By Luena Maillard '20
Sex Advice Columnist
Luena Maillard is a sophomore who is passionate about holistic health and education. In high school, she was employed by Planned Parenthood as a Peer Health Educator to teach sex ed classes to high school health classes. She is currently working as a PHE here on campus, and you can find her during her office hours at Tiernan Field House for one-on-one conversations.
How do you exist in a community that is very pro-sexual liberation, as someone who wants to abstain from sex for personal reasons? And knowing that sexual liberation is awesome and beautiful, there is still a lot of pressure to have sex. People will say, "it's ok not to have sex blah blah blah" but the culture says otherwise.
Being a part of a sex-positive community means respecting the choices others make about their sexuality, including when that choice is to not have sex. You are absolutely right. Sexual liberation is awesome and beautiful, however just as you seem to be respectful of others’ decisions, you are entitled and deserving of that same respect for yours. Remind yourself of this when you start to feel the pressure around you- that your decision to abstain for personal reasons is a valid way to exist in a sex-positive community, that you know better than anyone else what you need in this aspect of your life. So stand strong in your decision and know that you should be afforded the same respect with which you seem to treat others. And don’t forget that you can actively participate in promoting sexual liberation without having sex yourself!
So I've recently been intrigued by BDSM and I really want to try some stuff but I'm not sure about how my partner would react to me suggesting some stuff, especially some of the more intense stuff like wax play, (consensual) aggressive/forced intimacy, and roleplaying. Or even just asking them to dominate me. How would I go about expressing my interests without weirding them out?
Well, I'll be dommed
Hey ‘Well, I’ll be dommed’!
Asking your partner to try kinkier things in the bedroom is all about easing into it.
I wouldn’t advise asking your partner during sex as this will put pressure on them to make a quick decision in the moment and it could be uncomfortable. Instead, I would suggest phrasing it in the hypothetical, as it can be a more relaxed way to ease into the conversation. Perhaps you could start the conversation by discussing “a dream you had” where you two were acting on one of your fantasies, that way you can invite them to explore the topic without any sort of pressure or judgment as it was a dream. Start with the less intense kinks and try to really express what it is about these acts that turn you on, the more your partner understands the more comfortable they might be. Your partner might immediately respond with your same level of enthusiasm, or they may need more time to deal with any misconceptions before they are ready. Once the conversation moves out of the hypothetical it could be helpful to give your partner some resources to learn more. Be patient and understanding of where your partner might be at, and who knows, maybe they’ll share some of their own fantasies they’d like to try!
Recently, my hook up and I decided to stop using condoms but I’m unsure of how to ask him if he’s sleeping with other girls for the sake of hygiene. I don’t want to come off territorial but I want to make sure that we’re being safe. What do I do?
You are absolutely right that you need to have this conversation, the sooner the better. I think phrasing the question in terms of safety is the way to go, as you won’t come off as territorial and they should be able to understand why you would want to keep yourself safe. Any question or request you have for your personal safety is one they absolutely need to respect and answer with honesty. Until you get a response from your hookup, I would highly encourage you to continue to use barrier methods such as condoms again, as you are still at risk for STIs.
Are there any safe sex options for girls who have sex with girls besides dental dams? And how likely is it to transfer STIs through oral sex?
Latex gloves are another option for safer queer sex, they can protect against scratching from sharp fingernails, and save you from having to wash your hands between touching your partner and yourself. Latex-free options exist, as well as several different colors so you can spare yourself from feeling like you’re in lab! Both gloves and regular condoms can be cut open with scissors to create a sheet of latex that can act as a DIY dental dam as well. As for how likely it is to transfer STIs through oral sex, the truth is we don’t know exactly. The problem that arises when studying transmission through oral sex is that most people who engage in oral sex also have vaginal or anal sex, making it hard to distinguish the risks between types of sex. Not to mention the risk of getting an STI from oral sex can change depending on the STI itself. So, I can’t give you an exact percentage, but I can say that there is still a significant risk, especially for bacterial infections.
How do you ask a potential hookup about whether or not they've been STI tested? I'm thinking about dipping my toe in the waters of hookup culture, but I also want to be responsible. I want to stay true to myself and prioritize my sexual health, so how do I bring this up in a way that's productive? How do I know when my hookup's answer is adequate (e.g. "I got tested over the summer and I've hooked up with people, but I haven't displayed any symptoms.")?
Hook, Line, and Sinker
Hey ‘Hook, Line, and Sinker’!
Being a safe active member of hookup culture involves getting tested and being able to share with your hookups when your last test was. When asking, try to get specific answers. You should find out if they were tested, what the results were when they were tested, and if they have had unprotected sex with others since they were tested. These are the details you need in order to assess your own safety and health, and if their answer does not satisfy these criteria or they are avoidant, resentful, or try to brush it off- consider it a red flag and an inadequate answer. When considering your example, the answer is NOT yet acceptable, as they have hooked up with people after they got tested and this could have been unprotected. The fact that they display no symptoms is also not something that should assure you, as the MOST common symptom of STIs is NO symptoms at all.
So I've been kind of interested in this guy and it seems like he's been interested in me, too. We've hung out the past several weekends and talked a bunch. But I messaged him a week ago and he just didn't respond – left me on read. Ghosted me, if you will. I don't know if I should still pursue this, or if I should try my luck with someone else. How do I know when to decide it's not worth it?
Hey ‘Danny Phantom’!
I would suggest messaging them maybe one more time, especially if you two were talking regularly before. Don't feel weird about sending a casual text like, "Hey, haven't heard from you in a while" or something along the same vein. Then see what happens from there. If they respond, great! If they don’t, then I would say it’s time to move on. Easier said than done, but really try not to take it personally or blame yourself. You never know where a person is at in their life so you shouldn’t waste your energy on masticating the hypotheticals. The right people will make an effort to be in your life, so if you don’t get a response move on to someone who will!