For the Latina Week Of Action For Reproductive Justice I decided to talk a little bit more about condoms and condom usage and my relationship/experience with condoms. It’s not often that we even see condoms used in the media especially media focusing on us as Latin@s, Caribeñ@s and people of Color. Although some of us think condoms are all around us, accessible, and an important part of decreasing the transmission of sexually transmitted diseases (STIs) including HIV, the reality is there’s limited dialogue and even less proper use of them that centers our community.
To contextualize this piece a bit more: while growing up I listened to a lot of Hip-Hop music and still do. I can vividly recall listening to Snoop Dogg on Dr. Dre’s song “ Nuthin But A ‘G’ Thang” where Snoop said
And before me dig out a bitch* I have ta’ find a contraceptive
You never know she could be earnin’ her man
and learnin’ her man – and at the same time burnin’ her man
Now you know I ain’t with that shit, Lieutenant
Ain’t no pussy good enough to get burnt while I’m up in it
I also recall listening to Wu-Tang Clan’s “Maria” which I’ve actually used in my classes on Latina Sexuality. When was the last time a Hip-Hop artist/musician/group/anything spoke about STIs? (song NSFW because of use of profanity and sexual imagery)*
Wherever I go I have condoms with me. Yes, sometimes it is because I want to be prepared just in case I decide I want to engage in some sort of sexual activity that may protect me from STIs and pregnancy. Other times it is because I may run into some of my students on the subway and they ask me for such items and I happily share with them my personal stash. More so it is because I think it is important to show and let other women, especially women of Color that carrying condoms is okay. And other times, and this kills me to have to admit this but it is the reality of the world we live in, I carry them in case I am assaulted or raped and may need them pre-or post assault/rape.
I wasn’t always carrying around condoms with me. I even have chosen other methods such as the IUD, which I’ve written about, and the withdrawal method. Although condoms are always in my home and where I go, there is still a level of expectation I have for my partners. You see, just because I am ready, if I am partnering with someone for a longer period of time I expect them to contribute to the condom stash as well. This shows me that my partner knows what condoms work best for them, that they are also taking responsibility for our sexual safety, and value that I have condoms, that I have to replenish the condoms, and that it is not just my responsibility to do so because of the work I do.
There are so many people I’ve met who don’t know how to properly put on condoms that it’s distressing at times. Even my potential partners, when I watch them put a condom on their body or a toy, I’m kind of surprised at the misuse of the condom. So, today for you Vivir Latino readers I’ve done some research and found some videos in Spanish that discuss condom use, including the female condom, and that discuss how to properly put them on. Please share these with the people in your life, the people you come into contact with and watch them yourself! I also encourage everyone watching to practice using condoms. To find out where to get free condoms in your area visit these locations:
US Department of Health and Human Services has locations all over the US and they offer free anonymous HIV and sometimes STI testing and condoms. Find a location close to you here.
If you have online access you can also request free condoms at various locations. Many brands offer free samples of their condoms on their websites and other online locations offer free samples of select brands. Try this online store that has 2 different brands for free.
Learn How To Properly Put On A Male Condom
Just For Fun: NYC Condom Campaign With A Reggaeton Feel
Information On the Male Condom
Information On the Female Condom
*Please don’t derail this conversation because you can’t get past the use of the term “bitch” in these examples because I will be honest with you I self identify as a Bitch, often. The goal of sharing these examples is condom use and discussions of STI and sexual responsibility.