Remember the nostalgic condom in the wallet? Is it just me, or do guys no longer do that? When did it become primarily the woman’s job to carry protection? (Oh and if one more guy tells me he “just got tested” I’m going to take a vow of celibacy.) By Drea Sebastiano-Stanley.
It’s hot and heavy. You’ve moved on from the in-public make out to the private (or perhaps not-so-private) spot in the bathroom, against the wall in an alleyway, the car, his apartment or yours… the location isn’t clear, but one thing is: you will be having sex with him. And then something crosses your mind (or at least it should): between the two of us, does someone have a fucking condom?
Does this vibe-kill sound familiar? But before you ask him this question, if you’re like me, you’re thinking to yourself: “First off, way to go Drea—even though you’re in that five-tequila-shot fog, where you have thrown enough caution to the wind to think you’re the most incredible, sexiest dancer in this bar, you are still responsible enough to protect yourself against pregnancy and disease. Respect.” And then after your self-congratulatory inner monologue, you think: “Wait, if I said nothing, would he even propose we use one?”
I’ll admit that this second thought may come from a place of deep-seeded jadedness from the casual hook ups. But in many of my past experiences, bringing up a condom has often triggered a response similar to:
“I don’t have anything, do you?” And then: “But I’ve recently gotten checked and I’m clean.” Right.
Unlikely, but also unfair, because it’s commonly known that women are more negatively affected by STIs than men. For instance, women are more likely to experience long-term health complications from STIs that go untreated, including possible infertility. So for a dude, skipping the condom is less of a risk, which makes lying about the cleanliness of your dick actually seem quite sadistic.
It seems like something has shifted in the way we view condom use in a casual-sex setting. This is evident in recent articles released in women-driven outlets, which contribute to the idea that women carrying condoms is an indication of “sexual liberation.” For instance, Cosmo‘s article Seven Guys Reveal What They Think about Women Who Carry Condoms, in which women are then given the social “ok” and “validation” to carry protection by male interviewees. Thanks guys. Cosmo also recently went as far to label carrying contraception a fashion accessory, releasing a list of “cute” condom cases in “10 Pretty Ways to Hide Your Condoms”.
Now, don’t get me wrong. I’m all for women being proactive in their sexual lifestyles. But my question is this: When did men stop being just as proactive?
The Washington Post released an article containing research done by the University of Southampton and the University of Bristol, revealing that the more attractive a man is to a woman, the less inclined he is to use a condom. This is chalked-up to several reasonings, the most prominent being that people (irrationally) equivocate attractiveness to a bill of clean health (so like literally “she’s a babe so she can’t possibly have herpes”). Though many men in this study assessed the risk of unprotected sex, they still admitted that they would take no additional measures to ensure safe sex with a woman they found really hot.
During one of my hook-ups, this research came to mind and I decided to do my own experiment. Again the familiar conversation happened. Neither of us had a condom, but he quickly informed me that he had “just gotten tested and was clean.” He seemed to think this was a solution for us, and proceeded to kiss me. I wasn’t done with the conversation. “Well, to tell you the truth, I haven’t gotten tested recently.” He thought for what seemed like hardly a second before shrugging it off and said, “Well, it’s not like you do this a lot, right?”
Remember the nostalgic condom in the wallet? Perhaps this was deemed ineffective due to the wear and tear of carrying around a condom, but at least the effort and preparedness was there. In my experience, the wallet condom vanished, and the women I know who engage in the lifestyle of casual sex have taken it upon themselves to be the providers (and buyers; these things aren’t cheap) of condoms. Admittedly, whether women actively practice it at every turn is up to dispute.
It’s no question that contraception for women is a far more complicated, expensive and invasive process for women than it is for men. We can’t simply retrieve our birth control off the shelf at Walgreens. We have to get a prescription, which requires a doctor visit and a Pap smear. We have to pay for it. We have to take a pill every day or live with some form of birth control implanted in our bodies like cyborgs. And whatever contraceptive you choose—whether a shot, insert, implant, patch, or pill—does not protect you against STI. The best way to prevent disease: duh, condoms. So since we, as women, have to do all this other stuff, don’t you think it might be a fair and small ask to have the dude carry the very thing he should responsibly wear while we “do the dirty”?
So who should be buying and carrying condoms? In my opinion, not primarily women, but both sexes. Not to spread a sense of distrust and paranoia over the wonderful world of spontaneous and sexy hook-ups, but we need to stop having so much faith in our casual counterparts. Not everyone can be “recently checked” and “clean.” And if I’m making enough effort to ensure I have a safe ride home tonight, when it’s revealed that neither of us has a condom, I should just take it one step further and take that unsexy (yet safe) Uber ride home… alone.
Drea Sebastiano-Stanley is a writer and occasional stand up comedian in Seattle, Washington.