Dear will.i.am: It Isn't Tacky for Women to Have Condoms; It's Called Being Empowered
May 2, 2011
will.i.am (Credit: Angela George)
It seems as if will.i.am, the frontman of The Black Eyed Peas, isn't too keen on condoms -- unless he is the one who is buying them. In the May issue of ELLE magazine, will.i.am shared some interesting opinions about women who have condoms in their homes.
ELLE: If you walked into a woman's house, what one item would convince you that you weren't compatible?
W: If she had condoms in her house, that would just fuckin' throw me off. That's just tacky.
ELLE: Well, okay, I could see if she had a candy bowl full of them on the coffee table. But if she's got a few in a drawer, wouldn't that simply suggest she's health-conscious?
W: I just think, like, if you're into someone and you guys get to that level, then that's something you should converse about together and say, "Hey, maybe we should get some."
Sigh. These views make him seem as if he is on Team Palin, rather than Team Obama.
It's very disheartening that, for someone who prides himself on being politically conscious, socially-driven and progressive, he harbors such old-fashioned views on sex and gender. A woman who owns condoms isn't a slut or "tacky." She is obviously someone who is concerned about her health and isn't waiting on a man to dictate whether they will have safe sex.
Yeah, "it's a new day" with the same old "good girls don't like sex" narrative. Yawn.
What's also incredibly out of whack is his unrealistic scenario of how sex plays out between a man and a woman. Hmmm, let's see: Man and woman reach a certain "level"; man initiates conversation around buying condoms; man and woman go out and buy condoms together; and then, man and woman have protected sex.
This is 2011, not 1956. (And it's highly unlikely that a woman had much of a say with respect to condom use back then either.)
How many times have men and women gotten caught up in the heat of the moment -- during a one-night stand or within a committed relationship -- and the man doesn't have a condom? How many times have women asked men to bring condoms and, instead, they show up with nothing but a smile saying, "I'm sorry babe, I forgot"?
If people don't have condoms and find themselves in sexual situations, a lot of the time, they end up having unprotected sex. Given the current state of the HIV epidemic in the U.S., and the increase in sexually transmitted infections, there are serious repercussions for having unprotected sex.
Nowadays, more and more women need to be prepared, and not just in our homes either. I have told plenty of my girlfriends who are going on a date, or just going to a club, "Girl, grab a few condoms, and a lube packet, and carry them in your purse, just in case."
Yes, that's how deep it is. Our lives depend on us being proactive.
And with that being said, I do agree with will.i.am that people need to have conversations before they have sex. But not as a means for the woman to appear virtuous, or for the man to give his seal of approval on them picking up Magnums at the nearest Walgreens.
The types of conversations that I am referring to are ones in which people are getting on the same page about condom use and the importance of having safer sex. Because unlike in will.i.am's dating utopia, not everyone in the real world likes to use condoms or has each other's best interest in mind. And people need to be able to make a decision about whether that's the kind of person they want to be sleeping with.
What's also dangerous about will.i.am's comments are that they are made with no real understanding of how gender inequality makes it difficult for many women to even negotiate condom use in the first place. We live in a day and age in which, if a man doesn't want to use a condom, in many instances a condom isn't used -- especially in cases in which the woman is economically dependent on the man; the woman has a history of sexual abuse and domestic violence; the woman suffers from low self-esteem; or the woman really wants to be in a relationship with the man and doesn't want to lose him.
So, even if it's just will.i.am's opinion, shaming women for possessing condoms of their own free will sets us all back, not forward.
In the end, I know that I won't be taking outdated and irrelevant advice from will.i.am. I have no intention of throwing out my overflowing stash of condoms and lube for the sake of appearing "respectable" for any man. But given how prevalent these sexist attitudes around women being empowered with respect to their bodies are in our society and the influence that will.i.am's words have on the more impressionable, I wish he would have given the issue some serious thought (or gotten his publicist's approval first) before he spoke -- because you never know who is really listening.
Kellee Terrell is the former news editor for TheBody.com and TheBodyPRO.com.
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