Pass Me A Condom Please!!!
Haahahaha!!! Woi!! “Mi belly bottom a bos out!! Ongl iina Jumieka!! What did this very helpful attendant at the gas station really expect me to ansa, Pupa Jiizas?
The issue of condom [in]accessibility is a very vexing one for me! I become very bred; very pregnant that condoms are soooooooo inaccessible and then we wonder how, amidst all of the public service announcements and educational campaigns about safe sex, are teenagers still having unplanned pregnancies or how are we not managing to effectively fight HIV and AIDS.
We so naïve, enno! We tingk se dem deh people had unplanned, unprotected sex. Cho..kmt.. Di people dem know long time se dem did a go av sex. Dem know se dem like dem one anedda but where do we find condoms… clinic? Pharmacy? Nuff place sell condom, don’t it? Well, let us just say that condoms aren't as accessible as many of us might claim. I had an experience recently that made me laugh; got me angry and then utterly sad.
Some time ago, a friend and I observed and were concerned that where as condoms were not in short supply in Jamaica, sometimes accessing same can be quite an uncomfortable and daunting task for many Jamaicans; especially in a cultural context where religious entrenchments about sex have made the topic taboo (even though everybody is having sex). We noted with less than slight annoyance that wherever condoms can be “accessed” (for desperate need of a better word), they are usually in some precarious place where you would have to go announce that you need condoms. I know of nowhere where there is a vending machine where you can just go and "sort out" you business without having to let somebody know that you are about to go do the “nasty”. For example, at the pharmacy or gas station, the condoms are usually prominently perched behind the cashier; displayed in varying colours, flavours, brands (Trojan, rough rider, bareback, long love, slam, durex etc. etc.) and sizes. And, the person who has his or her night of ‘kill’ planned must walk up in the line of customers waiting to cash and ask the attendant for his/her choice of condom.
So, mi tek fi miself se mi wi test how easy it is to purchase condoms. So, there I was in the line. I had picked up a chocolate bar (I love chocolates), six pack Guinness (my favourite stout) and some little confectionaries. I got up to the cashier, rested those on the counter and asked:
Me: “And..may I have a pack of condoms please/”
Attendant: “Which Brand you want?” She moves away from the cash register to the place where the condoms were hanging. “We av Durex, Slam and Trojan,” she advised, pointing as she listed the brands.
Me: “May I have the Durex please?”
Attendant: “Which flava?”
Me: “Ummm, the flavor doesn’t matter… Just bring anyone come!”
I said in exasperation; hoping she would just hurry and get the point and come with the bloody condom instead of questioning me in front all of those bloody people who were waiting in the line and the new ones now joining. All my hints fell on deaf or very untrained hints-taker-ears because no later than I’d just instructed her to "just give me anyone", did she ask:
Attendant: “What size you want?”
Me: “Extra large!!!”
Like seriously? You get asked those questions? What the hell was I supposed to answer to the size question? Even if I had a tooth pick, I would’ve still said extra large.
Now this may seem hilarious and perhaps it is – I, myself, had quite a laugh from this most unfortunate experience. But think about the implications for a while. Imagine Jamaica, where ‘masculinity’ is important to the Jamaican male and where such masculinity is negotiated and defined through hetero-normative ideas of the conquest of the pumpum (vagina) with the very verile, very large, male member or hood. Then imagine a Jamaican man purchasing a condom in size small. Not only will he be jeered and scoffed at but his masculinity is questioned because clearly with a size small hood (penis) him nah get no pumpum or even worse he’s a battyman (male homosexual).
Now, since we know how repugnant male homosexuality is in Jamaica, imagine with me, again, an effeminate male (gay or perceived to be) trying to access condoms in such setting: the risk of violence, jeering, and judgment he is exposed to… why then would he want to “access” condoms? And since he is having sex with some of these “straight’ men who have their baby mothers at home and they don’t normally sleep with men (as if men are the only one from whom STIs can be contracted) he can chance it and have a raw time of pleasure – “just don’t cum iina me!”
If negotiating safe sex can be such an ordeal for adults imagine our ‘youngins’ who are sexually active but are told they are not suppose to have sex. Where do they access condoms? Do not forget that condoms are NOT to be made available to them. Remember the big knots in the panties of religious zealots when the issue of condom accessibility in school was hot topic? “It will be teaching the children to have sex instead of abstaining.” Okkkk. Now that our collective head is out of the sand, I will love to make a point: THEY ARE HAVING SEX! THEY ARE CONTRACTING STIs! They are not sitting on the sidelines as onlookers but are out on the field and fully engaged in the sport so….give them protective gears. Make it available to them, whether through guidance counselors or vending machines in the bathrooms at school.
I see condoms as a tremendous act of grace! It saves us from our own decisions and choices. I would rather save a life than to engage in moral discussions about who should be having sex and with whom and when they should start. Now, if you don’t mind, pass me a condom please!!!