So here’s a funny (or perhaps, mentally-scarring) incident from my childhood.
In my opinion, at the tender age of nine or 10, very few kids know what sex is and the associated terminologies with it – including the word condom. However, after having seen a billion condom ads on TV, I was convinced that a condom was a special kind of bubble gum (probably restricted to the adults like alcohol).
Why, you ask me? Well, it’s because in some of those ads, I used to see two adults frolicking about at the poolside or having a good old wrestle on the sheets, while discussing ‘flavours’ – vanilla, chocolate, strawberry, and so on. Hence, the younger me was convinced that condoms were a kind of bubble gum which I must have.
A 10-year-old Saumya very confidently went to the departmental store and asked for a condom. The reactions of the shopkeeper, my driver, and of course, the people around me can well be imagined.
I always used to look back at this incident as one of the many embarrassing incidents that define my childhood.
However, after the recent ban on condom ads, I realised that maybe, condoms are being marketed in an incorrect manner. I do realise that in our country, our target audience is one which is generally not receptive to the idea of protection. Here, many people, in my opinion, think that condoms spoil the experience or the beautiful idea that ‘protection’ is only a woman’s responsibility (see “Lipstick Under My Burkha”, for instance).
But, it seems to me that condoms are marketed and advertised in our country – not as a means of protection from unwanted pregnancies or sexually transmitted diseases (STDS), but solely as means of enhancing the sexual experience. This often leads to the advertisements being all about sex, and not about the advantages of the condom other than the cosmetic ones.
While condoms do serve other purposes, their primary function is that of a protector – one which is, I feel, being ignored by the ad-makers. Instead of banning condom adds in a country which lacks sex awareness as a whole, my suggestion would be to change the ads, and to change the way people are made to look at condoms.
Instead of removing words related to sex education from textbooks, stop demonising sex and embrace it as a part of a healthy lifestyle and promote safe sex. As it is, we are a country of 1.3 billion people with a high rate of teen pregnancies and insufficient abortion facilities. Can someone wake up please?