POWER OF THE CONDOM
By: Cassandra Zungu
”Pampers- R149-99, condoms- R29-99. The choice is yours!” That is according to a picture message that went viral on Facebook and Twitter recently.
People shared the picture and took it as a joke,but a joke that tells the truth. One cannot help but wonder if everyone who kept sharing the picture understood the true meaning of buying condoms and having protected sex which prevents Sexually Transmitted Infections (STI’s), HIV and unwanted pregnancies.
It is no secret that bringing a baby into this world is no child’s play. A baby is expensive.
Condoms were originally designed to be used by men and that perhaps created the perception that a man should be the one to always buy it. Nevertheless, some women view men as leaders in a relationship, which means certain responsibilities should be carried out by men (including buying a condom).
The first female condom was invented around the 1980s but became popular a few years ago. The female condom encourages the practice of safe sex, just like the male condom.
They are 95% effective if they are used correctly and they can fail due to the same reasons as the male condoms. According to the United Nations, condoms are ”ready and easy” meaning that it is relatively easy to obtain a condom and that it costs less than 1% of a person’s monthly income.
According to Brandon Adcock, general manager of Bateleur Business Planning, the purchasing of condoms is ”staggeringly low” when compared to the vast majority of South Africans that are sexually active, however, the numbers are improving.
”The percentage for rural women aged 16 to 24 who buy condoms is 34% and 41% for women living in urban areas,” said Adcock.
Adcock added that it is reassuring to see the higher number of young people in rural areas buying condoms.
The world we live in is filled with various STI’s and other diseases. It is an individual’s responsibility to protect themselves from such. Women of the 21st century have taken up this responsibility and are buying condoms in numbers.
However, in my experience I have found that the majority of society finds that to be odd, and many women are still looked down upon for buying condoms and carrying them wherever they go. The society who calls these women names is the very same society that discriminates against them when they are HIV positive.
Anita Zulu* who studies Marketing at DUT, said that she and her boyfriend are still young and they don’t want children yet so they use condoms all the time. ”It doesn’t matter who buys them, sometimes he does and sometimes it’s me. Sex is a two way street. Whenever I go buy them, I feel responsible and in charge, that’s a good feeling.”
”My girlfriend got pregnant because we ran out of condoms and we ended up having unprotected sex, now I’m thinking that if maybe she had condoms of her own we would have avoided this,” said Themba Mdlalose, a University of KwaZulu-Natal student.
So the question is- what is so wrong with women buying condoms to use with their partners? I don’t think there is a problem. Infact, one would say if your sexually active and don’t buy condoms, you don’t take your health seriously.
There are countless cases of unwanted pregnancies, whether it’s with teenagers or adults.
A few years back Love Life magazine and the Zola 7 TV show amongst many others,published and broadcasted a few stories about one night stands that changed people’s lives forever because they either got infected with HIV or had an unplanned pregnancy. So it’s only logical that women should also carry condoms with them just like men.
Quite a number of young people are aware of how out of control things can get. You go out to see your friends. One minute later you’re invited to a party. The next minute you’re flirting with someone you just met. Before you know it things are getting steamy, below the belt, and if you don’t have a condom with you, then there is a serious problem on your hands.
There are very few stories that end with, ”then I asked him if he has a condom he said no and I walked away”. They usually end with, ”then the next morning I woke up in his bed.”
During a conversation we had with a friend about women buying coindoms, my friend said, ”I’d never buy condoms for my boyfriend because he’ll get used to it and stop buying them because he knows I always have them.”
I couldn’t help but feel sorry for her; I couldn’t bring myself to give her some words of advice because she was convinced by what she was saying. It is attitudes like these that contribute to unwanted pregnancies, STI’s and HIV.
According to South African History Online, women have a greater risk of contracting HIV. Reports released by the United Nations show that South Africa has the highest statistics of HIV/AIDS infected people in the world.
In every two men that are infected with HIV, three women are also infected. The difference is greatest in the 15-24 age group where three young women are infected for every one young man that’s infected.
*names have been changed.