Tag Archives: safety

“So, You’re a Virgin!?”: Thinking about the “Morals” of Virginity

What do you think of when you picture a “virgin?” Do the pictures in your head change when you imagine the virgin as either a young man or a young woman? Often times, in mainstream culture, it seems as though virginity for young women is a “prize.” Virginal women are seen as pure and innocent, and the loss of virginity may be associated with shame. For young men, virginity seems to be thought of as more of a burden. It can be associated with a lack of masculinity or seen as a source of embarrassment. These stereotypes regarding virginity highlight the ways in which the concept of virginity is highly gendered, meaning that the way we think about virginity is different whether it’s applied to men or women. Discussions surrounding gender and virginity highlight a lot of the issues that our society has with sex and gender.

consentWhy would we value someone more or less for never having had sex? It is most definitely of the utmost importance that sex take place between individuals who are able to consent. Sex should also include risk management strategies such as a barrier method (condoms, dental dams), and birth control (such as the pills, the shot, or the ring) if there is a possibility of pregnancy.  However, why do we place more focus on the moral weight of purity or the burden of proving oneself masculine, instead of paying greater attention to legitimately preparing people to know whether or not they are ready to have safe, consenting sex?

Why do we “count” some forms of sex, namely penile/vaginal intercourse, while other kinds of sex, such as oral, are not given as much attention? By limiting discussions about various kinds of sex, and by ignoring discussions about safe sex and consent, in favor of gendered stereotypes we lose sight of what’s important in any sexual relationship! The gendered stereotype for young women might limit them from learning about safety, desire, and recognizing whether or not they are ready. Young men may relate not having sex to insecurity, and feel the need to push themselves when they aren’t ready! Additionally, stereotypes associated with young men can be hyper-aggressive, and ignore the consent of their partner in favor of male desires. Forcing these kinds of ideas onto young adults and teens may mean that their relationship with sex can have very negative components from the get-go. It’s time to place more value on personal awareness and safety, and move away from harmful stereotypes!

Dioxin Toxin in Tampons: Cause for Concern?

Last year we wrote about alternative menstrual products that included the reusable pad cloth, seasponge tampons, disposable softcups, and reusable softcups. Though we briefly mentioned that a downside to regular tampons are the chemicals they contain, allow me to elaborate.

Dioxin. Dioxin is a chemical byproduct of the bleaching process that tampons go through (the cotton and rayon that make tampons), and the FDA has been contemplating its effects in women for over a decade. There are currently no formal reports on the amount of this chemical that manufacturers include, as the information is not disclosed to the public. Though the amount of dioxin that the FDA claims is within the tampons is “below detectable limits,” a 2005 study found “detectable” levels of the chemical in seven brands of tampons.

In 2010 the World Health Organization published a report about the dangers of dioxin in humans, and stated that:

“Long-term exposure is linked to impairment of the immune system, the developing nervous system, the endocrine system and reproductive functions. Chronic exposure of animals to dioxins has resulted in several types of cancer.”

The FDA has insisted that the amount of dioxin found within tampons is not a threat to humans, you must draw a conclusion for yourself. A menstruating female can go through upwards of 16,000 tampons in her lifetime, through which she is likely to expose her fragile vaginal tissue to dioxin with each use. Do the numbers add up to something dangerous? For now, it is up to only you to decide.

For an easy chemical-free tampon solution, check out Seventh Generation’s Organic cotton tampons, which are free of dyes, chemicals and fragrances. While a bit pricier than regular tampons, I managed to find them online for less than $5.

Cheers to a Safe, Sexy New Year!

It’s that time of year again: endless cookie trays, wrapping paper rolls, and holiday cheer (or stress!). So, whether you’re spiking the eggnog under mistletoe or popping champagne to your own fireworks, here are some tips for staying safe and sexy.

Boozing 101: Alcohol reduces inhibitions, and can lead people to do things they wouldn’t while sober (this is probably why we drink it). Along with safer sex practices, we want you to arrive home safely. Every thirty minutes someone is killed by drunk driving. Holidays are no exception.

Date Rape 101: Not to yellow your snow but every 2 minutes, someone in the United States is sexually assaulted. About 2/3 of assaults are committed by someone the victim knows, and 38% of rapists are a friend or acquaintance. Oh, and 80% of victims are under 30 years old.

Ways to protect yourself? Stay vigilant! Know your boundaries, and be clear about them. If an assault takes place, CALL THE POLICE!

Spiked Drinks 101: Drugs like Rohypnol (“roofies”) or Gamma-Hydroxybutyerate (“GHB”) are clear, tasteless, odorless chemicals that are sometimes slipped into drinks to help an attacker subdue their victim before an assault. Within 5-10 minutes of ingesting wither of these drugs, a person’s inhibitions will become impaired, often leading them to “black out,” or have short-term amnesia. This gives an attacker the opportunity to assault their victim with less chance that the victim will remember the encounter or be able to report it. These drugs leave the blood system within 72 hours, and are often hard to detect in toxicology reports.  So, how do you keep yourself safe?

  • Watch your drinks ALL NIGHT LONG.
  • Never accept a drink from a stranger.
  • Never leave your drink with friends or strangers.
  • Avoid the community spiked punch bowl – you never know what’s inside.
  • Have a “buddy system” if you go out. Let friends or partners know where you are, who you’re with, and how you’re getting home.

Safe Sex 101: Getting hot and heavy tonight? Pack ahead! Remember to bring your contraceptive method with you if you’re away from home this season. Packing ahead can prevent some awkward interactions, like getting hot and heavy…then realizing you don’t have protection.

So pack ahead and remember that if an accident happens, you can buy emergency contraception in all 50 states without a prescription (if you’re over 16) – you just have to ask a pharmacist or come to a Planned Parenthood.

Live well, love well, and drink responsibly this holiday season. (I personally think I’ll skip the booze all together in exchange for Strawberries and Champagne lube!)