Friends: let me tell you a story, now. This is a story, not unlike that related by The Brady Bunch, of a lovely lady. A lovely lady named Amanda Hess at the Washington City Paper’s The Sexist, that is! She was blogging on the Internet about ladies for a while, when one day she happened upon a second lady doing the very same thing, but in more unprofessional fashion. The role of That Other Lady will be played, of course, by me!
So these two chicks got to chatting on the Internet every once in a while, about artifacts and events appertaining to the ladybusiness. It went really well. Really super well! And then, one day, out of the blue, these two ladies discovered that they could just straight-up talk about some vaginas if they wanted to. In quite some detail, it turned about! And no-one would stop them! On the Internet, vaginas are welcome; they are, in fact, PAGEVIEW GOLD! Yes: These two ladies discovered that there was no impediment to either one of them just straight-out flat-out being like, “here are some thoughts about vaginas.” Furthermore, they were similarly permitted to share their thoughts on the anti-vagina, also known amongst scientists and cultural critics as “the human weiner!”
And that, dear Reader, is when these two ladies stopped being polite… and started getting REAL.
So, like: Female condoms. Folks don’t wear them much! Folks don’t want to wear them, apparently! That is something to chat about. Like, for example: WHY don’t they want to wear them? Does the immediate revulsion displayed by one of the chatting parties to the very concept of “female condom” constitute evidence that Sady Doyle has just gone ahead and basically become a sexist dude? What’s the most unexpected context in which you’d expect to see the words “minimum rustling?” And what can be done to increase, even fractionally, the popularity of this Female Condom all the kids are talking about? It turns out one of us has a solution!
ILLUSTRATION: Because, like, this is sexy, right?
AMANDA: Sorry I’m late: I was inserting my female condom in anticipation of having sex up to eight hours from now.
SADY: Amanda, you know how much I value our friendship. Which is why I want you to understand something. PLEASE NEVER SAY THE PHRASE “I WAS INSERTING MY FEMALE CONDOM” EVER EVER AGAIN.
AMANDA: Deal. But the next 30 minutes of this female condom chat are going to be excruciating for me
SADY: It’s hard for me to think of “female condom chats” WITHOUT thinking “excruciating.” I know I am judgey and a poor former condom merchant and/or safe sex advocate for feeling this way.
AMANDA: Hey Sady, we’re just two ladies hanging out talking frankly about our vaginas. The most natural thing for two women to talk about! (Actually we have talked a lot about vaginas, I am realizing, in this series).
SADY: Well, I guess we… have them in common? Okay, let’s talk about something that is NOT vaginas. Let’s talk about dicks. Because here’s how I feel about dicks.
AMANDA: I’m listening.
SADY: HERE’S HOW I FEEL ABOUT DICKS! Dicks don’t get pregnant. Dicks don’t get their periods. Dicks don’t get ANYTHING except boners, and also occasionally hilarious Hits in the Crotch on old episodes of America’s Funniest Home Videos.
AMANDA: Haha, yeah!
SADY: Dicks have like one responsibility in the world, which is to put condoms on themselves when they are having the penetrative intercourse. AND NOW THEY’VE PUT THAT ONE ON US TOO?
AMANDA: Yes they have! And women around the world are as skeptical as you are. The thing about the female condom is that it’s really great for women who can’t force their male partners / clients whatever to use the male condom, and so they need a first line of defense
SADY: Yeah. Fair enough.
AMANDA: For women who don’t have that very terrible problem, though, I’m not seeing it really catching on. However, I have this idea that I would like to sell to the female condom manufacturers, which is that they give a grant to porn manufacturers who will work to eroticize the female condom in their work. So then one day like 10 years from now, old people will be like, “what are these ‘money shots’ and ‘bikini waxes’ and ‘female condoms’ the young kids are using nowadays?” And then there will finally be gender equity in condom sales.
SADY: Wow. Porn truly does solve everything! But can we go back to that “you won’t put on a condom and we need a barrier/STD-preventing method” thing?
SADY: Because here’s my theory: You, A Dude, want to sleep with me. I, A Lady, am not sure if we are monogamous and/or STD free. You are like, “but baby, why can’t YOU put this bag up your bits?” I am like, “this is the quickest I have ever lost interest in a sexual encounter. See you later, dude!” Like: If you are not responsible enough to wear the condom, you’re not responsible enough to be having sex with me, basically.
AMANDA: Yeah. I have never heard of a man who would prefer the lady coat her vagina with a bag, but I did speak to one man who has sex with men who has used the female condom, and he had this to say about it: “When I’ve been a top—the insertive partner—what I’ve liked about the bottom wearing the device is that my penis wasn’t wrapped in plastic.” So, there’s that.
SADY: I mean, okay. Sure. I get that. Did your interview subject mention the fit issues? I mean, I hear it fits well, but the thing I have always admired about condoms — the skinny jeans of the birth control world — is that they are so specifically tailored. Does the female condom, according to your journalistic research, share this virtue?
AMANDA: OK, so I’m not going to repeat the phrase that must never be repeated.
SADY: OH JEEZ.
AMANDA: But I did shminshmert the shmemale shcondom the other day, when I was, you know, just hanging out and bein’ a lady, and it does, like shconform to the insides of your shvagina.
SADY: Okay, so here’s the thing: you like put it in and then hang out, though? Like, actually that might be a virtue! Because you don’t have to go through that “oh crap where are the condoms rummage rummage rummage HANG ON additional rummaging” deal.
AMANDA: Well, you don’t have to hang out, but you can hang out. (Up to eight hours before intercourse!) I mean, personally, I never really stopped feeling it so I wouldn’t exactly suggest it. But maybe you get used to it. The thing is, nobody like, actually prefers sex with a condom, but it’s a necessity in a lot of sexual situations, and it’s conceivable that some couples might prefer the female condom. I just think it’s really difficult to get that trend to pick up enough speed that those specific people a) actually try the condom and b) feel comfortable using it.
SADY: Oh, sure. And let me respond to your very serious and useful and responsible point with this: I am one of those people who occasionally gets all “OH WHAT THE CRAP WHERE ARE MY GLASSES,” and looks for them for about fifteen minutes, and then looks at A MIRROR, and is like, “oh.” I have looked for my headphones whilst wearing my headphones. If I ever shminsmerted the shmemale shmondom, basically it would be in there for life, is what I’m saying. I would seriously forget about it.
AMANDA: Yeah, the other thing is, like, peeing? You will have to pee at some point.
SADY: Oh, yeah, THAT.
AMANDA: Because it’s really a full-coverage device, so I imagine it would get some pee on it? Perhaps there is some sort of accessory you can buy that aids in that process.
SADY: God. Somehow this ends with people getting like a female condom and one of those Shenis things you pee through and vajazzling ALL OF IT and… So yeah, I think we’ve established that I am one of those backward ladies that is like, “a FEMALE condom? Never!” Although, yeah, new barrier methods are good. That’s undeniably true. And now, based on my reactions, I can see what it would be like to be one of those “I hate condoms” dudes. I HAVE BECOME THE THING I HATED.
AMANDA: And now I know what it’s like to walk around with a condom in my vagina. Minimum rustling, I must say!
SADY: Okay, like, I have to say… Nobody is making these dudes put the condoms on over their lunch breaks so that they can come and have sexy dates with us later.
AMANDA: That’s the weirdest thing about the female condom promotion, to me: They say that because you can pre-insert it, it “doesn’t interrupt lovemaking.” But it interrupts, like, other shit? Like my lunch break, or my peeing schedule, or what have you.
SADY: Yeah. I mean, I think your idea for a line of Female Condom-Centric Porn is actually a good one. Because right now this is like the least erotic idea in the world. But… dude condoms weren’t initially perceived as a great idea, EITHER?
SADY: Like, I read this old issue of I think Cosmo from the sixties or seventies once, for a feminist media project, and it had this “revolutionary” article about all the different kinds of birth control there were. And condoms were mentioned. And the article, AS I RECALL (I am not quoting) was like, “I know you think these are for prostitutes, but you can use them too,” and also they interviewed a guy who had tried this Strange New Birth Control Method, and he was like, “OMG so unnatural! Like having sex with a garbage bag!” And now it’s just like… condoms, you know? They’re at Duane Reade, they’re understood to be commonplace, and nobody wants to hear you whine about them. Like I said: The very NOTION of a condom that I myself might wear has somehow transformed me into a person who thinks like a gross-ish dude.
AMANDA: Yes. And either you’ll look back on this moment 30 years from now and say, “That is the moment I officially became an old person who is resistant to change,” or, “That is the moment I officially became an old person because I even know what a female condom is, and no young people have ever heard of that shit, in the Future.” Time will tell!
SADY: Right. When we’re all wearing our Holo-Helmets and having Virtual Sex on our Google Entire Fake Universe Dates, the female condom, and indeed the male one, will be unnecessary. I for one look forward to that day.