As St. Valentine’s Day is upon us, many people take the time to celebrate their intimate relationships. This has traditionally been an opportune time for health activists to create awareness by giving free condoms and the like to all who will take them. This year, it is no different. In fact, I actually received quite a few freebies within the last few days… right up until this morning. Each had different messages – some were humorous, some were serious and some were informational.
Obviously, there is great merit in supplying people with materials that are potentially life saving. While some of the printed messages are funny and inspired, I do wonder if people are actually swayed by them or whether they are simply entertaining. I was certainly compelled to chuckle at a quote on one that said “It is illegal to have sex with a virgin under any circumstances in Washington DC”. I am curious though, to know how many persons actually read the packaging of these items on Valentine’s day as they are en route to using them and actually take the bigger message (Practice safe sex) seriously.
It could be argued that the impact of the message lies in the usage of the condoms themselves and that is certainly valid. What happens to the message however, if people decide to hang on to them as souvenirs because they are so entertaining? If someone is given one or two condoms by a non-profit or market representative with a funny message printed on the package, does the meta message usually impact their behavior – especially without additional collateral such as pamphlets or even a supporting event? While we’d love to assume that everyone knows why the use of these items are important, there are many members of our society who for various reasons refuse to use them. For these people, the message is vital and must be clearly communicated. Maybe the condoms being dispersed on Valentine’s day don’t need to come in interesting packages with witty and hilarious comments but rather with concrete information about the health risks of not using them.
Of course, V-day should be about love, fun, laughter & celebration so these inscriptions may simply add to the ambiance. Still, what better way to say I love you than ensuring that one’s self and one’s partner are safe and protected?
I hope everyone takes the time out to laugh but also to remember the message behind the freebie: Practice safe sex.
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