Rubbers, English overcoats, love gloves, man coats, raincoats, johnny bags—or most widely known as condoms—have been around for quite some time. Some believe that the condom may even date as far back as the Ancient Egyptians, however, it was not until the syphilis epidemic in the 1500s when the first account of condoms was published for the use of protection against infection. Later in the 1700s, condoms made out of animal intestines were produced as a means of contraception. These were described as “an armor against pleasure, and a cobweb against infection”—similar to many claims regarding today’s modern latex condoms and the associated pleasure.
In an attempt to create the perfect condom which will not be viewed as the “passion-killer”, the Bill and Melinda Gates foundation is sponsoring a competition for grants to create the next generation of condoms. To date, 11 winning designs have made it through the first round and won $100,000 as seed money and after further development may have the potential to be awarded $1 million. The designs include using graphene-reinforced condoms for more strength and less thickness, collagen from cows’ tendons and fish scales to create the more true human tissue sensation, a condom which would tighten during intercourse, and also one that makes the process of putting on the condom easier.
So prepare yourselves and get excited; a brand new condom maybe coming to you soon.
But putting the excitement of a redesigned condom aside, a question comes to mind—will the release of a new condom change the embarrassment culture associated with buying condoms? Today, in addition to the belief that condoms are not very pleasurable
to use, there is often an awkwardness associated with buying condoms. The self-consciousness exists for so many people that there is even a wikihow page dedicated to “how to buy condoms discreetly”.
Often times, you have to not only catch the smirk from the cashier when buying condoms, but even the clerk who has to unlock the cage where they are kept; or you have to bear the beep and hope no one is around when it is set off as the plastic cover on the shelf is lifted and you quickly grab your choice love glove. And this shame not only exists for teenagers, but even for professional adults working within a public health organization where condom procurement is discussed on a daily, or even hourly, basis. I have never seen someone take the free condoms sitting in the bathroom at my place of work…yet they disappear weekly. I can only assume they are taken when no on else is in the bathroom and the humiliation can be avoided.
What will happen to this embarrassment in our culture associated with buying condoms when a reinvented condom is released to the public? Will it just disappear and everyone who uses condoms (and those who have considered it) be running for the stores to openly and proudly display the fact that they use condoms, or instead will this culture of hiding your condom purchase continue?