There is Condom-Less Sex But There are Glow-in-the-Dark Condoms Too: Girls Debating Safe Sex

  • Joanne CassarEmail author
Original Paper


The study examines multimodal, nonverbal communication on birth control, teenage pregnancy and abortion among a number of female students who expressed themselves through anonymous writings on toilet doors of their educational institution in Malta. Their diverse perspectives on these themes were also related to contraception and sexually acquired infections and how these compromise sexual pleasure in heteronormative relations. Data is comprised of digital photographs of toilet graffiti. The study draws on discourse analysis to understand girls’ thinking about safe sex and surrounding issues according to the discursive formations present in their writings. This approach affirms that written texts are ascribed meanings according to social and cultural contexts in which they occur. Their debates on how lack of contraceptive use might materialize the pregnant and/or the infected body are culturally mediated through a number of discourses surrounding safe sex. The study demonstrates that the girls’ articulations affirm the complexities surrounding their described heterosexual relationships in relation to the un/condomised bodies of the other. Condom-less sex and glow-in-the-dark condoms use are considered two liminal states that between them hold a discursive continuum on issues about sexual pleasure. By debating safe sex students could move across this continuum; not necessarily in a linear way but backwards and forwards according to culturally prescribed dictates on safe sex.


Safe sex Graffiti Discourse Contraception Sexualities Girls’ writings 


Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of interest

Author declares that there is no conflict of interest.

Informed Consent

The study makes use of secondary data composed of anonymous graffiti writings. Due to the anonymity of the writings, signed and informed consent from the writers to publish them was not possible. Institutional consent has been granted.

Research Involving Human Participants and/or Animals

Ethical clearance from the University of Malta Research Ethics Committee was granted to conduct the research. All procedures performed in studies involving secondary data were in accordance with the ethical standards of this institutional research ethics committee and with the 1964 Helsinki declaration and its later amendments. This article does not contain any studies with animals performed by the Cassar.


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Copyright information

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Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Youth and Community StudiesUniversity of MaltaMsidaMalta

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