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‘The Sex Lives of College Girls’ Breaks This Myth About Lesbian Sex

Reneé Rapp in The Sex Lives of College Girls (2021)

The second season of The Sex Lives of College Girls is even more fun than the last and finds our ensemble of girls all challenging themselves this year. And, as expected from a Mindy Kaling joint, there is also some breaking of sex myths.

Spoilers for The Sex Lives of College Girls season 2

Among the cast of four girls, Leighton (Reneé Rapp) started off as a closeted lesbian who was having moonlight dalliances with suburban moms. She comes out to her roommates and begins hooking up with a bunch of girls on campus to make up for lost time—very much in the middle of a lesbian ho-tation. Then, in episode 3, “The Short King,” Leighton feels some pain in her vagina. She goes to the clinic and finds out she has chlamydia.

At first, Leighton says it is impossible since she is only having sex with women, but the doctor quickly tells her this isn’t the case. The other leads—Bela, Kimberly, and Whitney—are also in disbelief about it initially. But it is very true: you can get an STI even if you are having sex with only people that have vaginas.

As a study in 2011 found:

“Women who have sex with women (WSW) are a diverse group with variations in sexual identity, sexual behaviors, sexual practices, and risk behaviors. WSW are at risk of acquiring bacterial, viral, and protozoal sexually transmitted infections (STIs) from current and prior partners, both male and female. Bacterial vaginosis is common among women in general and even more so among women with female partners. WSW should not be presumed to be at low or no risk for STIs based on sexual orientation, and reporting of same-sex behavior by women should not deter providers from considering and performing screening for STIs, including chlamydia, in their clients according to current guidelines.”

But why does this myth persist? Gay and bisexual men face an overwhelming amount of stigma around STIs due to the HIV/AIDS epidemic. There are also assumptions that gay and bisexual men are having more casual sex and that lesbians, bisexual women, and others in WSW relationships are seen as just wanting to move in together at the drop of a hat. Not only is this untrue, but it also hits on how we generally don’t understand STIs. Many of the most common ones spread from skin-to-skin contact, and don’t even require an exchange of fluids. STIs can spread from oral sex, which is why, yes, you should be wearing a condom or dental dam while performing it.

I also loved that The Sex Lives of College Girls didn’t shame Leighton for getting an STI, and only judged her for not telling her recent partners about the diagnosis. STIs are common in most sexually active people, and for a show about college sex, Leighton will not be the first—nor the last—to get one. Normalizing STIs and emphasizing open communication around it is the best way to change stigma. Also, if you are totally freaked out about the use of a dental dam, then make sure you get tested and talk to any potential partners about their status.

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Princess (she/her-bisexual) is a Brooklyn born Megan Fox truther, who loves Sailor Moon, mythology, and diversity within sci-fi/fantasy. Still lives in Brooklyn with her over 500 Pokémon that she has Eevee trained into a mighty army. Team Zutara forever.