Are condoms gendered?

As the youngest of three, with two older brothers paving the way for me, I often wonder how much influence gender had in how my mother approached parenting. Being my mother’s only daughter, I ponder if I earned privileges earlier than she allowed my brothers to based on my gender or my lineage in the family. Receiving a cell phone and having my own room come to mind above all in regard to things I got at a younger age than my brothers. There is one thing, however, that my brothers got that I didn’t: condoms when they went to college. And I can’t help but think it’s because they are men, and I am a woman.

Now, perhaps I can understand why my mother wouldn’t supply them to me. Maybe she’s old fashioned and believes that the guy should carry the responsibility of providing the condom for intercourse. Or maybe it’s easier to think of her sons as sexual beings than her daughter. Maybe she just hasn’t come to terms with the idea that her baby is growing up. Or maybe, it just didn’t occur to her that it is just as important for women to carry condoms as men.

When you go to college, condoms are everywhere: the health center, in the bathrooms, and on the quad, but it still doesn’t mean that it’s okay for women to assume that a man will always have one. Women like to be prepared. We think of things from a variety of views before we come to a conclusion, and therefore it’s certain that with today’s knowledge of the importance of condoms, it’s on our minds. And we shouldn’t feel ashamed of it. It shouldn’t be something that makes us feel dirty or wrong, because that’s surely not how men feel about this.

The issue is, though, not only are condoms more accessible to men, but for them, carrying condoms comes with the territory. If the condom tags along in their wallet during a hopeful outing to the bar or club, it’s seen as something that fits the script of what men do. After all, they are at least acknowledging that practicing safe sex is important, so we should be happy. But when it’s reversed and women are the ones carrying the condom in their clutch, it connotates something different. But why? Is it strictly because men are the ones who “need” the condom. Or maybe it’s because it’s the  only type of “birth control” they have. But if we rely on men to have condoms, we are innately giving them power. Power that women can hold, but don’t, all because we don’t carry these small pieces of latex. Part of the issue resides in the fact that as women, we carry the burden of the “what if” in sex (pregnancy) even though it takes two people to carry out the act and create another tiny human. The bottom line is, if you think you might have sex: carry a condom. It’s as simple as that. Whether you’re a man, woman, or somewhere on the spectrum between, just do it. You won’t regret it if you do, but if you don’t, you subject yourself to some serious consequences.

The key is beginning to normalize it. Making it a 50/50 shot that a woman will have a condom as many times as a man does. If we normalize, it becomes less stigmatized and there becomes more equality between the sexes. The stereotype of condom carrying women will turn from that of a promiscuous girl, wanting to sleep with anyone and everyone in sight to someone who just practices safe sex. Someone who is looking out for themselves and is being smart.

So ma, if you’re reading this: provide me with some condoms. Not only so that I have tons of safe sex, but so that I have the same options you provided my brothers with. #equality

In my next post, we will be shifting focus away from how men have the power with the condom to the power females hold in their own sexuality.

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