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Dear will.i.am: It Isn't Tacky for Women to Have Condoms; It's Called Being Empowered

May 2, 2011

will.i.am

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.

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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.


Copyright © 2011 The HealthCentral Network, Inc. All rights reserved.



This article was provided by TheBody.com.
 
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Reader Comments:

Comment by: Elizabeth (Newfoundland, Canada) Thu., May. 16, 2013 at 6:24 pm EDT
Amen to that! I am a woman, and I know what it feels like to bring a condom it with me knowing what a potential mate might think of me. I am safe, and if a guy thinks I am a slut for carrying them, well, so be it.
Reply to this comment


Comment by: blackeyedplease (tx) Thu., May. 12, 2011 at 3:16 pm EDT
Fantastic article, and very sad. And to think he played Marvel's Kestrel. For shame.
Reply to this comment


Comment by: Queen (East Cleveland, OH) Mon., May. 9, 2011 at 2:39 pm EDT
Carrying condoms will remind everyday of what is out here is this world, STD's are rising, I am glad I am totally single (not having sex with anyone, no anal, oral or vaginal, it has been seven years.) I am good.
Reply to this comment


Comment by: papa_j (Atlanta, GA) Fri., May. 6, 2011 at 11:53 am EDT
Pure ignorance.
Maybe that's why his musical act is so terrible.
Reply to this comment


Comment by: dave m (sydney) Thu., May. 5, 2011 at 8:36 pm EDT
oh god
first of all i thought wia was gay so whats he doing commenting on womens sexuality
if he's not then please just jump in a time machine back to the sixties.
isnt bad enough that he inflicts that awful music on everyone without giving us his take on sexual etiquette?
Reply to this comment


Comment by: jim (boston) Thu., May. 5, 2011 at 7:12 pm EDT
How sad to learn that will.i.am is just another douche bag. If that language seems strong and crude it's intentional. I hope that any woman, or man for that matter, who encounters someone with will.i.am's attitude will just kick that sorry jerk out the door.
Reply to this comment


Comment by: Trish S (Kansas City, MO) Thu., May. 5, 2011 at 4:27 pm EDT
Sadly, will.i.am is just insecure and afraid of empowered women!! He wants control and feels a need to keep women oppressed. Wake up dude!!! This is the 21st century, and you've got so much to learn about love and life. It's men like you who will keep this epidemic thriving. Shame on you!! Ladies, don't allow any man to have this kind of power over you. Take control of your own life, sexual well-being and be proud to carry your condoms. Ain't nothing wrong with protecting yourself should you decide to have sex, but be sure the guy you're going to be with isn't a living in the dark ages like this sad and pathetic soul. So sad!! Simply allowing a guy to have unprotected sex with you is really asking for trouble. To be open to having unprotected sex without knowing your partner's status is saying it's okay to give you an STI or even HIV. All people are responsible for the own sexual health and well being. The onus is on each of us to remain HIV and STD free. Tell your man to wrap it up, or walk away. The choice is yours. And no man has the right to lay a hand on you if you decide you're not up to having sex, protected or unprotected. Just sayin... Empower yourselves ladies, don't wait for a man to look after your best interests. Some will, but many are morons. That's my experience. And yes, I am HIV-positive, 22 years and counting and I take full resposibility for my infection. All it took was unprotected sex. Take from that what you will. Good luck and peace to you all.
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Comment by: eve (Angola) Thu., May. 5, 2011 at 2:46 pm EDT
is realy bad who will.A.M thinkin as a modern man and educated man, im sorry im not sure if is that educated any way.. i feel sorry for you will.
Reply to this comment


Comment by: Mike (Washington, DC) Thu., May. 5, 2011 at 2:16 pm EDT
What a joke of a man! He is a man, just like me. We are dogs and pigs. Ladies, don't let him fool you! His way, will be, "Oh, I don't have a condom, well, baby, comeon, just this once, you know, I'm good and I know you are too. I don't cum inside you."

Did you know, in Washington DC, it has been reported that a woman having three condoms or more can be charged with prostitution depending on where she is at, according to the arresting officer? http://www.washingtoncitypaper.com/blogs/sexist/2010/01/13/can-having-three-condoms-in-d-c-get-you-arrested/

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Comment by: Kizzy G (New York, NY) Thu., May. 5, 2011 at 1:13 pm EDT
Some people should take a few minutes to digest what they are thinking before they open their mouths. A woman who has condoms in her home or on her person may be one woman less likely to contract HIV or an STD/STI, or have an unwanted pregnancy. It's great that he chooses to abstain from casual sex but he shouldn't judge a woman for having the good sense to protect herself. If anything, when a man sees a woman has condoms, he should know she means business and is not taking any chances with the health of both parties.
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Comment by: Zach D (Washington, DC) Tue., May. 3, 2011 at 10:25 am EDT
This is just foolishness. God forbid women -- or anyone else for that matter -- take control of their sexual lives. will.i.am, shame!
Reply to this comment


Comment by: Kierra J (Washington, DC) Tue., May. 3, 2011 at 6:54 am EDT
This is disappointing. I have heard young girls say that they don't bring up conversations about condoms or carry them (and therefore don't use them) because they fear what their peers and boyfriends will say and think. That fear is valid. People get beat up, ridiculed, harassed and yes even killed because of intolerance and judgement. To talk about sex; to negotiate contraception and condoms; and to say no...you need to feel confident and safe. We all have a lot of work to do to create the space for people to feel powerful about protecting themselves. I charge us to find ways to affirm healthy and positive discussion and action about sex and sexuality in our own lives and in the lives of those we love. I have long respected will.i.am as an artist. Maybe the response to his remarks will serve as an inspiration for him to jump start a new shame and stigma-free campaign about positive sexuality. One can only hope.
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