Carrying Condoms, Now With More Sexism!

Health Insurance

Ladies, I really don't like to hate on someone's good idea, that I fully support, due to the language of their press release and angle for marketing. But this week I got a press release that was so backwards, so out of touch, and offensive, that I just can't not rant about it.

A mother-daughter duo have come up with a plastic case that resembles a makeup compact, which has a secret compartment to store condoms. (Like tampons, some ladies are overly embarrassed to carry around products that might someday go near their vaginas, for some reason.) And being prepared with condoms on hand is just plain smart. So if more ladies are carrying around condoms, then more ladies will be more likely to make good decisions about their sexual health because they won't get caught without a condom and decide to go have some sex anyway. Yes, this is a good idea.

The press release detailing Just In Case starts out by stating some statistics about STD rates in American teens. Ok, good. The high rate of unintended pregnancies in America is also mentioned. Cool. The health care costs associated with the prevalence of new STD infections is in here too. Awesome. It says these reasons are what spurred Marsha Bartenetti and her daughter Rachael Sudul to come up with a way to help more women carry condoms with them. Then we get to this line: "Yes, they said it; condoms. They're not just for hookers and one-night stands anymore." .................. WHAT?

Did my grandparents write this? Or someone at the national department for shame and guilt? It had to be written by a man, right? The release goes on to say that condoms still have a "bad image" (do they?), that of course women are embarrassed to be seen carrying condoms (suck it up, ladies), and that condoms are "ugly" and "completely misunderstood." Despite the widespread statistical knowledge that condoms are an effective way of preventing STDs and warding off pregnancy, women aren't carrying condoms because they're embarrassed to be seen with such a shameful tool of self-respect and responsibility, and also because condoms are ugly? Women are both too stupid and too vain to be responsible sexually active adults?

Holy shit is that offensive. But we're not done yet.

Three of the main reasons for women opting to leave the condoms at home are listed:

  1. Women are afraid of judgment for carrying a condom.
  2. Women are afraid they will be rejected or judged by their boyfriends for being "too forward."
  3. Society says ... "be a good girl," "have a man protect you," "have modesty" and to always be in style.

If your boyfriend is going to reject or judge you for having condoms in your purse, and think that it means you're "too forward," dump that asshole immediately. Isn't  he having sex with you? Is he the only person who decides when and where he has sex with you? Are you not supposed to also want to have the sex he's having with you? I'm not saying this doesn't happen, but stating it here turns it from "problem some women face when they're partners are total assholes" to "you should not only expect this to happen to you, but it is the way life is and we as women will just have to deal with it, I guess." "Be a good girl" just furthers the shame surrounding the notion that a woman would ever enjoy sex. But, really, "have a man protect you"?! Not only are women vain and stupid, we're also helpless.

It continues: "The reasons above may seem like simple and old-fashioned notions, but they are core concerns that have been ingrained in women and they haven't really been seriously addressed when it comes to safe sex. Which is why many women will make terrible choices in a matter of seconds that can change the course of her life forever (and not necessarily in a good way) rather than appear too aggressive, or promiscuous, by being prepared." We are vain, stupid, helpless, and incapable of turning down the sex that we should be so ashamed of having, condom or not. That's right, it's not her fault she made the choice to have unprotected sex. It's not like saying no was an option or anything. There were no guns pointed at heads. If you're making a choice, it means you know that there's a reason that you shouldn't do it. This goes beyond "simple and old-fashioned notions" to "you dirty dirty whore, look at all your condoms."

Us young women are not the only idiots Just In Case was created to help. Middle-aged divorced or widowed ladies are out getting all the STDs because they think they don't need condoms now that their wombs are barren. "They haven't a clue about the new dating landscape," it says. And the elderly are absolutely riddled with STDs because every nursing home is just one big sex party thanks to Viagra. Ok, old people, we'll give you that one.

"But, what if the guy doesn't have a condom, where does that leave a woman, besides terribly vulnerable to the life changing maladies from unsafe sex?" What if the guy doesn't have a condom? You gonna fuck him anyway? At no point will you consider that it's probably a bad idea and that you don't have to? Hmm?

The kicker here is a story about a man who was arrested for assault with a deadly weapon after knowingly infecting several women with HIV because he didn't wrap his donger. And they didn't make him, either. "They all met this man on a very popular dating website. He dated these women with the knowledge he had the disease - Upon looking at him - NO ONE would suspect that he carried the virus." No fucking shit. "He was a handsome, charming karate instructor. Seemingly fit, and a real 'catch.' It was heartbreaking to hear these women's stories and how they now face a totally different future after having made the worst choice of their lives. It only took a few seconds to say 'yes' to unprotected sex with someone they knew virtually nothing about." Emphasis mine. Again, use of the word choice. Are all of these women really that selfish and reckless?

Should this guy be thrown in jail for giving a bunch of women HIV on purpose? Absolutely. Was it solely his responsibility to not only carry condoms but ensure all of the sex to be had would be as safe as reasonably possible? NO! This guy didn't attack and rape these women. He was a prospective boyfriend at best. Bang this guy I just met on the Internet without any barrier between my health and future livelihood and his entire sexual history? Sure, why not. Ladies, what is wrong with some of you!

I really do think Just In Case is a great idea. Those of us who carry condoms with us at all times might like a cute way to organize our stash, and make sure that the integrity of the packaging isn't damaged while we haul them around in our enormous purses. Maybe the sheer convenience of being able to reach into your bag and grab them without fishing around would be enough to want to get one. But the insinuation here is that women have not been responsible about their bodies, and haven't expected to have to make responsible sexual decisions if there's a man around, and that now it's time to start taking responsibility. Instead of trying to empower women about sex under the guise of sensitivity to their easily embarrassed selves and frail, delicate emotions, why not start with the ability each of us has to decide when we get down and dirty. And the criteria that must be present for the sexing to commence.

Remember how often we were told as teenagers that if a boy won't date us because we won't have sex with him, he's not worth it and we're better off without him and we can say yes when we're ready and all that crap? That sentiment does not become inapplicable after we age a few years and sex becomes part of the dating norm. But you might not get that second date if you say no tonight in this taxi cab? But you love spontaneity so much? But the sexual revolution said women are free to bang whatever they want at any time? If a guy wants to give you the business without putting on the proper protection, he is a jerk and you are a fucking idiot if you let him. Either suck it up and prepare yourself, because getting sick or pregnant because other people might think you're a slut if you carry condoms is really really really lame. Idiotic, even. Just In Case wants us to "get our beautiful heads out of the sand" and "start breathing the air of reality." Reality is that giving women a great product to help them get over themselves and be sexually responsible kind of loses some of its sheen when presented like a vintage ad for Palmolive. And Just In Case apparently thinks we're all very stupid.

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