Wednesday, November 11, 2009

NuvaRing ad against safe sex?

You know, I was kinda looking forward to a break from writing anything about sex. I mean, various issues of feminism fascinate me a lot and in general I find them fun to analyze, but I'm not really aiming to turn my blog into the next Dr. Ruth explains it all.

But alas, feeling a bit restless tonight, I decided to kill an hour or so on Hulu, and I ran into this ad which I can't help but comment on.

That the ad has a group of women telling stories about how inconvenient taking birth control pills are isn't that troubling to me. It's not that they are shooting down one kind of hormone treatment to promote another, but rather something that is said around the middle of the ad. A woman tells about losing a pill and her doctor suggesting she just use condoms until everything is back on cycle. This, was apparently a huge no-no for the woman. "That's the whole point of it," she exclaims, that the pill allows you to not need condoms.

So here's my gripe: birth control hormones, be they by pill or ring, do not protect against STDs! Yes, we can speculate that the woman is in a monogamous relationship, married possibly even, and simply taking the pill to avoid having children, in which case the "whole point" bit might seem benign. However, we're given no personal information about the woman to confirm that. All that is clear is that there is something unfavorable about condoms, which happen to be the best way to prevent the spread of STDs short of abstinence. The pill and the ring both carry out virtually all the same functions and thus their quality can be compared. Condoms, however, do not function in all the same ways as these hormone-based contraceptives. Comparing the quality of their shared function without acknowledging the simultaneous alternative use of the condom, at best, ignores this alternate use--and its importance--and, at worse, implies their superiority over the condom at its alternate function, which of course is completely false (the latter is admittedly a stretch, considering they do note in the end of the ad that NuvaRing does not protect against STDs).

I'm not saying there's anything wrong with NuvaRing as a product, but good grief does this strike me as irresponsible advertising. It's not like the women are a bunch of teenagers talking about how they can sleep around with lots of guys and not worry about getting pregnant, but nonetheless the ad's disregard for the seriousness of sexually transmitted diseases warrants someone getting slapped upside their head.


OpenID lifescansdarkly said...

You hit the nail on the head here. The pill and other non-condom-like BC methods are for couples who know enough about each others' sexual history that using condoms isn't necessary. Even so, they still aren't as effective at preventing birth as condoms, and the hormonal side effects can be wicked.

10:47 AM  

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