I once went on a date with this guy who, when I opened my wallet to pay for a round of drinks, saw that behind all my credit cards and ID, in the little back pocket, I carry condoms with me everywhere I go. And, of course, he had to comment on this fact. He told me that carrying condoms, especially because I’m a woman, makes me slutty. And he laughed, as if calling a woman you have known for approximately forty-seven minutes “slutty” is funny.
Sometimes dates with someone random are bad: this is simply a fact when you’re a young woman in her 20s and don’t feel that it’s appropriate to date anyone over 30 yet. The selection of single men my age who I feel initially attracted to is littered with a combination of scrubs and fuckboys who often hide behind a cute smile and a Tinder bio quoting Thoreau. But then you meet them in person and they’re all like, “You shouldn’t like me. I’m bad. I’m an asshole” as if being mean and boring is cute.
So I’ve been on my share of bad dates, a lot of which I skipped out early on or parted ways from knowing I would never text the guy back, even if he did politely send a “that was nice” message with my favorite cat emoji the next day.
But the start of this particular date hadn’t been bad. It wasn’t like this was a guy I was finding out was slightly sexist and hyper-masculine who only liked to talk about himself. Our conversation was engaged, he seemed genuinely interested in knowing things about my life, and he immediately knew The Talking Heads when the bar started playing “Once in a Lifetime,” which, as their biggest fan, I took as a good sign. When he went to the bathroom, I even texted my friend a long string of exclamation points followed by “wow I think for once I got lucky and found a real human.”
Okay, so, it wasn’t a bad date. I was comfortable, I was about to pay for our second round of drinks because I’m a 21st century woman and things can be split evenly, and that’s when he saw the neat little row of perforated Trojan wrappers sneaking up behind my Visa. He started laughing, and I didn’t know why, so I asked. And, little to my knowledge, a young woman carrying condoms is apparently implying she is only looking for sex, and if she needs to be prepared with them at all times, she clearly has a high number of sexual partners. She is SLUTTY.
In his mind, I was now a slut. A dirty word. Used. Promiscuous. Someone no self-respecting person would want to be with.
But how does my wanting to be safe and responsible if I do choose to have sex equate to my automatic transformation into a word so shrouded in negativity?
How does a little tiny condom hold as much power as to turn a good date bad? To transform me into something dirty? Him into a close-minded sexist asshole?
I am still convinced this guy is not a fuckboy. He was intelligent but not pretentious. He had opinions I respected on many topics. He was polite in a way I read as being genuine. But the condom, for him, held too much power to make him remember that yes, I was smart enough to discuss transcendental idealism with him (not making that up LOL), that I was nice, and that I, two seconds ago, had been making him laugh.
His reaction to my condoms is all the ingrained sexism I experience every single day as a young woman. The ingrained sexism that has told me for my entire life that I can’t be completely in control of my own sexuality, that to be the person of power in a sexual relationship would emasculate my partner, that to be concerned with my sexual health is something I should leave behind closed doors. We don’t talk about condoms. We don’t talk about women in control of their own sexuality as anything except slutty. We look toward the man to somehow be responsible for both himself and the young woman he is about to sleep with. We teach girls that sometimes if a guy doesn’t have a condom, you just don’t say anything.
Well I’m here to tell you that if being a slut means that I protect myself and embrace the fact that I am in control of my own life and body, then I am slutty as hell. Go ahead, call me a slut, but the condoms I keep in my wallet will never go anywhere, and I’m not concerned if that makes you uncomfortable. Condoms are hot, and, if you carry them, so are you.