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Well they don't.

In the Anglo-Saxon world, sex education is seen as being, well, something to be dispensed and then dispensed with. Often it's delivered by blushing teachers thrown into a pit of 14-year-old boys who are old enough to have pubies but still infantile enough to collapse into sniggering at the words "penis" or "vagina." The hapless teachers shuffle from one foot to the other whilst trying to explain that teenage pregnancy is bayud, m'kay? And mentioning contraception of any sort results in the parents finding out and hordes of Daily Mail-reading wowsers crowing about how such activities encourage, condone, glamorise, or glorify underage folks knocking boots descend onto the school.

No wonder we have the highest rate of teenage pregnancy in Europe.

And the American situation's even worse. Mention sex education over there and all the moral majority types start frothing and claiming (falsely) that condoms all have holes in them big enough for five AIDS viruses to waltz through side by side. Need I go on?

In continental Europe, though, there's a concerted push from all angles to encourage safe sex. And what is more, the push seems to be not on trying to get the kids concerned about proper condom use, but encouraging parents to discuss it with their kids outside the school system and suchlike - though they still may or may not have formal sex education, depending on the locale - because if it's coming from the schools then it's seen as "the man" talking down to them, whereas parents are (marginally) more trustworthy. Though the question of sex education in schools is beyond the scope of this writeup. I for one am a bit leery of it, but that's mainly due to my recollection of it when I was at school.

That being said, some of the methods they use to encourage contraception on the Continent are just plain bizarre. Here follows a bit of a rundown... I know I've missed a fair amount lot here. If you have any amusing European condom ad stories, don't hesitate to /msg.

Germany

So about a year ago I was nonchalantly strolling through Cologne on my way to the quadrennial Cologne nodermeet and I all of a sudden pass by this big-arsed ol' billboard with what appears to be a constellation printed on it.

But on closer inspection, it turned out that all the stars were rolled-up condoms of various colours. I can't remember what the caption was (and I don't speak German), but I tell you this - if I rounded a corner as a teenager and saw this huge cosmic franger staring back at me, I'd consider rubbering up pretty sharpish!

Belgium

The Belgians, however, managed to take that one better. Not for them giant billboards with rubbers on them; Belgium is the home of a TV advert that can only be described as legendary. In it, a harassed-looking single father is trying to do his weekly shopping with his small son, when the latter grabs a bag of sweets bigger than he is and puts it in the trolley. The father takes it back out and replaces it on the shelf, to which the kid puts it back in the trolley and folds his arms. The father removes it and says to the child, "Non." At which point the kid start howling and crying and basically throwing an epic wobbly, all the time shouting "JE VEUX LES BONBONS!!!! JE VEUX LES BONBONS!!!!!", sweeping stuff off shelves, running around, screaming and rolling on the floor, while disgusted fellow shoppers look askance at the now shamefaced single father. And then appears the caption - "Use condoms" and the voiceover - "Zazoo condoms. Fun! Sexy! Safe!"

I guarantee you that if that advert were shown in England, assuming OFCOM didn't get bent out of shape over it, people would actually take contraception far more seriously.

Oh yes, and thanks to YouTube, you can see this for yourself! Enjoy!

France

France gets two accolades from me on this subject. Firstly, the prize for Most Oddly Placed Johnny Machine goes to the RER station Cité Universitaire in the 14e Arrondissement of Paris. There, a machine - for both condoms but also femidoms - is to be found on the stairwell leading down to the platforms, its caption, "Sortez couvert!" emblazoned on the front. Why the RATP put it there I'll never know, but this is small fry compared to France's other great contribution to the world of condom marketing.

That other great contribution being a song and accompanying music video by a pair of French artistes who go by the names of Lady Sweety and Jacky Brown. Aside from being yet more evidence that the French all secretly wish they were Americans (the song is Beyoncé Knowles-style commercial R&B of a type you can imagine being played in allegedly upscale nightclubs in Paris), it gets sheer audacity points for being an R&B music video whose lyrics concern the virtues of condom use.

Whoooaaaa. Hold on there.

Commercial R&B. The genre that spawned "My Humps" and "Goodies," and "My neck, my back, lick my pussy and crack." Advertising condoms.

Does... not... compute....

Especially considering the sheer banality of the lyrics. I apologise in advance for not translating the following excerpt, but I. I can't seem to fit it to the metre and melody in English, and II. for the full impact, it needs to be read in the original French to be fully appreciated.

"N'y pense même pas,
Les préservatifs, ils protègent toi et moi.
N'y pense même pas,
Comment oses-tu me démander ça?
N'y pense même pas,
T'as perdu la tête, t'es pas bien ou quoi?
N'y pense même pas,
D'abord on fait le test et aprés on verra..."

The song may be awful and the video containing every commercial R&B cliché in existence bar the bouncy lowrider 1970s Cadillac, but it is weirdly, weirdly, compelling. One cannot help but wonder at the thought processes of the people who put this song into existence. Because it doesn't seem like it was written as a novelty song.

Curious? Dinner is served. Watch at your peril.

But that's not the biggest condom-related episode of Continental insanity...

Switzerland

Three words: Catch The Sperm.

I've noded this elsewhere, so if you haven't already, go read that one. Basically, it's a game for Windows in which you control a mouse-driven condom cannon to blast spermatozoa and viruses and HIV and pox germs which scroll from left to right towards you. Each level is started with a sex noise and some 1970s porn groove plays in the background, occasionally with flags saying "STOP AIDS" drifting past. Allegedly the game's set in someone's vagina, but if your quim is green and orange and purple and has things growing in it I advise you to consult a gynaecologist.

CTS was funded by the Swiss Federal Office of Public Health and, disturbingly, is a rather good game. I for one can't help but consider how it could be combined with some of the other things I've mentioned in this writeup. For instance, we could put "N'y pense même pas" as the background music and play the Zazoo Condoms advert at massive volume if you lose by letting too much get past your cannon. And then we could advertise it on huge billboards near German railway stations.

Yeah.

Conclusion

Europeans are fucking NUTS.

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