Crocodile Dung, Thimbles and Coke: Sarah Alinia Ziazi on Methods of Birth Control through History

Sarah Alinia Ziazi

A recent graduate of Ontario College of Art and Design, Sarah Alinia Ziazi is a Toronto-based Indo-Persian illustrator working with traditional analogue mediums. Her practice generates a dialogue between themes of identity and nostalgic experiences that evoke ambivalence towards femininity and its stereotypes. To explore these concepts, she uses a synthesis of mechanical and organic aesthetics.

Sarah’s informative yet humorous project “Miscontraception” illustrates the history of birth control, examining and commenting on older (not always effective) trends in the light of contemporary events and fashions.

She explains her playful and probing work: “Since ancient times, people have found new and bizarre ways to avoid conception. Inspired by historical contraceptive practices, ‘Miscontraception’ illustrates current issues surrounding sex and addresses the antiquated ways human beings respond to these problems that seem to persist despite all logic. Factual outdated contraceptive practices are used as props or ‘defense mechanisms’ in each illustration to question why these issues still occur even though this generation is provided with tons of information regarding preventions.

“Sexual education is very important and it’s necessary for people to understand it to want to be in a consenting relationship. Since the theme is a big part of people’s lives, I want to take the idea that ‘sex sells’ and embellish on that concept by using historical factual stories and expand upon the comical ‘what ifs’ that could happen if they were illustrated through current social issues. I would like this project to appeal to consenting teenagers and adults. I hope to connect with new Millennials who are unfamiliar on this sensitive topic and show them how it has evolved over the years, and also to better future generations’ minds.”

As a creative, Sarah finds inspiration in the everyday; investigating certain areas of her life and focussing on conversations, repetitive patterns and dreams. These sources are manipulated through acrylic gouache and mixed media techniques that are translated into characters, geometric shapes and bold colours in the final artwork. Sarah’s influences include Modernism, Pop Art, Memphis Art, and artists such as Stuart Davis, Jim Nutt, Le Corbusier and Joan Miro, among others. She has received multiple awards for her work, including the Society of Illustrators Annual Competition Award. Her work has been exhibited in several group shows in Toronto and New York.

Links: Website ( | Instagram (@s_aliniaziazi) | Twitter (@s_aliniaziazi)

Images used with permission.

‘Dances with Pig Condom’ – In the 1800s men used pig intestines as prophylactics.


‘Grab ‘em by the _____.’ – In the Middle Ages, women tied weasel testicles to their thighs during sex to prevent pregnancy.


‘The Douche Way’ – In the 1950s, women used to douche with Coke Cola believing it would kill the sperm.


‘Thimble and the Stitch’ – In Europe during the 1800s, women used metal thimbles as diaphragms.


‘No.1 Killer’ – In Europe during the 1800s, lemon rinds were used as diaphragms.


‘The Yolk and the Fight’ – Self-explanatory.


In Ancient Egypt, crocodile dung and honey was made into a paste and inserted before sex as a spermicide.

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