The Consent, Empowerment and Respect campaign has been developed to provide young women in Melbourne’s west with information about their sexual and reproductive health. All women have the right to make informed choices about their sexual and reproductive health and to enjoy their sexuality.
This campaign encourages women to be actively involved in their sexual and reproductive health by being informed, making their own choices and taking ownership of their body, their health and their wellbeing. We hope to communicate that sexual and reproductive health and all that comes with it, such as pleasure, periods, sex and using contraception are not things to be ashamed or embarrassed of.
The campaign includes a number of different resources that explore consent, empowerment and respect, and are available to download or order. The artwork for the campaign was created by the talented Lori Camarata.
Women’s Health West would like to acknowledge Women’s Health Victoria and the Department of Health and Human Services who provided us with funding for this campaign to raise awareness of the services provided by 1800 My Options and Better Health Channel.
1800 My Options is a non-judgmental service that provides all Victorian women with information about contraception, pregnancy options and sexual health. You can find information, health care services and support by visiting their website or calling 1800 696 784.
Better Health Channel provides quality-assured, reliable and up to date health information to communities. Their wide range of information is easy to understand and locally relevant. Visit their website to find out more.
The A-Z of consent, empowerment & respect
All bodies are beautiful
Our relationship with our body can be complicated. Your
body might look and feel different at different times and the things your body does, or can do, might also change.
Many of us are taught that there is a right way to be ‘beautiful’ and the pressure to follow narrow, unrealistic beauty standards can be overwhelming and disempowering.
Body hair – go bare or leave it there
Whether you have a little or a lot, body hair is nothing to be embarrassed about. It is completely natural and normal. It’s time to change the idea that being feminine means having long, silky hair on our heads and no hair anywhere else.
Consent – it’s a two-way street
Consent is fundamental to being intimate with someone. Both you and your partner need to be enthusiastic, eager and in agreement about any of the sexual or romantic activity you’re having. The only way to know for sure that someone consents, is if they tell you. Check in with your partner and be mindful of their body language and how they feel.
Diversity – celebrate it!
You might think that people easily fall into categories – but humans aren’t that simple. There are many things that make us unique, including our sexuality, sex and gender. We are often expected to act and look certain ways, but it’s okay to express yourself the way you feel best.
Equality and respect – key to every relationship
Equality and respect are vital foundations to any healthy relationship – romantic, sexual, or otherwise. A healthy relationship involves respecting each other’s needs and feeling comfortable to communicate with each other honestly.
Feminism is for everyone
Put simply, feminism is about believing in equality and
respect for all genders. You don’t need to be a woman to be a feminist. Feminism is about ensuring that everyone can make informed choices and have equal opportunities, regardless of their sex or gender. Feminism recognises that throughout history, women have been treated unfairly.
Good news! The pap smear has been replaced with a cervical screen which detects the Human Papilloma Virus (HPV). You only need to have this test every 5 years. It’s a quick test and is the best form of protection against cervical cancer.
Have safe sex – use protection
Sex is fun, but there are responsibilities that come with it. One of which is protecting yourself and your partner from STIs and unplanned pregnancy. Condoms are the only contraceptive that prevent both STIs and pregnancy.
Identity – embrace all that you are
Our identity is our understanding of ourselves. From the day we are born and throughout our life, our experiences shape who we are. We grow as we experience life, and everyone will be doing so differently.
Jot it down – keep note of changes in your body
Period pain…if you’re someone who gets periods, then you are likely to know what this feels like. It’s normal to experience some discomfort and bloating each month, but severe pain is not something you should ignore.
Knowledge is power – know your rights
It is important to be informed so that you can make the best decisions for yourself. With so much information about sexual and reproductive health out there, being able to filter reliable information can be overwhelming.
Learn about your body
Could you confidently say that you know how your body works and what goes on inside it? Many people don’t know much about their sexual anatomy. This includes the stuff inside and outside of our bodies. Do you know what the clitoris looks like? Click here to find out.
Moon cups, pads or tampons?
Choose what’s right for you
In Australia, folks who menstruate (have periods), will use up to 12,000 disposable menstrual products in their lifetime. Menstrual products are used so often, it makes
sense that you choose something that you’re comfortable with.
Normalise everyday conversations about sex
Our sexuality is much more than just sex. It’s about our bodies, how we are feeling, our attractions and how we express
ourselves. It’s complex! We can’t expect to navigate all of that on our own, without any conversations with those around us.
Oops! Forgot to use protection?
You have options
Sometimes things happen in the heat of the moment and, despite our best efforts at being prepared, slip ups can happen. You might have had sex without protection, or maybe a condom slipped off during sex.
Pleasure – explore what feels good for you
Sex is a natural and healthy part of life and it is something that should be fun and enjoyable! People may have sex to get pregnant, but sex is also about experiencing pleasure. To have the best sexual
experiences, it helps to understand what you like and what feels good for you.
Quality healthcare – find a service that supports you
Everyone has the right to access quality healthcare. This includes healthcare providers who you can communicate with, who will take confidentiality seriously and who make you feel safe and respected. You deserve this level of care and should expect it regardless of your age, race, gender, sexual orientation, ability or religious views.
Gender stereotypes reinforce the idea that people should fit into certain roles in society and
behave certain ways, depending on their gender. These stereotypes and expectations shape the way that we act, the clothes that we wear, our interests, and the ways that we relate to each
Sex – always, sometimes, never…it’s up to you!
Forget the idea that a ‘healthy’ sex life means having lots of sex, or a particular kind of sex – there is not one, or ‘right’ way to be. Being comfortable with your sexuality does not
necessarily mean having sex all the time or being sexually
adventurous (although this is absolutely fine).
Talk it out. Communicate your wants and needs
Communication is one of the most essential aspects of a
healthy relationship and this includes communicating our
sexual wants, needs and concerns. This is part of becoming more comfortable with our sexuality and understanding what we want and need in an intimate relationship.
Unique – sexuality is different for everyone
Sexuality is not just the physical act of sex, or who you have sex with, it is also your sexual feelings, thoughts and
expression. Sexuality is a deeply personal experience and your sexuality can change throughout your lifetime. Your sexuality is an important part of who you are and how you experience the world.
Vulva or vagina? Know your bits
Vag, muff, beaver, lady garden… The female genitals have been labelled all sorts of names over the years. Although these names can seem funny and harmless, only using these terms and never using the proper terminology can have a negative impact on the way people perceive their body.
Want to know more? Visit whwest.org.au
There is a lot of information out there and it’s important that you are accessing reliable and accurate information that will help you. Visit www.whwest.org.au for resources and links to some great information on how and where to access supports and services, should you or someone you know ever need it.
xoxo – sext with respect
A sext is a sexual message. It can be just text, or might include photos, videos or sound. Sharing this material is called sexting. If done with consent and respect, sexting can be a fun and positive activity. However, you need to remember that when someone sends you a sext, they are putting their trust in you.
Your body, your choice
You have the right to make decisions about anything that impacts your body, without pressure from others. This includes decisions about your
appearance, menstrual products, sex, contraception, hormone therapy, pregnancy and abortion.
Zero tolerance for sexual violence
Sexual violence refers to being forced, pressured or misled into engaging in sexual activity when a person has not given consent or when they are unable to give consent. A person cannot provide consent if they are so influenced by drugs or alcohol that they can’t make coherent decisions.