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» Scarleteen Boards: 2000 - 2014 (Archive) » SCARLETEEN CENTRAL » Sexual Ethics and Politics » DC Condom Lockdown

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Author Topic: DC Condom Lockdown
Beppie
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From the Washington Post:
http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2006/04/10/AR2006041001312_pf.html

It's not just hormonal birth control that's under attack... (like that's a huge surprise!)

In Washington DC, where it's estimated that 1 in 20 people are HIV positive, many of the leading pharmacists have taken the step of locking up their condoms in glass cabinets. Ostensibly this move is to prevent theft, but the result is that teenagers are often unable to buy condoms without being lectured on abstinence. In one case reported, a teenage mum was unable to buy condoms at all because no one responded.

Whether the motive of preventing theft is genuine or not, the move has been welcomed by conservative so-called "family friendly" groups:

quote:

Citizens for Community Values -- which promotes abstinence as the answer to sexually transmitted diseases and unwanted pregnancies -- applauds adding steps to buying condoms.

"I'd rather see them locked up," said Phil Burress, president of the organization. "It's a lie that condoms prevent all sexually transmitted diseases anyway. People should be educated about that and practice abstinence." But there is little impartial evidence of measurable benefits from abstinence-only policies, say scientists.

Quite aside from the fact that most places that prmote safer sex, such as Scarleteen, do convey the message that condoms do not eliminate all risk, how in the world does this justify reducing their availability. That's like saying you shouldn't use an umbrella when it rains because your feet might still get wet-- obviously, it's preferable just to get soaked through-- or in the case of using condoms, it's better to be exposed to HIV, gonorrhea, and unwanted pregnancy rather than just having a risk of HPV and herpes.

Personally, I feel totally bewlidered by this-- living in Australia, I've never encountered anything like it. I know there are problems here with young people accessing condoms and other forms of birth control in rural areas, though even in those areas (I grew up in one), I never saw condoms locked up. The idea that this could happen in a major city is something that I would never consider, but it does scare me-- Australia takes its cue from America in a lot of things.

(I heard about this story through http://www.feministing.com )

[ 04-15-2006, 06:11 PM: Message edited by: Beppie ]

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likewhoa19
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oh GOD. grr this makes me so angry.
Posts: 193 | From: Massachusetts | Registered: Apr 2006  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Heather
Executive Director & Founder
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Oh, how I wish I were not clear across the country.

Someone needs to do a counter-action by printing up stickers that say "In case of emergency, break glass." Or start manning the doors pf pharmacies with buttons on that identify them as volunteer condom-buyers.

My favourite part about shite like this is they'll frame it as being about EVERYBODY.

And absolutely, men are deeply effected by something this, absolutely, it endangers them.

But NOT the way it endagers women. THEY will not become pregnant, and in a country where options of what to do when that happens become more and more limited, where even if you DECIDE to have the kid, so help you if you're low-income, because while medicare witll cover Viagra (yeah, I'm bitter) and NOT birth control, it also provides substandard, at best, per-natal and post-natal care for Mama and kiddo alike. Men will not wind up with PID or cervical cancer for STIs. And at this point in time, more women than men are also dying from AIDS.

(Must make point of blogging this puppy tomorrow: anyone with extra ideas for activism, shout'em out, and we'll post them.)

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Heather Corinna, Executive Director & Founder, Scarleteen
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Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has. - Margaret Mead

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likewhoa19
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Not as creative and to-the-point as your ideas, Miz S, but I'm always a fan of activist t-shirts for people to show their support out and about. Here's a possible illustration: http://www.dorkinglabs.com/fim_popup.php?id=72&title=Aids+epidemic
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faifai
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I saw this when I was 15 and questioning whether I should become sexually active. I was browsing around for condoms back in the day when I was just a lurker on the scarleteen boards. I remember I was looking specifically for Lifestyles and Durex since all I could find were Trojans. At my local Fry's (big ol' chain of grocery stores), the condoms I wanted were behind a glass case and locked. And since I was afraid of perhaps being lectured by the ornery looking guy at the counter, I opted to just not ask for them and I left.

In a fairly big city that wouldn't pose as much of a problem--if I couldn't get them at Fry's, then I could just as easily go to the 11 other drugstores/grocery stores in a 2 mile radius from my house (yeah, I counted them all). But in a small town this would be devastating, because I'm pretty sure plenty of teens would rather just not deal with being made to feel ashamed and leave, like I did.

And the whole answer-to-sex-being-abstinence thing is just...er, ding dong diddly doodoo (trying to keep it PG!) You want people to be safe, then give them the ability to protect themselves and give them accurate information. Plain old being alive carries risk--from the moment you wake up to the minute you fall asleep and every second in between, you could die from being seriously maimed by an animal or having a brick fall on you from the top of a building or being in a fatal car accident or having a heart attack or being raped and murdered.

You don't see people saying "eh, just kill yourself" as the solution to that. You try and minimize the risk. The answer to handling an activity that has inherent risks, like driving, is to wear your seatbelt and follow the rules of the road, not drive into oncoming traffic.

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disconnect and let me drift/until my upside down is right side *in*

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origami_jane
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"Plain old being alive carries risk..."
Actually, I read about this study done where scientist concluded that when people die of "natural causes," they really die of oxygen. From the moment we first breathe, oxygen begins to destroy our cells. Weird, huh?

But that totally sucks. If this weren't the last day of my spring break, I'd round up a bunch of my friends and we'd hop down to DC to protest. *loves Chinatown buses*

D'you ever feel like politicians and the like are merely tryinig to cover their own arses when they make policies like that?
Imaginary Politician: "It's not our fault that those morally bankrupt sluts got themselves knocked up.... we educated them about abstinence! Totally not our responsibility."

It also reminds me of how when I used to work at JoAnn's, we had to keep the spraypaint in a locked case. Every time someone asked for spraypaint, we would always just give them this look like, "what are you going to do with this?" I hate that bias, but it was there. And this is just making safe sex even more shameful and embarrassing.

If kids are embarrassed to buy condoms, how are they going to be able to get diagnosed with an STI or pick up a pregnancy test.

I think we should be more like France. I was in a Carrefour (because Tar-jhay is not French enough!) in Paris, and they had préservatifs right there with the Mentos!

(Also, never ask for anything "sans préservatifs" when you don't want preservatives. You'll look like an idiot.)

But yeah, I agree with you guys. We can't just sit back and let things like this happen. I wish I had a car.

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Bobolink
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Pharmacies are in the busines of making money. If they carry condoms, they want to sell them, capitalism at work. But as Gumdrop Girl has writen in a previous post, condoms are prime targets for shoplifters and DC is a very high-crime city. Even here, in rural Ontario, while condoms are not in locked display cases, they are usually positioned in an area of the store that is constantly watched.

The story of retail in general is that we are going to see more and more locked display cabinets.

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I do not feel obliged to believe that the same God who has endowed us with sense, reason, and intellect has intended us to forgo their use.

- Galileo

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Beppie
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Bob, I know too, from working in retail that condoms are a high target for shoplifters. The store I used to work at put magnetised stickers on then that would beep if a person tried to walk out of the store with them, and putting them in a well monitered spot I think is fairly resonable to prevent theft, so long as the people buying them-- whether 16 or 60-- are not harrassed in any way for it.

However, when you have a situation where people, especially young people ARE being harrassed by staff for buying condoms, and where there are organizations like "Citizens for Community Values" suggesting that it's wrong to be able to buy condoms easily, you have to wonder whether or not the motives for placing condoms in the locked cabinets are purely related to theft.

Furthermore, even if it could be established that the condoms were locked up purely for security reasons, the fact stands that it's reducing the liklihood that people in a place that has a very high HIV infection rate will practice safer sex-- so activism is still needed to make condoms more easily available, whether this is setting up organisations to provide free condoms, or, as Heather said, simply having people there who are willing to face the harrassment-prone staff to buy condoms on behalf of others.

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likewhoa19
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the magnetised sticker sounds like a perfect solution to me -they can't possibly argue that's much less secure than a locked cabnet. Someone should write letters to all the CVSs and make that point.
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diamonds4lucy
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I live in dc, and this isn't the only sex-related thing that can be locked up. I've also seen(and had to purchase) pregnancy tests and yeast infection treatment by pressing a buzzer so someone could unlock the case for me. But, I have to agree, condoms are the worst.

PS. Just wanted to add that if some tells me how to make stickers with a clever activist phrase, those CVSes will rue the day they put those condoms under lock and key.

[ 04-17-2006, 04:35 AM: Message edited by: diamonds4lucy ]

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lizenny
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quote:
Someone needs to do a counter-action by printing up stickers that say "In case of emergency, break glass."
...GENIUS! [Big Grin]

Why is it that with issues of bc in general so many people feel they need to stick their noses where they don't belong? The theft prevention thing is a reasonable explanation but I can't help but see their means of doing so as excessive and likely to have other intentions behind it. This just screams of every attempt to try to coerce, legislate or otherwise force people into someone's idea of chastity. The words "promoting abstinence" are too nice sounding (and if you ask me, too hands-off)to use in reference to crap like this.

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Heather
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Lucy, you can use Cafepress to make any sort of anything like that, and pretty darn cheaply. [Smile]

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Heather Corinna, Executive Director & Founder, Scarleteen
About MeGet our book!
Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has. - Margaret Mead

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Blink
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DIY stickers are quite easy and cheap to make--you can just open a word processor program with an address label template, copy/paste your slogan(s) into each address label box (make the font as big as you can for it to still be able to fit on one sticker--usually three lines is the most you can fit) and print it out on address label sticker paper. These make nice "warning label" stickers as they are small enough to put on quickly and discreetly, but large enough to stand out. You can also buy full page sticker paper and print out your slogan on it in four sections, then cut it. I hope people who have pharmacies who are locking their condoms will take advantage of this method--it really is easy, cheap, and lots of fun.

I live in NYC, and I haven't heard of this happening around here, but I'm going to keep my eyes out for pharmacy managers who need a good terrorizing from a group of teenage pro-choice advocates. I'd almost like to bus a group of us down to DC to make a scene, but I can't imagine that there aren't activists in DC doing that already. At least, I really hope so.

I'm going to brainstorm more sticker phrases now. I'll post if I come up with any.


Edited to Add:

And you know what really drives me crazy about that article? The fact that, if there weren't already such a stigma around buying condoms, they probably wouldn't be stolen at such a high rate. If you had a reasonable guarantee that the person at the counter wasn't going to look at you funny or lecture you or otherwise embarrass you, you might have less desire to bypass the whole uncomfortable process by stealing them. (I mean, yeah, people would still steal them, but there would be one less reason to.) It would be so cool if drugstores made more of an effort to respect people. Like, if they lock up the condoms, they could put next to the buzzer, "Our policy is to respect each and every customer" or something like that--even if the staff didn't follow it, I think it would be a nice gesture, a good start. Whatever happened to "the customer is always right"? Why doesn't it apply to condom buyers? Ugh.

[ 04-19-2006, 03:38 PM: Message edited by: Blink ]

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diamonds4lucy
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http://www.cafepress.com/lucycondoms

My contribution.

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I may not have gone where I intended to go, but I think I have ended up where I needed to be. -Douglas Adams.

Help Support Scarleteen!

Posts: 446 | From: Seattle | Registered: Mar 2006  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
   

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