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Condoms, condoms, condoms.

January 12, 2010

Two big news stories about condoms this week, both of which bring up a lot of questions of access and privilege to contraceptives. And both are places we can take action!

First, there’s the news that carrying three or more condoms in DC is enough for arrest on prostitution charges. Oh, and it’s happening in New York and San Francisco too! These laws have been called out for endangering women’s sexual health, by encouraging them NOT to have condoms if they are sex workers. Although prostitution is illegal throughout most of the country, punishing women for trying to do their job safely is seriously damaging. Sign the petition here, if you’re interested in taking more action.

Second, CureCVS is reporting that in many CVS stores condoms are kept in locked cabinets where customers must ask employees in order to buy them. We can all understand the awkwardness of standing in the condom aisle, deliberating over choices, and to have it be required that an employee is watching is a huge disincentive to buying. What makes this story incredibly troubling is that it’s happening, almost solely, in low-income African American communities. Check out their chart:

There’s a petition to CVS too, so you can let them know locking up condoms is obnoxious, dangerous, and discriminatory.

Living on a college campus, condoms are really accessible to me. In many cases, like bathrooms in dorms, they’re giving them out for free. Even if I choose to buy my own, the general attitude on campus does not stigmatize condoms but rather promotes safe sex and healthy sexuality. My local Walgreens does not keep condoms under lock and key, and I’m certain that if I were stomping around the streets of Northfield, no one would arrest me if they found condoms in my bag. These policies suck because they discourage safe sex practices. But they are seriously damaging because they’re denying access to healthy sexuality to particular bodies. People of color, low-income communities, and sex workers are all denied their right to health based on stigmas against their communities.

I’m glad that Carleton continues to support AHA! and SWAs in their distribution of condoms. And yes, Carleton students should be having lots of sex if that’s what makes their bodies happy. But when we talk sex positivity, we have to be positive about all bodies having sex. Safe, consenual, healthy sex.

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