If “Sex and the City” character Carrie Bradshaw were real, she would probably have to spend more time in a health clinic for herpes treatment than shopping in Bergdorf’s for Manolo Blahniks – or at least that’s what psychiatrist Miriam Grossman said.
Grossman, author of the book “Unprotected,” used the pop culture reference at a safe-sex workshop sponsored by the GW Republican Women at Marvin Center on Oct. 22. An hour later and a few doors down in the same building, Allied in Pride had a very different safe-sex workshop with a guest lecturer from the Whitman-Walker Clinic’s Lesbian Services Program.
Speaking in front of the GW Republican Women, Grossman said there is no such thing as “safe or safer sex.” She said random hookups have emotionally and physically harmful effects, particularly for young women.
She said her perspective is “medical, not moral.”
The psychological danger involved with one-nightstands is related to a hormone called oxytosin, Grossman said, which is released mostly in women during moments of intimacy, including sex, childbirth, breastfeeding and even long hugs.
It promotes “feelings of emotional attachment and trust,” she said. These feelings of attachment are what can make relationships like friends with benefits problematic, Grossman said. One half of the partnership – often the female – may find him or herself wanting more than just the physical aspect of the relationship, while the other has no desire for commitment.
“A condom doesn’t protect you from this,” Grossman said.
Allied in Pride’s speaker, Lauren Wethers of the Whitman-Walker Clinic’s Lesbian Services Program had a different take on the use of condoms.
Wethers’ workshop was geared toward the LGBTQ – lesbian, gay, bisexual, transsexual and questioning – community, with a focus on same-sex couples. She advocated using a variety of options, including traditional condoms, female condoms, dental dams, plastic wrap and rubber gloves.
Among the principal pieces of advice Wethers had to offer students was to “wrap it up,” or wear protection.
“It’s not too nosy to ask your partner about his or her disease,” she said. “You deserve to have all the cards on the table, and they deserve the same from you.”
One major problem among LGBTQs is a reluctance to visit their doctor, said Wethers, who is often confronted by “hetero-assumption.” Her doctors assume that she is heterosexual and therefore treat her as such.
“One would hope that doctors would be culturally aware when it comes to the LGBT community, but this is often not the case,” Wethers said.
Sophomore Neha Shah, the president of Allied in Pride, said it is important for GW students to have safe sex and be tested for sexually transmitted infections regularly.
“It may be a hassle and a pain, but it is even more of a hassle and pain when you get an STI,” she said.
Junior Emily Jakubowics, who also attended the Allied in Pride workshop, said she thinks events such as this are vital.
“A lot of people don’t know about things like female condoms,” said Jakubowics, “so events like this are important for the distribution of materials and information.”
After hearing Grossman speak, junior Sara Westfall, the president of GW Republican Women, said that it is important for women to educate themselves about sex.
Westfall said, “It’s awful that we don’t hear all of the things we need to make the best decisions.”