Gone are the days where flying was dangerous and sex was safe. You are now safer in a plane and more at risk between the sheets. I’m not trying to turn you off sex, but thanks to our bedroom life jackets – condoms, we can keep safe (or at least safer).
The sad news is the increase in STIs is climbing and condoms (or abstinence for some, but not me) are our best line of defence. The struggle I have as a Sexologist is normalising the use and purchase of condoms and making sure the adequate information is provided so people are aware how to use them correctly. But how can I do this if we keep demonising them?
I don’t quite remember the first time I saw a condom, but I do remember at a young age being introduced to the Condom Kingdom in Surfer Paradise (you couldn’t miss it with the big words out the front) and being aware of what these things were all about. My parents were open and honest and condoms were something I grew up knowing about and knowing I had to use when the time was right. My Mother has a saying, “ If it’s not on, it’s not on” and she said it enough that is was burnt in my brain.
If we don’t normalise condoms, than we decrease the chances of people actually using them. We teach kids from a young age that they have to wear seatbelts in the car, that they shouldn’t eat before swimming, that they should wear sunscreen when out in the sun and not to get in the car with strangers. These are all things that we do to keep them safe and I know condoms are a little different, but we need to instil the message that these, just like seat belts need to be worn and for the same reason, to keep you safe.
Recently I posted a photo of a teddy bear with some Dr Nikki condoms for an instagram campaign for a particular charity. (For those who don’t know I have a business card which is a condom). I thought it was fun and very Dr Nikki style, but I woke up the other day to phone calls asking me to take the photo down as there had been complaints saying it was inappropriate due to the fact children might see it on this hashtag. News flash – if your child is old enough to have an iphone and an instagram account, than they have probably been exposed to a lot worse than my condom and should even more so should know what a condom is.
It’s not a balloon or a special bandaid, it’s a condom and it’s worn during sex. When we take away the name of anything, we automatically place shame on it when we attempt to hide its real identity. It’s not worthy of a label or it’s real title because there must be something wrong with it? Why should we do that with a condom, something designed to keep us safe? To me, all these negative attitudes and attempts at “protecting” children from these latex buddies are only demonising something we need to keep them safe.
I am not a mother, but I do understand why a mother might have that moment of panic when viewing this photo. Aren’t I promoting sex to an audience that is too young to understand and exposing children to something they shouldn’t have to worry about? I only wish we were living in an era where children didn’t have to be told the birds, bees and everything in between as such young ages. I wish we could just let children be children, but unfortunately that is not the world we live in and the downside to technology. I know a mother’s instinct is to protect their child and keep them safe, but in order to protect children we need to educate them with the facts and try and keep the shame and guilt away from sex. It’s not sex we should be protecting them from, it’s the attitude of why we feel we need to protect them from it.
Many parents these days attempt to hold off as long as they can to talk about sex due to embarrassment or the fear of what that information might bring. But the school of thought today for sex education is to be upfront with them and tell them exactly what it is – including condoms. We are obviously going to tell a 7 year old something different to a 17 year old, but sex education should start from the beginning with naming the parts of the body (and maybe the parts needed to protect that body).
The teddy bear is not the only experience I’ve have had like this. A few months ago I was dining at a high-end restaurant in Sydney and at 10:30pm the Dr Nikki condoms came out. After some brief discussions and giggles about my business cards, we were interrupted by the waiter at the restaurant with a request from the table behind us to put the condoms away as there were children dining near us. Before I had a chance to speak a word, my friend jumped to my defence, lecturing the waiter that there is nothing wrong with condoms and how these kids should know what they are as it could keep them from accidentally falling pregnant or contracting an STI.
Kids minds are like sponges and how we react to the subject of sex (and condoms) will portray a strong message to them about how they should think about them. I’m not saying we need to be promoting sex at a young age, but I do think we need to normalise condoms as much as possible to drill in that message that they are an every day object needed to be used at the right time. Instead of being scared that kids might find them, might know what they are used for, why don’t we stop demonising and so called “ protecting” children against these terrible rubber objects and make them normal, acceptable and not embarrassing to discuss. At the end of the day they might just be the thing that really keeps us safe so why wait to let them know what it is?