The woman that graces my blog today is a passionate badass on all things sex and science. She’s devoted her time and efforts to quality, researched information on sex, sexual health, intimacy and quality sex products for women. When she isn’t teaching others how to accept their bodies and increase their pleasure, she’s defending women’s sexuality, even if that means having my back in a major Insta-troll attack! This woman, although having never met in person, has proven herself a warrior in the arena of sexual health, and I am so thrilled to be sharing the words and experience of Kristen Gines with you today.
It is no secret that the American Sexual Education system is comically bad. To put it in perspective, when I was a junior in high school I went with a group of students to the Dominican Republic to teach about First Aid, hygiene, and a little bit of Sex Ed to some of the children in the area. We were able to teach more relevant information about sex and sexual health to children ranging from five-years-old to seventeen through a translator than any of us had received at the hands of public or private education.
Growing up in an abstinence only state was a unique experience and my sex education ranged from somewhat worthwhile (thanks to a few teachers being willing to stretch the interpretation of abstinence only) to truly abysmal. In eighth grade I had a very sexist, sort of creepy health teacher who made us say “penis” and “vagina” over and over and over again while he listened. I think the point was to desensitize us to the shock of saying the words, but I think the overall effect was that we instead pictured his face with those words… which in hindsight may have prevented a few pregnancies.
My first exposure to some sort of sexual education in school was in fifth grade during what the school called “The Maturation Program” in which we really did have the conversation about our changing bodies. Boys and girls were separated, and they actually brought in health care professionals to talk to us. Even still, what they could say was quite limited and I think they were trying not to scare us with some of the talk about menstruation and pregnancy. Thankfully, my mom had decided to come with me. Not as a chaperone, but as a filter and translator for the bad information. Part of the translation went like this:
Nurse: When menstruating you may experience some mild cramping which can be alleviated with light exercise and drinking lots of water.
Mom: Your period may be like that at first, but it will probably get worse as you get older and your body regulates. Let me know and I’ll make sure we get you what you need. The first couple days it might be really difficult to exercise but there are other things you can do to help.
Nurse: You may experience some minor moodiness or irritation as your period gets close. This is normal and can be helped with medications like Midol and again light exercise and lots of water.
Mom: Or you may start sobbing because someone looked at you funny and that’s okay too.
Nurse: If you need period supplies while at school you can ask a trusted teacher or find your school’s nurse.
Mom: In a few years once most of you have started you’ll be able to yell down the hall that you need a tampon or pad and you’ll get a rainstorm of what you need coming back at you. Don’t be embarrassed about it or about the boys, they need to learn how to handle women on their periods appropriately anyway.
I was, and continue to be, very grateful that my mom was so forthright with me and always has been when I’ve had a question about my body. We never had the official “talk” because the narrative was always open between us about it. There were still some questions I was uncomfortable asking at different times, but I knew I could get the answers if I needed them. I learned quickly that the information from Google was… not the best and as I learned more about reputable sources of information on the internet I used those to fill in the gaping holes of knowledge left by school education and flattered myself that I was a little more aware of my body than most girls my age.
This held true as I joined the Army as well. I remember very clearly at one training in Kentucky being called in to a meeting with all the rest of the girls in my company to sit down with a female Lieutenant Colonel (LTC) who was overseeing our training to have a discussion about hygiene in the field. This was an aspect of training I felt pretty confident and comfortable in and sort of tuned out a lot of what was being said until this LTC then advised all the girls in our company to shave off all their pubic hair before going to the field because it would help to keep them dry. I was appalled to say the least, knowing that the piece of advice she had just offered was absolutely terrible, but the LTC had not cultivated a climate in which contradicting her in any way would be tolerated.
So, I waited until we were excused back to the barracks and held a little meeting of my own enumerating all the reasons NOT to shave all their pubic hair off. I believe I used the phrase “pubic hair is like the eyelashes of your vulva” and told them that they were liable to get a yeast infection, UTI, or both if they did that and if they were worried about wetness to bring panty liners to the field and switch those out when they could, wear breathable underwear, and use baby wipes at night to cleanse that area.
It was like a live science experiment. The girls who listened were infection free as we exited the field, those who didn’t had screaming UTIs, bad razor burn bumps, and a few had yeast infections. We did what we could for them by giving them the dried cranberries from some MREs, but it was too little too late.
As much as I thought I knew about my body, there was still a lot I had to learn. I have a degree in Biology and so when my friend lined up a consultant from Pure Romance to give a demo at my bachelorette party two years ago I scoffed, thinking there was no way this random woman in a MLM would be able to teach me anything about my body or sex. I ate my words, and some very flavorful lubricant samples, that night and when I had the opportunity a year later to become a consultant myself, I jumped on it.
I love doing it, despite the stigma, despite the judgment of MLMs, despite the whispers of people who don’t understand. I am finally in a position where I can help women take control of their bodies and sexuality and it’s an indescribable feeling. I have had the opportunity to do bachelorette parties and ladies’ nights, but more importantly, I’ve had the opportunity to talk with many (far too many) sexual assault survivors and help them take back some of the control over their sexual health and wellness and learn about resources and how to experience sex in a more positive way.
Being in this business has also led me into the paths of some truly incredible women through the team I work with, my online business, working at expos, and in social media. The experience, c’est magnifique.
Growing up all I ever wanted to be was a scientist, taking on a role as a sexual health educator never even crossed my mind, but I have been afforded great opportunity to see the desperate need for women to stand up and be empowered to be educated. To see sex not as a chore in their relationships, but as a means of mutual pleasure and intimacy. To understand the beauty of their bodies and what they are designed to do and how to keep them healthy and happy. To know they are not alone in their struggles with intimacy, health, or recovery. To dismiss Freudian views of women and sex and to embrace the belief that pleasure is not inherently bad, nor are women inherently lesser or ‘broken’ simply by being born XX instead of XY.
I am so grateful for the women in my life and who came before me who have paved the way and made it possible for me to be where I am now and I hope to do them all justice and to help as many women as I can in the time that I have!
– Kristen Gines
For more quality, researched information on sex, sexual health, intimacy, and quality sex products for women, check out Kristen Gines @sexiest_science on Instagram!
So, tell us, where are you from, and who made a positive impact on your sexual health growing up?