Sealed Section: The Sex Ed You Should Have Had

Words by Maggie Coggan-Gartlan | @MaggieCoggan

On the whole, we can pretty much agree that our school-based sex ed just didn’t cut it. In case you’ve blocked it from your memory, the most popular approach being to scare us into not having sex in the first place with a combination of graphic descriptions of STI’s and the risk of a teenage pregnancy. You left these sessions feeling dazed and confused (not in a good way) and half the time less informed than before class.

Sex is something that can be enjoyed no matter your gender, sexuality or ability. It definitely isn’t something to feel ashamed of, no matter how much you do or don’t do it. However there are a heap of important things that weren’t explained properly, which is where this sexplainer comes in. So take a seat and let’s get down to ~bizness~.


We all remember the gory photos and descriptions. Not surprisingly, this didn’t stop us from having sex and unfortunately, getting infected.

Here are a few tips on making sure you are being safe…


You would be surprised by how many think they can get away with not using any. Whether it’s oral or penetrative, make sure you’ve got something on there, because while it might be uncomfortable or awkward to hop up and put a condom on, it’s going to be worse when you get chlamydia.

DIY dental dam:

Who said being safe couldn’t be fun? If you are going down on a partner with a vulva or are going to enjoy some anal play, you definitely need to use one of these. Here are a few simple steps to making your very own you crafty thing:

  • Cut both ends off a condom
  • Slice one side of the condom open so you have a rectangular shape
  • Place in desired area and you have just saved yourself a trip to the doctor!

Check yourself before you wreck yourself:

Going for a check up is not at the top of a lot of people’s priority lists. You might be scared the professionals are going to stick things up and into you, but usually, the most painful thing will be a blood test.

Going for regular check-ups is a really important part of both your sexual health and your partners.

Making an appointment is easy and (usually) free if you go to the right places:

  • Medical One in QV (they bulk bill if you have a student card)
  • Melbourne Sexual Health Clinic on Swanston Street
  • Family Planning clinics in various locations – they do have an annual fee of $10.50


Options, options, options! Although the pill is the most widely used form of contraception, it doesn’t work for everyone. The IUD and hormonal injections are also a thing, so instead, head to your local GP or sexual health clinic and check out your choices… and get educated. Make sure you know what you are taking, and what it might do to your body.

If you didn’t happen to use protection, the morning after pill is available from chemists and sexual health clinics too.

It does take two to tango however. Partners with penises, just because your partner has invested in a contraceptive, it doesn’t mean you can sit back and relax. Unless you have both been checked and you have been exclusive for at least six months, you really do need to wear a condom.


Some people would only describe sex as the ‘genital intercourse’ bit, but it actually extends much further. The way people have sex and what they define as the real deal differs greatly from person to person, and sometimes, intercourse can be a little bit limiting.

Here is a shortlist of ways to get cosy without the actual penetrating bit:

  • Masturbation (this can include just yourself, or mutually with a partner)
  • Breast or nipple stimulation
  • Stroking and sexual massage
  • Frottage or Tribbing (grinding against genitals with clothes on)
  • Manual-genital sex which include hand jobs, fingering and fisting
  • Cyber sex and phone sex
  • Talking dirty and sharing sexual fantasies
  • Kissing and cuddling (so underrated it hurts)
  • Oral sex

There is no checklist you need to go through (just whatever you’re in the mood for!) but this may help to broaden your horizons a little. Despite what we are taught, intercourse is not the be all and end all.

Sex toys:

Sex toys can be an excellent way to take your self-love sesh to another level, and are definitely nothing to be ashamed of. They can be a great way of exploring your body and finding out what feels good and what doesn’t.

Don’t have a partner? No worries! The beauty of these bad boys is they are designed to be used anytime, anywhere (well, not everywhere) and can be a great way of quickly satisfying yourself in your own time and on your own terms.

They can also be used during partner sex, so they don’t need to miss out on the fun!

Where are they available?

Online or in sex shops is an obvious choice, but you will need to be over 18 to access these.

DIY: there are many household and unsuspecting objects that you can easily transform into a sex toy. Vegetables, electric toothbrushes and toilet rolls with a soft lining as a masturbation sleeve are all great choices. Just make sure they are clean before use and cover them up with some sort of protection so you’re not exposing yourself to nasty germs. There is nothing sexy about a yeast infection.


It’s intrinsic to good sex that both parties are able to make a decision without feeling forced or manipulated at any time.

So what are some good guidelines?

  • Silence doesn’t mean yes. There are ways to check if what you are doing is ok without making it weird and robotic, but don’t just assume that everything is fine and go for it.
  • If the other person clearly is not in a state to be consenting, don’t take advantage of the situation and make decisions for them when there is a chance they might regret it.
  • If a person is under the influence of drugs or alcohol, they cannot consent. If a person is asleep, the same also applies.
  • There is nothing wrong with changing your mind because this isn’t a home loan, you haven’t signed a legally binding contract. Even if you said yes at first, it doesn’t mean you have to go through with it.
  • No means no. So does stop. Always. No ifs, no buts.

Asking for consent can be easily worked into your sexual repertoire, and can even be a great introduction to dirty talk if you’re keen to try a bit of that out!

A simple ‘good?’ can be all it takes to check in with your partner, but if you want to step it up why not try some of the following…

  1. “Do you like it when I (xyz)”
  2. “Do you want me to keep going?”
  3. “Let’s try a bit of (xyz), you cool with that?”
  4. “Dear maiden/sir/other, could I delight you in some coitus right now?”
  5. “If you were Margaret and/or David, how many stars would you give this move/XYZ? Would you like to see a sequel?”

Catalyst has been the student publication of RMIT University since 1944. We may be older than your parents but we’re still going strong!

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