Safer sex on campus starts with you talking about sex

Safer sex on campus starts with you talking about sex

Helpful advice from Kat Nantz, Sexual Empowerment Coach

Many students will spend a good deal of time this year thinking about sex. Everyone has their own opinion on the matter and everyone must decide for themselves what kind of sexual activity, if any, they want to pursue. But all of us should learn to discuss sex frankly and honestly.

Talking dirty 

“It takes time to learn new skills, and having/talking about sex is a skill — one that most of us were not taught!” said Kat Nantz, a local Sexual Empowerment Coach. Nantz offers workshops and sessions to help people “explore and deepen their relationship to personal power and sexual fulfillment.”

“The dominant cultural point of view about sexuality tells us that sex is dirty, private, and shameful,” said Nantz. “Most of the work that I do is around supporting folks in dismantling the toxic messaging we’ve received about sex so that people can begin to create a relationship with their sexuality that is empowering, fulfilling, and holistic.”

The first step is to figure out how sex actually works — and to dispel the myths that surround it.

“Knowledge is power,” said Nantz, “Get informed. Educate yourself about anatomy and how our bodies work.

Our culture puts a lot of emphasis on sex being performative and goal-oriented. Challenge this!

I encourage young people to explore a more expansive definition of sex, one that does not completely focus on penetration and orgasm as the end goal. Sex is about pleasure, discovery, connection, and consent!”

Start talking about sex, awkward as it may be.

“Find a safe space to explore and expand your comfort zone. This could be with yourself at home in the mirror saying words that make you uncomfortable, a trusted friend, a course that offers a safe space to openly talk about sex” — or the Wellness Centre on campus (which supplies free condoms and lube). “It takes an act of courage to open this sort of dialogue and combat shame; the more you talk about it and push past the discomfort, the easier it gets,” Nantz explained.

Getting to yes 

When talking to a partner, consent is the first thing to discuss. One in three women in Canada will experience sexual assault in their lifetime; learning about consent is more important than ever.

Consent doesn’t have to be verbal (and neither does revoking it), but talking to your partner helps you better understand and respect their boundaries. If you are ever sexually assaulted, get to safety and explore your options, which can include going to the hospital to gather medical evidence for filing a report (the university website details other courses of action).

But consent goes beyond a “yes” or “no” — it’s about discovering what makes sex great for you and asking for it. “Negotiate the sex you want to be having!” says Nantz.

Safe sex 

When it comes to practicing sex safely, knowledge is the key.

“Research STIs, practice safer sex, get tested, and learn how to share your status with partners,” said Nantz.

“STIs are highly stigmatized and getting tested and talking about it can bring up a lot of fear and shame for folks.

The best way to combat that shame is to talk openly and honestly about it and to be as informed as possible.”

A visit to Student Health Services is the best time to settle any uncertainties — and to speak to a doctor about birth control options, which could mean taking a daily pill, installing an intrauterine device, or simply using condoms (the only option that doubles as protection against STIs).

Photo by Alora Griffiths/The Ontarion.