Rethinking sex on campus: are we doing it right?

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By Nora Swidler

Shortly over a week ago, while participating in a discussion in a room with about 25 people, a male student described a scenario between a couple. The two were using condoms as their form of sexual protection. I was taken aback by what followed. Several of the women in the room objected to the couple’s use of condoms; their tones ranged from disbelief to irritation. It was ludicrous to them that a boyfriend and girlfriend had chosen to use condoms.

I was stunned for a couple of reasons.  The first was that this objection was raised at all. How two people decide to practice safe sex is a personal decision to be made between the two without outside criticism or comment. The second is that women raised this objection.  I have heard many men complain about condoms, but this was the first time I had ever heard women spurn condoms so avidly.

On Feb. 26, the Panhellenic Council hosted the event, “Rethinking Sex.” The event was intended to put the women of this campus on the same page with regard to the practice of safe sex. Amanda Tommell-Sandy and Kerrin Sendowitz from the Counseling Center ran the discussion, bringing with them informational posters, different brochures and hundreds of condoms. The event’s topics ranged from how to put a condom on a man to the pressures women receive to have sex.

As referenced at the event, Union’s statistics are on par with national college statistics with regard to sexual activity. Despite this, there are still people being pressured to go farther than they would like. Some of the explanations for this happening include: they did not want to say no, they had hooked up with the person before and therefore felt pressured to do so again, and they believe that it is the norm to do so.

During the event, I kept thinking of the conversation about the couple. Do we, as a student population, believe that casual or random hookups are the norm? Do we, as a student population, feel pressure to engage because we feel like everyone else is doing it? And are the people who are hooking up casually doing so without condoms? Are they being honest about it?

Women learned about the available birth control options on campus, the places where they can discuss their sexuality and responses for different situations. I was thrilled that the event was successful. Every last condom at the event was gone.

The next time that I am part of a discussion in which condoms are condemned, I will feel reassured that women know their options on this campus, how to stay as safe as they can, and I will remember that no condoms were left at the safe sex event.

 

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