Women Now Buy Nearly as Many Condoms as Men. Here's Why.
Shared responsibility is a good thing when it comes to contraception. It keeps everyone safer and helps break down some of the stereotypes that have, in the past, surrounded women who look out for their own sexual health.
According to an age-old stereotype, when a hetero couple has sex, the condom is procured from the male partner’s wallet – if it’s used at all. In other words, the responsibility for carrying condoms has long assumed to fall to men. After all, they’re the ones who will be wearing them.
Fortunately, times are changing for the better. Not only do we know that a wallet isn’t a safe place to store a condom over the long term (body heat can break down latex), women are also getting increasingly comfortable about taking charge.
According to a recent survey by LELO, the inventors of the new HEX condom, women now represent about 40% of all condom sales. That’s a huge jump compared to earlier surveys, which found that 70-80% of condom purchases were made by men.
Shared responsibility is a good thing when it comes to contraception. It keeps everyone safer and helps break down some of the stereotypes that have, in the past, surrounded women who look out for their own sexual health. So what has changed? Let’s take a look.
Until quite recently, condoms were marketed quite squarely at men. Brand names and packaging screamed masculinity. These were condoms not only to be worn by men, but to be purchased by them as well. In recent years, however, new brands and companies have emerged, and many of them are targeting women. Packaging that appeals to women – be it cute and girly or clean and modern – sends a subtle message that condoms aren’t just for boys. That’s a good thing.
Societal Attitudes About Female Sexuality
A study released in the ‘90s by the Division of Health and Psychology at UCLA found that many women felt inhibited about buying condoms, despite the fact that they tended to have a more positive attitude about them than men. Another study from the Psychology of Women Quarterly found that women tended to feel awkward about providing condoms as well. No surprise there. Female sexuality has long been stigmatized; women who carried condoms feared being seen as overeager, or labeled as sluts.
We know from the changing way the media reports on women’s sexuality, as well as other statistics such as those about women’s sexual attitudes, sexual habits and sex toy sales, that societal attitudes about female sexuality are (thankfully) shifting. The increase in the sale of condoms to women is just one more indicator of this shift.
LELO’s survey found that although many women are buying condoms, only 14% are completely comfortable buying them in person. While we definitely hope that that attitude continues to evolve, online shopping has made buying condoms, sex toys and any other personal items much more, well, personal.
Women’s Sense of Sexual Empowerment
The movement to encourage women to embrace pleasure, their eroticism and their sexual selves is growing – we see new signs of it every day! Contraception and safer sex plays a huge role here. When women feel they can be sexually assertive, it becomes easier to be safe. Plus, history has shown that protecting our sexual and reproductive health is still a luxury in a global sense. We are lucky to live in an age - and place - where women can go out and have adventurous sex with whomever they choose without dire health consequences. Condoms are one of the simplest and most powerful tools that help make that possible.