Feminism | Posted by Mareike S on 11/26/2012

Buying Condoms

why am I so embarassed to buy condoms?

I guess the title already gives you a good idea what this post will be about, but bare with me while I explain how exactly I got to writing this post and chose this title.

You could say I’m a grown woman. I’m a few years older than my country’s legal age, I live in my own flat several hundred kilometers away from my parents and, yes, if I’m not in a committed relationship, I sometimes hook up with a guy if he’s my type and things click.

Now, I’m on the pill (which luckily is really, really easy to get if you live in Germany or anywhere else in Europe as far as I know), but there’s no one-night stands without condoms for me. Just. Not. Happening.

You’d think buying condoms wouldn’t be a big deal for a feminist who has bought some before. And it isn’t. People don’t look at you funny or anything. But still, I recently found myself passing by the shelf of condoms twice before grabbing some when I needed new ones. I even started wondering what I would do if I happened to run into someone I knew (funnily enough, I was more worried about meeting guy friends than girl friends).

And that was the moment when I stopped and said to myself ‘Now, isn’t that weird?’

After all, I was only being a responsible adult.

So I started wondering why exactly I was behaving and feeling the way I did. I never felt self-conscious when I went to the drugstore to get the pill, so why was I squeamish about buying condoms?

Obviously, I can’t back my conclusion up with scientific facts (though it would be interesting asking my female friends if they feel the same about this), but I think the reason for my squeamishness was that buying condoms, more than getting the pill, implies that you’re not in a committed relationship, because it seems that a lot of couples use an alternative method more particular to their needs after some time. So buying condoms kinda allows people around you to assume that you’re up to something (promiscuity) that’s still judged negatively by many people, and especially so if you’re a woman. Add to that the fact that it’s usually men who are expected to buy condoms (and aren’t as severely judged for sleeping with someone they’ve just met as women are), and it’s pretty obvious why I was behaving like I did. But isn’t that fucked up? Here I was, thinking of myself as a progressive feminist woman, and I’m still grappling with issues like this. Another case in point for how annoying and pervasive gender stereotypes are.

Oh, and that thing about being more worried about meeting guy friends? Another one of those things society teaches us, I guess. God forbid that a guy friend might think I’m sexually active (even though I am).

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  • inquisitive bibliophile @ at 12:58 pm, November 26th, 2012

    Thank you for such an honest post–I remember getting “free” condoms from school (I put free in quotation marks because I realize that I probably paid for it somewhere in my school fees) and I definitely had a reaction to it, but I was young and couldn’t really articulate it at the time. it was almost as if…I worried about what people would think of me for even having them.

    So much of the messages we’re getting as young woman are that we’re supposed to be available for public consumption at the drop of a hat, but that we’re also supposed to be mysterious to the point where we’re almost not allowed to admit that we have and enjoy sexual activity.

    Nobody should be ashamed for making choices that pertain to their own body. Now if I could just convey that to the media, so they can stop pedaling such damaging images and concepts to women and girls.

  • DeadJim @ at 11:23 pm, November 27th, 2012

    I’m a straight dude and I feel a little awkward when I go to buy condoms, myself, and have done the aisle-pass once or twice. Although I do buy magnums and a lot of that is probably feeling uncomfortable with how ridiculously obvious they make the box for those damn things.

  • Megan @ at 1:14 am, November 28th, 2012

    Funny you should mention it…

    There have been scientific studies researching this phenomenon.

    Just look up the work of Michael Reece or Debbie Herbenick or William Yarber (all at the University of Indiana.)

  • Alli Whitmore @ at 10:32 am, December 17th, 2012

    I dont see why people make it out to be such a big deal if your buying condoms, at least your taking the precautions and are being protected. Do people want to make kids feel so uncomfortable then end up not buying them and have unprotected sex? idiots..

  • Alyssa Mompoint (@AlyssaMompoint) @ at 5:09 pm, April 23rd, 2013

    I totally agree. I don’t know why its still embarrassing to go buy a condom when its perfectly fine to get tampons, birth control and pregnancy test. I think part of it is our own self-perception and the other part really is a double standard. I recently wrote something on “Carrying Condoms Are Worse Than Not Carrying Any At All? This may give you more insight: “http://blog.beforewedo.com/2013/04/carrying-your-own-condom-is-worse-than.html

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