An Argentinian sex-toy company has launched a new line of condoms that can only be opened with four hands. The brand claims that these condoms will increase safe sex and ensure that the people engaging in intercourse have each other’s consent.
Tulipán, an Argentine company that makes sex toys, recently introduced these “consent condoms” to help increase awareness of consent.
“This pack is as simple to open as it is to understand that if it’s not a yes, it’s a no”, says the tagline.
These “consent condoms” have created waves on social media for promoting consent and safe sex. Two people need to hold down buttons on all four sides of the condom box at the same time. Then, the top of the box pops off to reveal the condom wrapper inside.
“Tulipán has always spoken of safe pleasure but for this campaign we understood that we had to talk about the most important thing in every sexal relationship—pleasure is possible only if you both give your consent”, said Joaquin Campins of BBDO, the advertising agency that led the “consent condom” campaign.
Issues with ‘Consent condoms’
While the product is being hailed for promoting consent, some Twitter users are concerned that the mechanism may be flawed.
Harrison Paniszczyn said that he was able to open the condom box without a second person.
“Thumbs and ring fingers on opposite ends, and middle fingers hitting the other side. The only consent you need to open this package is from both of your hands that they’ll work together’, he tweeted.
Another user said the box’s buttons could be pressured with a broken pencil, sliding drawer or tape.
Others pointed out that people who harass and assault don’t stop to use condoms or contraceptives. Some said that the condoms were designed keeping in mind only able-bodied people.
Journalist Sandhya Ramesh said, “Any man who’s coerced a woman to come to the point of penetrative sex has effectively coerced her into opening the condom. Rapists won’t use this. Looks like a very ‘fight in a consensual first world relationship condom’ to me”.
People also said that the mechanism is useless if there are two or more rapists. However, Lawyer Tuhina Joshi offered up another point of view.
She tweeted, “I think this is less about preventing rapes and more about normalising consent. Very first world, agreed. But I think in a non-violent, non-aggressive scenario, getting both parties to open the condom together is a pretty cool non-verbal way of saying ‘yes, I want to do this.’”
Brands take a stand
Tulipán is one brand, among many, that have taken a stand on social issues. In India, as well, there is no dearth of such brands or advertisement campaigns.
Durex India ran a campaign with the hashtag #TimesUp and asked its consumers to get consent before engaging in intercourse. As Indian condom brands like Kama Sutra have traditionally focused on the pleasure aspect of sex, Durex’s ad was refreshing.
Detergent brands have also joined the fray of socio-political messaging.
Critics of the ad said Surf Excel was forcing religion into an unrelated narrative, but appreciators said that given the friction between India and Pakistan, the ad showed much-needed communal harmony.
An Ariel ad, tagged with the hashtag #ShareTheLoad, also commented on how women are mostly tasked with household duties, not men.
The mother in the ad tells her older daughter that she does not need to quit her job after marriage because her husband will help her around the house. But the daughter says that her husband does not know how to do any chores.
The mother then realises that her young son also does not know how to do simple tasks like clean his room or pick up his clothes.
So she tells her daughter, “We teach our daughters to stand on their own feet… But we don’t teach our sons to lend a hand.” She and her son then do the laundry together.
These brands usually step on the social and political messaging bandwagon after an issue is resolved and a majority of consumers seem to be on one side of the debate.
For example, when India’s LGBTQ+ community celebrated the scrapping of Section 377, many brands commemorated the event with rainbow-themed logos and social media posts. However, not many of those same companies contributed to the community with funds or action prior to the event.
‘Brand activism’ is a thin line to straddle because well-timed allyship can look like exploitation. However, like Joshi said, whether or not these brands contribute in an actionable way, the fact that progressive thinking enters pop culture and mainstream media is a step in the right direction.
Rhea Arora is a Staff Writer at Qrius
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