LELO, the once prestigious brand behind such iconic and beloved sex toys as the MONA 2, never seem to stop outdoing themselves – but not in a good way. From sexist ad campaigns to gimmicky overpriced toys 1 and general asshattery 2, LELO seems dead set on ruining everything that once made them great. What’d they do this time that made me feel like I had to write this? It’s their new “innovative” HEX condom. Part of me didn’t want to give this thing more publicity but I just had to publicly rant a little bit.
Before I get to why I’m not a big fan of the condom itself, let’s just talk about their ad campaign. They actually chose none other than the notorious Charlie Sheen as their spokesperson for the product. You read that right… Charlie Sheen. The guy that’s known for his reckless lifestyle and well documented domestic abuse and general dude bro persona with a long history of treating women like shit.
Sheen, has somewhat recently publicly announced that he is HIV positive. I don’t shame him for that. It’s something that can literally happen to anyone who has sex. Condoms aren’t a 100% guarantee against contracting it. So, it’s just a really unfortunate thing to have happened to him, regardless of his lifestyle. However, it has been suggested that he had sex without disclosing his status and if true, that’s just reprehensible and there’s no way he could ever redeem himself of that.
When Sheen was announced as the spokesperson for the new HEX condom there was a swift and blinding backlash from the sex positive blogging community. There’s absolutely no question where most of us stand on the issue. It was insensitive and downright stupid of LELO to choose him to represent their product. It’s an especially harsh slap in the face to survivors of abuse.
Then there’s this from Bryan Menegus at Gizmodo :
[He] also insisted on showing me that, once fully unrolled, the HEX has the word “respect” printed in some sort of latex bas relief at its base. “Respect, what?” I asked, genuinely unsure of the message’s implications. “Respect the man who wears it,” was his impromptu answer.
Not everyone who wears a condom, especially a poorly thought out one like this, deserves my respect.
So OK, that’s where LELO began to fuck up with their marketing and message but why am I not a big fan of the “groundbreaking” HEX condom itself? Let me explain.
Initially, I didn’t really understand what all the hype was about. At first glance it just looks like a textured condom. Then LELO released this rather confusing image:
What were they trying to demonstrate here? Were they actually piercing their HEX condom with a needle? For what purpose?
Well, it turns out that LELO thinks they’ve made a safer condom with the HEX. They say that while a traditional condom is destroyed by a single needle prick, their condom stays intact, even after being breached by many needle pricks. They say their HEX technology makes the condom stronger and even if it does fail, it doesn’t fail as badly as a regular condom and so therefore continues to provide “some protection”.
Some protection… I find that notion problematic. Once a condom fails in any way, you should consider that you’ve had zero protection. You should take immediate action to prevent pregnancy and diagnose/treat possible STIs. LELO’s claim that you’re still sort of protected even if there’s a small tear in the condom is actually pretty reckless and could lead some into a false sense of security.
See, I want my condom to completely rip apart and make it totally obvious that it has failed so I can get Plan B as soon as possible and get to the doctor to be tested/treated for possible STIs. I don’t want to assume I was protected the whole time only to find out way too late that I really wasn’t.
I don’t think it’s a great idea that their HEX condom could make it easy to miss the fact that it had a small tear in it. That’s all it takes to get pregnant or contract an STI. This idea that you still have “some protection” is kind of ridiculous. And some people might think: Hey, looks like there’s a small tear in the condom but it’s nothing to worry about because we still had “some protection”. Wrong.
I think the HEX condom is just a bad idea all the way around and I’d never recommend it to my readers. It’s like someone or several someones at LELO didn’t think this thing all the way through. Or, it could be worse than that, maybe they just don’t care. Maybe in their fervor to bring “innovative” products to market, they willingly overlooked the fact that the HEX condom actually puts people at more risk by either making condom failure difficult to notice or by instilling a false sense of security. I don’t want to think that they’d knowingly sell a product that could hurt people. But they aren’t listening to the sex positive community about the safety of their condom or their choice of spokesperson, for that matter.
In fact, and I have no way of proving this but, I heard it through the grapevine that someone at LELO called us bloggers a bunch of “whiny SJWs” (social justice warriors). Are we? Or, do we just care about people more than LELO does?
Oh, and I almost forgot… don’t even get me started on the fact that they’re crowdfunding it. Really LELO? A company that charges easily over $120 for a vibrator can’t come up with the revenue to bring a new product to market? Tacky much?
If you want more perspective from the sex positive blogging community, I recommend you read these posts by Sarah, Dangerous Lilly, Cara Sutra, Lunabelle, Horny Geek Girl, Molly, Formidable Femme and @ made a video. Also, from a retailer’s point of view: Sex Siopa
Bottom line? I haven’t been promoting LELO for a while now. I don’t expect that I’ll be reviewing any of their products any time soon. I still do really like the Mona 2 and the Siri 2 but after LELO’s price hikes, it’s hard to justify recommending them. If after reading this, you still want to purchase LELO products, that’s totally your call but at least understand what kind of company you’re giving your business to.
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