I spent last Thursday and Friday staying in a very chic hotel in Atlanta, eating free food and talking about sex. I met Dr. Drew from “Loveline” on MTV and the former Surgeon General Dr. Jocelyn Elders. I’m not telling you this to brag (much), I’m telling you this because the fancy hotel and the free condoms were part of a roundtable discussion among college journalists about sexuality and sexual health issues. We talked about a lot of things: good, bad and getting better. I thought, as the official representative of the College, I ought to give you all the highlights.
p. We talked about the need for a real dialogue about sex and sexuality, starting well before college — starting well before puberty. Kids need to learn that sex isn’t inherently bad and, as Dr. Elders said repeatedly, “We are all sexual beings.” As a staunch supporter of comprehensive sex education, she was fired from her government position for suggesting that masturbation be discussed and explained in schools. Everybody should know how to masturbate, she said, “because you know you’ll always be having sex with someone you love.”
p. Focusing more on the issues that specifically face our peer group, we talked about the pervasive “hook-up” culture and our over-reliance on alcohol to feel brave and comfortable enough to be sexual. Do we drink to have sex? It sounds horrible at first, but then, recall how many times you’ve heard a friend say, “I want to get wasted tonight so I can hook up.” Alcohol is our main sexual lubricant in two ways, it seems: it helps us feel brave enough to make a move or accept the drunken come-on of someone else, and it also functions as an excuse in the morning, so that we aren’t judged by our peers for engaging in casual sex.
p. “Oh man, I was so trashed, I made out with this guy whose name I didn’t know” is an acceptable story to tell in the morning, while “I made the sober decision to choose to have sex with a guy that I am not emotionally interested in because I enjoy having sex” is rarely admitted. As a group of college students, we clearly weren’t anti-drinking or anti-sex, just interested in seeing a separation of the two. As one girl put it, “If you always have sex drunk, who owns your sexuality: you or the beer?” So, we talked about how to get people to be more comfortable being sexual sober, so that we wouldn’t need the alcohol in these ways.
p. We talked about dating. Well, not dating exactly — it still sounds like an old-fashioned word for an old-fashioned social system we don’t really use anymore — but a new institution that our generation really hasn’t found a word for yet. A state of existing with a member or members of the sex you find yourself attracted to that involves sexuality (tension or action) along with some form of interaction besides just sex. A middle ground between the committed relationship so many of us aren’t ready for right now and the random, drunken one-night stand that so often ends up in bad or awkward sex. Sounds pretty good, right? Well, apparently, this new “dating” is starting to show up on college campuses, moving from the deep South up in our general direction. Some of us are already there; some of us think it sounds terrible and the current system suits them just fine. But, for everyone interested in finding that sexual “happy medium,” now’s the time to create that change.
p. Later, at an after-conference party in one of the girl’s suites, I learned some things during a game of Kings. I’ve got a new position for you all to try: It’s called the Leapfrog and it came highly recommended. He lies down, and she climbs on top, but instead of resting her legs on the bed or ground, she props her ankles up behind her on his legs so that she is entirely supported by him. As he thrusts up to her, she bounces like, well, a frog I guess. I also learned about Trojan’s new vibrating rings, a one-time-use rubbery-ring to be worn around the penis, with textured edges and a tiny battery that vibrates for 20 minutes. It helps the clitoris have more fun during intercourse.
p. I learned about how some other colleges and universities have a lot fewer sexual health resources on campus than we do — our health center has a wide variety of testing services and information — and about how high some schools have set the bar.
p. I learned how lucky we are to have an administration that supports us having an open dialogue about sexuality — in this column, organizations, performances and classes. And, most importantly, I learned how valuable that dialogue is, and how much we need to keep working and talking and thinking about healthy sex and sexuality, so that we can have more and more of it.
p. Kate Prengaman is the Flat Hat sex columnist. She’d like to thank Trojan for the opportunity to participate in this discussion forum, and for all the free stuff.