Tuesday, April 9, 2013

The Poor Misunderstood Condom

Are you breathing air or sand?

The Poor Misunderstood Condom

 Cases of HIV/STD's are skyrocketing. 1 in 5 American teens is infected with an STD. Unintended pregnancies nationwide are at a staggering 49%(1). There are 20 million annual new STD infections, 110 million are currently infected, totaling $16 BILLION in medical costs(2)But, statistics don’t change the minds and behavior of people. Trends and peer pressure do.

Which is why the Mother/Daughter duo formed their company Just in Case, Inc. and created a product for women that will change the course of how women think of protecting themselves and provide a tool for smarter choices when it comes to safer sex.  JUST IN CASE® is a chic mirrored compact, that looks like a make-up compact and has a hidden compartment to hold… condoms.

Yes, they said it; condoms. They're not just for hookers and one-night stands anymore. The condom is a reliable, versatile means of contraception AND protection. There are colors, flavors, shapes, sizes, thicknesses, lubrication, and materials to choose from. And yet… can't even be advertised along with Viagra or Cialis.

The idea for the product was born in 1980 when founder Marsha Bartenetti and her neighbor were having dinner.  The neighbor happened to be Dr. Carl Djarassi, the father of the birth control pill.  They discussed birth control and the subject of condoms came up.  Carl said it was still a great means for contraception, but it simply had a bad image.  Marsha was in the entertainment business at the time, and he suggested, humorously, that since she was so creative she should come up with a new image for the condom.  After the dinner, she had a creative “flash”.  And the idea of JUST IN CASE® was born; only it was an idea before its time.  HIV/AIDS wasn’t even in our social consciousness. 

Fast forward to 2005 – when Marsha's daughter, co-founder Rachael Sudul approached her with the idea of actually manufacturing JIC.  Surely now, with all the information out there about the risks of unprotected sex; STD’s , unplanned pregnancies, HIV/AIDS, the product would be welcomed with open arms!  Right? Not so fast.

During the course of building the business and talking with students and women about this issue, it became apparent that they were in for a real ride.   Although the idea first came to Marsha in 1980 – it had been found that most of the reactions to condoms hadn’t changed at all.  Especially when it came to women.  So what was the missing link from “what we know”…to “What we do”?

The value of using condoms is proven.  But, what if the guy doesn’t have a condom, where does this leave a woman, besides terribly vulnerable to the life changing maladies from unsafe sex?  And why aren’t women carrying their own protection?

The answers were very clear.
1.     Women are embarrassed to have someone see condoms in their purse. (Think Carrie Bradshaw in Sex in the City when after dropping her purse – her condoms fell all over the sidewalk in front of Big - she was mortified!)
2.      Women are afraid of judgment for carrying a condom.
3.      Women are afraid they will be rejected or judged by their boyfriends for being “too forward”

Society says… " be a good girl", "have a man protect you", "have modesty" and to always be in style.

The reasons above may seem like simple and old-fashioned notions, but they are core concerns that have been engrained in women and they haven't really been seriously addressed when it comes to safe sex.  Which is why many women will make terrible choices in a matter of seconds that can change the course of her life forever (and not necessarily in a good way) rather than appear too aggressive, or promiscuous, by being prepared.

You can hand out thousands of free condoms, however, statistics tell us they are not being used.  And if women aren’t carrying them, they aren’t using them.   And we can see now why most women don’t carry them. Condoms are ugly and are completely misunderstood - they have a horrible rep.

The big question, then is: how can someone make carrying condoms more attractive to women?  So the compacts were designed with these requirements in mind.  And now, for the first time, a woman can be confident, doesn't have to sacrifice style, and will have her privacy protected as well, forming a new link between ”What we know” and “What we do”.

And they aren’t only reaching out to young single women about safer sex… Women re-entering the dating scene after divorce or the loss of a spouse, believe they are past the time when pregnancy is an issue and are having unprotected sex. They haven’t a clue about the new dating landscape and that while pregnancy may be a concern, some STD's are for life and can be debilitating… not to mention the new strains of STD's that are resistant to antibiotics and show no symptoms. STD's are even highly prevalent in the retirement population, thanks to that little blue pill and misinformed people (3)

Oprah aired a program about a man who was arrested for assault with a deadly weapon - and his "weapon" was his bodily fluids!  The man had HIV and spread the disease to scores of women - 6 of whom were on the show to discuss how their lives had been devastated.  They all met this man on a very popular dating website. He dated these women with the knowledge he had the disease - Upon looking at him - NO ONE would suspect that he carried the virus – He was a handsome, charming karate instructor. Seemingly fit, and a real “catch”. It was heartbreaking to hear these women’s stories and how they now face a totally different future after having made the worst choice of their lives.  It only took a few seconds to say, “yes” to unprotected sex with someone they knew virtually nothing about.  And the effects of that few seconds will unfortunately last a lifetime.
And to think all of this can be prevented! It is an act not only of self-love, but also love for your partner and an act of mutual respect to have protected sex.

We are in a time where we simply must be careful; more than ever.  And the message is for all women who are sexually active at any age. Having unprotected sex is like game of Russian Roulette.

It’s time we all get our beautiful heads out of the sand, start breathing the air of reality, and raise our personal bar.  Look after yourself first. Love yourself enough.  Love your partner enough. Know you matter. Love is a beautiful thing.  It is our gift to one another.  Take precious care of it…and yourself. 

And as they say…

2.     STD stats from CDC

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