Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Bikini Condom, We Hardly Knew Ye

Pity the poor Bikini Condom. Launched in the early 1990's, it was overshadowed by its more popular cousin, the female condom. Both were part of the contraceptive group the FDA gave the perfectly hideous label "vaginal pouches." ("Hon, I need some quarters for the meter. Can you check your vaginal pouch?") 

And when you're playing second fiddle to the female condom--a device most Americans have never actually seen, let alone used--let's just say you're not gonna be sitting at the popular table. Not that there is a popular table for contraceptives. Or if there is, I was, sadly, not invited to sit there.

Bikini Condoms look "like a g-string panty with a condom pouch" wrote an unnamed author in a 1991 issue of Contraceptive Technologya magazine which I get only for the crossword puzzle. 

The condom "is automatically introduced into the vagina with coitus," the writer continues, masterfully making a sentence about sex totally void of eroticism. The odd language continues to the last sentence: "They are so novel they appeal to people with an 'open mind.'" "Open mind" is inexplicably in quotes, signifying, to my mind, that the author is not only "unfamiliar with human writing conventions," perhaps fearful of these unsettling hippies with their "open minds," and probably rarely has "coitus."

So why aren't we all sportin' vaginal pouches this very second? I mean, they empowered women and junk, right? Well, offhand, I can venture several guesses.

1. The term "vaginal pouch" could be entirely to blame.

2. Its look and feel and pretty much everything about it. "Manufactured all in one piece from thin, cream-colored latex," according to the Powerhouse Museum in Australia, "It consists of a belt, which fits around the hips, attached to a pouch-like tube." In summation, it combines a pouch-like tube (oh yeah), a belt reminiscent of grandma's old-timey maxi pads, and cream-colored latex, which we all know is the very sexiest latex color.

3. It is thicker than a regular condom, for those who like their sensation reduced as much as possible.

4. The whole clothing-as-contraceptive idea. (However, other clothing/contraceptive combos such as pleated khakis, holiday sweaters and men's jeans shorts, are still in widespread use.) 

5. Reusability. It can be reused 5 to 10 times. I'm as green as the next girl,** but even I would be hesitant to drag out some raggedy-ass cream-colored condom for the 9th time.

6. General confusion/inherent paradox: "Bikini" = sexy. "Condom" = not that sexy, but sex-related, at least. And yet, "bikini condom" = so not sexy.


* (if you'd like to read more about "vaginal pouches"--and who the hell wouldn't?--see also: Female Condom, Where Art Thou?How to Behave in the Presence of a Female Condom and  Someone Who Actually Used The Female Condom.)

** I have been known to force only-marginally-interested children to behold my compost pile, which in several states is legally considered eco-terrorism. 


11 comments:

Gia said...

Ahhhhh vaginal pouch. Yep. That's definitely why they didn't take off. ICK.

cv/d said...

I don't know; they look more appealing than female condoms.

I wonder how much they cost... not because I plan to buy one, but because they claimed it can be used 5-10 times. Why would that be advertised? The only explanation I can come up with is that they were a bit pricier than the competition. I'm thinking that vaginal pouches are probably a bit like plastic, disposable spoons. Sure, you can reuse them, but why would anyone do that? Unless they were just that expensive to warrant being reused.

jill hamilton said...

Gia--yeah maybe something catchier like VagPo. Or non-breathable pleasure tube. Or...right. I'll just stop

Cv/d hmm nice detective work. Now thinking that 5 to
10 vagueness might be part of the problem. How do you know which one you got? I mean it's contraception/std prevention--you'd want to be pretty fucking sure about it. Using it 8 times if yours was only working
For 7 times--not good.

Cagey-C said...

Contraceptive Technology has a crossword puzzle? Damn, I just get it for the centerfold. (Yeah, baby, check out that summary table of contraceptive efficacy. So hot!)

Betty Fokker said...

I asked Sweet Babou if he wanted we should try them out. He asked, "With each other?"

The IBWMW Minister of Science said...

And here's another potential problem with the bikini condom: since it is "automatically inserted into the vagina with coitus" that seems to eliminate any foreplay. It's like whammo! there it goes! Like one of those bad movie tricks where first it is here, then it is there, automatically inserted. Amazing!!

And great idea to not include the pre-automatic insertion picture on the box. Hi, look at my cool latex granny underwear with this pouchy thing dangling. If that doesn't say automatically insert me, I don't know what does. And who gets to prep this cover girl for her picture, I wonder?

robyn said...

We've decided we're all through having kids, and have been talking about ways to prevent another person from hitch hiking in my uterus. The vasectomy is the #1 choice for one of us (guess who), but we hadn't considered the vaginal pouch! Thanks for this post; you've helped me decide to just get him a pair of pleated khakis.

Kimberly at Rubber Chicken Madness said...

The term pouch makes me think of a place where you tuck away nibblets of food to save for later. So probably not a great term for a contraceptive...even if it were cute!

Mandy_Fish said...

The reusability factor really does give one pause. And by "pause" I mean "nausea."

dirtycowgirl said...

I can picture the scene.

The one where instead of a "post coital" cigarette you have to say "excuse me, I need to go and wash my vaginal pouch".

And I wonder if in saying that you decrease your chances of pregnancy & STD's significantly, because I'm pretty sure on hearing those words most men would be out the door before there was a chance of round two.
Maybe that's the really how they worked.

Ciana Pullen said...

I'm a little late to the bikini condom party, but I suppose in the year 2012 we all are. I'm confused. I have so many questions.

1. It's a little unclear from the pictures; does it cover the front of the vulva like the little triangular part of ordinary bikini underwear? Or is it... like... Y-shaped?

2. So, the tubal part is automatically inserted into the vagina upon "coitus." Where is the tube *before* coitus? Is it scrunched up like a bendy straw fresh from the package, then the penis stretches it out? When one re-uses it does it scrunch back up or is the tube all stretched out? Does the tube hang down (does it wobble to and fro) like an inside-out jacket sleeve? Sometimes when I shove my arm into my jacket sleeve and the sleeve isn't completely right-side-out my arm gets stuck. It seems an analogous problem might occur with the bikini condom?

3. Is it one size fits all?

To me the term "pouch" suggests something in which a baby marsupial might dwell, and that is truly the most positive connotation, and even then those pouches are only cute when they're in cartoon form. As alternatives I suggest "pussy pocket" "pocket protector for her" "underrubber" "safety knickers" or, if you continue with the marsupial pouch idea, "underoo's."

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