In the wake of this whole (super-upsetting/disheartening/ridiculous/CALL YOUR REPRESENTATIVES EVERYONE) Planned Parenthood debacle, I've been thinking a lot about sex education and politics and this bizarre, puritanical outlook on sex that somehow still manages to thrive in America.
At school, I do layout editing for Vita Excolatur, a (totally bad-ass) student-run sex and erotica magazine. Thanks to a member of our editorial board who works with the Great American Condom Campaign, each quarter our publication gets 500 condoms to distribute at parties, events, and with the magazine itself. The other day I was tabling for new members in my school's equivalent to a student union. This task basically consists of bribing passersby with condoms in hopes of getting them to model or submit work for our next issue.
College students love free giveaways. College students love sex. By this logic, I'd think that giving away FREE condoms at a college wouldn't be terribly difficult. In reality, it was actually really hard. Lots of kids would get super awkward when I asked if they'd like some free condoms, and then just say "No." Kids who did take the condoms often prefaced the transaction with statements like, "They're for a joke" or "My roommate wants these."
Maybe I'm in the minority, but I think picking up condoms for your roommate is definitely weirder than getting condoms for yourself. This is beside the point though. What I'm trying to illustrate by telling this story is that people, even young people, are still "weird" about something as benign as condoms. We've made a lot of "progress" (in quotes because the forward-moving nature of this change is questionable) as a nation in becoming more comfortable with sex in the media. It seems like we've made smaller strides, though, on the front of de-stigmatizing sex itself, and the things like condoms that go with it.
Hence, a proposal. From the time you start carrying a purse or a wallet, you should start carrying a condom. This idea is good for a few reasons:
- If you carry a condom in your purse or wallet, you will always have a condom with you. This not only benefits you, should you choose to "do it" with someone, but it also benefits everyone around you. If everyone is carrying condoms, nobody will ever be able to use, "I don't have a condom" as an excuse for unprotected sex.
- Carrying condoms would help to de-stigmatize protection and the act of sex itself. First of all, if condoms were something that people had to see and touch on a regular basis when using their wallet, it would aid in de-stigmatizing them. Secondly, if everyone had to carry condoms, it wouldn't be weird, it would just be something that everyone did. If you knew that your grandma and your teacher at school and your bus driver all carried condoms, they wouldn't hold the distinction of being taboo or embarrassing anymore.
This advice should apply to everyone. Virgins, older folks, women with IUDs, people on birth control pills, gay ladies, pregnant women, priests who have taken vows of chastity, people who are waiting until marriage, middle schoolers, the tubally ligated-- everyone. Not having sex, or not needing barrier-method birth control, shouldn't exempt you from helping everyone stay healthy and safe.
I think working toward normalizing sex and protection is a HUGE step that we should be taking in trying to protect reproductive health rights. Abortion access IS a right, but I can't think of anyone who would be unhappy if less women needed to obtain abortions in the first place.
(I know this post might skew a little heteronormative, as everyone carrying only condoms ignores the sexual health of ladies who sleep with ladies. This idea is just one, in what would hopefully be a collection of many, techniques that we could use in the future to protect the health of everyone!)
(Someone brought up in the comments that carrying condoms in your wallet is bad for effectiveness of the condoms. This is true, to a degree. Condoms packaged like this exist though-- maybe all condoms should get this sort of packaging? What I'm really getting at in this post is that you should carry a condom on your person at all times.)