all things condoms

Archive for April, 2009

Free condoms doesn’t mean unlimited condoms

Posted by Condomologist on April 30, 2009

Twice in the last two weeks, I’ve been made to feel guilty about denying someone from taking an excessive amount of condoms from my organization (which advertises, in so many words, as providing free condoms). Which got me thinking: How many condoms should one reasonably be allowed to take from a free supply? 10? 50? 100? Does it matter if they insist they will make use of them? Or, as it happened last night, is a sex worker entitled to 10 times as many as someone off the street, because they’re ostensibly having more sex? I’m torn. How do we say no to a request for condoms?  But as a colleague unprofessionally explained to her, “Girl, you’re working,” implying that she’s got the money to buy her own. That’s unfair, especially since many sex workers do not choose their profession — though some certainly do — but what about clearly voluntary sex parties? Should we supply endless condoms to gatherings for which participants often pay a fee — assuming some of this fee could go to rubbers — or pony up hundreds of condoms a month since they may otherwise be unavailable? I don’t know. Limited funds plague the non-profit world, and it would be regrettable if we couldn’t serve 10 people because we gave too many condoms to one person. Right, right: Fight for more money and more condoms. Easier said than done and not always feasible. But how do we set a somewhat arbitrary cap on condoms and then stick to it regardless of the condom seeker? Does a sex worker get more condoms because (s)he’s having more sex? How about a sex addict? Should we dole them out based on target populations, giving more to those whom either we specify as groups we’re funded to serve or who we know are at greater risk for contracting HIV or other STDs? I don’t know. The fact is that we condom distributors vary our giving based on a number of factors, amounting to little accountability, probably even less rationality, and a whole lot of bias; I’ve seen it, felt it, done it, observed it time and again. More condoms go to those who ask more nicely, less to the disrespectful repeat customers. More given out at once when outreach workers want to go home sooner, less when word’s come down from above that we’re going through too many too quickly. More to the macho dudes proclaiming multiple sexual encounters a day — and not because we like them, but we worry about their multiple partners. More to the young, less to the old. I don’t even want to get into race and gender of the giver and receiver.

And when it comes time to take stock of our supply, all we know is how many total condoms we’ve distributed in a given period of time. Too often there’s chatter in the non-profit world of just fighting for more funds. Need more of this and that. If only we get such-and-such contract. And yet the evaluation side of the equation — whether the existing jobs are being performed adequately — is a joke. And when, in the case of condom distribution, there are few to no standards or goals, evaluation cannot exist in the first place. I say this not at all as a direct criticism of the agency I work for — which is as good as I’ve seen — but just one of the many obstacles common to non-profits everywhere.

Just my rant for the day.


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No need for sobriety test

Posted by Condomologist on April 29, 2009

One wonders whether this guy produced condoms when asked for identification because of the fake ID he’d used to enter the bar or because he was truly that sloshed. I’m guessing the latter. Either way, good to know he was carrying protection — even if he wasn’t getting it up that night.

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Safer Sex Messages are Getting Stale

Posted by Condomologist on April 29, 2009

Seth Michael Donsky writes a thoughtful, in-depth piece over at New York Press highlighting the failure of safer sex messages to radically change the risky behaviour of gay men in 2009. On the contrary, he notes, part of what holds us back in the sexual health field is an inability to navigate the complex implications of the simplistic Wear a condom mantra we’re so good at repeating ad nauseum. Donsky peeks into the bathouse culture, as well as the minds of acquaintances and experts in the field, and brings awareness to a reality many doing the HIV-related prevention, testing, counseling and outreach — like I do daily — have yet to face: throwing condoms in people’s faces and telling them what they should do often ignores and misses the point. Some men see HIV as a liveable, chronic disease (which, in a sense it is, though we don’t really know what the long-term outcomes are for the current generation of HIV-positive folks). Others lie about their status — or at least lie by omission. Many men simply don’t care. A good many people either can’t negotiate safer sex or aren’t very good at it. And condomless sex not only feels damn good, but it retains an appeal in that it’s taboo, dangerous, and the opposite of the instructions they’re bombarded with day in and day out. At least in America, most sexually active adults know full well that condoms reduce the risk of HIV transmission; and yet the numbers of new HIV cases certainly aren’t going down. It’s easy to place blame on the right wing homophobes and the abstinence-only religious types — believe me, they deserve a hefty serving of it — but hopefully sooner rather than later, those of us in sexual health, with the best of intentions, also need to take a good, long look in the mirror. Handing out condoms and counseling those getting tested on risk reduction are worthwhile ventures (assuming one wants to reduce his risk), but aggressively tackling homophobia and the shame and stigma around HIV and AIDS seems to me an equally important piece of the puzzle. Read Donsky’s piece, for it reveals much more than just bathouse culture and bareback sex. It’s a call to rethinking strategy and tactics and understanding for the sex-positive crowd I’m proud to be a part of.

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Obama and Sexual Health

Posted by Condomologist on April 28, 2009

Campus Progress, a wing of the lefty think tank Center for American Progress, takes a look at President Obama’s 2009 appropriations bill and 2010 budget and grades his positions on sexual health, using their nifty condom scale. 1 condoms is a failing grade, 5 condoms equals “awesome beyond recognition.” Their final grade for the President: 18 out of 25 condoms, or 72%. While there is clearly room for improvement, the left must recognize that compromise is necessary for a President to accomplish anything, and a C- grade poorly reflects on a man committed to progressive ideals, yet cognizant of the fact that Washington becomes paralyzed without (at least a modicum of) bi-partisan support.

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Bea Arthur: Sexual Pioneer

Posted by Condomologist on April 28, 2009

I wrote awhile back about the Golden Girls making condom buying funny, and in the wake of Bea Arthur’s death this week, TV Guide revisits some seminal moments in television history as sexual taboos are shattered (including an old-school Jason Bateman clip from a 1987 episode of Valerie, where he and his girlfriend discuss condoms and birth control). It’s well worth viewing a clip of the Golden Girls if only for one of the catchiest theme songs of all time, but it’s pretty remarkable to hear the old ladies talking HIV and AIDS and condoms back in the 1990s given the shame and stigma still surrounding those issues today. 


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Ole, ole, ole, ole

Posted by Condomologist on April 27, 2009

A Mexican team of activists takes to the roads of Central America in their condom mobile, with stops in Guatemala, El Salvado, Nicaragua, Honduras, Costa Rica and Panama to promote safer sex and, equally importantly, encourage people to get tested for HIV and know their status. The trip is set to coincide with the 1st Central American Summit on Rapid HIV Testing April 27-28 in Guatemala City.



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Oh you little Sun Devils

Posted by Condomologist on April 24, 2009

asuwebdevil reports on Safe Sex Week at Arizona State University:  “Several ASU students spent about an hour and a half trying to affix a large mesh condom atop the spire on the Tempe campus Hayden Lawn on Tuesday with a pulley system of cheap rope, broomsticks and spare shoes. But the members of ASU Advocates for Sexual Health just couldn’t get it up.” We sexual health peoples need the physics nerds to help us from time to time, apparently. Christina Mesiti, president of the student group, helped stich together the condom and remarked on its symbolism: “By putting a condom on the ‘nipple of knowledge,’ we figured it would be, like, the Bat Signal for our cause. It’s our symbol.” And a remarkable one at that, 12-feet wide, using 37 yards of fabric. Looking forward to seeing it when they finally get it up.



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I’m in love with the Condom Fairy

Posted by Condomologist on April 24, 2009

Lifestyle Skyn — the relatively new non-latex, polyisoprene style condom — takes their new super sexy advertising one step further and adds a lovely touch of humour.


Posted in Condom Brands and Styles, Humour, Marketing, Videos | Tagged: , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Want to be snug as a bug in a rug?

Posted by Condomologist on April 24, 2009

Further proof emerges from the UK that a good many folk out there are unaware of the many condom sizes available: “More than half of London men have been wearing the wrong size of condom, unaware they could be snug as a bug in a rug,” writes the In particular, those old fogies, the over-55 crowd, are particularly clueless when it comes to condom variation, concludes the study done by condom brand Pasante . We need to start sex ed programming for old single men, what with their inability to maintain an erection and their not knowing about condoms that may make safer sex more enjoyable for them.

Posted in Condom Brands and Styles, Education, News and Current Events, Research and Study | Tagged: , , , | Leave a Comment »

The Euro Condom…

Posted by Condomologist on April 24, 2009

For your lightbulb. New European guidelines going into effect later this year ban frosted light bulbs, so German designer Ingo Maurer created a heat-resistant silicone sleeve that will turn a clear light bulb into a frosted one. My guess is one is not advised to use these “condoms” for sexual activity. (Hat tip: Ruff)



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