By Ithuteng Mashabela & Wazi Kunene
Pic: Jessica Elizabeth Pike
If you’ve ever heard someone talking about studded chocolate or ribbed strawberries and cream, the chances are they weren’t talking about ice cream. If you pop into your nearest pharmacy, you could find these titles in the condom section. I bet you never imagined that your favourite ice cream flavours could one day become condom flavours, right? Activate hit the streets, chill spots and common rooms of Rhodes campus to get the students’ take on condoms.
It may or may not be surprising to discover that men on campus seem to be far more clued up, and more interested actually, in condoms than women are. Rhodes men were able to give Activate the low-down on the tastiest, most pleasurable and unexpected ways to stay protected during sex. Right from brand names and flavours to quality and prices, the boys are definitely in the know. Some women, although they insist on being protected, seemed slightly disinterested about brands and flavours, even passing comments like, “he brings the penis, he brings the condom”.
On the flip side of the rubber, some men seemed unbothered about brand names and such, believing that there was more to be concerned about before and during sex than who made the condom. “I don’t see the point of faffing about brand preference,” says second year BA student, Benjamin van der Merwe, “when the far more important thing is that I’m staying protected.”
So, safety and quality seem to be a major priority for Rhodents, and aptly so. Over the years, government-distributed condoms have come under heavy scrutiny, with South African citizens questioning and contesting the quality and safety of these condoms. Beth Vale, president of the Students’ HIV Aids Resistance Campaign, said that “Some people just don’t trust government condoms. When we do condom handouts, for instance, we get quite a few people insisting that they don’t and won’t use them.” The motivation behind this is usually the fact that they are free and have, therefore, possibly undergone less rigorous quality testing procedures. This, however, isn’t necessarily the case. Government condoms are subject to the same South African Bureau of Standards (SABS) quality standards as commercial brands such as Durex.
Then there are those who stray away from the usual “Choice”, opting for Durex’s variety condoms. Thulani Mahama Sithole, third year BA student, is one of many Rhodes students who choose Durex Featherlight, which is thinner than ordinary condoms but still effective in preventing the transfer of bodily fluids. Sithole adds that the Durex Featherlights has appeal because, “It doesn’t have an odour.” Bonolo Moeketsi agrees with him on this point. The second year BA student adds, “The rubbery smell of unflavoured condoms is really off-putting. I’d definitely do strawberry or banana flavour.”
According to http://www.nightlightcondoms.com, the USA Food and Drug Administration approved the production of the first glow-in-the-dark condoms, named Night Light Glow-In-The-Dark Condoms. Despite speculation about their safety, these condoms have been proven to be just as effective as ordinary condoms in preventing pregnancy and the transmission of STIs. These condoms also appear to be a hit among Rhodents, although they are not easily available, and can be costly when actually found in stores.
While some opt for diversity, difference and even extravagance when choosing what condom to use, the bulk of Rhodes students still seem to believe that the Choice condoms found in residences are the way to go. They’re free, readily available, and quite convenient when you don’t have many options. Using Choice condoms is also a very effective way of supporting a noble government initiative. Second year Politics student Moshibudi Motimele reveals her stance that “Choice does not discriminate, regardless of social status or how much money you have in your pocket – it simply provides the opportunity for safe sex for all.”
The results of this mini-research undertaking are enlightening and thought-provoking. It’s a relief to know that students who are having sex are actually protecting themselves. It can be great to experiment, especially when you’re being safe about it. So whether you’re a chocolate girl, a glow-in-the-dark fanatic or a studded bud, have fun and don’t forget to keep it wrapped!