Why Are Dental Dams SO Dam Hard to Find?

Today, in my third year of college, my second quarter after transfer, during midterms, I saw my first dental dam. It’s wrapped with others, tucked nicely in a little basket on the sink of the bathroom in the Women’s Center. I’ve just started coming here. I find the environment quiet and welcoming. I went to the bathroom, and after marveling at the shower, abundance of tampons available, and the cute paintings, I see them on the counter. Huh, so that’s what the package looks like; I think to myself. Why haven’t I seen them anywhere else before? Of course, I know what they are. I learned about them in high school sex ed. And college Human Sexuality classes. And the Internet. My parents. But I had never seen one before. Why is it that we don’t get a demonstration on these on the same day when the instructor pulls out a condom and a banana?
Maybe its because female pleasure isn’t necessarily inherent in the discussions about sex. Countless feminist writing including Judith Butler have discussed the ways that sex and sexuality aren’t really for women. This country is terrified of sexual, well-informed, and expectant women. So I suppose in this context, it makes sense. Who cares if I know what a dental dam is- it won’t be a major part in my sex life anyway, right?
In the same vein, maybe its because we don’t talk about female pleasure. The dental dam is sexuality-ambiguous anyway. It could be hetero or homosexual and that’s scary within the hegemonic heterosexual discourse we are bathed in within American society. Sex. It conjures an image on male-female “normal” sex. And oral pleasure for women isn’t often factored in. It would be hard to imagine having the act at the forefront of sex involving bodies with vaginas.
Maybe its from the lack of comprehensive sex education. Much of the country is loathe to teach anything but abstinence only education. Perhaps the condom demonstration was just as far as they could imagine going when it comes to teaching young people about sex.
In any case, today was a victory for me. I grabbed one and I’ll most definitely be showing my sister and friends and anyone else I can care to annoy with this elusive item that ought to be more involved in sex and sexuality discourse.


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