Condoms don’t get a fair shake. No good deed goes unpunished might be said of the lot of the average condom. Now the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation has set out to remedy the matter and improve, shall we say, the self-image of the condom. The history of civilization is full of regression, but it’s also a record of progress. Evolution is supposed to bring about an improvement in the human condition. As some financial pundits have pointed out, if you look at the big picture, the stock market is only going up. And of course the same can be said of your average condom—especially those worn by adherents to Masters and Johnson’s concept of “sensate focus.” But to come to the point, the Times headline read “Condom Contest Produces 812 Ideas for Improvement,” (NYT, 11/20/13). Out of the 812, ll were selected, according to the Times. These 11 won $100,000 and have the chance “to receive up to $1 million.” Condoms are not immune to multitasking. Strength, health and sensitivity seem to be three basic preoccupations among contestants. Thus the Times cites Apex Medical Technologies of San Diego, a company that advertises itself as being “your source for dip molded medical device components." Apex produced the “ultrasensitive reconstituted collagen condom” which according to Apex’s president Mark McGlothlin is “unbelievably strong.” Before long there will be before and after ads in mens magazines for condoms with testimonies like “I was an 8 inch weakling.” But in order to compete in today’s highly competitive market, condoms will have to be not only strong, sensitive and safe, but politically correct enough so that in their inflated form they could also function as floats in the Thanksgiving Day parade. In order to succeed Apex will have to live up to its name.
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