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Like a plastic bag with the erotic appeal of a jellyfish
March 24, 2014 5:35 AM   Subscribe

The future of sex? Once derided as being like a plastic bag with the erotic appeal of a jellyfish, the female condom is being reinvented as the next big thing in safe sex. (via).
posted by adamvasco (53 comments total) 9 users marked this as a favorite

 
with the erotic appeal of a jellyfish

rule 34
posted by thelonius at 5:36 AM on March 24 [15 favorites]


“In those days, you couldn’t talk ‘condom’ out loud,” Leeper recalls. “Male condoms were referred to as ‘rubbers’.

I always hoped that cumbrella would emerge as the preferred nickname for the female condom.
posted by snofoam at 5:49 AM on March 24 [26 favorites]


Just like the scent (and taste) of latex became a turn on for a segment if the population, the sound of crinkly wet plastic will become a turn on for some.

For others, both will continue to be a "no thanks. I'll stay home and play computer games, instead."
posted by clvrmnky at 5:53 AM on March 24


If they really want it to catch on, they should market it via some excellent porn videos.
posted by surplus at 6:13 AM on March 24


If they really want it to catch on, they should market it via some excellent porn videos.

JellyfishFuckers.com?
posted by codswallop at 6:21 AM on March 24 [1 favorite]


Just like the scent (and taste) of latex became a turn on for a segment if the population, the sound of crinkly wet plastic will become a turn on for some.

That was the conclusion of the (VERY NSFW) Oh Joy Sex Toy (VERY NSFW) couple as well.
posted by Pope Guilty at 6:25 AM on March 24 [2 favorites]


Two questions for anyone who's used the female condom:

1. Does the external bit also cover the clitoris?

2. If so, how does that....affect things?
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 6:31 AM on March 24 [1 favorite]


Does the external bit also cover the clitoris?

Article says for some women's anatomy it does and can provide pleasurable sensations during sex
posted by MangyCarface at 6:39 AM on March 24


For those at work, the FPP is a bit NSFW because of an artsy nude photograph.

“In those days, you couldn’t talk ‘condom’ out loud,” Leeper recalls. “Male condoms were referred to as ‘rubbers’. You said them in a whisper and they were held behind the counter by the pharmacist.”

The female condom was given FDA approval in 1993. By that time, regular condoms were being sold in open displays in pharmacies and grocery stores -- maybe she's conflating with earlier decades?

The college health center used to give these out for free (along with male condoms, dental dams, lube packets, etc). A lot of people tried them out once or twice, but I never heard of anyone loving them and switching over. They felt ok but were the opposite of sexy.

2. If so, how does that....affect things?

A bit awkwardly, as I recall. It's one more thing moving around down there, which can be good or bad. The article claims it as an advantage. It definitely has a steep learning curve and it would take more than one or two uses to really figure out how to make it work for you.
posted by Dip Flash at 6:44 AM on March 24 [1 favorite]


codswallop: "If they really want it to catch on, they should market it via some excellent porn videos.

JellyfishFuckers.com?
"

That would be genki-genki dot com and no, I am not linking it and no you shouldn't google it unless you are really curious about that sort of thing.
posted by symbioid at 6:44 AM on March 24


LINKING IT FOR SCIENCE
not safe for work or invertebrates
posted by ryanrs at 6:53 AM on March 24 [2 favorites]


How did they decide to have gratuitous nudity but no clear pictures of the "brilliant design" they're discussing?
posted by Western Infidels at 6:58 AM on March 24 [15 favorites]


I must admit that although I never gave it serious consideration when I first heard about it, the idea that it feels BETTER to the man (than a condom) is intriguing and possibly a selling point that should be played up a lot more in the advertising.
posted by bird internet at 7:02 AM on March 24


How ironic I see this on the day I read: JPMorgan-Chase refused to process payments for a Female Entrepeneur Condom Company ...
posted by mctsonic at 7:14 AM on March 24 [2 favorites]


I've been told that people who are aware of and sensitive to gender identity are attempting to remove the "female" and offer a more descriptive title of receptive condoms, and that receptive condoms are an excellent prophylactic tool for MSM and those who enjoy safe anilingus.
posted by sibboleth at 7:40 AM on March 24 [5 favorites]


This is what it looks like (and this is where you may buy this handy plastic femdom demonstrator). The price-point was why I stayed away, despite a big deal being made out of it on a Seinfeld episode.
posted by dabitch at 7:57 AM on March 24


“In those days, you couldn’t talk ‘condom’ out loud,”

The female condom was given FDA approval in 1993.


Why, whatever do you mean? 1993 was a time of pure, uncorrupted innocence.
posted by Sys Rq at 7:59 AM on March 24 [2 favorites]


(This would have been more relevant, but it's from 1991.)
posted by Sys Rq at 8:06 AM on March 24


As was Cube's "Look Who's Burnin", Sys Rq. But back to 1993, where it was indeed a time of pure, uncorrupted innocence and plastic bags were in fact erotic.
posted by cashman at 8:11 AM on March 24 [1 favorite]


Oh I dunno, Nathan Rabin's piece on Shark Tale reminds us that we really wanted to fuck fish as recently as 2004. Jellyfish may just be the next erotic iteration.
posted by Ghostride The Whip at 8:13 AM on March 24


phast and bulbous/neon meat dream of an octafish. got me?
posted by ergomatic at 8:49 AM on March 24


I think it's great that there is another contraceptive choice available. They really need to do some rebranding, though. See the first few seconds of this video: Ab Fab best scenes.
posted by Solomon at 8:51 AM on March 24 [2 favorites]


with the erotic appeal of a jellyfish

rule 34


Cue up the tentacle porn!

“In those days, you couldn’t talk ‘condom’ out loud,” Leeper recalls. “Male condoms were referred to as ‘rubbers’. You said them in a whisper and they were held behind the counter by the pharmacist.”

The female condom was given FDA approval in 1993. By that time, regular condoms were being sold in open displays in pharmacies and grocery stores -- maybe she's conflating with earlier decades?

The college health center used to give these out for free (along with male condoms, dental dams, lube packets, etc). A lot of people tried them out once or twice, but I never heard of anyone loving them and switching over. They felt ok but were the opposite of sexy.


In 1993 my then girlfriend and I at our rather conservative christian (though not evangelical) deep southern college wrote a review column on condoms (begining with the free ones handed out by health services) in the highly scrutinized by school administration (including the church leaders on the board) school paper in order to promote safe sex practices. Health services and the paper provided us with a couple of femal condoms to review. Let me just say that our review was less than complimentary and we agreed that the free basic model male condoms handed out were a far superior alternative. For her it felt like she was having a ziplock bag driven insider her and for me it felt like I was driving a ziplock bag inside someone. Not pleasant.
posted by The 10th Regiment of Foot at 8:52 AM on March 24 [1 favorite]


Holy shit, cashman, I had never known of that LL Cool J track until just now, and am not entirely convinced that I'm not jsut having a fever dream. WTF was that?
posted by Navelgazer at 9:00 AM on March 24 [1 favorite]


"How can I have an ffm threesome and ensure safe sex is had by everybody involved?"

Nobody ever failed by marketing to the most common male fantasy.
posted by Skwirl at 9:24 AM on March 24 [1 favorite]


I participated in creating the "Reality"(FC1) product user guide. As a volunteer safer sex advocate it was a rewarding experience to combine my paid employment (tech writing) with my avocation.

But the MOST fun part of the job was focus grouping various iterations of the paper pamphlets at various vanilla and BDSM sex gatherings. Having the directions read aloud while folks of various sexes and genders tried to deploy the devices was pure comedy. And really did help perfect the text.
posted by Dreidl at 11:36 AM on March 24 [3 favorites]




The aspect of the female condom which are most obviously off-putting to me are not really mentioned in this article at all, which I find odd, or naive, or creepy, or something.

Most egregiously: The external piece covers the external female genitalia. No, it doesn't just cover, it appears to shroud external female genitalia. Which...seems pretty problematic if you would like your partner to find and stimulate your clitoris. To be fair, I'm not exactly sure how the outside pieces of the different designs sit/nestle on actual female genitals, because I can't locate any photos or even drawings showing helpful anatomical details such as labia.

Also, natural female vaginal lubrication is on wrong side of the barrier to be doing any lubricating, so added lube must be used. Which isn't that big a deal in and of itself because yay lube, but coupled with the vulva-obscuring external piece, this is tipping over into an awfully artificial and clinical-seeming way to have sex with a human.
From Durban to Seattle, it turns out that users’ desires were pretty basic: “a product that was going to be easy to use, easy to insert, stable during use,” says Kilbourne-Brook. Plus, “if it was possible, they wanted something that was more aesthetically pleasing”.

“Compared to other products where there’s one huge issue, like affordability or awareness, this one had those barriers at every stage.” That’s why, for the female condom to truly break through, advocates will need to invest in comprehensive marketing and education campaigns at the local, national and global levels.
No, the design and promotion of female condoms needs to frankly acknowledge how female genitals and sexual pleasure actually work, and discuss this openly enough to win women's trust. We already get a big enough dose of shame and disgust about what's going on between our legs, thanks.

Enough with the euphemisms and blandly optimistic PR-bot language. If the companies and organizations are too squeamish to overcome that, I don't see how they're going to ever normalize the use of this style of barrier protection.
posted by desuetude at 5:09 PM on March 24


I got really interested in this topic about a few weeks ago after discovering from that BBC article that there are a lot of different types of "female condoms" coming our way. The original manufacturers of the original polyurethane FC1 now offer a version, FC2, made of synthetic nitrile. The Silk Parasol is going through FDA clinical trials but is already available in a few other countries. The VA w.o.w.®, manufactured by Medtech Products Ltd., recently receiving the CE mark and is also under review by the WHO. In addition, there are several others in stages of development.
posted by _paegan_ at 5:17 PM on March 24 [1 favorite]


Also, natural female vaginal lubrication is on wrong side of the barrier to be doing any lubricating, so added lube must be used. Which isn't that big a deal in and of itself because yay lube, but coupled with the vulva-obscuring external piece this is tipping over into an awfully artificial and clinical-seeming way to have sex with a human.

Don't you think that's pretty much exactly the same as with a male condom, it's just that we're very used to that and so it seems more natural? A male condom complete and fully covers pretty much the entire external male sexual organ, after all. Or at least almost all of it. I think this is just a case of the novel seeming strange and artificial while the familiar gets a pass.
posted by Justinian at 5:23 PM on March 24


A lot of comments about initially difficult to use but that is true of regular condoms too to the point sexual education classes often have lessons in application.
posted by Mitheral at 9:26 PM on March 24


It's more than that. Condoms are fairly intuitive in their use. Once you understand the mechanism of the roll-down it's done. This thing is different. The size is far too large to be snug or intimate and the lube just glops there all over everything, far more plastic baggie than "love glove". The ring did nothing to hold it in place, unlike a condom that largely holds itself in place with little ajustment or manipulation after installation. It really was the anti-sexy - like something a prisoner would make out of discarded sandwich wrappers and jelly packets in order to make a his corrections matress feel slightly more vagina-like, except you start with a perectly serviceable, actual vagina. Condoms do not do this. For me the experience was akin to what I think the idea of a condom must be like for people that really think they "ruin the feeling".
posted by The 10th Regiment of Foot at 6:39 AM on March 25 [1 favorite]


Justinian: "Don't you think that's pretty much exactly the same as with a male condom, it's just that we're very used to that and so it seems more natural? A male condom complete and fully covers pretty much the entire external male sexual organ, after all. Or at least almost all of it. I think this is just a case of the novel seeming strange and artificial while the familiar gets a pass."

Well, no, it's not pretty much exactly the same, because male and female genitals, especially the extra-sensitive bits, are arranged very differently. Y'know, because men don't have a clitoris.
posted by desuetude at 9:20 AM on March 25


So covering the clitoris is bad but covering the penis is okay?
posted by Pope Guilty at 10:36 AM on March 25


I suspect the number of women unable to have an orgasm without direct clitoral stimulation is somewhat greater than the number of men unable to have an orgasm whilst using a condom.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 10:48 AM on March 25 [3 favorites]


Does the female condom preclude direct clitoral stimulation?
posted by Pope Guilty at 10:51 AM on March 25


Dude, in your own comment above you acknowledge the female condom covers the clitoris.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 11:23 AM on March 25


I'm not sure it actually covers it in the sense of precluding flesh to flesh access to it, and if so, I'm also not sure how stimulating it through the female condom differs from flesh to flesh stimulation.
posted by Pope Guilty at 11:28 AM on March 25


Then I was unclear in my comment - when I speak of "lots of women cannot have an orgasm without direct clitoral stimulation," direct = flesh-to-flesh access.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 11:32 AM on March 25


Okay, yes, I was misunderstanding you there. Sorry about that.
posted by Pope Guilty at 11:36 AM on March 25


So now that that's clear, I'm sure you also can see why male condom covering a penis =/= female condom covering clitoris, and thus why a lot of women maybe aren't too keen on this.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 4:20 PM on March 25


I think you're underestimating the difference a condom makes in terms of sensation for men.
posted by Justinian at 6:47 PM on March 25


I think you're underestimating the difference a condom makes in terms of sensation for men.

Enough of a difference that many of them cannot attain orgasm?
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 7:04 PM on March 25


From the little I know of the femdom (not used one) that "outer ring" isn't nearly as supple as a condom is, because it's that shape and stiffness from the getgo. The stiffness of the outer ring helps hold it in place.... Whereas a male condom is this wee thing that stretches out.....

That seems to me, to make a large difference in stimulation ability through the product. One thin, stretches to fit, the other already one size fits all, and stiff.
posted by dabitch at 7:06 PM on March 25


Hit post too soon -

I'm not questioning that there is a difference in sensation, I'm questioning whether it is enough of a difference so as to prevent orgasm in a big number of men.

I mean, I'll grant that I haven't slept with EVERY man on the planet, but I haven't yet met one who couldn't still get off even though they wore a condom.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 7:07 PM on March 25


Me too, because I didn't mean to write "femdom" instead of female condom! What a brainfart.

I do think it depends of the man and their sensitivity, but I also think it's far more likely a woman might have trouble with this in the way of the magic fun-button, just based on the fact that it's far more common that women can't orgasm when the conditions are perfect too.
posted by dabitch at 7:15 PM on March 25


There is ignorance on this thread.
posted by effugas at 7:52 PM on March 25


Please correct me if I'm wrong, but it seems like some of the strongest criticisms here are coming from people who haven't tried these things?

Certainly they are weird and awkward and totally unsexy, but access to the clit is not a problem. I don't mean to be inappropriately graphic, but if you need finger access it just goes under the outer ring -- it's not like a thick plastic mouthguard, it's just a flexible ring attached to the condom material and you can effortlessly nudge it out of the way.

The article says some women like that the ring can cause some friction on their clitoris, which of course means some other women will find that friction unpleasant -- such is the nature of different anatomies. For contact between clit and a man's pubis, that's probably (depending on how everyone is shaped and so on) going to be through the condom material, and if you think that feels crappy, that's what men complaining about condoms have been saying forever. The increased area protected is a design feature not a bug, but will as a consequence have an impact on sensation for some people.

This video gives a much better sense of how they work (and why they can be awkward as hell to use the first time) than do photos.

Enough of a difference that many of them cannot attain orgasm?

People will go to incredible lengths in terms of risk and expense to not use regular condoms, which is why money and effort continues to be put into the female condom and other options.
posted by Dip Flash at 8:49 PM on March 25


Enough of a difference that many of them cannot attain orgasm?

"Many" is a difficult thing to quantify, isn't it? Some can't. I don't know if it rises to "many".

I believe that the more common problem is having trouble maintaining an erection with a condom rather than not being able to orgasm despite an erection and condom. But I think you have to count "have trouble maintaining an erection" as at least as serious a problem.

But whether the number of men who have trouble with traditional condoms is lower, higher, or roughly the same as the number of women who would have trouble with receptive condoms is something I don't think anybody can be sure of without some kind of data. Like I said I just thought you're underestimating how crappy condoms are for many dudes. It's not like we use them because they feel so awesome and, hey, who doesn't want to have sex with a latex glove. No, they suck. It's better than catching diseases or causing unwanted pregnancies, sure, but so is poking yourself in the eye with a stick and I wouldn't say thats great fun.

The newer materials which tend to be better than latex are still bad, they're just not as bad.
posted by Justinian at 9:00 PM on March 25 [1 favorite]


Metafilter: There is ignorance on this thread.
posted by Justinian at 9:05 PM on March 25


Justinian: "But whether the number of men who have trouble with traditional condoms is lower, higher, or roughly the same as the number of women who would have trouble with receptive condoms is something I don't think anybody can be sure of without some kind of data."

Two of the main points of the article were how the general public and test subjects have found using the female condom to be difficult, uncomfortable, distracting, and otherwise off-putting, and how there is a lot of room for improvement and innovation in the design.

No, it did not address your data request for how men rate their sexual pleasure using male condoms versus how women rate their sexual pleasure with female condoms. But such such mismatched sample sizes would skew those results, since male condoms are so much more prevalent, and it ignores how men feel about sensation using female condoms and how women feel about sensation using male condoms and what couples agree works best for mutual pleasure...

Sheesh, this isn't a winner-takes-all competition between penis vs. vagina+vulva. I didn't think it would be so controversial to suggest that PR to women for the female condom should less-bashfully address the details of female genitals and female sexual pleasure beyond how to prepare for the man to stick his penis in.
posted by desuetude at 1:07 AM on March 26


Empress,

Selection bias.
posted by effugas at 3:27 AM on March 26


effugas,

On whose part?
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 6:31 AM on March 26


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