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Monday, January 15, 2007

Glennis Yeager and the Pakistani Condoms 

I searched for this story on the Net before, but couldn't find it, so I guess I'll have to post it myself. These are excerpts from Glennis Yeager, appearing in Chuck Yeager's autobiography. Glennis died a few years after this was written. The following occurred around 1971 in Pakistan.

At a party one night...I was talking to Bob Grant, the head of the population section of our Agency for International Development....I started working four hours a day and ended up working eight to ten hours a day and enjoying every minute of it.

Our job was to help the Pakistanis cut back on their enormous population growth. Birth control was not popular and seldom practiced....As for the condoms Chuck was always laughing about, most of the Pakistani men wanted nothing to do with them....[O]ne of the male secretaries said to me, "The color makes it too embarrasing." I asked what he meant. "To a Moslem," he said, "white is the color of purity." I asked him, "What if they were orange or red or purple? Would that make a difference?" He thought it would. So, we ordered those darn things in every color of the rainbow.

I remember Chuck stopping by one evening when a bunch of us were packing them up for distribution. He said, "What the hell are you guys doin'? Is there a party or something?" He thought they were colored balloons. We distributed orange, green, blue, red, and yellow rubbers by the thousands, and they became popular throughout Pakistan. Orange was the favorite color. We couldn't keep any orange condoms in stock.

From the Ontario Empoblog (Information on the greatest 20th century U.S. president here)

The whole reason that I recently became re-interested in this story is because of a post of Teeth Maestro's that I read - Condoms ‘too big’ for Indian men. (For those who don't know, Teeth Maestro is Pakistani.) I referenced the Glennis Yeager story in a December 13 comment, but was then unable to find the story online. Assuming that I had long ago given away my Yeager autobiography via Bookcrossing, I dropped the topic...until I found the Yeager autobiography in my bookcase. (And my wife says I have too many books; don't know where she got that idea.)
Hey, whatever it takes to get people to use them!
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