Pushing It Too Far: Problematic Condom Memes
If you have been living under a rock, memes are images which sometimes contain short commentary, and are used widely across the internet. They are an informal way to express feelings, and are almost always taken as jokes. They are everywhere. Although some memes are taken lightheartedly, others can turn serious issues and situations into comical instances which can be problematic.
In this day and age, condom memes are increasingly inappropriate and send the wrong message. These jokes turned sour when I encountered a meme with the image of a man saying “I took the condom off when she wasn’t looking. It felt amazing.” I have also encountered memes of men making similar statements like “No condom? No pill? Challenge accepted.”
Although such statements can be overlooked as light comedy, they express satisfaction with rape, sex without total consent, and the spread of sexually transmitted diseases. These memes and hashtags have snowballed with the help of social media and have thus developed a culture around not wearing condoms.
The “pull out game” hashtag, for instance, is used all over Twitter to express the act of having sex without relying on a condom or the pill.
This is problematic because in contributing to the culture, we are neglecting the troubles that come with not using a condom, including sexually transmitted diseases.
If a sexual partner is not aware that no condom is being used, he or she is being tricked and lied to. Not being honest with a partner about contraception is not consensual sex, and is considered rape and unlawful coercion.
This social culture that shuns or makes fun of using condoms puts women at risk of getting pregnant without even knowing it, and promotes the spread of STD’s. Not using condoms should not be viewed as a challenge to prove one’s ability (referenced in the “challenge accepted” meme), especially when a sexual partner is unaware. This is known as reproductive coercion, which is a form of domestic violence, and can result in unwanted pregnancy.
Condom memes and hashtags have encouraged unlawful reproductive coercion which is a serious issue because it affects the way in which the youth perceives sex and the risks of not using condoms.
It is problematic that these non-consensual (some of which encourage the spread of HIV knowingly without a partner’s consent ) memes are being created but it is even more problematic that people are sharing them on social networks without giving it a second thought. Scrolling through my Twitter newsfeed I often come across several memes about one’s “pulling out game” and how one should celebrate when women get their periods because it means she is not pregnant. This deception is disrespectful towards women and demeans their rights to safe and consensual sex.
Women’s menstrual cycles should not be considered an indicator of pregnancy, or used as a pregnancy test. Accidents happen when the condom breaks, and sometimes a woman’s menstrual cycle is the only way to find out about a pregnancy, but relying solely on women to get their period puts undue burden on women.
For many people, sex does feel better without a condom, but the fact that there are people out there who secretly remove the condom without their partner knowing is frightening. This can pose serious problems for those involved, can cause stress and can potentially ruin the lives of those unaware. I’ve heard of stories from friends where women were unaware that the condom broke because her partner did not want to let her know before they finished as it “felt better without it” to him. Instances like this make women afraid to have sex. Relying on women’s menstrual cycles to indicate to her partner whether or not she is pregnant is irresponsible and places stigma on women and the natural processes of their bodies.
Anti-condom culture is something we should be destroying, not promoting on social media.