        As a commetor we are always trolls for ever speaking. Yet they are the original trolls.

    • skylover

      Herpes is one of the most misunderstood std’s out there. The simple truth is that 90% of the adult population has it but doesn’t realize it. If you ever get a fever blister you have herpes. The only difference between mouth herpes and the other kind is simply where it’s located. It’s the same virus, resting at the back of your brain untill something triggers it and you get an outbreak. There is no difference in oral herpes and the other kind, just the location, and there is no cure for herpes, though drugs such as Valtrax can stop an ourbreak once you get one. Odds are these wrestlers already had the virus and why the big to do here is beyond me. You may know more about herpes on the dating and support site POZloving. Good luck to you all!

      • Niki

        Actually, you’re incorrect on a few issues. They are two entirely different strains – Herpes Simplex 1, and Herpes Simplex 2.

        1 establishes latency in a bundle of nerves behind the ear, hence why outbreaks occur on the face and mouth. 2 establishes latency near the base of the spine, hence the outbreaks in the genitalia. You can pick up either type and experience an outbreak in both the mouth and genitals, but generally the virus doesnt expand far beyond its area of latency.

        22% of the population carries HSV-2 antibodies, and 40% of teens and 80% of those over 50 carries HSV-1 antibodies, but antibodies simply indicates that you have been exposed at some point, and isnt any guarantee that you will ever see symptoms. However, you can still transmit it – HSV-1 can transmit the virus around 5% of the time via saliva and sans outbreak. HSV-2 can transmit 10% of time via genital contact when they show no symptoms.

    • traci

      ok- i am a reader of this site, although i am not sure for how much longer, as well as xojane. true. i do not agree with some of the posts on their site. BUT the fact that ya’ll find it imperative to basically bully them in print is just childish. i bet alot of this sites traffic also checks out sites like xojane.com, thefrisky.com, jezebel.com, and countless others. i think that ya’ll are alienating readers by doing this! something to take into consideration. shouldn’t we all work together as women and not bash the hell out of each other?!?!

      • Niki

        So people should stand idly by when a publication takes the issue of a woman spreading herpes to numerous partners for YEARS despite symptoms and a lack of a negative std test, and turns it into the equivalent of a cutesy “oopsie!” piece…… because they might feel “bullied” because someone called them on their shit?

        That sort of behavior deserves to be called out – it NEEDS to be called out. It is not cute, it is not okay. It is DANGEROUS.

    • Mags

      Of course her behavior isn’t laudable – but the fact is that people behave like this all the time. So writing about it at least reminds us that we need to use condoms all the time because there are plenty of people who, for the reasons mentioned in the article, don’t get tested and don’t use condoms. Isn’t being honest about our behavior better than pretending the everyone uses condoms and no-one has STDs? The xoJane article convinces me that I really must insist on condoms because perfectly normal non-evil people (like the guys I might sleep with) are capable of selfish and cowardly behavior like the author’s.

    • Jennifer Carter

      I am so glad that you wrote this article. I read the Herpes article over at XO Jane when it first came out and I was a bit appalled, but on the other hand, I know for a fact this is how many people treat their sexual health. Its all about deniable plausibility.

      Thank you for writing about what people should be doing to prevent the spread of herpes.

    • Sarah

      I like xoJane because the writers are funny and say all the awful things you’d tell your best friend.
      And they don’t try super hard to sound smart and superior….isn’t that what really bothers you about them?

      • Jennifer Wright

        It is pretty great how my pretense of intellect has stopped me from casually spreading herpes to everyone.

      • Sarah

        I never said you pretend to be intellectual…for all I know you could be super smart.
        It just seems to me that you try super hard to sound intellectual because you’re insecure about people’s perception of you in this regard.
        People who aren’t that bothered about how smart they’re perceived to be by other people seem to bother you.

    • brooke

      Ewww what the hell >_<

    • UGH

      Wow it must be nice to sit up on your high horse and spend your time downgrading other people who have problems you couldn’t possibly understand. You, and your opinion, is the reason so many people who contract herpes are afraid to tell their partner, their friends, or even their doctor. It is a shameful disease and opinions such as yours do nothing but perpetuate the silence associated with having a virus that is not serious or life-threatening but considered “dirty.”
      The reality is that not everyone who sleeps with someone who has an STD will contract it. If this were the case, you can bet your ass the statistic “1 in 5″ would be much higher. This is why, if you’re a “sane person” as you like to refer to the “clean” people, and your partner tells you he or she has herpes you can still continue with the relationship if each of you is taking precautions. I agree, whoever posted on that XO Jane site was an idiot, but not nearly as much of an idiot, bigot as you. The reality is that there are much worse things that can go wrong with your health and making a huge deal out of a skin problem doesn’t make it go away. I just don’t see your point or your logic in writing this response. What a waste of time.

    • xojane is soooo bad

      xo jane is horrible! the comments section is full of the stupidist lemmings on the internet. The writers are so complainy and they have all thse ‘Black’ articles where misinfomrd self-hating Black women cry about being Black (I am Black and it is repulsive that these women are trying to speak on behalf of us all). The rest of the articles are diary entries of sluts or fat girls…seriousy stop being a slut and stop over eating and get off the internet maybe? I have no sympathy for a slut spreading std’s. They have multiple articles where girls admit to spreading disease. The articles about sex all over ladies magazines and blogs don’t even begin to acknowledge or cover sexual health and responsibilty. All these feminists have this ‘i do what i want’ attitude. they think talking about limiting partners or taking it slow, or testing etc means oppression. no…these are medically proven ways to limit std’s.