The Sensual Spot: Unabridged facts about STDs, female masturbation | The American Word

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The Sensual Spot: Unabridged facts about STDs, female masturbation

Kristen Shannon | 11/14/13 5:30am

[Editor’s Note: This article was originally published in our print edition on October 25.]

Sexuality is inextricably woven into institutions of higher learning. These microcosms of society serve as the backdrops for the sexual liberation and discovery. Though we learn how to produce collegiate level research papers and read massive amounts of dense readings, we often shy away from deep exploration into more taboo and stigmatized aspects of life, most notably sexuality.

Our brains are file cabinets filled with international relations theories, math equations and government policies. So why should we not be as well informed in one of the most basic aspects of our human being: sex? Questions remain unanswered and our conceptualization of sex is unjustly limited. I want to change that.

My name is Kristen Shannon and I am a passionate supporter of the “there are no such things a dumb questions” logic. I am a junior in SIS and I come from a Catholic school background. This last fact is to stress my information on sexuality was largely confined to the “Mean Girls” interpretation, that is: “Don’t have sex, because you will get pregnant and die” (and rot in hell). I do not pretend to be a professional sex guru. Rather, I am a 20-year-old female from Bowie, Md. who wants to provide you with unabridged facts and genuine advice on concepts in sexuality that might not otherwise be addressed.

This column will be your chance to ask questions and receive feedback on anything you ever wanted to know about sex. This is your space. I will launch my column with two of the most prevalent questions I hear in my friend circles. Please write me with your questions to be discussed in future issues at [email protected]

Q: When should you talk about STDs with a partner? Is there ever a time when it is “too soon” to discuss this?

A: You are well within your rights to bring up the topic as soon as you sense the relationship is headed for intimacy. As long as you do not come across as being a resident of the ivory tower of perfect sexual health, the conversation will be much less awkward and tense than what you likely expect it to be. Be honest about your own sexual health in this process as well. The role of sexual health between two people in a relationship stems from the larger aspect of trust. Many of the issues dealing with sexual health between partners are predicated off a lack of trust or a breach of trust.

While getting tested might not exactly be considered first date material to some, I suggest it should be brought up when sex is introduced to the relationship. There is no “right way” to do this; it depends on your individual comfort levels with each other. However, there is a right time to do this, and that is before you have sex and not after. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), an average of 14 percent of American female college students get infected with genital HPV each year. A startling 27 percent of young women between the ages of 20 and 24 are infected with the HPV virus. Additionally, young adults between the ages of 20 and 24 have the highest rates of chlamydia, gonorrhea and syphilis.

While these diseases can be cured and treated with medicine, there are more serious STDs/STIs that have lifetime effects, such as HIV/AIDS and even HPV. Knowledge here is not only power, it can also save your health and lengthen your life.

Q: I’m a single female and haven’t gotten off in a long time, should I be embarrassed about masturbating?

A: The topic of female masturbation has often been confined to the realm of clutched pearls and censored discussions. We are constantly bombarded with sexual images in the media from Miley Cyrus “twerking” on Robin Thicke while wearing a saran wrap bikini at the 2013 MTV Video Music Awards to the various celebrity nip-slips that constantly find their way into the pages of popular magazines. The sexual revolution occurred several decades ago and the sex-positive movement continues to gain traction; the topic of sexuality in general has become much more of an open forum. Yet, the very notion of female masturbation is met with a mixture of nervous laughter and awkward tension.

Vaginas should no longer be perceived as dark moist caves of despair and agony. When we think of feminism and women liberation, images of figures like Gloria Steinem, Angela Davis and Sandra Cisneros pop into our minds. These strong-willed women are staples of the feminist movement in America and greatly contributed to the progression of the conversation of female sexuality. Yet, if we ponder the possibility of these exact same women masturbating during the course of their lives, many would turn their nose up and hold these women to a much lower regard.

We continue to make strides as a society so we can talk more freely about these topics and remove the stigma from them. Male masturbation has long been accepted and even glorified, what is keeping this from being the case for females? The more people know about the benefits and dynamic nature of female masturbation, the more the conversation can be transformed from awkward pearl clutching moments to relaxed and enlightening discussions.