What its Like Buying Condoms as A Woman.
Not for the faint of heart.
No glove, no love. I’m too seasoned in the game to be pulling unplanned babies out of my knapsack. Not to mention raw sex is a drug, a few shots of it too early and I might begin stalking his social media and wondering why he hasn’t called me after his dick skin was casually electric sliding through my birth canal. Bare sex can have that effect, I’m not to blame. Also, I’d be remiss not to mention Sexually Transmitted Diseases, I haven’t met anyone worth dying or itching for. With that said, I’ve resolved to keeping the condoms on deck.
I received a promising phone call late one night from a cool shorty that I had been rocking with for a time. I accepted his invite for a fill-up frenzy but then quickly realized that I needed to re-up on the latex so I decided to stop by my local gas station on the way to his crib.
Walking toward the gas station, I could see through the window a beautiful Black woman behind the cash register. Her hair was long and colorful, makeup was flashy, she had an Instagram model appeal; definitely looked like she belonged anywhere but behind the counter working at a gas station. I could tell by the way she was greeting people that her personality had hood flair. A few eccentric wrist pops, throwing back her head in laughter, and singing to music loudly, let me know she was boisterous. Sigh. I had to buy condoms from the boisterous Black girl. I almost didn’t want to go in the store, but I wasn’t a punk.
I walked in focusing on getting straight to the condom rack. I grabbed a rain coat in every option available. I couldn’t decide between the spermicide coated latex, the ones made with women in mind — something about “pleasure for her”, or the standard type that doesn’t have the extreme chemical smell that usually reveals itself mid-stroke, so I grabbed them all. I turned around to head to the register and behind me was a Caucasian father and his daughter staring at me like I was performing fellatio at Chuck-E-Cheese. The father diverted his eyes and pulled his daughter towards him. The little girl stared at me in confusion. Yes, little girl, this is what being grown and fucking looks like, I smiled and proceeded to the register.
The Instagram model clerk retrieved my condoms with her lengthy acrylics. I didn’t want to look up. Something about my eyes makes people feel comfortable to talk to me, but now wasn’t the time. I needed a distraction, and thought: ‘Ah, grab your phone!’ The good old, I’m-distracted-by-my-phone trick. Wait, am I sweating? Is the White family of two that is standing behind me still staring? Suddenly, it felt like everything in the convenience store was about me. The Instagram models co-worker walked over to see what I was ringing up. Nosey-Rosey. He stole a quick look at me and then backed away to a corner next to the cigarettes where he could be far enough to not be connected with the awkwardness, but close enough to watch it all go down.
“Oooooo!” The clerk smiled. I looked up at her and then toward the door in hopes that no one else was coming in to see a Black woman hording condoms. She made another sound effect in efforts to get a response from me. I didn’t encourage her. I guess she got tired of playing coy and decided to get on with it, “Somebody is about to have some fun tonight?!” She said it so loud I’m sure the folks in the parking lot could hear her. I didn’t respond. Why does she think I want my sex life to be a spectacle?
I asked her to throw in a pack of Newport’s, she sauntered back to the cigarettes slowly. Her and the nosey co-worker communicated with their eyes. Meanwhile, a line of folks was growing me.
“Here you go!” She throws the cigarettes on the counter and slides them, along with the birth control, slowly across the counter.
She was out to get me.
“Can I have a bag, please?” I hissed. Why do I have to ask for a bag for my bags? Does she think I want to walk out the store with my arms full of dick slips? “Thank you.” I nodded at her and everyone else in the store, and walked the walk of shame out to my car.
This wasn’t the first time something like this has happened to me. I remember the day I wanted to grab some lube and protection at Wal-Mart. They like to keep their goodies in a locked glass cabinet so I had to search for an employee to open it for me. I asked the first lady in uniform that I saw.
“Oh, I can’t open it, but I know who can.” She said happily. Next thing you know, at the top of her lungs, in a Wal-Mart so packed you had to say excuse me every five seconds to get by or through or over, or to see, she yelled; “Hey! We got a lady over here that needs condoms!” Everyone turned to look at me. The Black Jezebel. The Sarah Baartman — Venus Hottentot. The Super Head, Karrine Steffans. Pinky the porn star. The woman who can’t keep her legs closed. The Welfare queen. I became the sin.
A woman emerges from the other aisle with a large smile. She did a loud whisper to the woman who just exposed me, “why did you do that?” They both laughed. The exposing employee replies, “I don’t care, shit.”
I hate Wal-Mart, but more to the point, I hate how people treat me when I’m buying condoms. I’ve had clerks hit on me. I’ve been disrespected. I’ve been interloped. I’ve been over it all. Maybe I care too much what other people think, not enough to change, but enough to be bothered.
Being a woman, moreover, a Black woman, we find ourselves trying to combat what is expected of us. We are hyper-sexualized and undervalued, thus walking into a store and essentially announcing that sex is happening, lets everyone know that we are one of them- them Black girls that can’t get right. Which is interesting, because buying condoms, as a woman, should be liberating. This should be the socially acceptable thing to do. I am having responsible sex! Where is the pat on the back? Where is the confetti? Sign me up as your next keynote speaker! Isn’t this great?!
I encourage women to buy condoms, often. We should normalize it. Besides, in my experience men don’t carry their own anymore like they did in the 90’s, it’s up to us. We will get weird looks and sometimes terrible customer service, but it’s worth it.