From The Mouths At Babeland: How To Have Safe(r) & More Sex-Positive Sex

By Dating.com Group November 22, 2019

Thanks to everyone who came out last Friday for our #WeNeedAButton event at Babeland where we discussed how to have safe(r), more sex-positive sex, especially in situations where one or both partners may have an STI. The sex-positive panel featured sex writers Zachary Zane and Sophie Saint Thomas, and Lisa Finn, Babeland brand manager & sex educator, as the moderator.

 

For those of you who couldn’t make it, below are the highlights and takeaways:

 

Consent

Like any good sex event, we started with a consent discussion. Two popular acronyms were shared, the first being RACK (Risk-Aware Consensual Kink). Sophie Saint Thomas talked about how RACK has come to replace the old “Safe, Sane, & Consensual” model that used to be popular in BDSM/Kink circles, because after all, what’s considered safe and sane to some might not be to others, and also to avoid shaming mental illness and linking it to kink gone wrong.

 

Implicit in the RACK model is that all sex – from the most vanilla bean to the kinkiest – has risks involved. It’s all about the level of risk each person is willing to take on. When it comes to STIs, disclosing allows partners to understand the level of risk that comes with an interaction.

 

How risky are STIs these days?

With the advent of modern medication, most STIs are treatable with antibiotics or viral suppressants. When treated, STIs are not deadly and don’t even cause that big of a life inconvenience in terms of physical symptoms.

 

HIV while still chronic, does not lead to AIDS as much as it used to — thanks to a drug regimen that keeps people’s viral loads in check.

 

Being on medication with HIV can result in your viral load being zero…aka undetectable. And Undetectable = Untrasmittable. Meaning: someone with an undetectable viral load CANNOT spread the virus through sex, even without a condom. It’s been proven by science. What’s more: PrEP aka Truvada is on the market and prevents people contracting the HIV virus, even with an encounter with someone who is living with HIV and not undetectable.

 

Emotionally, however, certain STIs can carry the weight of stigma. Which is why part of being sex positive is being affirming of STIs and realizing the following:

 

An STI doesn’t change someone. STIs should not factor into any kind of moral judgement on others or ourselves.

Having the mentality that STIs are part of being human, and that the stigma associated with them & is not based on logic, science, or physical reality. Let’s try and let go of harmful cultural words like dirty and clean to describe others and ourselves.

 

People who are knowledgable of and open about their STI status are safer than those who are assumed negative.

Until the day comes when we can prick our fingers and get an immediate read on our bodily STI levels, most of us are referring to past results from days, weeks, or months ago when we say we’re negative.

 

If you’ve had sexual contact with someone after getting an STI panel, then you are now only assumed negative, because even absent of symptoms, you could have been exposed to an STI since.

 

So, despite our harmful cultural stigma, people who are living with an STI and who are aware of that fact and open with partners are the safest people to interact with, because under these circumstances, the right kind of precautions can be taken to be extra safe.

 

That being said…

 

There is only safe(r), not safe. There is always assumed risk. 

Again, keeping the RACK model of consent in mind, part of being Risk-Aware is on the people involved being honest about their sexual health. But, things don’t always go as planned. Even with precautions, things happen.

 

Many people who are highly sexually active are also highly concerned and responsible with their sexual health.

Let’s let the 90s / early 2000s slut-shaming and rape culture we inherited die!!!!

Let’s not assume that people who engage in lots of sex and lots of different sex (including sex for $$) are dirty or irresponsible or untrustworthy. In fact, they are likely more responsible than the average person!!!

 

Disclosing: What If I Get A Bad Reaction?

Zachary Zane, who that evening happened to be recovering from a bout of syphilis, compared disclosing that you are living with an STI to his reactions received after telling people that he is a bisexual man. Some people, especially years ago, would not believe he was truly bi, or weren’t interested in dating a bi person. “It’s unfortunate, but it’s also a litmus test. If they’re having that kind of reaction to that kind of information, there would have probably been bigger things down the line that would have been a deal breaker.”

 

Tips on Being Safe(r) When It Comes To Toys

 

Consider Condoms

If you’re using the same dildo or toys w/ multiple partners, definitely clean in-between (at Babeland, you’ll always get instructions on how to care for your toy at the register), but also consider using condoms as an extra layer of protection. Not just for STIs either, for any bacteria that may have collected on the device.

 

Conscious Lube-Use

Lisa Flinn from Babeland reminded us that the kind of lube you use matters, not just in terms of your body’s experience, but also in terms of your toy. A major example of this is using silicon-based lube on a silicon-based toy. This scenario can result in micro-abrasions (tiny cuts) on your toy, little holes where dirt and bacteria may collect.

 

Why #WeNeedAButton

Zach shared his story about the struggles, biphobia, and unfair care he endured when trying to get on PrEP when he was new to NYC.

 

While he no longer thinks he needs his doctor to be gay, he definitely needs his doctors to be well-versed in queer issues and culture. And unfortunately, it’s difficult to know for sure whether or not the doctor you’re about to see will be respectful and appropriate.

 

Sophie, who is bi and queer, shared her stories as well. From horribly inappropriate comments during gynecological exams to her realization that most doctors do not actually know the STI risk that comes with two people with vulvas having sex, she supports the campaign because access to quality and affirmative medical care is such a crucial part of leading a healthy life.

 

And as she mentioned, queer people have disproportionately higher rates of depression, suicide, homelessness, and many other symptoms of being marginalized by major institutions, including our healthcare system.

 

Sophie and Zack’s Sexy Product Picks!

Need sexy gift ideas for the holidays?

 

Zachary Zane and Sophie Saint Thomas each have their own gift guides on Babeland’s site!

 

Let’s take a look at some of their picks and reviews, shall we?

 

Zach’s pick: 

Lelo Hugo Prostate Massager

Lelo Hugo Prostate Massager

According to Zach, “The best part of the Hugo is how easily and quickly it switches between vibrations speeds. It uses a hand held remote and you simply tilt it to change the vibration intensity. When completely horizontal, the intensity of vibrations is at 10%. When completely vertical, the massager goes to 100% vibration intensity. Another cool fact is that the Hugo actually localizes the vibrations. So when I tilt the toy back towards me, it intensifies vibrations towards the back of the Hugo. When I tilt the remote to the left, it intensifies vibrations on the left side of the Hugo, and so on. Lastly, it has a perineum vibrator connected to it as well, which I like since my perineum is seldom stimulated during sex, even though if feels really pleasurable as a highly erogenous zone.”

 

Sophie’s pick:

TomBoii Boxer Brief Harness

TomBoii Boxer Brief Harness Red

 

Sophie says, “These harnesses are the most comfortable harnesses I’ve ever work. They are great for gender expression as well. The briefs hold the dildo in place right up against your clit, which is amazing for dual stimulation, especially if you add a bullet vibrator to a pocket in the harness or inside a dildo. These briefs are an honor to the art of strap-on sex.”

 

Zach’s pick:

pjur Backdoor

pjur Backdoor

“pjur actually has two different backdoor lubes. The one that’s water-based is perfect for use with toys. The one that’s silicone-based is ideal for anal sex. I like pjur because it’s one of the few lubes I’ve used where you don’t need to reapply constantly. You squirt on the toy (or penis) once before playing, and you’re ready to go!”

 

Sophie’s pick:

b-Vibe Rimming Petite

b-Vibe Rimming Petite

“All hail anal sex. All genders can enjoy this beginner vibrating butt plug, which when worn with goopy-water-based lube, warms up the butt most excellently for anal sex. Use it for anal sex prep, or for folks with a vagina, during vaginal penetration for some DP action.”

 

Don’t miss out next time!

Interested in attending our next event, email us at stories@waxoh.com

 

Stay sex positive!!

 

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