Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Modern Condom Marketing

Driving somewhere in the van recently, we were actually listening to the radio instead of having one of the family iPods plugged into the sound system. And while we were listening, we heard a condom commercial.

Then another.

And another.

During the course of less than an hour, we heard three different condom commercials.

After the third one, I turned off the radio, and plugged one of the iPods in.

It’s not that I object to condom commercials. I think that they should’ve been advertised a long time ago. It's the way they're being marketed that bothers me; to a crowd of people who sees no problem with sleeping with a different person every two weeks.

I remember, and miss, the “good old days,” when you wore a condom to keep the one girlfriend you were sleeping with from getting pregnant, and not to prevent spreading diseases among the six that you’ve slept with in the past three months. I have no problem explaining to my seven-year-old daughter about not wanting to get pregnant. My wife's a nurse, so she knows all the details anyway. I suppose that based on that, I shouldn’t have any problem explaining to her about the diseases you can get if you "sleep around," but I really didn’t want to go there yet. So it was iPod time.

Have you read the instructions on a package of condoms lately? They’re scary! Once again, 30 years ago, all you were concerned about was not getting your girlfriend pregnant, so the instructions for putting one on, taking it off, and disposing of it were fairly straightforward. Read a package now and it’s like reading the instructions for dealing with hazardous materials. Heck, you are dealing with potentially hazardous materials. The package might as well say “If you can read this, you are way too close.”

And yet, if I am totally honest with you and myself, the “good old days” from 1974 to 1982, when I was an undergrad, and had an active interest (although not as active a part as I would've liked) in the “sexual revolution,” were probably full of as much “serial shtupping” as there is today. In fact, I remember one housemate who seemed to have a different girl over every weekend. But he was the exception to the rule among the people I knew. All of my other housemates were with the same girl for a semester or more. Yet one thing remained the same: for all of them condoms were about not getting the girl pregnant, and a used one wasn't considered a biohazard.

That all changed when we learned about AIDS. This was a venereal disease (to use the terminology of the time) that penicillin wouldn’t help, and that would kill you. You’d think that days of sleeping around would be over with that. Yet, ironically, it was probably AIDS that saved the condom from irrelevance in an era when most sexually active women were on the Pill anyway. Because instead of being seen as something that could prevent a new life from starting, it was now something that could prevent yours from ending. As a result, they were no longer marketed as contraceptive devices for relatively stable couples, but as disease prevention devices for people who flitted from bed to bed to bed.

Which brings us back to the three commercials I got tired of hearing.

With all this having been said, I think I have a much more effective, although old-fashioned, way of preventing the spread of STDs.

Keeping your pants on for a few months until you really get to know and trust each other.

1 comment:

  1. I agree with you...I have talked to my 6 year old about plenty of things, but STD's aren't one I'm really ready to carry on a conversation about (and believe me, the conversations on a number of topics are quite long and involved with lots of questions that I wasn't aware were capable of being thought of by a 6 year old).

    The other commercials that bother me are the Cialis ones. Seriously? I remember those commercials were reserved for Prime Time or late night TV. Now, you have to be careful of what commercials are being shown during the 5 & 6 O'Clock news programs. Do I REALLY REALLY need to explain to my 6-year-old DAUGHTER about erectile dysfunction? I don't think even a parent of a BOY that age needs to explain what all that is about!