The Spermicide Search

April 23, 2009 § 2 Comments

A few days ago I was in a drugstore looking to buy some over-the-counter birth control. It was a store I’d never been to, medium-sized, and I looked all over but couldn’t find the aisle where contraceptives and condoms are kept.

Finally I found what I was looking for, all the way in the back of the store on the side of the pharmacy counter – that is, about a foot and a half off the ground. I didn’t know exactly what I wanted to buy, so I sort of bent over, trying to get a better look at the options. But they were so low that I eventually just put myself on the floor in a combination sit-kneel.

I said to my boyfriend, “What the fuck? Why are these things so out of the way?” He agreed. The store apparently has the space to put dozens of bottles of chocolate syrup at eye-level in a regular aisle, but lacks the decency to put life-saving products in a remotely convenient place. The incident really got me thinking about people, like me, who are looking for condoms or BC but who, unlike me (thanks to a good deal of feminist awakening), don’t have the courage to face judgment by asking an employee where to look. My boyfriend pointed out that this policy would particularly affect teenagers, who in my experience want to be as inconspicuous as possible in situations like these.

So as I was paying, I spoke to the manager, who was totally nice and charming and respectful about it. I said, “It took a while for us to find this, and when we did we noticed that the condoms and spermicide products were located all the way in the back and pretty low to the ground. I basically had to sit on the floor to decide what I wanted to buy. It seems like you’ve got a lot of space here. I’m sure a lot of people come here looking for the same thing I was, so I think you should consider moving the products to a more obvious display.” He said he would look into it, and seemed very sincere.

Me: “That felt so badass!”

Boyfriend: “Changing the world, one store at a time.”

§ 2 Responses to The Spermicide Search

  • good for you for calling it out. there are plenty of people who are embarrassed to buy contraceptives. we’d rather shame people into some embarrassing hunt than make it easy to acquire the products.

    i actually work at a store that sells condoms. once, while cleaning out the very bottom shelf of a freezer, i found two boxes that once contained forty condoms each empty. that’s not something people usually steal from us. i’m not sure what to make of it…

  • [...] is an issue I think about a lot. I’ve skirted the topic of my own sexuality here on Women’s Glib, for many reasons. Though I don’t print my last name or [...]

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