Memo to Trojan: Non-Married People Have Sex. Get Over It

The year is 2013. The research shows that 95 percent of Americans have had premarital sex. In fact, it’s downright common these days for people all over the political spectrum to recommend premarital sex as necessary—that it won’t do to marry someone who you haven’t road-tested for sexual compatibility yet.

Despite all this, however, Trojan was apparently worried about people griping about the evils of premarital sex, and so, as a preventive measure, made sure the actors in their new ads who are shown as sexually active all have prominently displayed wedding rings. I applaud Trojan for choosing to make ads that show couples actually getting it on in their ads: One of the ongoing problems with getting people to use contraception consistently is that it’s often perceived as unsexy. Condoms particularly suffer unfairly from a reputation of being mood-killing devices. Ads that turn up the sexiness factor can help counter that.

But ads that obnoxiously remind the audience that the couples in these ads are married ends up undermining the “condoms are sexy” message. It’s not because audiences are anti-marriage, of course, but because we’re too busy wondering why Trojan felt the need to beat us over the head with the marriage thing to pay attention to the sexiness of the ads. You can practically hear in your head the meeting where it was decided to make a big deal out of the marital status of the sexy couples in the ads. After all, no one is against married couples having sex—though a lot of people are against them using contraception!—so it probably just seemed easier to use married couples to avoid that avenue of complaint. But however understandable it is, the problem is that the too-obvious “don’t worry, they’re married!” message in the commercials reinforces the notion that there’s something wrong with people who aren’t married having sex.

Most of us who are sexually active and not married are going to watch these ads and feel judged and icky about our choices, and that’s not a feeling Trojan really should want associated with their products. This is particularly important when it comes to marketing condoms, because while many married couples certainly do use condoms as their primary form of contraception, they are even more popular with younger and unmarried people, because of the dual function of preventing both disease and pregnancy. Teenagers particularly like to use condoms, whereas older people are more likely to prefer hormonal contraception, IUDs, or even sterilization. Sexually active teenagers are already bombarded with messages from a number of sources that being sexual is wrong or dirty, and condom ads carrying that message just makes it all the worse.

But really, the problem here isn’t Trojan. Their choice to make a fuss over the married status of the couples in their ads is reflective of a larger problem in American society, our widespread hypocrisy about sex. Even though premarital sex is nearly universal in our society, disapproval of premarital sex continues to be a problem (though thankfully one that’s declining). Sixty-three percent of Americans believe that sex between non-married people is morally acceptable, which is up from where it was  in 2001, but is still disturbingly low, particularly when you realize that nearly all of the people who disagree with the concept of premarital sex nonetheless have had it.

I highly doubt most of those people who both have had and disapprove of premarital sex regret their own choices. As is common with moralizing hypocrites, a lot of them have an acute case of Special Snowflake Syndrome, where they believe that it was okay for them to do it, but they just think the rest of you aren’t mature or sensible enough to handle non-marital sex. The anti-choice movement needs this sort of thinking to exist, in fact. Most of the people who get involved in anti-choice activism must have engaged in the contraception use and non-marital sex they like to scold the rest of us for. To live with that cognitive dissonance, they have to come up with elaborate rationales for why it’s different when it comes to their own lives.

You also have this problem when it comes to abstinence-only education. Nearly everyone who promotes abstinence-only did not practice what they preach, but this kind of hypocrisy is so normalized in American culture that it tends to pass without mention. That needs to change. If Trojan ran ads that showed unmarried couples having sex, yes, they would get complaints, but the rest of us need to laugh at the complainers for being the ridiculous hypocrites they are. Instead, everyone trembles in fear of these hypocrites and their hypocritical moralizing, so much so that Trojan is clearly afraid of even having the conversation about unmarried couples having sex.

This isn’t just because hypocrites are annoying, either. When it’s considered mainstream and legitimate for pursed-lips prudes to make a fuss over the supposed evils of “promoting” a behavior in which 95 percent of Americans have engaged, that does serious harm to people’s mental and physical health. The entire controversy over the birth control benefit requiring insurance plans to cover contraception without a co-pay is fueled by this hypocritical, idiotic posturing over sex. The employers who don’t want to offer plans that cover contraception are basically afraid that doing so endorses sexual choice-making of which the owners disapprove, but that they, statistically speaking, probably have engaged in themselves. So, in order for hypocrites to strike a pointless moralizing pose about behavior that they know in their hearts really isn’t wrong, women don’t get the full health care benefits for which they nonetheless have to pay. It’s ridiculous. It’s great that Trojan is showing happily married couples who still have the hots for each other in their ads, but they need to release more commercials showing unmarried couples—who are a huge customer base for them—as well. If it provokes the whining of hypocritical prudes, so what? As long as we confront the anti-sex faction directly, they tend to lose. What are we so afraid of?

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  • yepi 10

    new information with me!
    Memo to Trojan: Non-Married People Have Sex. Get Over It.

  • fiona64

    As is common with moralizing hypocrites, a lot of them have an acute
    case of Special Snowflake Syndrome, where they believe that it was okay
    for them to do it, but they just think the rest of you aren’t mature or
    sensible enough to handle non-marital sex. The anti-choice movement
    needs this sort of thinking to exist, in fact.

    Exactly. I call it “Do As I Say, Not As I Do” Syndrome. One can see numerous examples of this on anti-choice sites, in which some woman writes about her alleged awful experiences of having an abortion and then says “But you shouldn’t have the same choice I did.” Hypocrisy abounds.

    • Jonathan Kuperberg

      Can people not *change their mind*? What about people who once opposed homosexuality and now write effusive gushes of praise for the pro-sodomy side with “apologies” for daring to “offend” the precious sensitivities of unrepentant same-sexers? Do you consider them “hypocrites” in their describing their alleged awful experiences of being “homophobes” then saying “But you shouldn’t have the same opinions and religious beliefs I did.”?

      • fiona64

        Certainly people can change their minds, but it is still the height of hypocrisy to go about saying “I exercised my right, but you shouldn’t.” Sort of like Bristol Palin, who clearly didn’t exercise her “abstinence-only” policy that she is pleased to tout to others.

      • belgianchic

        i have a question- why are you equating pro-sodomy with pro-marriage equality and pro-acceptance of other sexual orientation people? i ask because while we are certainly pro-sodomy, lol, sodomy is not reserved for gay people. food for thought.

        • Jonathan Kuperberg

          because most people consider sodomy to be man/man anal in everyday speech… sure it technically means any oral or anal sex involving a penis, and I have seen some legal definitions even include sex with animals… but that’s not the commonly used definition any more. kind of like people have changed how they use the word “marriage” :P

          • belgianchic

            its not, though. biblically its just any non-vaginal sex. most people understand it to be anal sex, not oral or anything. However, not just gay men have anal sex. Plenty of straight couples do too!

            Actually, the famous ‘definition of marriage’ has changed quite a lot over time, but expanding equal rights doesn’t change it. It’s still two consenting adults, just like it was before. nobody has really changed how they used the word marriage. It’s just governments are stopping discriminating between who can partake in the institution of marriage and who cannot.

          • Arekushieru

            Then, what about the polyamourous, belgianchic? I think that, too, is discriminatory, after all, when all consenting adults cannot marry whom they wish.

          • belgianchic

            of course, that is discriminatory as well. That is an issue i do not know very much about, but I am learning. It is certainly discrimination when heterosexual couples are allowed to marry but homosexual couples are not. Polyamory is complicated but people are learning.

      • Arekushieru

        Um, false equivalence fallacy alert! One is not ‘pro-sodomy’, nor is anyone writing ‘effusive gushes of praise’ for them, as you would have it. It’s like you think someone who is heterosexual can only be anti-homosexuality. If not, then you shouldn’t be conflating hypocrisy, a term that is only used to identify specific actions, with a GENERAL position. Oi.

  • John H

    But are they married to each other???

    • HeilMary1

      Thank you! — at least one of Newt Gingrich’s many mistresses was also married to someone else!

    • Kat

      That was my second thought upon seeing this.

      My first thought was that my husband and I don’t even wear our wedding rings while having sex. Too much potential to get them caught on something sensitive. Granted, I have no idea how typical that is, but it made the whole thing look even more contrived to me.

  • Guest

    “Most of us who are sexually active and not married are going to watch these ads and feel judged and icky about our choices”; like duh. u should.

    • belgianchic

      um…..judged and icky about my sexual choices? no thanks. sounds awful. and actually, i don’t feel icky at all~ i feel awesome! like duh, nobody likes a judgey mcjudgerson.

    • Jonathan Kuperberg

      Trojan have the absolute RIGHT to judge people’s choices. If they don’t like being judged- tough. They have no legal or physical power to *stop* anyone doing what they want to sexually and the fact they sell condoms shows they can’t care that much.

      • Jennifer Starr

        Why does selling condoms show they can’t care?

        • Jonathan Kuperberg

          Because they sell condoms that go to all sorts of people. If you are so strict about not wanting a large proportion of the population to have sex, I doubt you’d choose that line of business. They’re not a Christian exclusive club that sells to married couples only, like one Christian online sex toy store I heard of which requires purchasers of all products including condoms to accept terms and conditions including “I warrant I am married to a person of the opposite sex”. They opened because they had heard from pro-family, pro-sex married Christian couples who wanted marital aids (as the products were called in more pro-family days) but found it against their conscience to buy them from mainstream sex shops where porn would be on display and it would possibly scandalise other believers who saw them.

          Apart from which, they have ran steamier ads in the past which do *not* feature wedding rings, and unlike Chick-fil-A have made no public statements in support of traditional sexual morality… the evidence is that they’re not some Religious Right group on this issue.

  • marie72

    Its funny most people that use condoms are single people.I think the add is fine,married people have sex too.I bet the next add will be single people…

  • Jonathan Kuperberg

    How come the aggressive pro-fornication camp, who claim to feel so comfortable about their sexual choices compared to the “repressed” “prudish” “bigots” who they ridiculously describe as having “neuroses”, “anxieties” and “hang-ups” rather than morals, values and beliefs, become SUPER defensive whenever a link is made between sex and marriage, and Firebaggers set the SF-Valuesphere on fire peddling hyperbolic and foul-mouthed invective at the person/s who made such contraband sex-marriage links? As you berate those who are part of a majority and insist on further marginalizing or belittling minorities, and you call out Christians and religious people for *their* offensive language when they go too far, surely it’s the likes of Marcotte who are hypocrites.

    As an anti-racist, I have often said it is irrational for white people to fear minorities as they do not have the societal power to ruin our lives- whereas unchecked white privilege has ruined the lives of many people of color. The same logic surely applies here if those who reject fornication are a minority in current-day Western culture: pray tell me HOW, exactly, they are a threat to the majority? Why spend your time bashing “antisex puritans” for expressing their freedom of choice, expression and belief with their “judgey” comments about the sexual immorality of others?

    • belgianchic

      because its not just their own ‘freedom of choice, expression, and belief’ when it impacts other people’s access to health care. we literally couldn’t care less what other people choose to do sexually. if people want to wait for marriage- fine! go for it! do your own thing. but it doesn’t make you a better person than someone who had sex, and it certainly doesn’t give anyone the right to determine what kind of health care i get.