I went to see G.I. Joe with the boys today, and was fortunate enough to have my dinner upset my stomach badly enough that I had to miss about 10 minutes of the movie. You know a movie is bad when you prefer gastric distress. I knew it wouldn’t be great, but I thought it might at least be enjoyable. Sadly, The Rock kept his shirt on for the whole thing, Bruce Willis was woefully underused, and that really dumb, cute one died in the first act–also without ever having taken his shirt off. Storm Shadow took off his shirt, but his pants were so unattractive it didn’t matter. (I’m not even someone who cares about looking at half naked men, so for me to have been actually disappointed that The Rock kept his shirt on should give you some more depth into just how bad the movie was.)
While I was washing my hands in the restroom, I noticed a woman crouched in front of the sanitary napkin/tampax dispenser, cranking that dispenser knob like she was a lab rat and it had given her cheese every other time. She bounced the heel of her hand against the metal door a couple of times, then went back to twisting that knob. I always carry a spare tampax, so as I was walking by her, I slipped it to her as discreetly as possible. Passing the baton of sisterhood. We did not speak, but in that moment, I know I made a lifelong friend. If my life were a movie, in the third act, this woman would appear at some critical juncture to offer me a spare something-or-other that would be the key to my success. That would make sense. Unlike anything that happened EVER in G.I. Joe.
It’s funny how embarrassing feminine products can be when you are young. I remember buying pads at Winn Dixie, when I was in high school, and lurking around the check out lines until I could dash forward into a line with both a female cashier and bagger. The worst thing in the world was winding up with a boy bagging your Kotex. And I wouldn’t buy tampons for the longest time because I was afraid of the stigma of them*. I wouldn’t even buy Midol. Someone might guess I was having cramps. The most embarrassing, though, was having to ask my grandfather to go to the store for me.
Now, I don’t think twice about slapping down a couple of boxes in and among my fruits and vegetables. Granted, now I could buy condoms without blinking. Something I could not even do when I first got married. And that’s something I think we should teach our kids to feel okay to purchase. Instead of raising them to believe it reads, “I have the morals of an alley cat,” we should raise them to understand that it truly means, “I am responsible for my health, my partner’s health, and I am taking care to avoid unwanted pregnancies.” Just changing that one perception would save lives.
Just ask Bill Gates, who raised himself even further in my esteem with his offered grant for the inventor of the next generation condom. The grant offer challenges:
We are looking for a Next Generation Condom that significantly preserves or enhances pleasure, in order to improve uptake and regular use. Additional concepts that might increase uptake include attributes that increase ease-of-use for male and female condoms, for example better packaging or designs that are easier to properly apply. In addition, attributes that address and overcome cultural barriers are also desired.
We have to de-stigmatize barrier protection so that sexually active people aren’t so embarrassed or shamed by the product that they end up with life threatening, or life altering diseases, and bad cases of the babies. I mean, I would certainly rather my child wait until he is old enough to be mentally, emotionally, and financially capable of handling all the potential fallout of sex, but if he’s going to become active before he’s 45 years old, I want him to feel comfortable going down to the CVS to buy some Trojans. And I want his partner to be equally as comfortable. Both XY and XX pairs should feel like it is as normal as buying mouthwash. They shouldn’t have to sneak singles out of the jar in the nurse’s office. Do nurse’s offices still have that jar?
To bring this back around to the opening paragraph of this entry, I wish the makers of G.I. Joe had worn production condoms, and saved us from this travesty of a film. **
*This also had something to do with an encounter I had on a McDonald’s Playland as a child. We had just moved to Texas, so I was not quite 11. I was playing on the equipment, and some older boys wanted to be where I was. I refused to budge, so they started bullying and name calling. One of them yelled, “You need to go inside and change your tampon, Nasty, because you smell like dirty c—!” I wasn’t sure what c— was, but I could infer that it had to do with ladybits because I was vaguely aware of what tampons were. I did go inside after that because I was horrified. I did not tell my mother exactly what was said to me because I knew I’d never get to go outside and play by myself again–and I would have to go visit her in jail after she threw the offending boy over the fence.
**Thor loved the movie. He came out grinning and pulling Snake Eyes moves, demanding to be photographed in action. It was worth it to see him so happy. I’m still glad I missed a chunk of it.