Dr. Miriam Grossman’s pamphlet, Sense and Sexuality, landed on my desk this week. Like this part:
Look, there are irritations you may face in college that are out of your control: roommates who endlessly hit “snooze”; weird dorm odors; mandatory Friday morning lab; a computer crash at the worst possible time. They may seem disastrous, but someday, when you recall them, you’ll laugh. Then there are challenges you may face in college, or later, that will never bring a smile. Blisters or warts in private places. Meaningless, regrettable sex. Pre-cancerous conditions. Age-related infertility. These are huge issues that affect women more often than men. They can throw your life plans off track. They can stand between you and your dreams.
Though written on pretty pink paper, there are parts of the pamphlet that are both graphic and gross. This is necessary, however, given that girls are engaging in all the activities she describes therein, thinking it is normal and necessary, and furthermore, that when they feel bad the morning after, they are abnormal for that–that they are alone. You’d be hard pressed to find any acknowledgement of the stats, pretty much anywhere that say that 91 per cent of girls have feelings of regret after a “hook-up.” Look–women mostly have higher expectations of sex and certainly experience a greater burden when things go wrong–which with hook-ups, is almost guaranteed.
Why are so few willing to say this on campus? (Carleton University, for one, links here. If you fail to find the advice there helpful, you’re not alone. “Don’t brush your teeth or floss right before oral sex”? Sad to say, these are “the experts”. No wonder Dr. Grossman sees girl after girl in her office, suffering from mental and physical illness.)
Rebecca adds: That is really interesting and deserves to be widely circulated. As far as I know, lots of sex ed curricula still describe oral sex or “mutual masturbation” (for lack of a less cringeworthy phrase) as safe alternatives. From a purely physical perspective it may well be safer than vaginal or anal sex, but it’s clearly not risk free, and it’s irresponsible not to give this information to teenagers and university students.