Content warning: sexual assault and sexual harassment
As we all settled into uni life, RUSU launched Let’s Get Consensual Week, an initiative raising awareness on respectful relationships and sex. As uni students, our lives can be pretty hectic. But in the business of everything, the importance of learning about, practicing and implementing healthy relationships and safe sex can fall behind.
Together with Compass, Catalyst provided students the opportunity to anonymously ask questions relating to respectful relationships, sexual health and anything else in between. All questions have been answered by Compass leaders Thea and Jenna, two fantastic social workers who are keen to offer guidance on whatever you are curious or concerned about.
Here is what you asked:
Where can people get access to a female condom? Are they actually safe?
It’s true, female condoms can be hard to find and are often expensive.
The RMIT University Student Union has access to female condoms which can be collected from the Compass Welfare Services across all campuses. If you would like to try one, please get in touch at compass.rmit.edu.au
For those playing at home female condoms are similar to male condoms, however they have a flexible plastic ring at either end and are inserted into the vagina or anus before sex. They help to stop pregnancy and sexually transmitted infections in the same way as a male condom does which is through creating a barrier between the penis and vagina or anus.
According to Sexual Health Victoria female condoms are 95% effective at preventing pregnancy, however due to a higher incidence of them not being used correctly, they are sometimes stated at being 79% effective.
One benefit of female condoms is that you can insert them before sex, meaning you can be sure that a condom is being used.
As with all safe sex products, it’s important that they are used correctly and that you check the used by date before you open the packet.
The Melbourne Sexual Health Centre, which is a free clinic located in the Melbourne CBD, also has female condoms available free of charge at the front desk. https://www.mshc.org.au/
What do I do if I think my partner has sexually assaulted me
Firstly, seek support. Questioning if you have been sexually assaulted within your relationship can feel big, scary and overwhelming. We would recommend that you seek some counseling support from one of the following services who can help to guide you through your particular situation and provide you with options and support based on your needs.
If you feel that you can’t speak openly about this with your partner, then perhaps take a break or ask for some space from them while you seek support. It is so important that you feel safe in your relationships, and it sounds like right now you don’t.
Your question really brings us back to the very basics of consent in sex. It doesn’t matter if you have just met someone five minutes ago, or if you have been with them in a committed relationship for ages, you must always get consent before engaging in any sexual act. Consent must be:
This means that a person must not feel pressured, bullied or pushed into giving consent, it must be given because they want to. This also means that the person giving consent must not be intoxicated with drugs or alcohol, asleep, passed out or under an age where they can legally give consent.
Consent is something you give, so it’s also something you can take back. You can withdraw your consent at any time- even halfway through! And even if your partner/s said yes to something once, you still need to check in before you do it the next time. People have the right to change their minds.
We need to know exactly what we are consenting to. This means we clearly communicate what we want to do and listen to our partner/s response.
Affirmative consent is when the verbal and physical cues a person is giving you show that they are comfortable, consenting and keen to continue. If your partner doesn’t feel like it, if they want to slow down or stop altogether for any reason, you have to respect this. Remember they know what’s right for them, just as you know what’s right for you.
The absence of a ‘no’ does not mean ‘yes’. When you are engaging in sexual activity you need to know that your partner/s is totally into it… In short, be clear about your feelings and intentions and respect those of your partner, lover or friend, knowing that their feelings and yours might change over time – and that’s okay.
Saying yes to a kiss doesn’t mean ‘yes’ to anything else we need to be specific and ask before we try new things… for example: ‘Can I touch you like this…?’ ‘Do you like XYZ?’
I want to thank you for asking this question. It’s a common misconception that sexual assault can’t occur within relationships, and that is completely wrong! I really hope you reach out to the services listed for some support with this difficult situation <3
What to do if you have a naughty fetish but you’re embarrassed?
Sexual fetishes or ‘Kink’ has been stigmatised in our society, which is surprising given how many people enjoy consensual kink in their sex lives. This stigmatisation means that it is not surprising that you may be feeling some embarrassment or shame about a particular fetish you have.
Well, I am here with good news, my friend! There has never been a better time to connect with others about your sexual fetish! There are many online forums and in person groups where you meet with likeminded people and talk about your fetishes and sexual exploration. You can even find beginners groups, festivals of Kink and of course nightclubs where kink loving people of Melbourne get together regularly. One of the things I really love about this community is that they have been practicing wonderful consent in sex since before it was even discussed in the mainstream. The Kink community have strict consent practices so people can feel free to explore their sexuality while still feeling safe. That being said, as with any online dating activity we recommend you take care when meeting people for the first time in real life. This could mean meeting them for an introductory date in a busy place before committing to meeting them alone and having open discussions about what you are looking for and how you will communicate if you are not enjoying something.
So, in summary- go forth and explore your sexual fetish! I feel sure you will find some other consenting adults who are into what you are into! If you are still feeling nervous, try one of the online beginners’ forums where you can ask questions and meet others who are probably feeling just as shy as you.
What is sex?
What I think you may have been getting at in your question is what constitutes having sex?
The answer to that is- many things. There are some technical definitions for terms such as:
Sexual intercourse- an erect penis being inserted into a vagina or anus
Sexual penetration – another object, or body part (ie finger) being inserted into a bodily orifice, ie vagina, anus or mouth
But these limited definitions exclude many wonderful things such:
masturbating alone or with a partner
oral, vaginal and anal intercourse
rubbing your bodies together
using sex toys
phone sex or “sexting”
Engaging in sexual activity with someone can be any number of these things, and they all constitute having had sex.