By Hayley Van Allen ‘21
When I walked into the CARE Center last Tuesday evening, I was ready to get my sex education on. The CMC Advocates had planned an event for CMC Sex Week called Queering Safer Sex. The talk was just over an hour long and presented by professional sex educator Ashley Manta from the O.School. I was excited to see how the event went but still felt a bit apprehensive. Never in the history of my K-12 public education have I had a truly inclusive sex education that wasn’t based on fear and shame. Because of this, I’ve always had to do my own research online to get a remotely comprehensive sex education that was LGBT friendly. With my previous experiences in mind, I was excited to see how Manta approached the event.
Manta introduced herself as a sex educator from the O.School, a shame-free, pleasure-based online platform for sex education. The school offers online courses on how to unlearn the harmful ideas often forced upon students at middle and high schools across the world. The classes are based on creating a more comfortable and safe relationship to sex for everyone, often focusing on experiences specific to those who don’t identify as heterosexual or cisgender. Manta quickly diffused any tension or discomfort in the room by making light jokes and being completely open about her own relationship to each topic she brought up throughout the event.
Much of the talk was structured around the “Safer Sex Elevator Speech.” The purpose of the speech is to open up a dialogue about having safer and more enjoyable sex between you and the other person. Manta described the speech consisting of 7 parts; parts 1-6 were about your STD status, the sexual safety precautions you wanted to take, and different personal preferences for conduct in bed. The last part of the speech is to check in with the other person and ask for their speech in return. Manta explained that the more you practice, the easier and quicker giving this speech gets. She emphasized the importance of being fully clothed in a private space where both people could easily leave while giving the speech because it helps ensure that anything said is genuine and respected.
After giving us her own 2-minute elevator speech, Manta moved the conversation to ensure safety while having sex and the risk of STDs. She demonstrated the many different methods to prevent skin to skin contact and explained why they were so important. An emphasis was placed on the fact that you can’t tell what STD someone may have just by looking at them. Often people assume that someone doesn’t have an STD because they’re “not that type of person,” but in reality, anyone can have an STD. There is no real justification to consider those with an STD as being “dirty” as opposed to someone who is clean because there’s nothing dirty about STDs; they’re just something that happens. Manta explained that that’s why it is so important to use protection when having sex because you never know for sure the other person has an STD.
Manta finished the talk by answering some anonymous questions from the audience. After that everyone who attended was welcomed to take condoms and a few other “party favors” that the O.School had brought to the event. I left the talk feeling more educated about safe sex and empowered by my own sexual agency.
The Sex Elevator Speech
1. Share Your Results – When were you last tested for STDs, what did you get tested for, and what was the status of those tests?
2. Share Your “Win with Me Info” – What is your current relationship status and sexual orientation, and what, if any, relationship agreements do you have that the other person should know about? What pronouns do you use? Any dirty talk words they should use/not use? Any potential triggers you might have or safewords they should know about?
3. Share Your Safer Sex Protocols & Needs – What are your Safer Sex Protocols? What are your emotional safety needs? Your physical safety needs? What about aftercare/post-sex needs?
4. Update Since Last Tested – Quick rundown of any risky sexual things you’ve done since you were last tested. Did a condom break or slip off? Recently forgot to take your birth control?
5. Something I Like – One or two things that you know you like sexually (or might want to do with this person).
6. Something I Don’t Like – One thing you know you don’t like sexually (or that you aren’t up for today).
7. Last step: “And How About You?” – Then ask the other person, “And how about you?” and listen to what they say and how they say it.