Sex Education

I’ve just returned to university to do my Masters in IT and during my orientation I learnt several things. While most of them were relevant to the course and university there were two other things that stood out.

First, next to the IT office is the student office where you can get free condoms (because of course it’s the IT students who are going to need condoms.)

The second was along with condoms, you can also get dental dams.

For those of you who don’t know what a dental dam is, it’s a little square of latex that dentists use to isolate the tooth they’re treating. 

Now, if you’re like me, you’re probably wondering why these are supplied with condoms. Basically they’re for use when performing oral sex on a woman. (If you want more detail, Glyde, who make dental dams have also produced this pamphlet.)

I am 24 and I learnt this two weeks ago, which leads me to ask two questions;

1. Why did I not know this?
2. Who’s responsibility was it to teach me?

These are two questions that should probably be looked at together. 

Simply put, I didn’t know because no one told me and when I think about it, I don’t know whose job it was to teach me.

I went to a public school and we did have sex education as part of science in year 7 but it wasn’t really about sex it was more about the reproductive process. We didn’t cover condoms at all.

There was more comprehensive sex education taught in year 10 where I know they were taught how to use condoms but it was taught in health which was an elective. I didn’t do this class because I chose what I considered to be more “fun” electives (i.e. drama/art classes) and I’m not sure what percentage of kids in my year level would have taken it.

Next, there’s my parents who have never really given me “the talk.” I think Mum probably tried and I just put my hand over my ears and told her we had covered it in school.

Seeing as most of my peers were at school with me, I doubt they were taught this either. The ones I have spoken to recently have confirmed that they have never heard of using dental dams as protection.

Then there was that whole Michael Douglas “oral sex gave me throat cancer” thing a few months ago which would have been the perfect opportunity to bring this up. Yet despite the fact Cosmo Australia had a whole article on HPV in their August issue, the use of dental dams was not mentioned. In fact, although they confirmed that you can give your partner HPV through oral sex, their conclusion was;

“We can go forth and enjoy sexy times, so long as we’re being safe and keeping up with our regular Pap smears.”

That’s it. No mention of what “safe” involves. Just keep having checks. 

Thanks to Girls (ah Lena Dunham, is there anything you CAN’T do!) I know that men can’t get tested for HPV and that also once you have it there’s not a definitive cure for it. You can treat certain symptoms depending on the strain, but you can’t get rid of it completely. So isn’t more important to teach prevention?

Cosmo magazine and its younger sisters Dolly and Girlfriend always go on about condoms, condoms, condoms and using them when performing oral sex on men, which is fair enough, they’re important but if dental dams can prevent HPV aren’t they important too?

Even the Australian Government’s Health Department’s HPV page doesn’t cover it. It’s only about the vaccine. 

Neither does bioCSL’s site

So maybe I’m not the only one that doesn’t know, but this is something that clearly needs to be taught.

Surely the fact, that at age 24, I only just discovered this is proof we need better sex education programs in our schools and in the community in general.




The Natural Beauty Myth

To most people, a natural beauty is someone who looks amazing without the use of make-up, surgery or photoshop, in other words someone who looks amazing NATURALLY.

I first got the idea for this post when I was reading an article on written by pornstar Stoya (if you’ve read my previous post on porn, you would know not to judge her on her profession, she’s very intelligent and insightful.) She is often touted as the “natural” porn star because she hasn’t had any obvious plastic surgery but she still dyes her hair, wears make-up and puts a lot of effort into her appearance in general. (You can read her full article here.)

Today when I went to have a shower I suddenly realised how much time and effort I put in to make myself appear naturally beautiful but unlike Stoya, my body is not my primary source of income so why do I do it?

First – The Hair

My hair products.

My hair products.

My hair tools.

My hair tools.

If you’ve read my other blog you will know about my need for numerous hair products and the issues I have with my hair.

I don’t spend all that long in the actual shower – I shampoo once, then condition. I leave the conditioner in for a few minutes (with the water off environmentalists!) and then rinse it out. I then spend most of the time on my hair afterwards – mainly because my hair has an annoying tendency to knot in the shower so I have to spend about 15 minutes detangle-ing it then it’s blow dried and then straightened. Or if I’m feeling lazy it will be half blow-dried then braided. Either way it will take me anywhere from half and hour to an hour to do my hair AFTER the shower.

I also spend a lot of money on my hair. My hair is only cut by my hair dresser. I then have to buy professional and natural products because otherwise my hair becomes oily and they cost me about $20 per bottle and then there’s the tools, consisting of the $300 GHD and the $200 Parlux hair drier.

All up:
Time: Approximately 60 minutes every second day.
Cost: $1000+ per annum (includes products, hair cuts, tools, etc.)

Second – The Face

My face products.

My face products.

My skin is incredibly important to me because it’s one of those things that cannot be replaced. You only get one shot at it.

I’m English and a red-head so I am really, really, REALLY sensitive to the sun, meaning I always use sun screen.

In the morning I wash my face with just water then I apply eye cream in a complex little massage (because God forbid you should just rub it on) and then a moisturiser with SPF 15. Once a week I will also exfoliate in the morning.

Then  before bed I will remove my make-up (if I’m wearing any), wash my face with cleanser then apply moisturiser. Once a week I will add a face mask to this process.

If I have any pimples, I will apply a product over them.

Once a fortnight I will also pluck my eyebrows.

All up:
Time: Approximately 30 – 60 minutes per day.
Cost: $250 – 300 per annum

Third – The Body

The Body

My body products and tools.

Hands-down (pun intended) my body takes up the most amount of time.

Once a month I will wax my arms, legs and bikini and then spend several minutes with a mirror and tweezers removing any stray hairs. This process can take up to an hour.

I will then spend 15 – 30 minutes washing, exfoliating and, if need be, shaving in the shower.

Then I moisturise all over (with several different moisturisers, each for different areas) and apply sun screen to any exposed skin.

I brush my teeth twice daily (just like a normal person) and apply hand cream and lip balm constantly throughout the day.

All up:
Time: Approximately 30 – 90 minutes per day.
Cost: $250+ per annum.

The Totals

So in total I will spend at least $1500 a year and 1 hour per day on my appearance.


So why do I got through all of this? I don’t do this for anyone else, I do it for me  (okay, if I have a date I might make sure everything is done that day.) To me it’s important to look after my appearance. But do I still think it’s an exorbitant amount of time to spend on just trying to look natural, yes. Maybe it’s part of my OCD that stops me from being able to be comfortable without going through all of this. I’m currently ill and I’ve spent the last 10 days in bed, yet I still feel the need to fulfill all this.

I wouldn’t generally describe myself as high maintenance and if you looked at me you probably wouldn’t think of me as high maintenance either.  I haven’t had plastic surgery, I don’t wear false nails or eyelashes or even all that much make up (and keep in mind that I have not included my make up in this process.) All of this is not in the quest for beauty but in the quest for NATURAL beauty and when you think about it, there is nothing natural about this process. Stoya’s right when she says that “natural beauty” is just another marketing tool.

I bet some of you are reading this and thinking that you can think of several examples of a naturally beautiful woman but I guarantee you that any woman who looks stunning without make up will still go through at least part of this arduous process first. To me, a true natural beauty will be a woman who only washes with soap and water, can just towel dry her hair without using any product, doesn’t feel the need to remove all of her body hair or moisturise every day.

Former Miss Universe Jennifer Hawkins bared all for Marie Claire magazine a few years ago in an un-photoshopped shoot but I can guarantee you that she probably went through a ridiculously thorough beauty regime before this and that she probably has an even more arduous routine than me generally.

Jennifer Hawkins un-photoshopped.

Jennifer Hawkins un-photoshopped.