Put your art skills to good use for the Planned Parenthood Stiff Competition condom design contest | Features | Pittsburgh | Pittsburgh City Paper

Put your art skills to good use for the Planned Parenthood Stiff Competition condom design contest

Have you ever Sharpie’d a penis on your sleeping drunk friend’s face, one so masterful it would make angels weep? Consider contributing to Stiff Competition: Hindsight is 2020, a condom design contest presented by Planned Parenthood Pennsylvania Advocates (PPPA).

The sexual and reproductive health advocacy organization is calling on designers, artists, and crafters to create a condom or dental dam package around the theme Hindsight is 2020. Designs can be presented in any medium, and the winner will be reproduced onto actual packaging.

"Sexual health is a matter that we obviously take very seriously here at Planned Parenthood, but when we planned this event, we wanted to try and do something fun and a little bit cheeky for our supporters,” says PPPA public relations manager, Sara Dixon.


She adds that puns are highly encouraged.

The submissions will be judged by a jury of local arts professionals and business owners, including curator Ingrid Schaffner, True T Pgh co-executive director, Duane Binion (Naheen), sarah huny young of Darkness is Spreading, and Richard Parsakian, owner of the Eons vintage clothing store in Shadyside.

“I'd like to see packaging that anyone can pick up and say, "[OK], this one is cute or insanely gorgeous or kooky; I gotta have this one,” says huny. “I hope the artists get clever with it, too. I like to laugh.”

She hopes to see designs that also reflect the diversity of people who use condoms or dental dams, spanning race, relationship status, sexual orientation, and gender identity. She believes doing so helps to spur a dialogue about safe sex, and about communities she sees as being “greatly impacted by a lack of proper health services and care,” particularly Black women and LGBTQ people.


“Reproductive health is absolutely crucial and quite serious, especially as our rights to our own uteruses are constantly in peril,” she says. “But humorizing safe sex and making it lighthearted and fun and art-based is sometimes needed to normalize and destigmatize topics that far too many people still feel shame around.”

Binion agrees that Stiff Competition can help change the discourse around safe sex by addressing it in a more modern, creative way. The arts producer and curator also feels perfectly qualified to judge what makes a good prophylactic.

"I'd say I've been up close with a fair share of condoms in my lifetime so I'm pretty confident I'll know when I'm wowed,” says Binion.

While the submission deadline is listed as Jan. 17, Dixon says it has been extended to Fri., Jan 24 so more people can enter. Tickets are also on sale for the Stiff Competition exhibition and silent auction on Fri., Feb. 7, which will serve as a fundraiser to support PPPA's mission of protecting reproductive health care across the state.

“It should be a great night for an important cause, and we’re all looking forward to it,” says

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