I love sex. Like most human beings, I enjoy sex and often think about sex and look forward to having sex with a consenting partner. I’m a sexual being and expressing my sexuality is fun and enjoyable. I feel safe professing my admiration for all things sex, because I live in Seattle, and we’re pretty liberal around here and honestly, people in Seattle just like to have a lot of good sex.
It would be different, though, if I lived in Washington, D.C.
It turns out that, according to a blog I stumbled upon about advertising birth control in DC, the people in our nation’s capitol do not have sex, apparently. I’ve often wondered where individuals like state Rep. Dan Flynn (R) from Texas, the man responsible for the heinous and dangerous HB 2 abortion legislation — came from. Honestly, I had assumed he manifested from an ether of pure, vindictive woman-hate, as there’s simply no way that man has a mother, or a sister, or a daughter or even a long-lost niece. But now that some popular downtown bars have shined light on the asexual status of Washington D.C.’s finest by banning a sex-positive ad for contraceptives, it all makes sense.
carafem, a Washington D.C. women’s health center that specializes in early abortion care and low-cost birth control methods, attempted to advertise their contraceptive services via Blue Line Media. The ad boasted “five-star protection, for five-star sex," highlighting carafem’s ability to customize birth control for their patients so that fun, exciting and most importantly safe sex can be had by all. One little problem: According to the blog post, no one in Washington D.C. is having sex. The ad was banned, marked as “inappropriate” and rejected by every single bar/lounge it was submitted to. Supposedly hip D.C. bars like The Big Hunt, Penn Social, Eighteenth Street Lounge and The Velvet Lounge are apparently opposed to good, safe sex.
The cultural sexualization of women and women’s bodies has surprisingly gone hand in hand with the constant sexual suppression of women. We are supposed to appear sexy but never be sexual. We are to fit a pre-determined social standard of attractiveness, but not for our benefit. We must be enticing but never engage in activity that could provide us with an ounce of pleasure or joy or satisfaction. It would be baffling and enraging if it wasn’t also impressive; the hypocrisy of a now-accepted social standard has lead to ads for birth control being rejected, but ads for burgers that sexualize women’s bodies to sell greasy fourth meals being repeatedly played, nationwide, and with little to no recourse.
And having now seen the ad that was rejected, I struggle even more to comprehend this decision. I mean, let’s face it: The ad is fucking adorable. Who could deny a peach and an eggplant? Just looking at that immediately gets me thinking about wrapping that wonderful eggplant in a Jimmy Hat. It's that effective, you guys.
You can buy a waist trainer or the latest, ephedrine-riddled weight loss supplement with zero hassle required, but stores (even inside Liberal-Seattle) have started putting their condoms and Plan B’s and pregnancy tests behind locked cases. Safe sex is now considered an expensive item, and heaven forbid an embarrassed kid steal a pack of ribbed condoms for her pleasure. Thank the safe-sex gods, my friends and I always knew where to get birth control or Plan B, as it was certainly never advertised on television or in bars when I was in college. Safe sex practices were shared in hushed tones, as if were were in a sex gang. We’d flash one sign if we needed birth control, then contort our fingers and flash another sign if we needed Plan B. We didn’t wear color-coded bandanas out of our back pockets but don’t worry, our short skirts and high heels were easily noticeable.
I should be enraged by this latest attack on women’s reproductive health. However, with the Supreme Court currently attempting to avoid a tie and make a ruling on Zubik v Burwell — a case that could give employers the legal right to refuse to provide insurance coverage for birth control, based on their religious beliefs — I can only painfully laugh with the weight of utter disbelief and disappointment. Perhaps the bars in Washington D.C. have it right? After all, if you were to have sex and birth control is only whispered about or denied altogether, you could end up pregnant and be one of the 100,000 Texas women who were forced to self-induce an abortion last year. You could be Trapped. So maybe we shouldn’t be going to drinking establishments in the hopes of finding a sexual partner or partners that we can engage in fun, safe sex with. Perhaps we should be going for the sole purpose of drinking this dangerous new reality away?
Images via carafem
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Danielle Campoamor is a writer living in Seattle, WA. You can find her work in The Seattle Times, Bustle, Romper, Salon, BuzzFeed Ideas, xoJane, The Huffington Post and more. Follow her on Facebook and Twitter.