When you read the title Condom Monologues you may recall Eve Ensler’s famous Vagina version or picture a large talking condom on stage behind a microphone.
Yes, Condom Monologues is empowered by Eve Ensler – only here we want to provoke discussion specifically around what “safer” sex means in ways relevant to people’s diversity. Condom Monologues is an independent media start-up (four members and growing) whose mission is to provide people of all sexualities a new way to access frank and honest information. It’s sex education through real life storytelling, and everyone can share their experiences.
Everyone has a sex ed story to tell
Our collective began back in 2008 when my partner and I launched the website out of frustration over boosts in world-wide abstinence-only mandates (recall the Bush Jr. era and the Pope denouncing condom use). At the time, I was enrolled in an HIV/AIDS course and interning at a support group for sex workers. Condoms and access to them was spoken often. Even more common was witnessing the real consequences of shaming through education: Stories of stress and depression, low self-esteem, physical and sexual abuse, bullying, threats at school, attempting suicide, drug use to cope, unwanted pregnancy. In both spaces, a lot of energy was spent beyond condoms and correcting sexual health (dis)information for many queer and trans peers whose experiences are blatantly excluded or pathologized in sex ed curricula.
Venting my rage to others it became more apparent that nearly everyone- straight, bi, cisgender, trans, whatever your identity – has a bad sex ed story and it is not limited to the classroom, but also with medical health providers. The consequences of bad sex education affect everyone. So we thought: Why not create a sex positive medium where real life stories and safer sex info can be shared and discussed easily and stigma-free?
The values of the collective
The Condom Monologues collective believes the age old ritual of sharing stories invites more nuanced understanding of each other and one’s self. The idea is to go beyond politically correct advice that, for example, centralizes condoms and dental dams (if dams are even mentioned!) as the end-all be-all of safest sex and those that hate using protective barriers just have to deal with it. Human sexuality, relationships and what drives choices are much more complicated than that. Serious problems warrant honest discussions about context. As much as we want, this resource won’t include everyone or everything, but we are trying to be as inclusive as possible which means constantly improving and expanding the online archive.
Where we’re at and where we’re going
The website was set up and stories started accumulating but the project went on the back burner when other needs and priorities took over members’ lives. Graduated and free from the clutches of gender studies, I am now rebuilding Condom Monologues with my partner and some friends and expanding the collective to include people across the internet culture. Anyone can join, anonymous or otherwise, and be storytellers, media makers, sex activists and critics. The one thing that is censored and moderated is harassment or hate talk that might occur in the comment sections or stories. We are dedicated to keeping CM sex positive, which means a safe non-judgmental space. Thus we take our bully-free policy very seriously and heated dialogue is monitored by our admin.
The website is live and content is expanding from 4 core categories: Monologues, Activism, Safer Sex Advice, and Condom Guides. Companying our collective blog where people can read and write real life condom stories (and other safety practices), we provide articles about safer sex advice and extensive lists of external resources, updates on safer sex education and activism in the news, STI and disease prevention and challenges, LGBTQ social justice issues, interviews with sex positive professionals, safer sex technology, product reviews, condom guides, size charts and factsheets. Content is written by adults writers who range from sex educators, social researchers, gender studies and sexuality geeks, and socially conscious entertainers.
As part of our Monologues feature, we have recently launched our LGBTQ-Logue series which posts weekly mementos – real-life stories, manuscripts, or excerpts from books, newspapers, blogs, to radio, film, TV and more – about sexual minority issues and social justice.
We are a young archive with many goals to become a viable resource and story-making space. Our goals in order of importance are:
1) To increase members and contributors globally and work with non-profits/small business sex positive allies.
2) To solicit as many safer (and not so safe) sex stories as possible and share stories using the most effective means as possible (whether that’s interviews, first-person stories, audio shorts, video and animation).
3) To establish a sturdy and viable feedback channel for people to share advice, and state educational wants and needs.
4) To publish and spread original and helpful sex positive content with as big a variety of resources and outlets as possible.
5) To find sponsors for Monologues projects and generate income to help pay for site maintenance, moderating, and original research.
Our website is building. It’s not there yet but it’s getting there. We are seeing real meaningful and important responses to our work and we’re liking it. We have our limitations and we are open to suggestions and criticisms. Do you have any suggestions for how we might improve ourselves in general?
We want to collaborate with other Sex Positives and Sex Geeks. If you are interested in becoming a part of this collective or want to connect with us for whatever reason, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org or me personally at LaraWor@gmail.com. You can find us on twitter@condommonologue and like us on facebook.com/condommonologues.
Photo credit: visit www.condommonologues.com