I went to college in the early '90s, when safe sex was a fashion statement. Even dorm mothers were packing Trojans back then. Over the years, that changed. As single women, we've become dangerously casual about whether our partners use protection. A new report finds that "only 30 percent of single women with multiple partners have used condoms in the past month, and only 20 percent reported 'always' using them over the past year." I don't need to explain why this is a bad thing.
So Planned Parenthood has introduced a line of condoms marketed to women, called Proper Attire, "designed with sexually active, stylish women in mind." The boxes come decorated with fig leaves and cutesy dots and look more or less like something you might find in the Jonathan Adler home furnishings line at Target. They also cost $6, which is $6 more than I remember Planned Parenthood condoms costing. (With the hits to Planned Parenthood funding, however, we can hardly blame the organization for trying to make a buck.)
The product is an attempt to make condoms more fashionable to a certain demographic. As Planned Parenthood spokeswoman Diane Quest explains in the U.S. News article, "Some women feel embarrassed about carrying condoms -- like it's a social taboo. We wanted to make them stylish and fun for women to carry."
If this kind of cloying marketing to women makes you grumpy, you're not alone. As Maria Mercedes Lara wrote on Jezebel, "it's clear they are simply killing one stereotype with another by playing to women's materialism and touting the product as the 'must-have accessory of the season.'"
The whole thing is a little Carrie Bradshaw for me. But I find it difficult to dog a campaign that's really only designed to do two things: Get more women to buy condoms and raise money for Planned Parenthood. The fig leaves and dots are kinda stupid. But hell, put some monkeys and kitty cats on those condom boxes, and I'll buy a dozen.