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A news story today made me wonder if I had woken up in 1955, in the starched and sexually repressed world of Back to the Future or Pleasantville. I snapped back to reality as I realized I was reading it online, on Huffington Post:

A major online payment processor is refusing to handle credit card payments for a startup condom company.

A representative for Chase Paymentech, the payment processing platform offered by JPMorgan Chase, told Lovability founder Tiffany Gaines over the phone this week that the company considers it a "reputational risk" to handle online payments for condoms, which it classifies as an "adult-oriented product."

Lovability was founded by a mother-and-daughter team of entrepreneurs:
Tiffany is a graduate of New York University, and is presently working towards her Masters in Fine Arts in Design For Social Innovation at SVA. Her dream has always been to start a business with a meaningful social impact.

Pam is a mother of four daughters who has over 30 years of experience as an entrepreneur. Her business skills and passion for women's empowerment were a perfect match for Lovability Condoms when Tiffany sought out her partnership back in June 2013.

The Lovability condom company defines its mission as "to empower women to take responsibility for their sexual health." As it says on their website, they are specifically focused on selling condoms to women:
Lovability Inc. brings you beautifully packaged condoms with one goal in mind: to de-stigmatize women's relationship with condoms by helping women celebrate the empowerment that comes from being prepared...

By overhauling the traditional packaging, messaging, and distribution model of condoms, we've created the first condom brand intended to fit seamlessly into a woman's lifestyle so that she feels more comfortable acquiring, carrying, and providing the condoms.

Why? We were shocked and upset when we realized that 1 in 4 women in the United States suffer from an STD.

For some reason, Chase Bank thought doing business with this company would be a "reputational risk."

It would be interesting to know if Chase also refuses to process payments for guns. Those are pretty controversial too -- much more controversial, in this day and age, than latex birth control. But I doubt that gun retailers have been banned from accepting credit card payments from customers. Somebody correct me if I'm wrong.

I think Chase needs to step out of the time machine and embrace the 21st century. We're not living in the times anymore when nervous teenagers had to request condoms from behind the pharmacy counter, bracing themselves for a stern lecture or refusal of service.

The only risk to Chase's reputation is from the ridiculously offensive stance they have taken against birth control and the blacklisting of innovative and socially-conscious female entrepreneurs. Perhaps they plan to shift most of their business to countries like Saudi Arabia, Iran, and Afghanistan. Because after this boner of a decision, it's hard to imagine anyone in the more progressive countries of the world deciding to do their banking with Chase.

Originally posted to Eric Stetson on Sun Mar 23, 2014 at 03:32 PM PDT.

Also republished by Feminism, Pro-Feminism, Womanism: Feminist Issues, Ideas, & Activism and Sex, Body, and Gender.

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