Swiss teens will soon be able to walk into any pharmacy and buy condoms designed with their smaller girth in mind.
Ronda Kaysen: A condom manufacturer has unveiled a line of smaller condoms called "Hotshot," aimed at boys as young as 12. The new mini-prophylactics will be sold in packages alongside regular-size options in case the wearer, well ... doesn't fit.
Family-planning and anti-AIDS advocacy groups pressed for the kid-friendly option after studies in Switzerland showed that teens were having unprotected sex. The new condoms will be 1.7 inches in diameter, compared to the 2-inch standard condoms. (According to a German study of about 13,000 people, a quarter of 13- to 20-year-olds reported that standard condoms were too big.)
"The result that shocked us concerned young boys who display apparently risky behavior," Nancy Bodmer, who headed the research, told the Daily Telegraph. "They have more of a tendency not to protect themselves. They do not have a very developed sexual knowledge. They do not understand the consequences of what they are doing, and leave the young girls to take care of the consequences."
As much as the idea of a 12-year-old having sex makes me uncomfortable, I think this is great. Kids are having sex whether we like it or not, and a condom marketed to them might make them less resistant to using protection. Let's face it: They were having sex when I was a teenager, so I can't imagine things have changed much in 15 years. If there's a way to keep them safe from disease and pregnancy, I'm all for it.
The abstinence-only crowd might find this new condom unsettling, but the Hotshot is pure marketing anyway. Smaller condoms -- marketed as the snug-fit variety -- have graced American pharmacy shelves for years. Most brands make them, and they're the same 1.7-inch width as the new Swiss option. The only difference is, the packaging isn't designed to entice an adolescent.
|Ronda Kaysen is a freelance writer. Her work has appeared in The New York Times, The Washington Post, BusinessWeek.com, Architectural Record, Huffington Post, The New York Observer, Babble.com and AM New York. She lives in New Jersey with her family. Follow her on Twitter.|