Maisie Gibb, Maisie Gibb

Project Condom becomes powerful platform for sexual issues

“I can do so many things with condoms now!”

That’s Mckenzie Scott, fourth-year international relations and Spanish major and the winner of Project Condom 2015, reflecting on what Project Condom has done for her.

But it reaches past simple arts and crafts. From getting third place as a condom fairy her freshman year to her first place finish this Wednesday as Disney’s Maleficent, Scott has bonded with friends and found self-expression with the event.

Project Condom, presented by Student Health Services and Carolina Productions in the RH Ballroom Tuesday night, is a yearly fashion show with a twist: every dress has to be made entirely of condoms. This year’s theme was “Pioneers of Protection.”

“It’s an opportunity for something to be centered around students, and them to be creative,” said Danielle Koonce, Program Coordinator with Student Health services. “And also to promote healthy sexual behaviors and practices. At the end of the day it’s just a fun event, too.”

But she also acknowledged that Project Condom could be used as a launchpad for a number of social issues relevant to women. That’s the tactic taken by Forward, USC’s progressive student alliance and an umbrella organization including the Feminist Collective, or FemCo, Bedsider: In the Wild (an organization dedicated to birth control and general sexual awareness) and College Democrats.

Fourth-year international relations major Tori Moore represented Forward this year. Moore has been a force in Project Condom throughout her college career, winning the past two years, and this year’s event served as her grand hurrah. She designed four of the five costumes on display, choosing a Disney theme after being inspired by this year’s “Maleficent” movie.

 “We’ve looked at all of the Disney stories and there’s some sort of sexual health message within them all,” Moore said. “And they’re very iconic — as soon as you see me, you’re going to know who I am.”

Moore appeared onstage as Ursula from “The Little Mermaid,” championing BDSM and sexual kinks with explicit consent. The College Democrats had Sleeping Beauty with pink and blue condoms split down the middle, questioning the gender binary and heteronormativity. Bedsiders fronted Tiana from “Princess and the Frog,” drawing parallels between being transformed into an animal and being fetishized as a woman of color.

“It’s not something that most people think about unless they’re people of color,” said Kaylah Crepps, President of Bedsider at USC.

FemCo was represented by Scott dressed as Maleficent, representing how you can move forward and survive sexual assault. Clarie Randall assisted her with the costume and spoke with her on stage.

“As someone who has lived through a traumatic experience, this is incredibly empowering,” Scott said to the crowd.

Only one group was unaffiliated with Forward: Changing Carolina, student peer leaders working through Student Health Services. They went with a pinup theme, representing sexual empowerment for women.

Scott’s Maleficent costume for FemCo took both top prize and “best topic relating to college sexual health” — quite the capper to a college career of involvement with sexual issues.

“FemCo has been a huge part of my college life,” Scott said. “Being able to join with FemCo has empowered me to be able to come out as bisexual, assert myself as a woman and just become more of myself.”

This year encouraged more student organizations than individual submissions, a choice that left Scott nervous about the number of participants in the event. But the socially-conscious organizations participating had a purpose — they took what could have been just a condom awareness event and used it to talk about important sexual issues.

“That’s the whole point: to be able to address problems that are very … heavy, serious topics and make it easier for people to talk about,” Moore said.


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