This past summer, I walked around Venice Beach and asked 50 random dudes if they were carrying a condom. Only one said yes.
It wasn’t exactly the opposite of what I’d expected (since I know condoms aren’t beloved by most guys). But it’s hard to shake the lessons of a childhood spent studying teen movies, which taught me that all guys add condoms to their wallets as a pubescent rite of passage. It turns out, that’s just one of many myths about this divisive, but important, piece of technology that men around the world depend on to avoid fatherhood and STDs, but rarely want to use.
Though my man-on-the-beach survey was hardly scientific, 2 percent is pretty weak—far lower than the rates at which sexually active men of all ages actually use condoms. When I asked them myself why they weren’t carrying a condom, these guys said a lot of things: that sex with condoms doesn’t feel good. That the two seconds it takes to put on a condom could kill their erections in the heat of the moment. That it was presumptuous to carry one around, and a potential turn off for a partner.
“More of a turn off than expecting to have unprotected sex?” I asked.
“Yeah,” they’d answer. Silly.
Though the men I spoke to recognized that using condoms is one of the easiest ways to prevent STDs and pregnancy, no one would admit to actually using condoms on a regular basis — even during casual hook ups. I began to wonder if we were amidst a budding public health crisis spurred on by cliché and ambivalence. (Syphilis, apparently, is “exploding” after all.)
Is the problem the technology itself? Are men just confused? Can anything be done to make men like condoms more?
In pursuit of answers to these questions (and more), MEL’s condom week was born. Join us as we talk all things condom: shopping, sizing, sensitivity and, naturally, dysfunction.
Who knows? You might even learn to like them.
Condom Week, Day 1:
Condom Week, Day 2:
Condom Week, Day 3:
Condom Week, Day 4:
Tierney Finster is a writer-actress-model-activist from the San Fernando Valley and MEL’s senior sex and relationships editor. She last wrote about a kinky home-share experience.