When I was younger (and I won’t say how young), condoms were not so easy to come buy. First of all, they had to be bought. I didn’t have a car and was more or less stuck with the local pharmacy where I was well-known. I remember a friend’s father noting that in his youth, condoms were behind the pharmacist’s counter because they were stolen so often, more out of embarrassment than anything else. But that was the option and when condoms were needed, at least we could get them.
Not so many years later, I found myself swimming in condoms and I still am to this day.
So what happened? I started working in international health. While the US federal government has done what it can to keep condoms out of the reach of ‘kids’ -going so far as to prohibit federal funding for school sex-ed programs that were not abstinence-only- the US government remains one of the LARGEST purchasers and distribution-funders of condoms globally. Go figure.
In my world, condoms are everywhere. In the bathroom at work, handed out at the health center and at concerts, on display in people’s offices. The irony, of course, is that I’m not longer so interested in them on a personal level.
I wish I could explain the bizarre anomaly that is the difference between US government foreign and domestic policy when it comes to these slippery little buggers. Whether you chalk it up to Americans’ puritanical nature when it comes to their own backyard, an altruistic desire to halt the spread of HIV/AIDS or a more nuanced drive to limit world population growth, the paradox remains.
Whatever the logic, it would be nice to see the new Administration* change the domestic climate so condoms truly are available readily and freely to those who want them.
It’s the demystification I’m looking for, outside of the small circle for global healthers with condoms taped to their office doors. The sense that condoms are normal and wouldn’t horrify someone if accidentally left on the dining room table.
But whether you get your condoms from the local pharmacy, a freebie at work or the Happy Banana condom shop in Lomé, Togo, don’t forget to put it on before you get it on!
*Obama’s Administration’s first move to put family planning changes forward has already been shot down.
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