The Reality Condom; or, the reality of condoms

Content Warning for HOT SEX.

In my short, hedonistic life I’ve had sexual relations with a number of men. Not all men of course; but more than a score and less than a hundred. And none of my lovers have taken condom-wearing very seriously.

The most common excuse (or reasoning) I get is one of sensations. Wearing condoms doesn’t feel as good to them, although most men can orgasm while wearing condoms. Another excuse I have heard is “Don’t you trust me?” as if condom-wearing was some symbol of distrust, and not a safety device. (If you got in a friend’s car and put on your seat belt for the ride, would it be logical for him to take offense that you didn’t “trust” him to drive carefully?)

I’ve never known a man to actually carry condoms, for they expect me to have them. (And I often do.) If I’m on hormonal BC getting a man to wear a condom is harder than winning a presidential debate. It’s gotten to a point that I simply won’t use the pills unless I’m going steady with someone (and ready to expose myself to all their past sex partners.) I’ve even handed a condom to a man I was about to fuck and he coyly threw it away. (He didn’t get a call-back, then stalked me for months.)

I thought the problem was me, or my taste in lovers; but then I read this article in the Times, and this one by Jessica Valenti; and also this petition by Parsemus.org. Apparently fewer than 20% of men use condoms, and historical declines in condom use are correlated with increases in use of other (woman-controlled) methods like hormonal BC. So it isn’t just me; apparently nearly all women (<80%) have to fight with their boyfriends to make them put on a rubber.

This brings me to a device called the female condom; sometimes marketed under the brand “The Reality Condom.”

realitycondom

“Today’s protection for today’s woman.” Which idiot wrote this packaging copy?

Male condoms sometimes have suggestive, sexy names; like Trojan, Kimono, Sir Richard’s, etc. Or they may have neutral names like Lifestyles, Crown, or Trustex. But we girls get the “Reality” condom; as if asking a man to be responsible for his own contraceptives is some kind of fantasy.

There’s another shitty reality to the Reality condom. They’re hard to find and expensive. Most drug stores only stock male condoms; even sex toy stores like Babeland don’t always keep them in stock (they sell out quickly, LOL.) On Amazon, you can buy 5 reality condoms for $18.95, or a whopping 3.79 per condom (excluding cost of shipping.)

By comparison you can get 48 Kimono condoms (my preferred brand) on Amazon for $19.68… a cost of 41 cents per condom (excl. shipping.) Female condoms cost nine times that of male ones. And according to one couple interviewed by the Times, the Reality condom has all the visual allure of a trash can liner.

Now, I’m not some condom fetishist. I don’t particularly like wearing bits of latex during sex; there’s issues of lubrication, chafing & etc. It can be difficult to stop yourself (or your partner) during foreplay to put a condom on; and it’s harder still if he starts whining about it like a schoolboy. But the vast majority of men seem to think condom-wearing is somehow optional but contraception is not, which is incredibly foolish.

Firstly, it’s foolish because the pill doesn’t protect against STIs. You can still give a woman HIV if she’s on the pill. Secondly, it’s foolish because men have to take the woman’s word for it that she’s on the pill and trust her (that “trust” again) to use them correctly. So by not wearing a condom, a man shunts the responsibility for contraception onto the woman he’s sleeping with.

And if the woman’s birth control fails, she must choose between two equally horrible options. If she elects to end the pregnancy, there’s a certain breed of woman-hater who thinks she has no right. And if she carries the pregnancy to term, there’s a certain breed of man who thinks she has no right to expect child support. If you read AVFM enough you will find men angrily writing both viewpoints: that women have no right to abort their children; nor have they the right to raise those children with their paycheck (i.e. demand child support.) Some woman-haters even think men should have a right to disown any children they don’t *want* to pay for, as a right commensurate to a woman’s right to termination.

Let me bring this back to the “Reality” condom. In my links above you might have noticed there’s been some developments in the whole male-birth-control front: both a “clean sheets” pill which stops ejaculation (though orgasm still happens) and a polymer called Vasalgel which works like a reversible vasectomy. (Neither of these things are currently available for consumer use in the US; but there is a pilot project in India.) But how many dudes are going to let a doctor inject their scrotum with a polymer if they can’t be bothered to roll a latex sheath over their penis? Why should I expect someone too selfish for condoms to take a pill every day to forestall ejaculation?

The reality of contraception for women today might be summed up as “Your body, your problem.” We’re ones who get pregnant and overwhelmingly it’s women who have to deal with the consequences. We’re at least 80% responsible for using contraception, not because there aren’t suitable male options (like condoms) but because it’s our bodies, ergo our problem. Engineering male contraceptives won’t do anything to dismantle the attitude that using contraception is women’s work.

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MRAs of Savage Love: Seandr, the asshole from Seattle

Well it finally seems like that Quinnspiracy thing is simmering down. #gamergate’s been discredited, Zoe Quinn’s back to making games, and Eron Gjoni is still (*still*) defending himself/pining away at his Twitter account. The FBI is on the case, and all’s right in the world.

But a woman’s work is never done; and that goes double when the work in question is writing about misogyny. So we’re back with the next installment of my little series “MRAs of Savage Love”, documenting their sexist, faptastic and often off-topic advice.

Before I begin, you might be asking “But Idle, why waste your valuable writing time on these douchebags? It’s just the comments thread; any idiot can write any foolish thing there. Dan Savage himself usually gives great advice.”

Dear reader, you’d be right: as MRAs go, those on Savage Love are neither particularly caustic or obvious in their prejudice against women. It’s more “yes but” and “if only she…” kind of sexism, the soft-sell where it seems like the advice giver is really doing their best thinking. (Also the Stranger might ban them if they called women “cunts”.) Paradoxically, this makes SLMRAs insidious, because actual women have been known to actually write Dan looking for advice about boyfriends who behave in a manner these shitlords condone.

My concern is that a woman writing Dan for advice might actually read what these jerks are writing her, and not knowing any better take it to heart; and rethink leaving that abusive alcoholic, or the man who torments them by bringing up their sexual history. Heaven forbid these people writing letters in good faith might actually think this faptastic, wrong-headed ‘advice’ is actually useful in some way. To these jerks, the actual problems of LWs are twisted around the warped image of sex&gender they carry around in their heads. That’s why I write about these winners.

This brings us to today’s guest: a delightful fellow named seandr. IRL, seandr seems like the kind of guy who seems alright until you invite him to the neighborhood block party; but once he gets a few drinks in him reveals himself to be that guy. (The one who makes eyes at lesbians, and talks about “the wife” (his wife) as if she’s a soft furnishing.)

About half the time he gives what I’d call ‘faptastic’ advice, like this advice he gave to an uncircumcised man who comes too soon: (as always, the bold is my emphasis)

UNCUT: You’re 20. I could only last 3 minutes or so when I was a youth in my first LTR. Next woman I slept with, I could suddenly last as long as I wanted. The intervening dry spell and being with a new partner seemed to allow my brain to break out of the pattern that had been established in the previous relationship.

Enjoy your sensitive dick – it’s a gift. The solution to your problem lies somewhere in your head. With luck, you’ll eventually stumble upon it.

P.S. I’ve found talking during sex allows me to fight back untimely orgasms. Dirty talk, clean talk, or words of encouragement if she’s close to coming. Maybe that or something similar will enable you to pull yourself out of your head when you feel one coming on.

Is it the advice the reader asked for? Yes. It’s also an excuse for seandr to play show and tell with his penis and discuss all the sex he has with women. You wonder if he’s compensating for something?

But that couldn’t be. Seandr gets all the sex, because he talks about it even when his sex life isn’t the topic at hand. Here, he turns a discussion about Ray Rice into one about how his girlfriends all beat him:

At the start of the video she backhands him in the face, and she was coming at him again when he hit her. I guess we’re just gong to pretend those things didn’t happen?

A man should never hit a woman under any circumstances. But a woman should never hit a man. It’s hard for me to cast a woman like Janay as “battered victim” when she obviously feels entitled to hit him whenever the whim strikes.

I’ve experienced a number of domestic violence incidents in my life, all at the hands of my female partners. I’ve been clubbed in the back of the head (in public!) with a backpack full of books while trying to walk away from an argument. I’ve been surprise attacked with a volley of punches while sitting at my desk working, and another time while I was sleeping. Yes, sleeping. I’ve been shoved. I’ve had a book thrown at me. I’ve been blocked from exiting rooms.

Apparently, like Janay’s backhand, those incidents don’t really count.

Apparently in seandr’s world, having a book thrown at you or being prevented from leaving a room is comparable to being cold-cocked by a person fifty pounds heavier than you. Glad we cleared that up.

And seandr would know about starting catfights; even the lesbos want a piece of him!

@seatackled: I see. So I deserved to be attacked by my girlfriends because one night a lesbian friend and I flirted and made googly eyes at each other?

Please, do the right thing and remove yourself from the dating pool.

To which I say: cool story, bro. But don’t let my write-up make you think seandr hasn’t got any humility:

@seatackled: you gave no reason for anyone to think that there’s any verbal expression of consent.

Consent for what? Enjoying each other’s company? Laughing at each other’s jokes? Appreciating a moment of mutual attraction? What in the fuck are you talking about?

If you’ve never had the experience of gazing into the eyes of a woman who’s been taken in by your charm, bummer for you.

The irony here is that I am the King of not approaching women who have given me obvious indications of interest. Something about that dynamic makes me very nervous. In fact, on many occasions, women have lost patience with my inaction and taken matters into their own hands (although most of them just give up).

There are many more kinds of men in the world than you seem to think there are.

Have you, seandr? Had ‘the experience of gazing into the eyes of a woman who’s been taken in (nice passive) by your charms’, that is? Or do you just stare at them, livid with jealousy? Because there’s something weird how he writes as if the letter writers are not having sex with other people, but with him:

@LavaGirl: And you say it’s her problem for having limits and it makes her bad in bed?

A woman can set whatever limits she wants around her sexual repertoire, but I’m not going to give her a medal just for showing up.

He also has the charming habit of calling women who disagree with him “babe”, as if they too are dating him. This is why seandr’s an MRA: the way he puts down women (both LWs, commenters, and those in the public eye) his relentless opining about his own sex life & sexual history belie the premise that he sees women as his equals, and not as living sex toys for his consumption.

As an example, let’s look at this post where seandr discusses porn and feminism (the double whammy!) There’s even mansplaining!

@LavaGirl: you lump Feminism with the Tea Party?

I haven’t “lumped” anything. I’ve simply named them both, along with Christianity, as examples of doctrine.

” irrational biases” you say, about what?

Women who hate men, for example, can find ideas that resonate in some feminist writing. Of course, this example only works if you believe that hating men is an irrational bias.

You think porn shows men how to treat women as they want to be treated ?

Huh? Sorry, babe, but given the endless variety of women out there, there’s really no such thing as How Women Want To Be Treated. In fact, I don’t think I’ve had sex with two women who wanted to be treated exactly the same way. Of course, you’d have to be the sort of person who fucks women to know this.

There’s also an endless variety of porn out there, and the savvy porn consumer can definitely borrow ideas to enhance his woman’s pleasure. Many times I’ve sat in front of the computer, dick in hand, watching a scene and thinking “Hmm, that’s interesting, I wonder if she’d enjoy that.” Sometimes she has.

Finally, I’ve been with women who were turned on by their ability to turn me on, and porn has definitely helped me identify what turns me on.

Hmm. I can’t decide which mental image he’s provided with sums him up better: seandr as the guy in front of a computer beating off; or seandr, the guy who repeatedly reminds you he has sex with women. His casual condescension is so irritating that part of me isn’t surprised that his *numerous* girlfriends have a tendency to lose their shit and want to beat him senseless. If I had the misfortune of dating this oppositional, mansplaining jerk I might lose my shit too.

– Caroline.