Why do you have condoms in your purse?

CONTENT WARNING: A little ranty.

I’ve been asked this question so many times: Why do you have condoms in your purse?

But you’re a woman, you don’t have to carry them. That’s the man’s job!

Why have got them in your purse? Are you looking to get laid?

Since I was given free condoms by the NHS during sex education, in my last years of school and college, us girls were advised to carry condoms in the zip-pocket of our purses, along with how to put them on.

I was really surprised by the amount of people around me that weren’t taught this, as it was so ingrained into us (keeping in mind, I didn’t know abstinence-only education was still very much alive and kicking until my late teens). They were genuinely baffled as to why I, a young woman, would carry, for all intents and purposes, a typically male protection.

As you know, safe sex and comprehensive sex education is something I’m very passionate about. So, strap in!

The reason why we were told this, as well as teaching safe sex, was to try and keep us safe during sex, if that makes any sense.

We were warned: ‘There’s some boys that’ll try to sweet-talk their way out of using protection’. We were taught various ways to be assertive with staying safe, respecting boundaries, and the basics of how to back out if they insisted on going without, putting us at risk of an unplanned pregnancy or STI.

Now obviously, I don’t mean all guys here. To generalise an entire gender based on the acts of a few is something I’m vehemently against. Plus, there are many women out there that are bad for this as well. It goes every way. Either way however, it is a problem.

Men can be just as much victims of this as women and gender non-conforming people, with cases of people lying that they’re on birth control, and saying they’re ‘not a real man’ if they use protection. That’s not OK.

I mean those guys. We all know them. Quite a few of us have experienced it first-hand. When you’re just about to get it on, and they conveniently “forget” the protection.

Now if you’ve genuinely forgot, I don’t mean you. It happens. It’s happened to us all at least once and it sucks. When I say “genuinely forgot”, as opposed to “conveniently forgot”, let me explain. Genuinely forgot, in my experience has been met with this reaction:

“Oh shit! I haven’t got condoms! Do you have any?!/I’m sorry, but we can’t go any further.’

As opposed to:

“Oh no, I didn’t bring any condoms. They don’t feel as nice anyway and I promise I’m clean. You trust me, don’t you? Come on, I promise you won’t get pregnant.”

See the difference?

I mean those people. The ones that will use every excuse imaginable to get out of using protection. Who know they should, but try to weasel their way out. Those who even take to stealthing‘: an act of removing a condom before or during sex, without the partner’s knowledge or consent. Aka, sexual assault. It’s awful.

My sexual education was in the mid-late 2000s. For guys, it was taught as mandatory to keep protection in their wallets. For the girls, more so, just in case.

More for protecting own asses if we came across the “conveniently forgot” man, as well as being able to go ahead with the “genuinely forgot” or “oh shit, I’ve ran out” man and have a good time. Also, we knew we had some coverage (pun very much intended!) in case we were in a place where we couldn’t get immediate access to condoms, such as the bedside table draw.

A similar thing happened with ex. After talking at length about protection for what was going to be my first time, on the night in question, he forgot. I had some in my purse and we went ahead. This not only had us able to do it, but saved me from a potentially precarious situation.

In retrospect, I think he “forgot” as the morning after (ours had split, due to lack of lubrication and not putting it on right, so plan B was needed.) and we were getting frisky, but couldn’t go any further, he asked me: “How effective are those morning after pills?” Not something you want to hear from your then-boyfriend in your late teens and very much at risk of pregnancy. As well as when he split, he asked if he should just carry on anyway. Given his pushing later on in the relationship, I should have twigged then.

Granted, when I’m having sex, I preferred without when I was using hormonal birth control (I’m in a committed, monogamous relationship and were both tested). But birth control didn’t work for me and in all honesty, condoms don’t feel all that different, if at all really.

No sensation’s lost (we use thin feel and granted, it’s a slightly different, smoother sensation, because latex) but still a good sensation nonetheless. There’s sex being had, so I’m not complaining!

I don’t begrudge anyone in committed, monogamous relationships, that have been tested and use another form of birth control, or sterilisation, etc. If that’s what works for you, more power to you. But the people who put others at risk for their own selves? That I have a problem with.

Not only is that shitty and disrespectful of boundaries, it can put someone at risk for pregnancy and STIs. And with antibiotic-resistant gonorrhoea about, as well as lifelong STIs like HIV and Syphilis, ‘it just doesn’t feel as nice‘ or ‘condoms are too small for me.‘ just doesn’t cut it.

This also applies for intercourse where dental dams are used as well. Dental dams (typically a square of latex that like condoms, can be flavoured, with or without lubricant etc) can be aused as protection between a person’ s mouth and genitalia during oral sex. This can be used by anyone of any sex and gender. Plus, there’s flavoured condoms as well.

We were never taught about dental dams in sex ed. You can also contract STIs through oral sex as well, so protection is imperative. I didn’t find out about them until I was 17, when watching a sex education show called The Joy of Teen Sex on Channel 4 one night, where a young woman was asking the best way to have safe sex with her girlfriend.

Regarding condoms and the ‘doesn’t feel as nice’ argument, unplanned pregnancy/STIs don’t feel nice. Plus regarding size, there’s been many a time shown where you can fit two basketballs in one condom. There’s plenty of sizes and fits available, also including latex-free versions if you’re allergic, so you can find exactly what works best for you.

I understand preferring without. I do too, but it’s not worth your life, or putting someone else in a position where they have to decide whether or not to continue with a pregnancy. If you can’t take on the responsibility that comes with safe sex you shouldn’t be having sex, period.

One thing in sex ed that in retrospect, really put a bee in my bonnet, was there wasn’t enough accountability for this kind of behaviour. Yes, we were told it was wrong and you shouldn’t do it. But this was more towards the girls, about how to diplomatically deal with someone who quite clearly doesn’t respect you. Instead of outright calling it out for what it is.

Over the last few years however, I’ve been seeing accountability more, with coverage on the news, social media and turns towards more comprehensive sex education. Durex have been very helpful in their advice columns, of how to deal with a situation of people who try to do this, men and women. These articles can apply to people who are also gender non-conforming as well.

One of the things I took on board was a teaching from Dr. Ruth Westheimer, whom I discovered on YouTube as a naïve, virginal 18-year-old wanting to learn more about sex.

Though I don’t agree with everything Dr. Ruth says (like the g-spot myth, for instance. The g-spot definitely exists.) one teaching I really admired was to be as, what she calls, “sexually literate” as possible. Learn as much as you can about sex, not only to try and practice safe sex better, but to enrich your sex life. Beats abstinence-only education any day of the week!

So, whatever your sexual life/status is, stay safe folks! And of course, stay sexy 😉

All my love,

Violet xx