Tuesday, January 12, 2010

How far have we come?

Last week Becca and I had a chance to catch up with our favorite mother-daughter duo Marsha Bartenetti and Rachael Sudul, creators of JUST IN CASE and our conversation turned into a girl power pow wow – we love it when that happens! Marsha was kind enough to put some of her thoughts on paper and we are pleased to be able to share them with you.
Thanks Marsha for your righteous spirit, endless passion and for being fearless!

My daughter and I attended Maria Shriver’s Women’s Conference this past couple of days – and were exhibitors of our product JUST IN CASE® - Attended by approximately 10,000 women – I admit I had high expectations that as an exhibitor of our revolutionary product JUST IN CASE – the first product of its kind on the market: a chic and discreet mirrored compact with a hidden compartment that holds condoms. I believed we would reach our target market and that women would – because of the dire statistics surrounding sexual health – like STD’s HIV/AIDS - they would absolutely get the power of this groundbreaking trend.

The level of STD cases is up to a horrifying 1 in 4 teenage girls – not to mention the women who are in the Baby Boomer demographic – who also have contracted STD’s – and the epidemic of HIV/AIDS cases in this country…the number #1 killer of Black women in America - is it still okay to giggle at the mention of a condom?

Honestly, Ladies…how far HAVE we come?

I found myself getting more and more hostile with each passing giggle. And some of the responses to the discovery of what our product actually was were shocking to me. For instance, “Well, my daughter is 15 but I don’t want to ADVOCATE….(sex)” as she walks past our booth…

Or, “Oh, I have 17 and 18 year old daughters and I know they aren’t having sex…I couldn’t possibly give them one of these. They are SO busy with school and everything they don’t have time for boys!”

During this conference…Architects for Change…

I was disappointed at best at the number of women who were acting like the condom was the plague....and I admit I thought the level of consciousness would be high at this event and that women would surely “get” our product and message. To absently reject our product and what we had to say about actually GIVING their daughters a condom with silliness and jokes about condoms is like throwing our daughters under the bus.

When are we going to stop the madness and get our heads out of the sand?

Now don’t get me wrong – I am in the “for profit” business – however – I know the value of our product...and as agents for change- and I know the power of trend.

And in spite of all the information out there about being protected, etc. the statistics tell us otherwise – and the voice of this information is so loud…remember 1 in 4 teenagers has an STD?...It is SCREAMING in our ears to wake up!

And yet – women…and this is what is so mind boggling to me…insist on giggling… when they mention or hear the name condom! And they stay in denial pretending that they don’t have to worry about THEIR daughters being sexually active.

Granted not EVERY young teen is sexually active…but for God’s sake….millions are …and for some, it may be killing them…or perhaps keep them from ever having children because of becoming sterile through contracting an STD.

We offer a way for women of all ages who are sexually active – to have a beautiful way to stay protected and a way they will feel good about actually carrying a condom. WE consider the sensibilities of women with every design we do and know the requirements of style women have and their need for discretion….its in our DNA.

We know that innately women are modest when it comes to intimate details and are often too embarrassed to carry condoms.

So they don’t.

And they are passive about trusting their partner will be carrying protection. And are often shy about making sure he does. They hold on to the romantic ideal that if he “loved’ her he would be sure he was safe…and that if he doesn’t have a condom...he must be without disease.

Unfortunately – this can be like a game of Russian roulette!

Sexual explicit images are everywhere –Billboards, magazines, television, film, I guess all of that is okay? Especially for the young minds who soak up everything around them?

When did we stop protecting our young? - Don’t you think it’s possible that by normalizing these images – we “normalize” risky sexual behavior?

We are a society of celebrity idolizers – in spite of the crazy behavior many of them exhibit – domestic violence issues – are we to “normalize” this, as well?

The apology lists of these actions are frankly becoming rote and without consequence. Unfortunately, risky sexual behavior DOES have consequences.

If we are to change this paradigm of behavior – and turn the statistics back to the favor of our daughters/friends/relatives…lowering the statistics of cases of STD’s and HIV/AIDS...and unplanned pregnancy…and bringing a sense of self love and respect back – and healthy senses of shame - then we have to change the way we think about talking with our daughters.

We must LOVE THEM MORE THAN WE FEAR TALKING WITH THEM frankly about sexual behavior and risks.

Talk openly and talk often – even if they “roll their eyes” at you for being “gross”. Help them raise their personal requirements including their sexual health and choices.

It’s Time.

To be Fearless in 2010.

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