MIA FREEDMAN: 'Would you buy your teenage daughter condoms?'

There is nobody more emotionally invested in condoms than Gen X women. Raised on a steady diet of Dolly Doctor and Cleo sealed sections, we embarked on our sex lives during a uniquely hellish time: the '80s.

A new sexually transmitted disease called AIDS had arrived, and we were told repeatedly that sex without a condom could – and probably would – kill you.

In case anyone wasn't clear on that last point – and to counter the myth that AIDS was just a 'gay disease' – we were blasted with a traumatising TV campaign depicting AIDS as the Grim Reaper who hurled bowling balls of virus towards mostly women who were knocked over and killed.

In case you're curious, watch the AIDS as the Grim Reaper ad below... Post continues after video.

Video via YouTube.

It was an invigorating time to become sexually active: could this handjob somehow kill me if he doesn't wear a condom and I get sperm on my jeans? Who can say!

The result was that we internalised this message: condoms are the superior form of birth control for young people because hey, not only will they mean less pregnancy but also less dying.

This looked a lot like a win-win situation for all involved.

So when Gen X women clocked our own kids entering their sex years, we decided to do something no generation before us has done: we started buying them condoms. Let us add this to the long, long list of things our parents never did for us, along with calling our school to offer to take detention on our behalf and calling our employers to petition for a pay increase. Also helping us source and pay for fake ID.


Buying your kid condoms is in a slightly different sub-category of helicopter parenting though.

To the grim reaper generation who were forced to become very comfortable with condoms very quickly, providing them to our children can feel as ordinary as providing tooth paste and sunscreen: they are basic health necessities.

If you're not among my people, however, you may have rolled your eyes at the storyline in this week's And Just Like That episode when Charlotte goes out in a snowstorm to buy her daughter condoms after Lily announces she's going to lose her virginity that day.

My friends who have younger kids or no kids thought this was implausible. I thought it was a documentary.

This is how many parents roll in 2023: you buy contraception for your teenager. And maybe also a vibrator? I mean, why not?

In a recent TEDx Talk entitled 'Why I gave my teenage daughter a vibrator- and you should too', Dr Robin Buckley, a clinical psychologist, made a pretty convincing case when she explained her reasoning. Like many sex positive women of our generation (portrayed convincingly, I thought, by Charlotte), Buckley had long established an open line of communication with her daughter about bodies and sexuality. Still, she was a bit shocked when when her daughter told her she was masturbating. Not because the masturbating part was a surprise, but because her daughter explained how she was masturbating, and Buckley immediately knew that she was doing in a way that could harm her body.


"My daughter felt comfortable telling me she had started to masturbate and was even willing to share with me what she was using to do so. This is how I learned that she was masturbating in a way that was not safe for her body. And so, I decided to buy my daughter a vibrator."

As sex positive as I consider myself to be, as many sex stories I've written and published in my career and as many vibrators as I have bought for myself and gifted to friends, this gave me pause.

I mean, really? Are we buying our daughters sex toys now?

Yes, yes we should, argues Robin Buckley, pointing out we spend so much time talking to our daughters about the dangers associated with sex: unwanted pregnancies, STIs, sexual assault... what about the pleasure? Especially, if they have sex with boys, they're likely to be subject to a lot of porn-based and wildly misguided ideas of what sex should be which could include choking and anal but probably not an orgasm for them. 

As Charlotte tells teenage Lily, it's important to make sure her own pleasure is prioritised during sex, just as much as her partner's. It's a vital message to a generation of girls and young women who will be having sex with boys and young men who were first exposed to porn at an average age of eight. The girls too. Not a lot of condoms in porn and if there are female orgasms, they're fake and have little correlation with how a woman's body actually responds during sex.


More than ever before, sex education outside porn has been outsourced to mothers and we're up for it. If you feel like this is too high a level of difficulty for you, I'll share the advice that was given to me about supplying condoms. A few years before you think your son or daughter might need them, just have some in a drawer or bathroom cabinet where they will see them. Not just one or two but a box so they won't feel conspicuous if they nick a few. Remember also, boys will want the opportunity to practice putting them on before such things are, in fact, required.

On this latest Mamamia Out Loud episode, Holly, Clare and I tried out the viral TikTok filter that makes you look older, and discuss the internet's bizarre reactions to their own faces. Post continues below.

My goal, as a parent is for tampons, periods and contraception to be discussed openly at home. Obviously this horrifies my children and will no doubt horrify yours but only at first. I'm here to tell you despite their protests and vomiting noises, they listen and after a while; it becomes normal.

And for those tut-tutting that "if they're old enough to have sex they're old enough to organise and pay for their own contraception." I would say, have you ever met a teenager? Would you want to rely on them being organised and having a solid grasp of consequences? And Just Like That… you're off to the chemist.

Feature Image: Max.

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