VOL. 132 | NO. 40 | Friday, February 24, 2017
The Right Thing to Wear
BY DAN CONAWAY
INTO CONDOMS. About 25 years ago, we went to the Cooper-Young Festival with another couple. Our sons were about 9 or 10 at the time. As we lingered at this or that booth, the boys got antsy, so a later meeting place was agreed upon and they took off.
Some weeks later, the other boy’s mom was cleaning his room and found an amazing cache beneath socks and such – red ones, yellow ones, blue and green and pink, purple and fuchsia and violet, the whole rainbow.
Condoms, at least a hundred of them.
Seems folks were giving them away at Cooper-Young, so being free, the boys went back and forth between those folks grabbing them by the handful. No clue what they were for really – maybe just having something you knew was for something you weren’t supposed to know about yet, maybe wicked water balloons, whatever.
He said he was supposed to hide them. He said it was all my son’s idea, and I believed him. It’s the genes. I’m into condoms myself – now there’s a line – and I believe we should be giving them away on street corners, as party favors and thrown from parade floats, on top of napkins in place settings and given to people along with their change – “You want fries – and a condom – with that?”
Of all the advertising I’ve written in the last 46 years, a recent campaign may be the most successful. After all, it had both sex and free in it.
“SEX IN MEMPHIS COMES WITH FREE WRAPPING. FreeCondomsMemphis.org”
To date, that campaign, along with the hard work of Planned Parenthood and their community partners across the city, has been responsible for giving away 1.7 million condoms and counting.
“GETTING IT ON IN MEMPHIS IS FREE. FreeCondomsMemphis.org”
I couldn’t be prouder. This is my town and that’s 1.7 million little things that directly address some of our biggest problems: the multigenerational social and fiscal tragedy of unwanted teenage pregnancy, the highest rate of new HIV cases in Tennessee and an almost equally alarming rate of sexually transmitted diseases, and so much more societal pain that can be stopped before it ever starts.
Yet the Shelby County mayor and the County Commission made this about politics, about Planned Parenthood and abortion, rather than about something that makes abortion moot. Before narrowly approving the program, and just to make a point, they risked losing federal funding and 100 distribution points to bring it in-house to an already overburdened health department.
Well, here’s the point” Planned Parenthood isn’t in the business of abortion; they’re in the business of women’s reproductive health and STD prevention. Abortion is about 10 percent of what they do because no one else will provide this constitutionally given right, and the reason they’ve distributed 1.7 million condoms is so they can do fewer and fewer abortions.
All those years ago, those folks at Cooper-Young got it. Sadly, so many still don’t.
I’m a Memphian, and I know where you can get free condoms.
Dan Conaway, a communication strategist and author of “I’m a Memphian,” can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.