Condom have been known as contraceptive measure for many decades now, yet a recent research found that it may represent more than just a means to avoid pregnancy (Aranangsari 2014). The research is exploring that finding further by comparing meaning of condoms over a number of women with different marital status by Using grounded theory approach. The result is that condom has a range of attributed meanings that is not confined with just contraceptive measures.

Keywords: Condom, Grounded Theory, Gender


This research starts a final assignment of Anggia Aranangsari (2014). The focus is on particular advertisement and whether it reflects the reality within society. The advertisement is from Fiesta Condom in the one edition of Freemagz magazine’s cover page.
We often led to believe that media shaped our reality, though in various literatures this have been challenged and argued that the impact is very relative. Thus the reality present here is not as significant as often thought to be.
Condom’s significance here is of all contraception methods used officially in Indonesia, which is design exclusively for men. The other contraception methods are IUDs, Contraception Pills, etc, which are designed most for women. By using condom, does this means a reinforcement of male domination or instead this can be seen from other point of where a more interactive role to be played by both gender, with the assumption that this is within heterogeneous relationship.
This research uses 3 women from different marital status to be the informants. Simon and Gagnon stated that part of the historical record of sexism is that women rarely been selected for sexual roles on the basis of their own interest in sexual pleasure (Parker and Aggleton: 1999, p.34). Women in here viewed as they can’t show their sexual desire as men. The idea of female interest in or having commitment to sexual pleasure was threatening too many men and women. Freud once casually commented upon the ease with which women, more so than men, accommodate to varied sexual ‘perversions’ once they have been exposed to the potential pleasures. It’s not that women in such settings did not have commitments to effectively utilizing or responding to interpersonal sexual scripts, but that these commitments rarely tended to be erotically focused. (Parker and Aggleton, p.34).
Condom which is designed for men, but the information gathered are from women, researcher found interesting because women here share their reasons, their excitements, their conditions, and their dullness of condom. Why they used condom as contraception, why not the other. Apart of that, what is condom for them? Is it for fun only? Is it for safety or for pleasure too?

More recent research confirms that gender differences persist. Men’s fantasies detail more sexual activities, more sexual organs, and a greater variety of visual content than do women’s fantasies (Follingstad & Kimbrell, 1956; Barnes, 1998). Men have tendencies to pay more attention to the minutiae of partners’ physical appearance and are far more likely to fantasize multiple and/or anonymous partners (Barclay, 1973; Iwawaki& Wilson, 1983; Knafo& Jaffe, 1984; Wilson, 1997). By contrast, women’s sexual fantasies are more likely to contain familiar partners and to include descriptions of context, setting, and feelings associated with the sexual encounter (Barclay, 1973; Kelley, 1984). Women are more likely to be emotionally aroused by their fantasies, which contain more themes of affection and commitment than do men’s. Women are more likely to imagine themselves as the recipients of sexual activities from fantasized partners, while men are more likely to imagine themselves as sexual initiators and their imagined partners as the recipients of sexual activities (Barclay, 1973; Iwawaki& Wilson, 1983; Knafo& Jaffe, 1984; Mednick, 1977)

For some of the informant, the sequence of life cycle based cultural scenarios continues to organize interpersonal sexual scripts in ways that facilitate the harmonizing of sexual commitments with more public role commitments. For others, cultural scenarios covering traditional family careers serve as organizing principle of sexual careers; for them, family careers, sexual careers, and the definition of life cycle stages tend to coincide. As mentioned in “Culture, Society, and Sexuality”, for Kinsey and virtually all others, conceptualizations of hetero sexual behavior have been organized in terms of marital status: sexual careers are subsumed under heading of premarital, marital, extramarital, or post marital experiences. So we believe that different marital status of a women, will give different meaning for the condom itself.

Condoms are important because they remain one of the key public and sexual health strategies to fight the transmission of sexually transmitted infections (World Health Organization, 2007), which range from the minor to the fatal. STIs are a major source of morbidity globally, with potential significant future impacts in terms of fertility and other aspects of sexual and reproductive health, and thus constitute a significant public health concern (World HealthOrganization, 2007).

Based on Anggia thesis, the five informants explain the meaning of condom. But there are different point of view and perception about condom between the married ones or single ones. Informant number 1, 2, and 3 are single and for them the meaning is more to avoid the pregnancy and sexual disease. For informants 4 and 5 who are married, condom is viewed as its function.
Informant no 4, “Well for me, Condom is a safety tool, life tool, a tool for satisfy the desire. It lets us play safe (sex) without risk”
Informant no 5, “Condom is the most practical contraception of all others”
Just like Anggia’s informant no 5, the information is relevant to Mrs. X who also said that Condom is her savior. “For me Condom is important, because I just have child, and I still want to have sex with my husband without getting pregnant, but I don’t want to use contraception pills etc because I’m afraid of the bad effect” (Mrs. X)
So the function of a condom for her is for the safety and contraception. She hasn’t ready to have another child yet, since her child is still baby, but she doesn’t want to use contraception like IUDs or Contraception Pills because she’s worried about the after effect.
The other informant when asked, what is the function of condom and she said that condom has function to preventing the sperm fertilize the egg. But then she mentioned that condom also can prevent the transmission of any sexual disease. This could happen if the person is not loyal to one another or they have open relationship. Again, in here the informant aware with the condom functions. Informant 1 just like Mrs. X agrees that condom is the more practical contraception thing than the other contraception.
The opinion and perception gathered from these five informants are relevant to what Littlejohn and Foss mention earlier (2008, p.160-161): Meaning is the important result in communication.
Based on these five informants to the meaning of condom itself, Anggia is agreed that condom is a contraception tool that used for avoid pregnancy and transmit sexual disease. The packaging of the condom gives different meaning and attracting readers, can also attract the curiosity of readers in attempting to use condoms. Some couple can experiment when doing sexual activity using a variety of condom variants.

For some reason, condoms view as barriers. Braun mention in her journal, condoms are claimed to reduce the physical pleasure sensation experienced in sex, reportedly making sex like a ‘shower in a raincoat’ (Chapman and Hodgson, 1988) or ‘like eating a sweet in the wrapper’(Mashinini and Pelton Cooper, 2012; Tavory and Swidler, 2009). Such imagery evokes a massively reduced sensory experience for men (pleasure reduction is sometimesalso reported by women). Condoms are also claimed to reduce or remove theintimacy of sex, and the sense of emotional connectedness possible, resulting in ‘fucking not making love’ (Measor, 2006: 394). They are also disliked because they disrupt a smooth and insistent ‘trajectory’ of (hetero)sex towards coitus, apparently‘killing the moment’ and making sexual spontaneity impossible.Such discourses and constructions of condoms constitute at least part of the contexts in which hetero sex takes place, and within which (western) individuals canexperience, and make sense of, their use and/or non-use of condoms. They are partof a broader set of discursive constraints on condom use and safer-sex practices (Flood, 2003; Lear, 1996). Within the West, these typically include a coital imperative and constructions of hetero sex (Braun et al., 2003; Gavey et al., 1999; McPhillips et al., 2001; Willig, 1998) which limit the potential of non-coitalsexual activities, as well as constructions of certain partners as ‘risky’ and othersas ‘safe’ (Hoffman and Cohen, 1999; Waldby et al., 1993), meaning that condomsare only deemed necessary with ‘risky’ sexual partners. Constructions of hetero sexual relationships as ‘safe’ by nature, and as ‘condom-free’ (Civic, 1999; Ellenet al., 1996; Tavory and Swidler, 2009; Willig, 1995, 1997b) similarly undermine condom use. (Braun, 2013).

But according to the informants, they don’t feel that condoms as the barrier of their sexual activities. Some women even help putting the condom to their partner and see it as the part of the foreplay.This is when the gender is matter. From men point of view condoms may reduce sensory experience. But as in women, using condom give another satisfaction (because they don’t have to worry about sexual disease and getting pregnant), also it guarantees them the peace of mind while doing sex.

When some women asked, why they want to do the unsafe sex (not using condom), they said that pleasure for the partner is the most important thing. When her partner don’t feel to use the condom because reduce intimacy, she doesn’t have any problem for not using it. In here, we can see that the word ‘intimacy’ come from men to seduce their partner for not using condom. Based on Merriam-Webster dictionary, the definition of intimacy is the state of being very personal or private relationship. Meanwhile, the reason a man don’t want to use condom is because it reduces their sensory experience in their genitals, but they use the word ‘intimacy’ so that the women will feel to give the satisfaction to their partner. As quoted,
Kate: “Pleasure, and doing it the most natural way, and feel good factor, and kind of what we said before about pleasing the guy, and you know, what as a girl, as a woman, knowing that guys hate condoms generally speaking, and wanting it to have, like, to be good for them.” (Braun, 2013)
James: “I know I think about it, but you know, I hate wearing a condom, kind of just destroys all the feeling, you know.” (Braun, 2013)

With the use of such language, it becomes inappropriate and even unreasonable to expect condoms to be routinely used in vaginal intercourse, particularly given the current dominant western discourse which focuses on the right – indeed, obligation.
In Mrs. X case, condom views as barrier at the first times she used condom with her partner. She said that because the condom is the “cheap condom” so the packaging is so thick and when they do sexual activity, it feels like “there a thick rubber inside”. His partner stated his objection and said that he didn’t feel almost anything. They then didn’t use condom for a while. Yet, she felt unsafe and uneasy every time they have sex, finally she use condom again. Unless for this time she use the different brand, with the slogan “thin as a leather” and that is true, there is no complaint for this time from her partner.

Conclusion in Braun journal
How gender makes a different meaning in the perception of condom is explained in Braun’s Journal,

“Pleasure is an important element to consider in relation to sexual health (Higgins and Hirsch, 2007; Naisteter and Sitron, 2010); yet it is also important not to essentialise pleasure as inherent in the body and/or in any particular act (Flood, 2003)

Although anti-condom discourse was expressed by almost all participants in her study, despite of the gender, positioning and responsibility around sexual safety appeared gendered in certain ways in much of the data, with women in general (not necessarily the participants themselves) positioned as wanting condom use and men (both the participants and men in general) positioned as wanting to avoid condom use.
“Sex was often framed as an inherently non-communicative experience, but sex and safer sex (non)negotiations were often expressed in gendered terms, with safer sex something women were expected to want but often unable to express (e.g. see Gavey and McPhillips, 1999), and men as exploiting a knowledge of women’s ‘vulnerability’ around this. Kate’s account in Extract 5 signals an aspect of a gendered patterning around (safer) hetero sex. Men’s dislike of condoms was assumed, and women appeared often to expect to, or be expected to, engage in ‘work’ to manage or accommodate this taken-for-granted truth (the concept of emotional work or labor has proved a rich one for much feminist theorizing around sex and relationships, e.g. Duncombe and Marsden, 1996). However, articulated (typically non-gendered) dislike of condoms intersected with, and appeared typically to override, this gendered accounting.”

So, based on the conclusion in Braun journal “Proper Sex without annoying things: anti-condom discourse and the nature of (hetero) sex”, the usage of condom may have different meaning between men and women. In one side, women want a safer sex and don’t really have problem with (using) condom. But for men, they don’t really like using condom, unless it’s a risky sexual activity. But with their regular partner, when they don’t want to use it, they can drive the partner for not using it.
The emotional side of a woman compare to logical side of a man, also mentioned in on of Smith paper. She said that how “objective social, economic and political relations, shape and determine women’s oppression”. She links her feminism with Marxism. She explains how she focuses on “the relations between patriarchy and class in the context of the capitalist mode of pro¬duction” (Smith 1983:1) and emphasizes how “the inner experiences which also involved our exercise of oppression against ourselves were ones that had their location in the society outside and originated there” (Smith 1977:10) in Smith, n.d, p. 316).
Women are defined and differentiated with reference to man and not he with reference to her; she is incidental, the inessential as opposed to the essential. He is the Subject, he is the Absolute; she is the “Other.” Simone de Beauvoir links woman’s identity as Other and her fundamental alienation to her body—especially her reproductive capacity.
De Beauvoir urged women “to decline to be the Other, to refuse to be a party to the deal” De Beauvoir encouraged women to strengthen their “masculine” rational faculties and critical powers, to exist as a pour-soi, that is, a transcendent subject who constitutes her own future by means of creative projects (Smith, p.316)

The notion of women being the secondary sex, also give the idea to make this research. The point of view about condom comes from women, not men. Because as De Beauvoir state, He is the Subject and she is the “Other”. Is it the same theory applied to the meaning of condom between men and women?
Not all women experienced the same thing. Like in Mrs. X sexual activity, she said that her partner is the one who reminds her if they forgot to use condom when they about to do it. But the other time, she is the one who reminds her partner.
The finding in the previous and current study raised the question of how then condom is perceived. The significance here is if condom has a certain perceived meaning then will it affect its users? In this previous study, the informants gave clear indication that they give certain meaning to condom (as contraception, thus facilitating their lifestyle). But in the current study among married women, the meaning given is different.

For the current informants who are married, condom is perceived almost exclusively as contraception in order to avoid having further children. This is significantly different than Aranangsari’s finding where among the single women, it was to facilitate their lifestyle (although it also have a meaning as contraception). So although in the previous and current studies, the initial finding is similar: condom as contraceptive but further deliberation found that there are significant differences between single and married women in how they perceived it.

So arguably how this finding can be significant? Meanings found in further analysis showed that beyond contraception, the informants actually have other perceived meanings to condom. In some cases, these meanings often variably impact towards the behavior of the informants. So it in a sense it strengthen the arguments by Max Weber that though humans gave meanings to their action (in this case the usage of condom and condom itself), the impact is relative to the related person.


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