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Condom-en-Armagnac is a village in southwestern France noted for two castles erected in the 13th century, and for its small population...
- Oh wait, that wasn't the "condom" you came for? Read on and we'll set you straight (or, well, at least "forward")!
A condom is a device made of synthetic rubber (or for people not concerned with virus transmission and those with latex allergies, sheep intestines) for the purpose of birth control and avoiding the transmission of venereal disease. It is part of a wider classification of birth control known as "barrier devices". This separates the condom from hormone or other drug-based pills that prevent pregnancy, or spermicides which kill sperm to prevent fertilisation. It is worn as a sheath over the penis to prevent any sperm from escaping and impregnating a woman. They are also used by gay men, who by definition won't be at risk of impregnating each other, if they are sensible, to prevent STD transmission. Presumably lesbian women have no use for condoms as such, although dental dams are used by lesbians for an analagous purpose.
When used correctly and consistently condoms are at least 99% effective at preventing pregnancy. They also reduce the relative risk of infection by HIV and other STDs by 85%.
Many odd people with anti-sexuality agendas prefer to focus on failure rates of birth control methods. In theory, their purpose is to promote abstinence. In practice, however, their programs in public schools simply lead to higher teen pregnancy rates. Teenagers still have sex but are deprived of the knowledge to do so safely.
The most common causes of failures in condoms is damage to them either before or during the heinous act itself, or the device slipping off. A standard condom will fit almost any penis, but if you really are hung like a donkey (or on the other hand, like pencil), it's recommended to get one of a more appropriate size to prevent slippage and breakage. One unfortunate cause of condom failure is intentional sabotage, this is often performed by a partner (of either sex) who intentionally wants the contraception to fail in order to conceive. Sabotage also occurs en masse by people wanting to play horrible pranks. If a condom breaks the next line of defense against an unwanted pregnancy is the "Morning After" pill.
In order to ensure quality control, condoms have serial numbers on them. What, you didn't know that? That's probably because you never had to roll one down that far.
Condoms can be sex toys as well - condoms are available in different colors, including glow-in-the-dark versions for when you really want to try out that kinky Jedi / Sith roleplay. There are flavored condoms to make fellatio more pleasant, and ones with ridges or bumps that are intended to please the lady, or guy, whichever have you. They are also used on sex toys, i.e., covering dildos and vibrators, for hygiene reasons and to make cleaning up easier.
Arguments against the condom
According to some people, a condom is something which one should never under any circumstances pass out to high school students, because it might encourage them to actually have sex. Instead, abstinence-only must be taught. Guess what, that doesn't work, it never has, never will. Does anyone seriously believe that an abstinence pledge has the power to physically block sperm from doing their duty? Didn't think so. Your abstinence pledge is insignificant next to the power of a condom.
"Give a 17 year old boy a condom and his thoughts turn immediately to sex."
- "Sure, but give a 17 year old boy anything and his thoughts turn immediately to sex."
Condoms and the Catholic Church
Traditionally the Roman Catholic Church has always maintained that God thinks that condoms are a bad idea - which is probably best summed up by Monty Python's Every Sperm is Sacred. This has always been the case, and Pope Benedict XVI, a fairly staunch traditionalist, received a lot of flak during his papacy for enforcing the effective ban; particularly his comments around condoms and AIDS. For instance, during his trip to Africa in March 2009 he claimed that condoms could make the African AIDS crisis worse. This position is maintained online to this very day.
However in November 2010 the Pope nuanced God's position somewhat when he made some slightly confusing statements on the matter. God's opposition to condoms for contraceptive purposes was said to remain as strict as before while at the same time the Pope back-pedalled slightly on whether they could be used to prevent the spread of AIDS. His example of allowed use at first appeared to be for male and/or gay prostitutes, but this was later clarified (they, of all people, should know the hassle that can arise from translation problems) to also include women equally.
- Every sperm is sacred...
- Well, the "weird cases" of men getting pregnant are actually transexuals.
- Gay Life - condom brands
- No, it's not funny. It's totally unfunny.
- And if you did, she's either a very lucky woman, or about to be in a lot of pain.
- Vatican website on condoms
- The Guardian -Pope claims condoms could make African Aids crisis worse
- Vatican website on condoms and HIV/AIDS prevention
- The Guardian - Pope's condom comments apply to women too, says Vatican