I’ve had this idea for awhile now. I’m currently trying to formulate it in the best way and see what other people think.
Almost everyone who has been through some form of sex education knows how to put a condom on a dildo. Hardly anyone knows how to use a dental dam. I can understand why dental dam demonstrations might not happen in sex education. Putting a condom on a dildo can be fun. Putting a dental dam on a plastic vagina seems much more intimate. And weird. Here’s the deal: for men who have sex with men, they’ve been taught (albeit in a heteronormative way) how to protect themselves. For women who have sex with women, the waters are murkier.
LGBT students often don’t get inclusive sexual health education in highs school or from parents. In college you’re on your own. Fortunately, people of our generation can use the internet to find sexual health information. I use the internet to find the information I need- whether it’s a Youtube video demonstrating how to use a dental dam or charts that show the risk levels of various sexual activities. I expose myself to a menagerie of information partly out of curiosity and partly because I need to answer questions when I’m counseling. I don’t see the problem as lack of access to information.
I know what it’s like to be a queer women struggling with if and how to have safe sex. I know what it’s like to feel nervous asking a partner to use protection with me, and the frustration felt when a partner wasn’t as enthusiastic as I was. Dental dams aren’t weird and awkward, and haven’t impeded my ability to get someone off. (Maybe I’m just that good.) While LGBT women and men have many reasons to collaborate, we might be more different than similar when it comes to sexual health. I’m not qualified to tackle sexual health from an LGBT men’s perspective. I know which acts or more high risk than others, but people are already aware of that. I’ve yet to encounter an LGBT man at Duke who didn’t find safe sex perfectly obvious (in theory at least.)
How do women have safe sex with other women? By using a dental dam during oral sex or rimming. You could also use finger condoms or latex gloves. Valencia by Michelle Tea, a novel I read in high school, described women wearing latex gloves when they had sex, so it’s on my radar. Barring specific medical conditions, I don’t see any need for finger condoms or latex gloves. To be honest, the idea of having unsafe sex freaks me out, especially when I have my public health nerd glasses on. (Those glasses do sometimes come off in the heat of the moment. But yall already know I’m not a sexual health saint.) I have never talked to a queer woman who knew about dental dams or wanted to use them. I have never shared sex toys with a woman. If I did, I would at least know to clean them. Not to be a Debbie Downer, but women can transmit STDs to each other. Otherwise this discussion would be moot.
I want to hear from yall. What (if anything) do you use for protection? What are your reasons for using or not using protection? Do you feel uninformed or inexperienced? Do you consider lesbian sex safe, or safe enough? Do you find dental dams awkward/gross/pointless/potentially lethal?