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Amber, Meet Female Condom

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Amber, Meet Female Condom

How a female condom changed the way I view myself.

Amber Williams

10.9.16

Content warning: rape, sexual assault

I stared at it in horrified amazement. It laid on the floor all gooey and weirdly flopped onto one side. My eyes grew wider when this slimy plastic cup recoiled against my pencil. I kneeled with my chin propped on my knees, staring at this thing that had just been inside me.

It’s a Friday night. Normally I’m in the library typing away at reports, papers, emails or just staring at my planner while my anxiety skyrockets past Saturn and I dangle by a foot on the outside of the spaceship. Instead, I was naked in my bathroom with tears streaming down my cheeks and a smile on my lips.

Earlier that same week, while tabling for College Feminists, I snagged a few “Get Yourself Tested” and “Birth control matters” pins and stickers like the hoarder I am. While searching through the jar, I pulled out a rather large package that reminded me of a melted candy bar.

“Female Condom”

I took it. I carried it around with me for the rest of the day. I felt like I was harboring a secret and I couldn’t let my bright green backpack out of my sight for a millisecond. I kept the condom with me for the week, mostly because I’m forgetful and it fit nicely in my lipstick pocket.

I finally took it out after cleaning out the storage locker that is my backpack. I put it on my desk and looked over at it every few minutes. As a rape survivor, I haven’t been able to see myself being beautiful or even capable of being sexual for four years. When my “virginity” was ripped away without my consent, I lost a sense of control over my body and I still struggle to obtain it. I want to feel beautiful in my skin and own my features, but I don’t want to be wanted. I equated sex with my inability to have control over my body during my first experiences of the act.

My eyes fixed on the purple and orange package. The same boiling feeling from when I first spoke out against my rapist and the police who silenced me erupted through my veins. My body was not mine during the seven-month abusive relationship where over 40 rapes took place.

My body was not a body. Rather, my body was an object for his pleasure. Even though I inhabited this object, I could not control it. When I was 16, I saw my body as a cage that prevented me from escaping him. My body was the bait that lured him to me. My body is what he used to torture me and leave permanent scars across my skin and my heart and my mind.

I snatched the weird package off my desk and walked into the bathroom. I stared at myself in the mirror. I read the directions and, shaking, got to it. Within less than a second of inserting it, I freaked out about how cold it was and dropped it onto the floor. I stared at the condom and retrieved a pencil from my room. I poked it several times and just looked.

I realized that, while my power of decision was stripped from me then, I still had it. In order to reclaim it, I had to embrace my fear of being taken advantage of. Somehow learning how to use this floppy, squishy, and lubricated cup-thing was the first time I felt some sense of control over my body.