Compact offers subtle protection to the style conscious

Compact offers subtle protection to the style conscious

By Bobby Feingold

You meet at a party. You’re wearing a new dress that shows off your legs. His eyes catch yours from across the room. He saunters over and strikes up small talk. You connect with him instantly. His place is right around the corner. Things start to heat up. It’s about to happen-and he doesn’t have a condom.

It seems women of the 21st century would be more in control of sexual protection, but even today the stigma of a woman carrying her own condoms exists.

A new product, JustInCase, is trying to change this reality. With the outward appereance of a makeup-compact, it secretly holds two condoms, allowing woman to have control of sexual protection in what proponents call a “chic and discreet manner.”

Mother-daughter team Marsha Graham and Rachael Sudul from Los Angeles created the product, the first of its kind. Graham came up with the idea in the early ’80s when, according to the product’s website, society was not ready to face the problems of AIDS, STDs and unplanned pregnancy. Now with those problems in epic proportion, the duo said they knew women were ready for a change.

In 2003, Sudul, formerly in the cosmetic industry, and her mother joined to create the socially conscious line of compacts. Advertised as “Putting the cool in condoms,” their product tries to put a young, hip spin on sexual protection, during a time when even on college campuses, there is a stereotype of who holds the condoms.

“Most girls think it’s the guy’s responsibility to have condoms,” said Lisa Nelson, a sophomore psychology major. “There’s a notion that guys want to have sex all the time and are supposedly ready to jump on any opportunity. The girl assumes he’ll always have condoms on him.”

Sex involves two people and therefore no one person should have responsibility over the other, Nelson said. She said she sees it simply as an economic issue.

“Girls pay for the birth control and the guy pays for condoms,” Nelson said. “That’s only in ideal situations where couples discuss the logistics of their relationship, but I think it should be understood by everyone.”

A recent survey from Shape.com, the online version of Shape magazine, found 40 percent of women who don’t bother with condoms said it’s because they don’t want to kill the mood while 35 percent said they don’t have one available.

With statistics showing that women contract a new case of AIDS or HIV nearly every half-hour in this country, Graham and Sudul said they believe killing the mood is no longer an acceptable reason to go unprotected.

“Even on the pill, you never know what diseases are out there,” said Marie Johnston, a sophomore pharmacy major.

Johnston sees many girls ignoring the obvious risk of STDs and encourages them to take control.

“Many people are on the pill but aren’t concerned with diseases,” she said. “You don’t know what condom a guy is using. It could be three years old in his wallet all torn up. It’s good to be in control, especially because it will be affecting the girl.”

Celebrities like “Desperate Housewives” star Nicollette Sheridan have endorsed the new product in TV and print. Kate Walsh of “Grey’s Anatomy” made an appearance on “The Late, Late Show with Craig Ferguson,” praising the “clever invention” for being “very lady-like.”

Selling for $30, the compacts come in different colors, like green, pink, red and blue. Or if style is a high priority when carrying a rubber, a Swarovski Crystal compact is available for nearly $200.

“I’d buy one,” said Cyndi Plust, a sophomore marketing major. “It’s a really good idea. I might order one online.”

Plust also said she is considering giving JustInCase as a gift to her friends in the future.

“I’d give one as a joke, a gag gift, but my friend would really use it,” she said.

Sophomore pharmacy major Sana Kapadia said she still feels the stigma attached to condoms.

“I see it as the guy’s responsibility,” she said. “I don’t even like buying them. And perhaps directly because of the stigma surrounding it. The guy should take care of the purchasing and wearing-I’ll take care of the pleasure. Women may get viewed as easy or ready to get it on wherever they go if they carry condoms on them.”

However, Kapadia said giving in to this stigma may be upsetting or detrimental to one’s health.

“Some of the best moments are the ones that are unpredicted, and it’s better to be safe than sorry,” she said. “One night can affect the rest of your life.”

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