According to a recent case, no. While this seems like commons sense, this has been a question for some time, as having condoms is often included in evidence against those who are being charged with prostitution. A judge in New York City has ruled in favor of a woman who was arrested on charges of “loitering for the purpose of engaging in a prostitution offense.” She was arrested for talking to men in an area “frequented by prostitution.” Additionally, she had condoms in her bag.
Wow…what a slut! Clearly the only reason that a woman would talk to men on a street at night or have condoms in her bag is because she is a sex worker. Forget being lost and asking for directions or wanting to be prepared to have safe sex were the situation to arise.
This is a clear violation of the woman’s rights. Further, all women should be able to carry condoms or other barriers without being labeled a sex worker. Thankfully, in this case the judge understood this and ruled in favor of the woman in question. However, this is more than just a question of women having condoms or talking to men on a street, it’s about the devaluing and even criminalizing of women’s sexuality. Contrary to popular belief, women are sexual beings, and, as such, have the right to make their own decisions about their sexuality, which includes being sexually active and even being a sex worker.
Sexuality is often a taboo area. When it comes to women, society enforces double standards which allow for men to have much more freedom when it comes to sexuality than women. Women are held to a standard that they must be “pure” and only engage in heterosexual sex within martial relationships. If a woman’s sexuality does not fit into these parameters, then she is devalued, labeled and judged. It is time for this to end. Women’s autonomy (I know, you thought that autonomous women were a myth) extends to their sexuality, and they have the right to make decisions about sex, plan ahead, and protect themselves in sexual relationships without consequence. I hope that this case will serve as an example for further cases and allow for the mainstream view of women’s sexuality to change.
You can read the article I cited from in its entirety here at change.org