10 July 2009

STI capaign; baby incubators get fearful, lesbian/ bi women get erased.

Readers, I have some terrible news for you. It pains me to reveal that despite our attentive policing of women's sexuality, some girls are actually acquiescing to dudes putting the penis in the vagina. Or in the mouth. Or in the anus. It's all about the penis, hear people. No sexy times without it.

Now, don't be alarmed, I too was shocked, but, our friends in the public service have helpfully provided us all with an STI advertising campaign to alert us of the dangers involved with sex. Unfortunately it's really vexing me. You see, it's obsessed with dick-centric sex, erases sex that doesn't involve penis and has this annoying aftertaste of female sexual submissiveness and a vague "SHE'S IMPURE! THREAT! RED ALERT! NON-VIRGIN WOMAN!" thing that I really don't dig.

I'm not against getting this information out to young people, in fact I've written about how important sex education is in the past, but by pitching condoms as an STI panacea as the STI Questions section of the website does, this campaign invalidates young women engaging in same-sex lovin and puts them in jeopardy by withholding facts about how to have safer lesbian sex (hint: barrier methods like dental dams, cutting fingernails). That whoever put this campaign together failed to include this information is mind boggling and makes me really fracking angry.

Even the answer to the question If I only have oral sex can I get an STI? fails to mention barrier methods pertinent to women getting eaten out; seriously- you're already talking about sex here, is there really a special level of obscenity-hell reserved for women being pleasured by their partners orally? Plug your ears and sing la-la-la for this next bit if you're squeemish about female orgasms- but cunnilingus happens. In fact it's probably happening in a relationship near YOU! Straight or otherwise! Shocking hey?

The second disconcerting thing about this campaign is the print material thats been showing up on buses and train stations (and, conveniently, at the top of this post). The women, pictures of heteronormative innocence, are in positions of diempowerment- hiding behind their boyfriend or facing away from the camera. They are passive victims, for example in both the first and third poster one woman is staring moodily out a window and the other is wide-eyed leaning on her male partner. They're also potential carriers of STIs who are scared and ashamed to learn they might be putting their lover at risk (the combination of images and text in the third poster shows this particularly well, she's a damsel in distress who looks like she's about to bust into tears). However in the second poster the text and the images frame the man as an active subject- you see his face, you're told about the pain the STI is causing him (significantly, the pain it's causing his dick- again with that pesky penis-centric notion of sex!). He's almost in that "Thinker" pose and his brow is furrowed because he is actively engaged with, and concerned about, his health.

If you are at all inclined to dash off a note pertaining to the conspicuous absence of safer sex info for Lesbians and Bi women then you can! sti.campaign@health.gov.au

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