Erica Hudson is a journalism junior and Mustang News columnist. The views expressed in this article do not necessarily reflect the viewpoints and editorial coverage of Mustang News.
I don’t have another year left of mediocre sex left in me. I am only 21 years old, and I know I am not the only student who feels this way. Analyze your sexual occupancy in this world. Feel uncomfortable and be honest with yourself.
First off, this article is not meant to erase anyone who does not align themselves with sexuality. After all, our sexualities are socially constructed, ranked and understood through a very limited lens in Western culture. You might identify as asexual. If you are someone who has a minimal sex drive, doesn’t enjoy sex or has any varying reasons for not wanting to participate in sexual acts, understand this: You are valid. You understand your experience and how it reacts with the world around you the best. I hope no one shames you for this. It comes both ways.
What I am trying to get at is the analysis of myself as a sexual being in relation to my experience in hopes that it can help you question yours and ask yourself: Am I happy with how this is going? So leave your fedoras and “women are obligated to have sex with me” comments at the door and let’s dip into it.
Women are socially constructed into a space in society that harshly limits them as sexual beings. People are hyper-sexualized, desexualized and erased, socially categorized on the basis of race, sexual orientation, ability, body type and more. This is incredibly hindering to sexual liberation for anybody, not just women.
In a society that already sets these “women,” female-identified people, and all people outside of the white, heterosexual, cisgender, middle-class, male category in terms of opportunity and advancement, the way we interact with our world socially and how we are socialized varies. Take that into the sexual world and it gets even more unnecessarily complicated.
Some women are praised for being sexual beings, while others are slut-shamed. Women are judged based on their appearance and actions rather than their desire. Women are discouraged to have desire. Women are encouraged to be passive and sexually submissive. If you find empowerment through this, that’s for you to realize. I would encourage you to look at the root of where that power comes from and analyze if this is a healthy power relationship to be having.
You may be asking yourself, “Are any power relationships healthy, though? They can be very problematic.”
And you’re right. In a healthy relationship where both partners communicate with each other, respect each other’s boundaries and identities and honestly talk about what they want. If you want to play with power differences, I don’t kink-shame. However, I do feel like some people are being left out by this stereotyping if they are not including that component.
When you think of the sexual woman, what do you see? What does society paint in your mind? Why is this woman considered sexy? Does she consider you sexy? Has she shown any direct sexual interest in you, in the form of consent? Did you have that conversation? Do you understand that alcohol and drugs can inhibit someone’s ability to provide an answer to this? If that’s the case, can you see how it would be unfair of you to take advantage of them? (@ Frat Culture @ Rape Culture).
Are you only comfortable having sex when you’re drinking? Did you get their permission to do that to them there? Are you treating them differently based on how much clothing they are wearing? Are you understanding their worth as a person before any of this? Are you respecting their desire, or lack thereof, to have an emotional connection in correspondence with physical intimacy?
Basically, it never hurts to ask: “What do you want this relationship to look like?” It doesn’t make you uncool for communicating. Consent is the very minimum. Respect should be mutual, no matter how fleeting your interaction may be.
Are you cool with just having sex? Do you want to have sex with multiple people? Do you only want to have sex with each other? Do you have a safe word? Does the sex you’re having require one? Are you asking your partner to change something about them in order for you to have sex? Should you be doing that? Are you shaming them by doing so in some way? There is so much to consider and we are making it far too complicated. Don’t shame somebody for who they are. Sex shouldn’t be a weapon of control or a nonconsensual loss of power. I am done making it complicated.
I haven’t always thought of these different questions. I’m still thinking about it. I don’t think we can really stop thinking about it, just like anything else. I’ve judged girls for how many people they’ve slept with. I’ve been judged quite a bit, too. I’ve had guys subtly slut shame me one minute and then we hooked up the next. I’ve sat through sex that I pretended I liked when really I thought about what eyeshadow palette I wanted to be using instead. I’ve also had great sex, lots of it, and that’s fine. I’m not bitter about the bad sex I’ve had and I don’t necessarily blame it on one person or another.
What I’m confused about is why so many college students aren’t having the sex they want to be having.
Miscommunications. Power differences. Disrespect. Violation of someone’s space.
What all of the good encounters have had in common was a mutual understanding of how those concepts can be harmful, what you’re looking to get out of the experience and what you can contribute to it. If your sex life is occupied by bodies but not the principles, I’d say you should invest in a sex toy and quit wasting your time.
We all have different experiences, but it is crucial at a place where so much of our transition into “adulthood,” as it is inhibited by our San Luis Obispo college culture, is to understand this and act accordingly in your interactions with others. Our college culture has existed by predominantly benefitting and basing itself on greek life, athletics and partying. This especially has been seen with the frequent track record of unreported sexual assault that we all know greek life has, but may choose to ignore that.
Apply this to your life in what way you see fit. Have the sex you want to be having. Help your friends understand that people are not objects and don’t hold out on satisfying others.