Having sex with Bill Gates. It is something that has happened. It is something that has happened to Melinda Gates at least three times, judging by her children. Thrashing about on their deluxe bed, what must it have felt like to have the penis of the world's richest man inside her? The fact that, at that stage, this penis had more currency assigned to its holder than any other penis she might have chosen – did that improve sensation, psychologically? Or did the moral weight, the sheer heft of global significance inherent in Bill's moneyed knob, actively detract from the experience? And, either way, would it have been better had Bill worn what he now proposes to help someone invent: the “condom that is better than unprotected sex”?
The latest turn in the life of the software entrepreneur is a curious one. Bill says condoms have barely improved in 50 years. He quite rightly suggests there must be a better way, and, if we are serious about AIDS, then there ought to be. So, through the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, he has resolved that he will give $100,000 to whoever can come up with a 21st century breakthrough condom. Yes. One-hundred-thousand dollars. The global condom market is presently worth some $6 billion. Bill is worth $67 billion. It would also seem that Bill hasn't heard of Durex, a large company, who are already throwing quite a bit of money, time and staff at the problem of next-gen johnnies. How exactly does Bill feel this is going to go? That rather than running off to Durex to flog the sexual equivalent of nuclear fission, a grateful inventor will take his pat on the head and his money and go and buy approximately 60 percent of a modest suburban home in Chorley with the proceeds?
Bill says that a new model condom would enhance the world we live in. And he is right in some ways. But in terms of his African development goals, he's already heading off-track. The problem is that Bill simply hasn't lost his neeky, MS systems-engineer view of the world. In his brain, there is process and there are outcomes. Therefore, an improvement in process leads to an improvement in outcomes. Yet at no point in this does he ever see the cultural context in which all of this is embedded. Gates could go to Africa tomorrow with a container of condoms that made your dick dance the funky chicken, chuck boxloads of them out of his private plane and most of the locals would still go "Fuck off, not interested." The reasons they aren't into condoms are only slightly driven by notions of build quality, and mainly driven by entrenched cultural attitudes. Cultural attitudes that say that condoms are for pissants and wimps and heathens and imperialist lackies. Bill should get the marketing men who encouraged the Chinese to smoke and put them on the case of making condoms seem manly to Africa. He doesn't need to make the experience of spunking off into a rubber bag seem better than the neck of a cervix. He just needs to make the idea seem better. And marketing men who work for tobacco companies charge a lot more than $100k, so he needs to be prepared to dig deep. Neither has he considered the other danger his flippant challenge poses: if someone does invent one, it will condemn a generation of young men who should be going out and dating and smiling nicely and acting interested, and leave them to wither on the vine, alone at home pumping load after load into these sensational condoms. Then Gates will have to invent a vagina that is better than a better-than-sex condom. And that's going to be a lot more pricey.
All of which poses the question: Is Bill Gates simply trying to get us all to think about his penis? If I had a $67 billion personal fortune, I might pose myself challenges like this every so often, too – and happily chuck a quick hundred thousand at them. To Bill, a hundred thousand is chump change. It seems obvious that his sort of money breeds a sense of omnipotence. No one would be surprised to learn that he'd spent some time wearing a velvet cape while directing a game of human conkers in which children soaked in varnish are smashed towards each other on bungee ropes until one of them splinters. He's probably sat around naked in his talking tech-overloaded house, going slightly dotty with billionaire's ennui, and looked down, and considered his penis. Really thought about it, for the first time in years. And then wondered whether he could put it into the minds of half the world. He has succeeded. We are all thinking about his penis. Well done, Bill. You have got your way. Regardless of the outcomes, the challenge for the rest of us will be to outrun the image of Bill Gates's penis that has now been branded into our minds. Bill Gates's penis on the news while you eat your breakfast. Bill Gates's penis round the water-cooler. Bill Gates’s penis eyeing you up across the bar. Bill Gates's penis when you close your eyes to go to sleep at night.
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Which, all things considered, is a pretty great cure for copulation, isn't it?
Follow Gavin on Twitter: @hurtgavinhaynes
Image by Marta Parszeniew: @MartaParszeniew