Monday, January 28, 2013

Revolution in a little wrapper

WWII Army issued condoms
It's easy to think history is a linear progression towards a natural outcome, but it really isn't. That can be said in our personal lives and as well a globally for politics. We can have sudden moments of huge transformation that nobody ever would have expected. Situations and inventions that change everything for ever.

I'm reading this book right now called Vagina, The new biography, by Naomi Wolf. It's a riveting read, and I would definitely recommend it not only to other women, but also for men out there who want to know what's going on downtown.

Much has been said about the role of the Pill, and how it revolutionized our society and brought about massive changes to the 20th century. But, reading Wolf's book, I came to understand that the little-talked about underdog, the lowly condom. The changes that came about between 1880 and 1930 are pretty staggering. I know we imagine that we are living in a time of huge change of i-phones and social media, but really that that really pales in comparison to the turn of the 19th century. In one life-time, normal women went from wearing whale bone corsets and having 'hysterical fits' if they talked about anything beyond the weather, to working in factories and standing on the front-lines for suffrage.  Pretty amazing really.

As someone completely not qualified to talk about this, it seems to me that the invention of rubber and then latex had something to do with this transformation.

People always say that war-time inventions are what propel history forward. By the second world war, every soldier was given latex condoms (German soldiers were issued rubber ones during WW1!) Imagine that! Going from a society where sex was only sanctioned within marriage, to one where an entire generation was given the tool for protected sex! No wonder by the 1920's women were dancing the charleston and having a grand old time.

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