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Condoms, polar bears and reproduction. Any rights?

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I'm fresh from visiting "Rubbers: The Life, History, and Struggle of the Condom" at the Museum of Sex in New York City today (which I highly recommend to check out!).

But besides having "safes" (that's what my aunties used to call them) on the brain from that exhibit (and of course the fact that I work in sexual and reproductive health day in and day out), I came across a great article on AlterNet by Kate McKay Bryson entitled "Use a Condom, Save a Polar Bear? Not That Simple" about the many factors besides human overpopulation that contribute to our environmental crises.

This is all coming from the Center for Biological Diversity's Endangered Species Condoms campaign launched in February of this year, which aims to link environmental destruction with the fact that the world population has doubled since the original Earth Day in 1970 -- thus encouraging people to wrap it before they tap it, (yes that was my youthful condom slogan inclusion) and they've created lots of cool-looking condom packets to prove it to you.

Now of course many of us are all for condom usage and safe sexual practices in general -- but I take issue with the over-generalizations that this campaign is making with what it views as the "problems" and "solutions" with over-population, particularly in the assumption that if we had less babies we'd be more environmentally friendly, thus better contributing members of human society. Not to mention trumping on people's fundamental human rights here to decide whether to have a child, not to have a child, and to parent the way they see fit (reproductive justice 101 folks!)

This is erring a little too close to the territory of "land rights before body rights," as opposed to being intersectional and equally important at the same time, which is also known as environmental AND reproductive justice. Oh and ignoring the horrific history of population control and having the West once again impose its superior values of "knowing best" (instead of, let's say, listening to Inuit a lot more and actually following through on ALL their recommendations for eliminating global warming. Just sayin').

Kate summed it up really well at the end of the article saying:

"The fact that it's easier in the U.S. to make a case for further policing of people's reproductive freedom than to criticize consumerism and consumption doesn't make embracing that tactic the right choice. Instead, perhaps we could work toward an environmental movement that builds international solidarity, recognizes the importance of gender justice, and addresses the real causes of pollution, resource depletion and species extinction."

This post first appeared in Bitch Magazine.

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