People have often asked me, “What is the weirdest question you’ve gotten at a sexuality workshop?” and, honestly there’s one clear answer.
Put yourself in my shoes, at the young age of 18, walking into the raging bin of hormones and the melted cheese smell of a first-year dormitory that will remain anonymous, getting ready to do my first sexuality workshop. There are different ways to approach this work: Pretend you know everything or be bad at pretending you know everything. I was definitely the latter. I sat down in front of a bunch of first-years and got handed a stack of shredded pieces of paper with questions scribbled on them. We were doing the Low Down on Going Down workshop, in which students ask any question they want but generally center the questions on oral sex. I was (thank god) with two upperclassmen who are much more calm and natural than I, and they handed me the easier questions. We go around answering things from “How do you get someone to go down on you” to “Does anyone use a condom for a blowjob?” Finally, we got to Liz Mutter ’15 and she read, “what does vagina taste like?”
How does one respond to a question like that? How do we go about responding to any question? Generally, we pull out the medical knowledge that we’ve learned; the perineum and coronal ridge are both often very sensitive, biting the balls off of someone is probably going to be painful. After that, and perhaps more entertainingly, we pull on the experience of others and ourselves.
Personally, I froze. I blinked a few times, I assume, opened and closed my mouth like a goldfish, and then laughed when some wise soul broke the tension. What does vagina taste like? Well let me tell you. First, that’s a philosophical question. Can you describe a taste? There are some companies that make vaginal refreshers, but these products change the pH of the vagina, which is actually really unhealthy and can lead to yeast infections. My philosophy is that bodies taste like bodies, and it’s best not to change or mess with them. If you’re concerned about tastes or smells, taking a shower before sex is a good idea.
After this traumatic experience, I got to thinking, I bet the students of Amherst have really interesting questions that other people are interested in as well. So I asked my colleagues and friends what types of questions they had about sex, mental health, body image, drugs, and alcohol. We’re qualified to talk about any of these things, as we’re STUDENT health educators, not sexual health educators. What sorts of questions aside from what does vagina taste like you ask? We brainstormed:
– Why does is it burn so much when I pee?
-My friend got really mad at me because I said I would never hook up with a guy if he’s not circumcised. Isn’t it it healthier to be circumsised, anyway?
– Are there ways to be sober at a party and still have a good time?
– Why can’t I ever come the first time I have sex with someone?
– Can I drink, while safely on my birth control?
– I hooked up with a few girls and didn’t use a condom. But I made sure they all were on birth control so it’s fine, right?
– Is it going to kill me to take NyQuil every night?
– If my boyfriend takes my birth control pills it deactivated his sperm, right?
– What’s the difference between spermicide and sperm?
So please, don’t be shy (it’s anonymous anyway). If you have a question you want us to answer, ask! We’re always available on email and social media, and your workshop instructor might be just as caught off guard as I was!