Sexual acts are not shameful, but avoiding Safer Sex Parties is

BY JUSTIN KOZLOSKI ’13, SLOANE MARKLEY ’14
Senior Editor, Managing Editor

This week we had every intention of attending VOX’s Safer Sex Party. Yet, at the threshold we found it impossible to push ourselves through the door. We shamefully shrunk away from an important and timely event for two major reasons, of which we aren’t particularly proud.

We can’t assert with certainty that this applies to everyone, but we are presuming many people share our natural inclination to avoid situations where we feel like outsiders, whether we truly hold outsider status or just perceive we do.

Throughout the course of the night, we continuously checked back on the status of attendance to see if there was an adequate number of peers so we could blend into the crowd, allowing us to mitigate our anxiety of being outsiders.

For an hour we discussed our cowardly, and somewhat disgraceful, avoidance of joining a small group. While writing this we still cannot provide an adequate explanation and have to resolve it by saying we have fully internalized an insider-outsider mentality. This internalization breeds not only fear of interacting with our peers, but a general lack of participation at events we might otherwise attend.

Although we don’t want to generalize, we believe the pure fact people cannot break this insider-outsider mentality and prefer to attend events with friends or ones hosted by someone they know results in many small events and clubs remaining small. Also, to an extent, this keeps them from achieving what they hoped.

As we continued to discuss our inability to physically attend this event, we began to wonder whether we could have overcame our insider-outsider mentalities if this topic wasn’t about sex. We thought having each other there would have been comfort enough but it was not. We feel as if it were a different conversation our two-person group would have been large enough to break through this mentality.

So that leads us to our next question: what is it about discussing sex that intimidates us and others? Numerous groups and organizations on campus aim to educate students about safe sex practices, and yet people still find it difficult to talk about these important issues in a serious matter (we can’t think of anything more serious related to our sexual lives than our physical and mental health) without cracking a joke or making a derogatory remark. Also, when we are forced into a discussion of sex in a serious setting, we lack the vocabulary to make constructive and informed comments.

For example, when we told our friends we were going to this event they were disgusted, one friend even suggesting he’d rather kill himself than have to sit and discuss sex in a constructive manner. While this is obviously a hyperbole, it is one that speaks to the general culture of our school and our generation.

What we find most interesting, however, is we are confronted with sexual images and situations almost everyday. Think about the television, music videos, billboard ads, and mall signs (eh eh Victoria’s Secret and Abercrombie?) we see on a regular basis. Almost every image and product aimed towards our generation is sexually charged.

Furthermore, think about our weekends. The hookup culture of our generation clearly dictates when we go out the end result should be some form of sexual activity and even this we can’t respect in a responsible way. The first reaction is to derogatorily describe which sexual climaxes we reached that evening.

Has our generation become so desensitized to sex that we have lost all ability to constructively talk about it? Has it just become the “new normal” of behavior that talking about how to have safe sex almost seems irrelevant? If we are going to continue to engage in sexual activity, especially in the hyper-sexualized environment of our generation, we need to focus on how to discuss, in a responsible manner, the ramifications of having sex.

We are by no means advocating celibacy or a restriction on sexual license. Please continue to have sex as much as you want and with whomever you want, as long as you feel comfortable and the other party consents, but understand the health effects, and most importantly have a vocabulary to talk about it. The very intimate nature of sex makes it difficult, but incredibly necessary to talk about because a lack of discussion limits your ability to preserve your physical and mental health when it comes to sex (i.e. How do you discuss getting tested with a new partner? How do you tell your partner you are not satisfied with your sex life?).

We apologize to the people at VOX for being unable to bring ourselves to attend your event, as it is something we have illustrated that we view as important. We applaud your efforts and the efforts of other organizations and events on campus tackling tough, but essential topics. We hope we, as well as our fellow students, can learn to more comfortably talk about and think about sex in a mature manner. For now, we look forward to The Female Orgasm to redeem ourselves. We hope we see our peers have conquered their fears by this time as well and from there maybe move to even small group discussions.

Questions? Email Justin at jkozlosk@fandm.edu or Sloane at smarkley@fandm.edu.

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