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Why the double standards on condom ads?

In March last year, a harmless advert ran on local media. It featured two women in a market having a normal chit-chat.

Woman One asks Woman Two how she and her husband are doing, to which she responded, “you know…the usual. Keeps coming home drunk, spends most of the time at the pub.”

Then Woman One asks about ‘the other one’— referring to the mpango wa kando or secret lover.

Woman Two lights up, sparkle in her eye. Woman One asks if the two use condoms, and Woman Two looks embarrassed, implying that she and her side dish don’t use the sheath.

Woman One advises her friend to ensure they always use a condom to protect herself and her loved ones. The advert ends with a telling tag-line: “Weka Condom Mpangoni’ (which basically means use a condom with your side-dish. )

Protests

That, my friends, raised a storm in the country. The clergy, elders, men and women alike were up in arms against the advert. The Kenyan Anglican Church’s Bishop, Julius Kalu, said the advert promoted extra-marital affairs and sex among school pupils.

The bishop was quoted as saying that the ad ‘openly propagates immorality’ and especially so when all family members are gathered before the television set, waiting to watch news.

The war against this advert did not end there. Kenya’s Muslim religious body and the Council of Imams and Preachers of Kenya  threw their weight behind the good bishop.

They said that the advert “depicted Kenya as Sodom and Gomorrah. And not one that values the institution of marriage and family.”

As expected, the advertisement did not stand the test of time and was pulled out soon after. We accepted and moved on.

Months later as I lay lazily on my couch waiting for news, an advertisement was aired. At first, I didn’t pay much attention, until I heard what it was all about.

Man One asks Man Two about his clande to which he smiles coyly and says that she makes him ‘feel alive’ and that the affair is harmless since he has had only one girlfriend for two and a half years.

To him, it was OK to have one girlfriend. I mean, wasn’t the sin to have several girlfriends?

Man 1 then warns him that this girlfriend might just be having two or three other men, with whom she has unprotected sex with. Man One advises him to consider using a condom to protect his loved ones.

Hypocrisy. Same script, different players (literally, this time). I’m still waiting for the clergy to raise hell over this advert, the same way they did with the one that featured two women in the market. This advert, which runs at prime time has not raised any eyebrows yet.

Indeed, we are a country of hypocrites with double standards that chooses to condemn an advert featuring two women in a particular way, and ignoring the one that features men in the same way.

If we choose to favour men over women, then we might be raising a generation of angry, rebellious, discontent women, who feel victimised.