Condom Company Markets Condoms to Women by Playing Down the Whole Sex Thing

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What Women Really Think
Feb. 28 2014 5:46 PM

Condom Company Markets Condoms to Women by Playing Down the Whole Sex Thing

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Marketed for her pleasure.

Photo by PHILIPPE LOPEZ/AFP/Getty Images

They’ve finally made a women’s condom. No, not a female condom—it’s a male condom … for women. Meika Hollender is teaming up with her father, Seventh Generation founder Jeffrey Hollender, to market a new line of condoms designed to be more alluring to female consumers than traditional brands. “Conventional condom aisles scream sex," Hollender told ABC News. "They are bold, bright and male oriented … While women are buying condoms, they are not doing it very happily. Even though we are a big part of the market, we don't use them when having sex."

To review: Condom marketers have been trying to lure in consumers with sex, but women don’t want to use condoms for sex. In fact, the whole sex thing is kind of a turn off, for women. "Part of the challenge we are facing is the huge discomfort women feel buying condoms," Jeffrey Hollender says. "If a man buys them, he's having sex and he's cool. Women have a negative attitude."

So instead of selling sex, the Hollenders are hoping to sell their condoms with politics. Called Sustain, the condoms are “made of latex described by the company as non-toxic and produced in a rubber plantation in India with fair-trade and fair-wage credentials” and are “certified by the Forest Stewardship Council.” Their slogan is “Do what's natural,” and they’ll soon be available in a Whole Foods near you. Ten percent of the proceeds will go toward the company’s nonprofit arm, 10%4Women, which will help fund “women's reproductive and family planning care.”

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Now, women can bring Sustain Condoms to the counter and say, “Oh, these? These aren’t for sex. I’m buying these in solidarity with Indian rubber plantation workers. What do you use condoms for?”

Sustain Condoms actually seem great, if you’re into that sort of thing. With a new brand on the market, buyers will have greater choices about how their condoms are made, what they’re made from, where their profits go, and even what colors they’re wrapped in. (Though, in Trojan’s defense, the company also offers condoms in tasteful shades of lavender, magenta, and sage.) But men, too, might be interested in supporting charity-minded companies or avoiding “harsh additives” in the stuff they wrap their genitals with, and existing companies, like Sir Richard’s, are already tapping that market. Meanwhile, some women are just looking for a condom that’s ribbed for her pleasure, no matter where it came from. Pretending that women are afraid of condoms because they don’t like sex seems like a self-defeating pitch for a condom company.

And pssst, ABC: You are not helping the company when you say that Sustain Condoms “appeal to crunchy women.”

Amanda Hess is a Slate staff writer. 

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