by Robyn Mirmak
When I heard that this week’s enigma was about sexual health I was, shall we say, unenthused. I wasn’t keen to attend another hours lecture on why sex is a terrible thing and not learn anything useful – as you can see my previous school’s Sex Ed was limited. So when Heather started talking on Friday, I was happily surprised.
She started by assuring she was “unembarassable”, creating a comfortable, less formal environment. Then, whether admirably or naively, she added that there were “no silly questions”, at which point the class all turned to look at each other, wondering who would be the one to challenge that. However, it seemed Heather had managed to gain everyone’s respect, even the Class Clown, as the rest of the talk remained civilised and focused.
Heather made our session interactive by asking a series of discussion questions, the first being “what is sex?”. This allowed her to quickly crush the heteronormative idea that sex had to involve penetration. I could therefore let out a sigh of relief as I realised that the LGBTQIA+ community was in safe hands: we could now be educated at school rather than having to do unreliable research on TikTok. Furthermore, Heather used terminology such as “people with a uterus” rather than “women” to acknowledge the trans community and ensure everyone kept their right to be included, educated and safe.
Heather’s underlying fight for equality did not stop there. In the middle of her talk, she pondered why everyone knows the term castration but not tubal ligation, hinting that there was some patriarchal barrier making it more shameful for women to not want children than men. She also ensured that it is not just those with a uterus that should worry about protection, but that it is both partners’ responsibility and that there is no excuse for the boys to fall asleep in the talk. I admit, this jibe smacked a notably large grin on my face.
The last slide of the presentation was about contraception. Here, Heather raised the point that there is a massive disadvantage to the patch: it is advertised as “skin colour” to enable discreteness, however it’s white, ignoring all other races in our country. She informed us that there are organisations focused on the decolonisation of contraception, however the government and businesses that make these products have argued that it’s ‘not financially viable” to produce other skin coloured produce. To this, Heather reminded us of Rihanna’s Fente Beauty makeup brand, which has made its massively successful fortune by having a wide range of products for all people of colour, therefore diplomatically yet firmly hinting that the government’s argument was much more rooted in systemic racism than financial difficulty.
I was rather inspired by Friday’s enigma talk. It was an improvement to finally be taught about sex rather than shamed for it but furthermore it was a relief to know we had an intersectional feminist coming to talk about sex and safety for everyone. The enlightenment that dawned on some people’s face was noticeable, comforting even, and I now know that no one will be vulnerable or in the dark when the time comes.