Embarassed to buy condoms? It’s all in your head.

January 15, 2013

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240 million acts of sexual intercourse are performed across the globe in one day.
~ The Penguin Atlas of Human Sexual Behavior

People are having sex. A lot of sex…

The issue is NOT having sex, rather the issue is not having safe sex.  Our attention should be called to creating mutually respectful, satisfying, and safe sexual relationships that are grounded in honesty and integrity.  Protecting yourself and your partner using contraceptive methods (essential for avoiding STI’s, HIV and unwanted pregnancies) should be a no brainer.  Yet men and women alike are often embarrassed to enter a store and purchase condoms. It doesn’t seem to matter if you are a teenager or an adult over 40, at one point or another, almost all of us have felt that awkward pang asking the sales clerk to unlock the “glass case” so we can peruse and choose a condom.
Speaking mainly for those who reside in the United States, this embarrassment can be attributed to puritanical social and cultural attitudes that stigmatize sexual activity, and attempt to shame individuals who choose to engage in healthy and safe sex practices.  In the 21st century it is hard to fathom that there are still many people who believe the topic of sex is taboo, that sex is dirty, and that only people who are married intending to procreate should even consider engaging in the act.  Sadly, some are still choosing to hold onto these narrow ideas about sex. What we do in the privacy of our own bedrooms is truly an intimate, individual matter.  Human beings, by nature, are sexual creatures and there is nothing healthier than enjoying such a natural pleasure.

Since the 1980’s when AIDs became a life threatening reality and more recently when certain STI’s became antibiotic resistant, those who do NOT use condoms should actually be the ones to feel embarrassed.  Makes sense to me…but alas there is nothing common about common sense, so let us take a look at possibilities why folks may still feel like nervous virgins well into their career of purchasing condoms:

•    Antiquated societal views passed down from previous generations (perhaps even our own parents).
Since married people “NEVER” buy condoms, then we must automatically be engaging in promiscuous sex with multiple partners.
•    Fear the cashier or other customers in line will judge us.  Or even worse they will be someone we already know.
•    Young or Older.  Kids twenty-one and under should wait for marriage and people over forty never have sex, right?
•    We might be embarrassed by the size that we require, perhaps “small” or “magnum” boxes may lead to another type of unwarranted
judgment.
•    Alternatively, we might need “climax control” for another type of sexual preference or need.  That makes us strange…right?

Most of these judgments live in our own heads.  People who work behind the counters of these drug stores and pharmacies see purchases far more embarrassing than condoms and other safe sex related items. In addition, believe it or not, the cashiers have probably seen, purchased, and used one or two of these items themselves in the course of their lifetimes. Condoms are a personal care necessity and using them is a responsible health practice.  There is truly no reason for us to cringe when we buy them.  The reality is buying condoms is no different than buying dental floss, toothpaste, or any other personal care product (except for maybe the guy tasked with buying his girlfriend’s tampons…a discomfort that will dissipate by age 30, promise!).

Just remember: the best sex will always be consensual, respectful, and safe.  Be smart.  Stay safe!

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