Were you at the New York State Fair today? Well, I was! You may have spotted me volunteering at the Planned Parenthood booth in the Center of Progress (I thought a lot about how appropriate this name was for the location of our booth) from 3 till 8.
First of all, everyone should go to the fair. As if the butter sculpture isn't enough to tempt you, there's always the sand sculpture and fresh milk, and hundreds of other attractions, rides, and stands, and FOOD. Tonight there was Darius Rucker of Hootie and the Blowfish.
Being at the fair was somewhat exhilarating for me. It's fun to meet people, and it's really rewarding and nice to hear people say how important PPRSR is to them. People walked up to our booth and begin signing our petition before we had even explained what it was. Teenagers brought all their friends over to take a look at our pins and condoms. It was also fun to see old women pick up one of our snazzy "proper attire" condoms, thinking they were moist towelettes or sunscreen packets (and then dropping them with a gasp when we told them what they really were!). It was empowering to be there for all these people, providing info and condoms and temporary tattoos!
Part of me feels like volunteering with Planned Parenthood is common sense, a duty that seems required to do because of how important it is - it feels second nature, because of how many women rely on Planned Parenthood. But sometimes it feels like radical and revolutionary, like today when the Right to Life people came over and heckled us, and we kept our cool. Volunteering today made me feel really in touch with women in general, and part of something really big and important - especially when women walked by and simply said "thanks for all the work you do" or when men came over proudly and struck up a conversation with us, unashamed of aligning themselves with us (as they should be!).
Today I think we gave away close to 2,500 condoms, which is remarkable. I kept thinking about this article from Cosmopolitan. Now, it's not perfect (it's in Cosmo!) but it has a lot of good information, and even mentioned Planned Parenthood! It is attempting to stop "accidents waiting to happen" before they do.
A shocking stat recently caught Cosmo's eye: Nearly half of all unplanned pregnancies among young, sexually active women are due to birth-control lapses and screwups,The funny thing about all the mindsets mentioned that can lead to pregnancy, is that they can mostly be stopped with a simple condom. Just by having a condom at arm's length, you can stop yourself from making a decision you might regret. How many of those 2,500 that we gave away today will stop an "accident waiting to happen?" or start a conversation? or just get someone thinking? It seems like a pretty powerful thing to have a huge bowl on condoms out in the open like we did today, when you really think about it. By putting contraception on that table, we put it right into people's minds - right at the forefront - where it belongs!
If you go to the Fair, make sure you stop by our booth and give us a wave, because we appreciate it. And make sure you grab some condoms too, while you're at it.