Condoms are one of the most popular forms of birth control. They are relatively inexpensive, easy to find (they’re available in nearly every grocery store and drug store), non-invasive, can be used as needed, and are effective at preventing pregnancy and preventing the spread of sexually transmitted infections. What’s not to love?! A lot of college campuses and health centers will even give them out for free. However, I have noticed in the last year or so, more and more stores are selling locked-up condoms behind glass or putting them inside of a clear plastic box that needs to be unlocked.
Have you noticed locked-up condoms?
Typically, items that are expensive or often stolen are locked away like this. I’ve seen some stores that will lock razors or even expensive skincare at a drug store behind glass that needs a key to open. I’ve noticed at my local grocery store, ALL of the condoms are inside individual plastic boxes that a clerk needs to unlock to release, similar to how some alcohol has a lock on the top that you need help opening. Although I understand that stores don’t want condoms to be stolen, I think this is a harmful solution.
How locked-up condoms stigmatize sex
People can feel awkward buying condoms at the store, especially young people who are coming into their sexuality and have just begun having partnered sex. If the store you’re buying condoms at doesn’t have a self check out, the idea of looking a stranger in the eyes as they ring up your condoms can be intimidating for some people. Having safe sex is a normal part of life, and buying condoms to do so shouldn’t be intimidating.
We live in a sex-negative culture where we typically don’t comfortably talk about these topics. Now imagine going to the store to buy condoms only to find they are locked up behind a glass case or need to be specifically unlocked at check out by a clerk. I worry that this extra step of intentionally asking a stranger to unlock the birth control at the store will deter people from buying condoms as frequently, resulting in more instances of unprotected sex. We don’t want that! We don’t want more exposure to STIs! We don’t want young people exploring their sexuality to put themselves at risk of an unwanted pregnancy. We don’t want anyone of any age to be at risk for that either.
Other options for purchasing condoms?
I understand that perhaps stores don’t want these items to be stolen, but in the grand scheme of things, someone stealing a $5 pack of condoms is worth it to me. This is also coming from someone who believes birth control should be free everywhere for anyone.
Condoms can be bought discreetly online, but it’s fast and easy to purchase them at a drug store as well. Not all stores have started locking up their contraceptives, but I’ve noticed enough that it worries me. My grocery store for example locks up all of their condoms but doesn’t lock up their razors or razor blades. In terms of items being stolen, I believe stolen razor blades are more hazardous than stolen condoms! And also way more expensive.
I’m not sure what the solution is, but my hope is that this extra step of unlocking affordable birth control doesn’t deter people from purchasing condoms. If you need a little boost in confidence, I did write about how to confidently buy condoms. You’re welcome.