It’s really worth taking the 7 minutes to watch this video. The straight survey part of technological change and improvement coheres with all I’ve read, and I have read a good deal about this topic, if only to teach the last third of my course Advanced Comp on the Natural Sciences and Technology, which for practically the whole time teaching it (over 20 years) was devoted to how medicine is practiced, socially experienced and shaped in our society:
The history is so practically oriented that it does not bring out how secularization in 18th century Europe was a major force in changing the thinking about condoms; only in the little anecdotes about libertine social life is an inadequate glimpse seen. It does open with the statement that this one small object has been surrounded by an enormous amount of controversy but, for example, is careful not to say in comparison to all others; and not to say how it’s been religion that has kept the discourse about condoms from being positive until very recently. The history is also so brief that the centrality of the 19th century in creating and disseminating the first acceptable condoms is not emphasized, but it’s there.
For a woman it’s dismaying to see how little women’s need of condoms are mentioned and that throughout the film what drives the narrative is men’s needs to protect themselves against (bad) women and publicly to fight wars. This is presented matter-of-factly and if only there had been the occasional critique of it from both a woman’s point of view and the perverseness of wanting to have men fit to kill. (One brief segment — they are all brief — shows the same attempt as we’ve seen in high school programs across the US of trying to insist on abstinence as the only solution to preventing disease; in the case of soldiers when it was seen not to work, it was dropped.)
Worse yet is not one statement of the horrendous death rate from pregnancy and childbirth, destruction of women’s bodies through continual pregnancies and diseases, terrible impact of impoverishment through having too many children throughout the centuries. Whenever condoms as contraceptives are mentioned it’s as a help for couples in the blandest way possible: the closest the economics of this is brought out is in the statement in the 1950s marriaged love was presented as a happy arrangement.
Yes it’s a film made by condom manufacturers. I suggest they made this YouTube as part of a campaign to defeat the renewed attempts of extremist republicans to prevent women from themselves having control over the use of contraceptives, to the point that when a woman is raped people like Paul Ryan has said the rapist has the right to demand the woman he raped has “his child”!