Mind Your Own Penis

Condoms have had a good run of funny, naughty ads. How else are you going to sell a piece of latex worn on a guy’s dick anyway?

In contrast, ads for pills, injectables and other contraceptive methods are lame, boring and forgettable. The only ad that comes to mind is that of Maricel Laxa and Anthony Pangilinan touting the awesomeness of natural family planning. (They conveniently forgot to tell us, however, that NFP has a failure rate of 15-22 percent compared with 2-10 percent for modern methods.)

Although condoms are packaged as cool and sexy, available in various sizes, flavors and textures, they don’t seem to catch on in terms of actual contraceptive prevalence rate. As of 2002, which is the latest available data from the National Statistics Office, the prevalence rate among married couples is 1.6 percent.

Condom usage is just as low in areas that are not reached by Frenzy and Trust ads. In one municipality of Sarangani Province (yes, the same district where Pacquiao is running for Congress), the 2008 prevalence rate of condoms is 1.4 percent. The prevalence rate of pills on the other hand is 34 percent. Even IUDs and injectables have higher usage rates than condoms at four percent each.

Obviously, the more popular contraceptive methods are those used by women. Local health centers, at least those that still have funding for reproductive health, mostly have women as clients of family planning services. You won’t see as much men going there even just to get pills for their wives.

On a very basic level, this is a no-brainer. Women are the ones who get pregnant, go through the nine-month ordeal of carrying significant extra weight, and endure the excruciating pain of childbirth. And then they would have to spend the next 20 years, the rest of their lives even, taking care of another human being. Of course they’re going to care more about contraception.

And there lies the problem. More than condom use, this is an issue of sharing the responsibility in reproductive health and family planning. This is an issue of men actually giving a damn about women’s uteruses and not just their vaginas.

It’s bad enough that we’ve got the Catholic Church demonizing contraceptives and a government that cops out of its responsibility of providing adequate reproductive health services. We also have to deal with deeply ingrained chauvinism and machismo. And it’ll take more than condom ads to address them.

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