Another Crowd-Funding Campaign Gets It Completely Wrong

I ran across another crowd-funded campaign that seeks to increase the number of people who use condoms. Yet again, this group claims that one of the main reasons that women don't use condoms is because it's embarrassing to buy them. The solution, condoms in funky, easy to open packages, that will be accessible from places women go, like the beauty salon (because women never go into drugstores).

I was very skeptical when I saw the first video for loveability condoms because it seemed to be saying that it's just the packaging and the fact that condoms are so damned hard to open that keeps women from using them. But then I read the whole site and watched the founder's Ted talk and changed my mind a bit. I do like her idea of putting condoms in protective tins. When you're carrying stuff around in your purse, it gets DESTROYED. We all know that. So the tin is a good idea. But this is not new. The market is filled with all kinds of condom carriers, some supposedly specifically designed for women. ONE brand condoms packages their condoms with ends that flip off and make a little tin big enough for two condoms and a pack of lube. So yes, good idea, but it's not revolutionary. I also like her idea of putting condoms in places that you typically don't see them. This company is planning to have these condoms carried at spas, hair salons, and shoe stores. I'm not a fan of the obvious gender stereotyping and I'm not sure exactly how they plan to get these places to carry a product that's completely outside their industry, but I like the idea. I think it's cool to consider having condoms in more places and outside of the typical places we think of. I think this could lead to us seeing them as more of just an everyday item, like your shampoo.

So yes, there are some good ideas here and there's certainly nothing wrong with these condoms as far as I can see. However, I think this company, like so many others, is aiming at the wrong solution. I have worked with sexuality for about 13 years now. I have spent years talking to people about how to use condoms and why they do or don't use them. Rarely, certainly never, but rarely, do people tell me that they don't use condoms because they are embarrassed to buy them. Most people know that if they are embarrassed, they can go to Safeway or WalMart and use the self-checkout, get a friend to buy them, or buy them on-line. If they really want to buy condoms, they're going to do it. I am all for increasing access to condoms but I think this is only a small part of the issue. These are the reasons people, and particularly women who have sex with men, tell me they don't use condoms.

1. I just never think of it until I need it so I never have them around.
2. I'm embarrassed to bring it up. When do you bring up something like that? Especially if I don't have a condom and I'm hoping my partner does.
3. I'm afraid my partner will think I'm a slut if I have condoms in my purse.
4. If I ask to use a condom, they will think I have an STI.
5. If I ask to use a condom, they will think I think they have an STI.
6. If I've been with the person for awhile, I don't need to use condoms.
7. If I've been with the person for awhile and I ask to use condoms, they'll think I don't trust them.
8. If I've been with the person for awhile and I want to use condoms, they'll think I'm sleeping around.
9. I didn't think I needed to.
10. I've had sex with this person without a condom before, why start now?

These are the most common things that I hear. Rarely do I hear 'I don't like the packaging, it's not pretty enough' or 'The condom case in the store squeaked when I opened it and that embarassed me' (watch the loveability video and you'll see where this comes from).

A condom is not just a condom. It's a symbol. It's a symbol of trust or lack therof. It's a symbol of sexual availability or sexual promiscuity, or lack thereof. I don't believe it should be, but in North American culture, it often is. This is the problem that needs to be tackled. These are the attitudes and beliefs that we need to work on changing. That is what will get more women to use condoms.

The loveability condoms are very nice. I love the packaging and I love the idea and the earnestness of the people who are making them. They will be great for the few people who really care about what their condoms look like. But these are people who are already pretty cool with using condoms. Will it increase the number of women who actually use them? Definitely not.