gallery History of the Condom
The first version of the female condom made a weird noise, fell out, and was expensive, too. Now public health experts are pushing a new and improved version in American cities. Can it overcome stigma?
Courtesy of Museum of Sex, Shadows Condom Tin
As detailed in the Museum of Sex exhibit
Rubbers, condoms—made of bladders, animal membranes, sheaths, and salve-coated cloths—have been used as prophylactics for centuries. Young's Rubbers Corporation manufactured this condom tin in the 1940s. Courtesy of Julian Murphy "Safety Matches”
The condom shape has become iconic. Pop artist Julian Murphy has incorporated condoms into several of his pieces.
Courtesy of Graeme Mitchell, "Used Condom"
Used condoms have also found their way into many pieces of art, like this one by photographer Graeme Mitchell.
Museum of Sex Collection,Igor Khodzinskiy Condom Dress
TLC's Left-Eye Lopez made accessorizing with condoms fashionable in the early 100s, when she wore won as an eye patch. Today, Adriana Bertini’s cocktail dress, modeled on a sixties-era Valentino dresses, is made from 1,200 hand-dyed condoms.
Museum of Sex Collection,Igor Khodzinskiy Vintage Condom Machine
Ah, the good old days, when you could buy a cup of coffee, a slice of pie, a condom, and still get change back for a dollar.
Courtesy of the Michael Stich Organization “Blow Job” Photographed by Oliver Lassen
As part of a 2007 German safe-sex ad campaign, photographer Oliver Lassen produced a controversial series of images equating unprotected sex with death. Germany is one of several countries to try the shock-and-awe approach to promoting safe sex.
Museum of Sex Collection,Igor Khodzinskiy Pharmacy Condom Store Display
Long before the days of “family planning” aisles, pharmacies kept their condoms discreetly concealed. This wooden cabinet held Sheik brand condoms in 1930s New York pharmacy.
Courtesy of Julian Murphy “Grater Protection”
Julian Murphy combines contraception and kitchenware for the sake of a pun.
Courtesy of Keith Haring Foundation Safe Sex T-Shirt, 1987
Until his death from AIDS-related complications at age 31, gay New York artist Keith Haring became a prominent activist for condom use and safe sex.
Courtesy of the Catherine Clark Gallery, “Kanzashi Pond” by Masami Teraoka
The final panel in Masami Teraoka’s 2008 AIDS series depicts a Western man slowly loosening his grip on the giant condom being held up by his Japanese lover as he ogles a sickly blonde.
First Generation Female Condom, 1993
Made from polyurethane, which is less pliable than latex, the female condom could be uncomfortable and resulted in a less-than-intimate sexual experience. Users complained of a "crinkling" or "squeaking" noise—not to mention a tendency for the condom to slip out if not inserted properly.
Noah Seelam, AFP / Getty Images Second Generation Female Condom, 2009
Approved by the FDA last year, the FC2 is made of nitrile, and the crinkling and squeaking have been nearly silenced. It costs 30 percent less than its predecessor.