How Should We Discuss Sex on Campus?

January 21, 2010 | NeW Staff

More and more, campuses are offering opportunities to discuss sex in a so-called “educational environment.”  Early this year, we covered Sex Week at the University of Kentucky, where the university brought in an organization, Pure Romance, to host sex education events.  The weeklong event was intended to educate students about their sexuality and empower them.  Certainly, there is a place to discuss sex and become educated about its effects, but is a seminar on sex toys really serving a valuable purpose for students’ well-rounded sex educations?  I’m not convinced.

Well, tonight at North Carolina State University, the campus is hosting a sex education and empowerment night; “I Heart Female Orgasm,” specifically for women.  The event was successful last year, and the campus has decided to host it again.  As one of the event planners described, 

“Attendees will learn about sexuality in the media, the female anatomy and the best possible sexual decisions for themselves.”

The event has certainly received some negative feedback from parents in particular, but according to the campus article, the planners and program educators think that women need to become more open and honest about their sexuality and that this event will encourage that.  According to the event planners, there will not be promotion or even a discussion of abstinence.

I’m not sold on an event that encourages female college students to embrace and experience their sexuality in such a way as this.  From what I can tell, this program is intended to encourage college women to engage in and enjoy sexual activity freely.  What they are not saying, though, is that sex is something that always comes with consequences.  Sure, they’ll give the standard contraceptive talk about ways to have “safe sex,” but is there such a thing as safe sex, really?  Research studies have shown that women DO suffer emotionally after casual sex and that they are far more likely to become depressed as a result.  But this is something that most campus sex education seminars neglect to tell you. 

There is a place to discuss sex on campus, but right now, sex education is being handled in a way that actually does more harm than good.  Many students do not have an accurate view of what sex is; in fact, it is horribly skewed.  Far too often, students, particularly women, on college campuses are fed with lies about sex.  It is seen as something that is easy, casual, and fun.  But never problematic.  If you are “safe,” then what do you have to worry?  

Campuses should be offering programs that talk about all issues of sex–including the dangers and not just the “glorified” views.  College women would be better served if campuses offered programs that acknowledge the differences between men and women after engaging in casual sex, that talk about the physical AND emotional consequences of sex, and that encourage women to consider the benefits of abstinence (in more ways than one).  

On most campuses today, this is not the message that you hear, and NeW is working to change that.  I’m encouraged that there are NeW chapters at NC State and UK to provide a different message for women than what these sex programs promote.
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