Bursting the Condom Bubble


Today, in Corporate America, it seems as though condoms are used for reasons other than sex. Condoms were originally created to prevent unwanted pregnancies and diseases. It was originally created for a good purpose. However, with the invention of new technologies that promote globalization, condoms have become used as a tool for capital gains and a promotion of certain values.

In Condoms in the global economy, Peter Chua argues that as a result of globalization and a global market, condoms have been used as a tool to control a woman’s sexuality. As Chua states, government programs use campaigns to “promote one type of family (small, heterosexual) and stigmatize other family arrangements” (Chua 509). This type of family is promoted not only in the United States, but also in other countries as well. In Introducing the New Sexuality Studies, Seidman states, “Globalization has a homogenizing influence on cultural ideals.” (Seidman 508). This has created a global standard that is deemed acceptable and most desirable. Today, that global standard is one of a Western lifestyle. Condoms have become a means of promoting this type of lifestyle. As First World countries distributed condoms to Third World countries to combat poverty, Third World countries became dependent on these First World countries. Governments and private companies took advantage of this dependency to promote Western values and create this concept that Western values were better and the culture of the indigenous people were wrong.

Because the United States economy is based on capitalism and the free market, condoms became capitalized upon in the 1980’s and 1990’s. This capitalization benefitted people of certain race and gender lines and injured people of other race and gender lines. White men and women were given the highest positions. Meanwhile, black men were given jobs that were detrimental to their health and also of lower wages. Working class women were also given jobs that were harmful. The condom industry in the United States prevented those who were disenfranchised from moving upward and continued to reinforce a class segregation that promoted racism and sexism.



These condom commercials prove that because of the ways in which condoms are marketed, certain ideas and values are promoted. Especially in some condom commercials, they promote the notion that pregnancy is something that is undesirable and that sex is primarily used for pleasure. These condom commercials promote the notion that families should be small and heterosexual. Because of globalization, this marketing tool is applied throughout the globe and may change the values that other countries have previously had about the type of family they wanted or the purpose of having sex.

As organizations and the government in the United States promote condom use, there are also opponents to condom usage. Chua states that one position believes that with condom usage, “social justice and social equity lessen when corporations and governments advocate condom use” (Chua 512). Those who believe this position argue that corporations and governments support social scientific research on sexuality, treating women as objects for their research. Although there are some truths to this argument against condom usage, I believe that Chua is stretching this theory a bit too far. Research is necessary to create more effective forms of birth control and although it may require women for research, these women are not being turned into objects. If anything, women are becoming more humanized because this research is used to take better care of their bodies. Moreover, the commercialization of condoms is almost like any other product that is bought or sold in the United States. Most are mass-produced and involve many workers. And because racism is still embedded in our society, those who are privileged tend to receive better, well-paid jobs and minorities tend to receive worse, low-paying jobs. This isn’t something that occurs only in the condom industry. This also occurs in almost any other industry in the United States. Privileged people are given better treatment and marginalized people are not. I felt as though Chua tried to make arguments that seemed like they pertained only to the condom industry to shed light on a certain issue. However, he failed to address the fact that some of these problems can also be applied to other industries, not just the condom industry. If he is going to criticize the condom industry for marginalizing minority groups, he should also criticize every other American industry as well.

Chua’s argument seems to be a little muddled. He begins by stating that condoms are used to promote a healthier society but then argues that condoms are harmful. Does this mean that we should stop using condoms? Chua also criticizes the government, the private sector, and non-governmental organizations for the effects that condoms have had. Then who is the best person or group to resolve this situation? Who should have control over the American condom industry?