On Thursday, we spent the entire day at INDAJOVEN conducting FC Animation focus groups.  Working with women in the morning and men in the afternoon, we received invaluable information about many aspects of the Dominican culture and taboos related to sexuality.

Getting feedback on our animated characters

Getting feedback on our animated characters

As a tremendous believer in the importance of oral history, I truly look forward to these focus groups and the time we spend learning directly from the communities we are committed to serve.

Working with the women in the morning, we were told that there are cultural taboos that reinforce the myth that something bad will happen to you if you keep something inside your body (ie, a female condom, a tampon); therefore Dominican women rarely use items that have this requirement.  We learned that, because of the prevalence of machismo in the Dominican Republic and men who often cheat on their primary partners, women are keen on finding options that allow them to be proactive about their safety.  We were also told that women who do not wear earrings are stereotyped as conservative Christians, and that people who do not smile do not look Dominican 🙂

Paloma translates Joy Lynn's FC demonstration

Paloma translates Joy Lynn's FC demonstration

Working with the men in the afternoon, we learned that it is common practice for a young man to “rehearse” putting on a male condom before using one with a partner for the first time; this is a suggestion I always make for receivers who would like to begin using the female condom, and the men in our focus group agreed that this is an important step.  We also learned that heat in DR is a palpable enemy against the proper use of latex condoms, and that it is the attitudes (not the price point) that have proven to be the biggest obstacle against female condom use.

Discussing the similarities & differences of the FC and Cupid female condoms

Discussing the similarities and differences of the FC & Cupid female condoms

The Dominican men in our focus group had a vested interest in ensuring that the women in their communities felt represented in these FC animations, and they were extremely eager to  do what they could to challenge social norms and encourage safety during sexual activity.   We wholeheartedly support them in their efforts and genuinely appreciate their refreshing points of view, as they are contrary to what many people know about men in their culture!

Gathering feedback on the storyboard & insert images

Gathering feedback on the storyboard & insert images

We closed out each focus group with a question and answer section about the FC female condom, followed by a brief presentation of the Cupid Condom, a female condom that is in the pipeline out of India.

Introduction to the Cupid Condom with the women

Introduction to the Cupid Condom with the women

Covering the insertion of the Cupid Condom

Covering the insertion of the Cupid Condom

We look forward to seeing what INDAJOVEN will do with Condom Art Pins on World AIDS Day this year!  Check back later for more photos of our time in DR…

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