Lips tempts, but leaves a bad taste

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November 14, 2008

12:10 AM

“Race. Sex.” is the title of the new edition of the publication Lips will issue this semester. It explores how race affects women’s sexuality. While this is a worthy subject to explore, I am one of the more sexually conservative students at the College of William and Mary who will not be picking up a copy of the latest Lips edition.

Lips began as a women’s studies project to offer an alternative to the Cosmopolitan and People magazine headlines that invariably treat sex as solely about pleasing your man. While this attempt to create a sexual dialogue for women, by women is refreshing in theory, the writers and artists get pretty down and dirty in the magazine. The writers and editors of Lips have every right to express themselves: however, they, like their medium of expression, is just a little too raunchy for me.

When a copy of Lips came out last academic year, I picked it up and perused it. While I was aware that it was a women’s studies project, and the editors of Lips were trying to create an open and honest dialogue of female sexuality on campus, I was still a little shocked by what I found. Graphic accounts of heterosexual and homosexual experiences were pasted together as a collage, creatively fitting in intricately drawn penises and vaginas on every page.

My first question was, “Is that the artist’s hoo-hah, or is it someone else’s?” Don’t get me wrong, I support sexuality and being able to have a discussion about women and sex on campus. However, I didn’t feel like my first experience with Lips opened my eyes to a new revelation about female sexuality. I didn’t feel more in touch with my sexuality or with anyone else’s. I was just grossed out, and felt like I was listening in on a raunchy locker room conversation about the nasty things people do to their partners — Except the speakers weren’t a bunch of football players or frat boys; they were women.

It’s important to say that Lips probably does reach out and connect different women in their sexual experiences — I’m just one of the few who don’t fit the bill. There are a lot of women like me who look at publications of Lips, or at the Strip and Submit fundraiser two weekends ago, and say, “Not for me.”
I don’t think sexuality should be a secret, but just because many of the Lips authors write in anonymity doesn’t mean they’re not airing their own private sexual experiences in a publication for others to read. I can’t imagine being a man or woman and recognizing my own private sexual experience with someone I cared about being dissected, analyzed or artistically drawn in a magazine for others to read about in the most graphic of terms.

In my opinion, sex is something that happens between two people, or as the case may be, three or four. But it does not happen between two people and the readers of Lips. I think sex is something personal between you and the person you love. People can talk about it, write about it, draw diagrams and express their feelings about different aspects of their own sexuality if they like — I just don’t plan on listening.

Now that Lips has received funding from the Student Assembly, we can probably expect several more issues of it each semester, but sexually conservative women like myself won’t be part of the publication’s growing readership. Having raunchy sex and describing it afterward is a little too spicy for my cup of tea.

Brittany Hamilton is a junior at the College.

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