As Condom Sales Rise, Media Ponders Recession Sex

Joe Veix

With the recession getting worse, and condom sales on the rise, media outlets are weighing in on whether or not this will result in more sex.

Now that we’re ankle deep in the recession, media outlets are weighing in on how every small detail of our lives will be affected. This time, they’re all talking about sex, and whether, because of our empty pockets, we’ll have more of it. 

First, USA Today reported, "condoms in the U.S. rose 5% in the fourth quarter of 2008, and 6% in January vs. the same time periods the previous year." Their estimate is that because of the recession, more people are staying in their homes.

And based on this quote from the article, "Trojan says…it will spend more on advertising this year than last as it launches a multimedia campaign to promote two new products," it’s likely to expect more recession-style, "in these times" commercials, this time from a condom company. Let’s just hope they don’t make more iPod commercials.

At Slate, William Saletan broke down the three possible reasons people will have more sex in the recession: that the sex drive is immune to the economy, that more people will be staying home, and that people will want to "control their family payroll." Saletan says,

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"I’m rooting for theory No. 3. I’d like to think that when times are tough, people become increasingly rational and careful about limiting their financial commitments, especially when the welfare of existing children is at stake."

I tend to agree with him. Maybe the recession isn’t all bad news if it’s true that people are being more careful, and acting less in the interest of themselves.

The Daily Beast took a slightly different viewpoint from the other articles, this time using a poll conducted by Penn, Shoen & Berland, which says,

"Only 13 percent of those surveyed say they will have sex more often this year compared to last, one in two are planning to be more cautious about who they sleep with, and 20 percent are consciously upping their safe-sex practices to avoid having children."

They also found that "Americans who make less than $75,000 plan to have less sex-and even look at less sexual material-in 2009."

According to Volunteer TV, at a Target in West Knoxville, "several rows of latex protection were already sold out." Dr. Walton Smith, quoted in the article, says, "We’re seeing a lot of folks saying they don’t have insurance." Since many women in Knoxville can’t afford the insurance costs to obtain contraceptive pills, this might help explain the rise in condom sales. The same could be said about the total rise in condom sales. It could be that people aren’t having more or less sex, they’re just choosing cheaper contraceptive options.  

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