The Department of Health in Washington, D.C., boosted its anti-AIDS initiative this summer by giving out more free condoms and expanding its Rubber Revolution campaign. As if thinking about, talking about and looking at condoms in public isn’t awkward enough, Rubber Revolution is adding to its media blitz with the poster pictured at right. This is posted in Dupont Circle.
Featured on the poster are two African American males holding hands under the slogan “Big Enuf 4 U.” The poster says suggestively, “Pick up a condom and put one on.”
We emailed the D.C. Department of Health to see what “Big Enuf 4 U” means, exactly, and to find out if the slogan may have been inspired by a 14-year-old boy’s online chat room user name. That was at 8:30 a.m. No answer. We called again just after 10 a.m. and reached Department spokesman Michael Kharfen who told us he was in a meeting but would get back to us by 11:30 a.m.
Kharfen emailed at noon to let us know he was still in a meeting but would call shortly. By 1:45 p.m. we still hadn’t heard anything. Worried he may have fallen down a Metro sidewalk vent, we called Kharfen back. No answer. We stalked him twice more over the next 15 minutes. He finally answered and sounded okay but said he would need to call us back in five minutes. Shockingly, no more excuses. He called us back.
The Department conducted focus groups, Kharfen said, with a “cross section” of the District’s population to discuss concerns people have about using condoms. “Several themes emerged,” he said, “one of those is they’re not comfortable. Another is ‘I’m too big for them’ or ‘my partner is too big for them.’”
Kharfen said “too big” is a reference to penis size but that despite the poster featuring two African American men, the campaign is not intended to specifically target D.C.’s black population, despite the fact that African American men are known for having large ding dongs.
As for the incorrect grammar and spelling on the poster, Kharfen said the Health Department chose the style because many people connect on the Internet and through text messaging. “That’s the way that those kinds of words are spelled [there],” he said.
The Department has not received complaints about the posters, Kharfen said. Nor have they received a lot of press — amazingly FBDC is first to question Kharfen on the poster.
The fun continues on Rubber Revolution’s website where visitors can attend “Condom University.” Some fun facts listed on the site:
- There’s a town in France called Condom.
- “Condoms can hold up to 3 bags of potatoes” (and yet the site cautions against using two condoms at a time “because the friction will cause them to tear”).
- The body heat and pressure put on condom that’s been stuck inside a wallet “decrease the condom’s effectiveness.”
As an aside, FBDC’s Peter Ogburn says he’s making plans to have “Big Enuf 4 U” tattooed to his body. He didn’t say where.