Summer is winding down and colleges and universities are swelling with the nubile young flesh of their student populations. If you’re among the privileged who have been accepted into an institution of higher learning, congratulations. If this is your freshman year (or “first year” as my tiny liberal arts college put it) I can pretty much guarantee part of your orientation week will involve a kind of truncated sex ed/how not to get raped session. I giggled through mine mostly because it was fucking ridiculous, victim-blaming and not helpful.
College is nothing like high school (or adulthood). You’ll be given a ton of freedom and you’ll be surrounded by people your own age almost exclusively, 24 hours a day. You’ll go to class, join a club, go to parties and have sex. Probably a lot of sex. You’ll hook up and have casual sex. There will be one night stands and friends with benefits and fuck buddies and relationships. You’ll try to navigate this strange new social structure (often awkwardly). People are going to try to have sex with you and you’re going to try to have sex with other people. Sometimes you’ll be successful (and sometimes you won’t).
I’m here to tell you how to have safe sex on campus in a sex positive, non-shaming kind of way:
This piece originally appeared in the No Experience Newsletter Issue #277 (Aug 3, 2015) Starting this month I am the sex columnist for No Experience with a new column out every Monday. To subscribe and get it in your inbox 3 times a week send your email address to noexperiencenewsletter[at] gmail [dot] com. If you have a sex question you want answered in an upcoming issue, email me at rachels1088 [at] gmail [dot] com.
As we move towards a greater understanding of the fluidity and spectra of sex, sexuality and gender, the term “sex-positive” can be heard in nearly all conversations about these topics. But sex-positivity and sex-positive feminism are not new concepts, and they didn’t emerge without difficulty.
Yesterday, on Law and Order: SVU Tuesdays on USA (yes it’s a thing) I saw a rerun of an episode about sexting. To briefly summarize, the teenage victim had texted nude photos of herself to her bf, and someone was beating her up. She refused to give the name of her abuser so the ADA had her arrested for producing, owning and distributing child pornography to get her to talk. In standard SVU fashion things blew up and the corrupt judge refused to drop the charges. Olivia was not pleased, this was a mistake made by a teenager, she argued, but the Captain pointed out that the victim was damaging herself, the photos could be seen by college recruiters employers or her own future children. The pixels would never fully disappear and her reputation would be irreparably damaged. Everyone learns a valuable lesson, roll credits.
Unfortunately, Donald Cragen was correct, but he shouldn’t be. Nude photos and previous sex acts should not ruin someone’s reputation, ever. Sex isn’t bad, two consenting adults (or teenagers with an appropriate age ratio) having it is not bad. Naked photos are not bad. We should be free to love our bodies and embrace our sexual desires without fear of a scar on our permanent social record.