UCD Students’ Union marked World Contraception Day on the 26th of September by giving out one thousand free condoms. The original plan was for each condom to be numbered, and for each owner of a numbered condom to post their story of how they used it on the 1000condoms.com website, which has accumulated twenty-one stories at the time of going to print.
According to UCD’s Welfare Officer Rachel Breslin, the plan encountered some difficulty, “The issue arose that even when we posted it on Facebook before [World Contraception Day], people were saying ‘I want to get involved, what if I’m not in that day and don’t get a condom?’”.
It was then decided that the numbering would be scrapped, but the website (1000condoms.com) would stay up and condoms would still be given out, which allowed the campaign to spread further than the 1,000 recipients of a free condom, as everyone was now encouraged to share their stories.
“Sex is for everyone. It can be good or bad, or very mediocre!” jokes Breslin, but she also points out that there is no pressure to do it now; “I was very keen to make sure that people didn’t feel pressured into having sex”.
As well as recording past experiences, Breslin says the website can be used to say “I haven’t found someone, this is what happened to my condom” and says “that would actually be a really good outcome of the campaign”.
Breslin deemed the campaign economical, “if we look at what was done around sexual health in the past there were workshops, we had various demonstrators in and I looked at those, and they cost money – they cost more money than we spent on the posters and the condoms, which we already ordered in anyway, so I certainly feel it was very cost effective”.
The idea for the campaign came from people being “a little bit afraid to talk about sex, and if they are talking about sex it’s more the whole “laddish” idea or the “laddish” concept of sex and that all sex is great and that they maybe have to make up a myth about their sexual experiences” explains Breslin, “so what I wanted was a campaign that encouraged people to wear condoms but to encourage more conversation about it and get people to talk about their bad experiences of sex, which do exist”.
Breslin says that she is “really pleased with how it’s gone and I think it has encouraged open dialogue about sex; it really put forward the message that people have had experiences that were awkward, experiences that were clumsy… it is ok to talk about it”.