Consent, get some.
This year, we haven’t talked all that much about Sexual Assault Awareness Month. There are a lot of great resources already out there, as well as here on Feronia, and since we talk about consent throughout the year, we’re happy to let the spotlight fall on more local, in-person events in April. But our SOURCE team put together an absolutely fabulous PSA about consent last month, and I’m really excited to share it with you:
(There’s also a 15-second version for those of you who want even quicker ways to explain consent.)
Every year, I run into a fair number of people who ask me why there are so many events for Sexual Assault Awareness Month – doesn’t everybody already know about this stuff? While it’s always (sadly) easy to show that we still have a lot of work to do in addressing sexual assault, the news last month brought a really good story out that illustrates just how invisible sexual assault can still be.
Jon Krakauer’s new book “Missoula: Rape and the Justice System In A College Town” explores a series of assaults connected to the University of Montana, but the meta-story is about how Krakauer was largely unaware of the scope of sexual assault in the U.S. before 2012, when a friend of his shared her story of being raped. When he started looking into it, he discovered that many of the other women in his life had similar experiences that he just hadn’t known of, and he felt surprised by it.
The fact that he found more women in his life who have dealt with this is unfortunately what you’d expect when you look at things statistically: 1 in 6 American women will be victims of attempted or completed rape in our lifetimes. But the fact that he was surprised is one of the most interesting parts of this for me.
Humans are known to be pretty bad at estimating the actual risks that are involved in lots of areas of life – it’s something that people involved in public health, economics, sociology and a whole host of other fields have been looking into for ages. But Krakauer’s description of what he went through shows that this was something even more basic – he hadn’t been considering this issue and deciding that it wasn’t likely for himself and the people in his life, he just hadn’t been considering it at all at a personal level.
And that’s a big part of why these events, PSAs, and other types of outreach are so important – these issues affect all of our lives, even when we don’t know that they do. And the more we talk about them, the more openings there are for people to share their stories, and help move us all towards a future when the statistics won’t be so bleak.
When it comes to sex, consent is pretty straightforward – everyone needs to be into what’s happening, and if you’re not sure about it, ask.
But Allegra, you night wonder, what makes explaining consent a Fun Friday kind of topic? Consent itself is awesome, but talking about people who don’t get it really isn’t all that enjoyable.
Well, a fabulous blog titled Rockstar Dinosaur Pirate Princess has broken it down a bit, using the quintessentially British (and surprisingly perfect) analogy of making someone a cup of tea. It’s further proof that tea makes everything better.
Also, her follow up piece about how surreal it’s been to have that post be spread so far, so fast is pretty great, too, and talks about some important follow-up points.
Today’s post is by “Obi,” a Nigerian doctor conducting his field experience at Planned Parenthood as part of his MPH program. He was a general practitioner in his home country with main interest and expertise in maternal and child health.
When it comes to STD prevention purposes, what defines safe? One of the most concise mnemonics for STD prevention is the ABC Rule (one of the most basic ways couples can have safe sexual experiences and healthy sex life).
As simple as this may seem, it is not well understoody by some. Let’s break it down…
Abstain from sex: This means ‘not engaging in any form of sexual practice with a partner’. The notion of abstinence is misinterpreted by a lot of people to mean not performing any sexual practice that could lead to pregnancy (vaginal intercourse), while some include abstaining from any penetrative sexual practice (both vaginal and anal intercourse). This, therefore, gives room for oral sex for abstinent individuals. However, STDs like Syphilis, Gonorrhea, Human Papilloma Virus (HPV), Herpes and Hepatitis can be contracted through oral sex. I do get a surprised look from teens and young adults when I say that like vaginal sex, oral sex should be performed with protection because of risks of contracting an STD.
Be faithful: It takes two to tango, so the saying goes. Two partners who are in a monogamous relationship and want to start a physical relationship should consider the following:
Here comes the twist, the definition of being faithful also varies depending on whose point of view you are looking at it from. By definition, being faithful, with regards to safe sex, refers to not being sexually involved with anyone except your partner. Since we know that STDs can be contracted through oral sex, and use of barrier methods (condoms) isn’t 100% effective, it is imperative that partners who practice ‘Being Faithful’ as their method of STD prevention do so in the strictest way possible.
Please remember we are all humans and we all can make mistakes, it is advisable to have routine STD including HIV testing, health screenings and see your physician if you have any symptoms or concerns.
Use a condom: If you choose not to be abstinent and are unable to be faithful to your partner, it is advisable to use a condom with all your sexual partners. Latex condoms, when used consistently and correctly, are highly effective in preventing the transmission of HIV, the virus that causes AIDS. In addition, consistent and correct use of latex condoms reduces the risk of other sexually transmitted diseases (STDs), including diseases transmitted by genital secretions, and to a lesser degree, genital ulcer diseases. Incorrect and inconsistent use of condoms increases risk of contracting STDs including HIV.
Condoms should be used during vaginal, anal, and oral sex and also when sharing sex toys (condoms should be changed before use by each partner). Condoms should be properly stored, expiration date checked before use, and the right steps followed when putting on, using, and disposing of used condoms.
It’s important to note that condoms offer protection over areas where it covers and offers lesser protection against genital ulcers and bodily secretions outside this area.
What do you think of using the ABCs for STD prevention?
Have you ever visited The Good Men Project? If not, go check it out. Do it now. It’s that good. And refreshing.
I had a stay-at-home dad and my husband breaks the mold in the dad department so the bar is set high in terms of my expectations of men. Who taught me how to tie my shoes? Dad. Who was there when I got my first period? Dad. Who talked with me about puberty, dating, and self-esteem? Dad. Who taught me about consent? Dad. Don’t get me wrong, my mom also did her share of educating and is a big influence in my life. Why am I sharing this with you? Because I want all the dads out there to know that what they say/do and how they say/do it has a profound impact on the development of their children. The lessons he taught me have protected me and inform nearly every decision I make. Dads, you make a difference.
Consent means to approve, permit, or agree. Seems pretty straightforward, right? But how do you teach it? Why should you teach it? You see, consent changes the way we interact with one another. It is the immediate result of practicing respect. Now back to The Good Men Project. The editors have put together one of the best how-to parenting pieces I have ever read: The Healthy Sex Talk: Teaching Kids Consent, Ages 1-21. Read. Every. Word. Then come back and tell us how your dad (or parent) taught you the concepts of respect and consent.
P.S. You don’t have to be a dad to put this information to good use.
So do you remember those guys or girls you dated that were terrible in bed, but you just didn’t have the heart to tell them? Maybe you thought to yourself, it will only last for a few minutes, 20 tops. Or maybe you were talked into doing something you really weren’t comfortable doing, but you just did it so they would shut up and stop pestering you, or felt you had to. I am here to tell you, that you deserve to have great sex with your date, lover, partner, or whatever they are. You should also know that you should never feel pressured to do something or just try to get it over so you can go home and watch the new Netflix DVD, and eat the tub of Ben and Jerry’s Americone Dream that is patiently awaiting you in your freezer. Though I do have to say that does sound like good times in my book, but I digress.
I have a girl’s night every few months and would like to briefly share three of their many dating stories. The first is a friend that was dating a very attractive man who was eight years younger than she was. This made her feel really good that a younger, hot man was asking her out. They went to her place where he proceeded to finger bang her belly button. This would be fine if that was the area he intended to touch but alas he thought he was touching her clitoris. It shows us that younger looks really nice on paper but may not always be better. The poor young man was then sent off without any kind of instruction from my friend and probably continues to injure other harmless belly buttons and leave his partners with a good story to tell their girlfriends, but also sexually unsatisfied.
The second story is of a friend who briefly dated a man who was known to have been “around the block a few times.” She assumed (we should never assume) that he would be well versed in foreplay, etc. They went out a few times and started “making out.” She noticed large pieces of what appeared to be spinach in his teeth. She tried to muster the strength to ignore the food particles and then…he started to lick her face. She thought he must have slipped off her lips and then it happened again as well as him forcing his fingers into her dry vagina like he was trying to dig for gold. She tried to date him for a few weeks but would put herself in situations were they couldn’t make-out or go any further. She told her friends, if he is that terrible at kissing, I can’t imagine what he would be like if we had sex. She ended it several weeks later. Two years later she ran into a friend who was dating him and she said the same thing!
The final story is about a friend who on the second date invited someone back to her house. She wanted to make-out but wasn’t really wanting it to go any further, yet. They started kissing and he asked her to go into her bedroom. She stated several times that the couch was just fine, but he persuaded her with his persistence and she went into the bedroom. He then attempted to have her perform oral sex on him, but she didn’t feel ready to go that far. He made comments about how it wasn’t a big deal and made her feel she should “throw him a bone” and just do it. She gave in but later regretted her decision. She wanted to stand up for herself but couldn’t find the courage to say how she really felt. She deleted his number and decided that anyone that would pressure her into doing something she didn’t want to do was not worth her time.
I tell you these stories in the hopes that as sexual beings we can find the kind words like: “oh right there,” “keep doing that,” or instructions given in a sexy way to help those who are not as skilled as we would like them to be so they too can one day become Sexperts and satisfy you and/or future partners. You should think of yourself as a humanitarian who is giving back to the world by teaching other people your sexual wisdom and skills. I would also like us all to find the inner voice to be assertive and only share our sexy selves with people who we really want to be with.
The other day two of my girlfriends and I went to dinner, and like many of our conversations we discussed sex-related topics. We talked about some of the train wreck dates we went on, which led to us talking about other sexual issues. One of them began talking about how she must have a really tight vagina because vaginal sex always hurt, especially in the beginning. I asked her some questions and we determined that they were going right into vaginal sex without some type of foreplay. In the beginning of most relationships it doesn’t take much to get turned on, but as it progresses most of us need a little help before we can become well lubricated. I informed her of the old comparison which states that women are generally like ovens, they need time to heat up and time to cool down. Compared to men that are like microwave ovens, they can heat up quickly and cool down quickly. This means that for most women they have to have foreplay before they participate in vaginal sex or insert something into the vagina.
Unfortunately my friend’s issue is not uncommon. According to the Center for Sexual Health Promotion at Indiana University 1 in 3 women experience pain during sex. Thankfully, the study reports that only about 10% of the women who experience pain during sex have a medical issue to blame. This means that the overwhelming majority of women who say sex hurts can correct this issue with a few simple tips.
• Make sure you are well lubricated. Hopefully it is your own lubrication, but if you need a little help try a man-made lubricant like gun oil or sliquid.
• Communication is key to ensuring your needs are being met during sex. Your partner is not a mind reader, and the way they pleased previous partners may not “rock your boat” in the same way. He/she may be going right for the genitals because that is what a previous partner liked or what they would like if you were pleasuring them. You have to tell them what you like and what feels good because not everyone is turned on in the same way. Many women like other parts of their bodies stimulated first, and if asked, state that they would like their genitals to be the fourth or sixth place on the list. Men would generally state that the first area they would want touched or stimulated would be their penis.
• Make sure you do not have a vaginal infection or an STD. Please seek medical treatment if you are experiencing an unusual symptoms, change in discharge, smell, discomfort, bleeding, etc.
• Make sure the only reason you are having sex is because you want to and it’s not just to please someone or keep them from leaving you. If you want to be in a sexual relationship with your partner but cannot overcome previous sexual trauma, you may want to seek help from a therapist.
Keep a look out for next month’s post when I will be discussing tips for safer and more pleasurable anal sex.