Many lesbian and queer women, thanks to being ignored by traditional sex education, believe the myth that they can’t pick up STIs or HPV. Without anyone being taught otherwise, it’s easy to think that getting STI tests, or attending cervical smear tests are just another part of reproductive health that only straight women need to do.
It’s easy to think, if you’re not attracted to male genitalia and the ways society tells us to interact with them, that they’re dangerous beasts. While that might sometimes be true, it’s a risky lie to suggest that it’s only true of men’s bits. STIs like genital warts and herpes, trichomoniasis, chlamydia and syphilis, can all be passed on between women. HPV knows very few bounds, easily transmitted via close skin-to-skin contact, usually during sexual activity including oral sex. That is regardless of the sex of your partner.
As for the sex of your partner…if we’re talking dictionary definitions, lesbians’ love lives exclude men, making between their sheets a hallowed women-only space. But sex isn’t always so easy to define.
Just like women are expected to have long hair and pretty faces and to kindly step aside when a big hulking man walks in our path, or smile when he interrupts us, we’re expected, from the moment we begin to become women, to believe sex isn’t something we do, it’s something done to us.
Further to that, something done to us by men, because somewhere along the line something that is the norm has been rebranded as normal.
The tides of patriarchy condemns young lesbians and queer women to see experimenting with men as the default, even if they already know, before one second alone with a man, that they don’t want one. When acquiescing to men is so expected of us, swimming upstream against this can seem like going against what it is to be a woman.