Safe sex and women who have sex with women is often a notion that is left out of the Sexual Reproductive Health
Rights. Despite the relatively low risk in terms of HIV/Aids women who have sex with women are at risk to a number of STIs and STDs. Furthermore the fluidity of gender means that women who have sex with women can also have sex with men and are thus vulnerable to a whole host of things.
HOLAA!, working with various partners, has sought to challenge the silence around WSW and the vulnerability of their sexual practices. The series begun with research into notions of sex amoungst women, followed by a number of dialogues within Southern Africa, one of which occurred within a context that saw women from all over the continent gathered. These dialogues and research fed into a safe sex and pleasure manual that looked at giving advice on consent, STIs and STDs, kink and BDSM, sex toys and even had a little bit of erotica in it, all produced by women within the continent.
The final moving part in the knowledge production chain was a workshop, that was run at the same time, called- #PleaseHer- a workshop on safe sex and pleasure. The workshop, held in Johannesburg, invited a large group of women and two experts (Abigail Phiri and Tshegofatso Senne) who spoke on safe sex, pleasure, kink and taking care of sexual health. The space was given for women to engage with issues that they often do not often engage with.
Not only was there sharing by experts but amongst the participants themselves. Women present spoke about how they engaged with consent, how they maneuvered in terms of their sexual interests, how you raised what you wanted in bed and how they could not stand dental dams at times. Those things are tricky.
Having to navigate with a woman in the throes of ecstacy whilst trying to keep a thin sheet of latex in place begins to prove very difficult very quickly. Plus women general said how they loved the taste of their partner rather than the taste of weird plastic.
The experts gave advice on taking care of sex toys, having difficult conversations with loves and also a million and one uses for cling wrap.
As one person begun to chant ‘ CLING WRAP IN OUR LIFE TIME!’.
There were many moments of laughter, contention and sharing with the act of sex being both political and personal.
Conversations and engagement are a huge part of learning, this is what we believe within the HOLAA! camp. We need to have conversations about our private parts and challenge problematic ideas of everything from chlamydia to consent, this is what this project sought to do. So here is a visual taster of what happened on the day.
Here is the storify of the actual workshop showing how women digitally engaged with the workshop. The tweets and instagram posts were super fun. Also here are the Twitter interviews with @Mbognomuffin our Kink expert and @AdlibAnarchist our safe sex and pleasure expert.
Here is a copy of the safe sex and pleasure manual! Click here to view or download it.