When I was born in 1939, condoms were illegal. Canada and the US were both trying to re-populate the prairies with productive farmer tax-payers, now that the governments had managed to eliminate all the Native Americans who were far too elusive and different to be useful. NA’s were defined by their tribal “centers” rather than their “boundaries,” but nations are based on boundaries. Some nations, like islands, have natural boundaries and so if their populations increase too much, things get crowded and emigration is necessary. My grandfather, born in 1875 in Scotland, was the oldest of four children born to Archibald Mitchell Strachan, who was born in 1850 and who brought his family to the North American prairies where they survived but did not exactly prosper in spite of virtue and education. My father was born in 1903 in South Dakota.
My father, the oldest son of an oldest son, did not feel economically secure enough to start his own family until he was 34, partly because he was still helping his parents. He was very concerned with limiting family size to two, as were his siblings. A progressive man, he had a collection of pamphlets from Margaret Sanger, who actively promoted birth control. His three sibs all limited their families to two, but somehow -- accidentally, I think -- there was a third conception at our house, my younger brother who is now dead. As a human being, he was a joy -- quite gifted -- and not resented, but it was an extra cost that weighed the family down.
My parents’ birth control method -- actually my father’s choice -- was condoms. He made such a big fuss about them that on his wedding day his brothers got access to his suitcase and laid in on top of his honeymoon pajamas a stallion condom, QUITE large. Maybe you didn’t know that horses used condoms. So do bulls. (They need a little help putting them on.)
Condoms have nothing to do with virility. They are about fertility and disease, a safety measure that has nothing to do with human marriage and everything to do with biology and planning. (Check out veterinary supplies.) My mother had her own ideas about birth control, so after the birth of the third child, she had her tubes tied. (She was one of four sibs in a family that never quite had enough money, also didn’t marry until late because she was helping to support her birth family.) I don’t know why my father wasn’t the one to have a vasectomy. My parents were always faithful (so far as one can ever know), did not drink, did not party.
Condoms were illegal. My father ordered them by mail and they arrived in a plain brown wrapper. In our house it was a major crime to get to the mail before the adults. This became a personal challenge when I was three, because I liked to open packages, and also when I was thirteen, though by that age what I was after was magazines. WWII and the resulting world-wide wave of accidental and orphaned babies plus venereal disease (today called STD’s) that changed society’s view, but even then “rubbers” were kept quietly in the back. One asked the pharmacist, who might be inclined to give unwanted advice or even to refuse. The conservative back-to-the-past forces of society like this. It’s a great source of power for a righteous small town pharmacist to know who is buying condoms and in what quantity.
A movement is underway to forbid the CARRYING of condoms. Not the purchase, not the practice, not the possession of icky used condoms, but packaged any-brand condoms, because it is ASSUMED that a person carrying a condom is a prostitute. It’s obvious that the cops have slipped the paradigm of arresting people carrying little baggies of illegal drugs over onto sex. (EVERYTHING gets slipped over to the obsession with sex.) It is totally insane thinking.
Think of the unintended consequences: sex without condoms obviously means unwanted pregnancy , anal sex to prevent pregnancy and a steep rise in both anally and vaginally transmitted diseases. Carrying condoms is part of prevention to prevent spur of the moment unprotected sex. On the one hand the authorities ban the carrying of condoms and on the other hand they make not wearing a seatbelt a criminal offense. If they think banning condoms is an effective way of controlling prostitution by exposing sex workers to suffering and death, why do they not think that banning seatbelts is a good way of eliminating bad drivers?
Backdoor Johnny, a character I invented who is a creative thinker, sees this most recent development in a different way, since he has developed a brisk business in DNA collection and identification that depends on the collection of ejaculate from condoms, esp. those used by people in the sex biz. [See this blog on Jan 21, 2013. The idea is that he sells info from his database the same as Facebook sells its info about you.] Backdoor Johnny sees that this law is intended to force “bare-backing” is so Johns will not be so easily traced, because they are liable to be cops or law-makers. (He makes a LOT of money getting them into his database because of the potential blackmail.)
Sister AIDS, another invented character who is a creative thinker, looks at these laws in another way. [www.strachanscriver.blogspot.com SUNDAY, JUNE 10, 2012. The idea is that a nun contracts HIV from a needle stick.] She sees them as controlling women, children and nonconforming men by forcing them to take risks. Sex exploiters are all in favor of unwanted children being born, because that’s where they get their “product,” a constant stream of marketable human beings that no one cares about very much because they are too economically fragile to form coherent families, whether genetic or chosen. Sister AIDS belongs to a category of serious women that bad cops and legislators very much underestimate. In the past they have devoted themselves to orphans and abused women, but now they begin to understand that it’s important to go to the source of the troubles. Look at the testimony in this video.
Pope Francis I may be conservative but he is also sensible and he must know that one of the main reasons Roman Catholics have become non-observant and even non-attending is that they know the consequences of having too many children and so use forbidden birth control. Celibacy and female priests aside (which are the concern of priests, not congregants), growth in the Roman Catholic Church would be improved by quantum leaps if Francis I would endorse the use of condoms and birth control. If people no longer had to go to confession knowing that what they do for family planning is a necessary sin, then they wouldn’t have to lie. If they don’t have to lie -- and the priests know very well that they are but are not inclined to punish them for it since they understand the reasons -- they will be far more whole and less self-deceptive when it comes to other issues. A religious organization cannot depend upon secular authorities to enforce their medieval understanding of sex, their self-destructive attempts to control reproduction. Locking the doors to prevent escape will not work. You know the counselors’ saying: “When a door closes, a window opens.” Even a stained glass one.
If religious workers cannot see that bad sex is both the cause and the result of devaluing human beings, buying and selling human beings without their choice, using violence to control the vulnerable, and stripping all the love out of sex, then who can? Certainly not legislators or cops. These two categories are far more interested in their appearance to be doing something than they are in actual effectiveness. But this is also true of religious leaders. We need to create centers that draw people in, not boundaries that keep people out.