Sex shouldn’t be scary

Moira Weinstein, Contributing Writer

The “hook-up” culture at the University has been labeled as toxic and harmful by many.  This culture is also said to have a disproportionately negative effect on young women. The lack of emotional attachment tends to break down one’s mental and emotional stability regarding intimacy and relationships, and ruin one’s self esteem. The prevailing question in regards to this is: why is it so prevalent on this small campus in Lewisburg, Pa.? Is it just normal college life? Is it the presence of eager Fraternity members? Is it the force of heteronormative ideals that force us to see it as eternally evil?

Since sex-positive week, I have tried to spark up conversations about hook-up culture and what it means to the people of this campus. Those in long-term relationships like to give advice to the masses of singles, with a subconscious superiority that emanates from their tongue, as if the only goal is to acquire a partner. The anxiety to find a significant other has been seared into our brains from childhood, with many parents encouraging their daughters to be “ladylike” to attract men, and eventually continue towards achieving a life based in the nuclear family. We also have pressure from society, specifically stemming from the media. Teen rom-coms aging back decades, or maybe just a couple years, force the idea that “getting” the dream guy or the dream girl is the only thing that provides happiness and validation. How can we argue with idealized characters on screen? They must be the goal, right?

Although many of us are aware that the media that we consume is fictional and we should not believe everything we see, why do we love the idea of finding that forever partner, but hate the idea of intimacy? For many, the stigma around sex comes from the fear of pregnancy and infection. According to a study conducted by Terri Conley of the University of Michigan, people believe that one instance of unprotected intercourse is 17 times more dangerous because of the risk of contracting HIV than a 300-mile road trip. In reality, the car trip is 20 times more likely to result in tragedy than the intercourse is to end in a diagnosis of HIV. It is ultimately clear that anxiety plays a large role in the stigma surrounding sex. 

However, the stigma does not stop at STIs and infections. It also hovers around non-heterosexual intimacy which is rarely taught in high school sex education. In my personal experience as a public high school student in New York City, we were taught how to put on a condom and what kind of diseases I could acquire while having sex with a cis-male. I never learned about protection for those born without male genitalia. In reality, the number of people identifying as part of the LGBTQIA+ community is rising as acceptance and celebration becomes a societal norm. Transgender people and young people exploring their own sexuality have no means of learning the means for safe sex that correlate with their bodies/identifications, except through experience and the vague and oftentimes frightening diagnoses of WebMD. 

With all of this in mind, it’s time to reevaluate how we perceive sex. Awareness starts with education, which leads to acceptance and the breakdown of stigmas. It is important for people to guide those exploring and learning about sexual interactions to give them everything needed to perform safely, without judgement and without bias that makes them feel like intimacy is morally wrong. So, is hook-up culture really wrong? No.  “Hook-up” culture does not work the same way for everyone, and not everyone may enjoy it, but that is not a reason to label it as inherently dangerous and disastrous. Becoming comfortable setting boundaries and being open about the intentions of sexual experiences is important for any person, whether they want a relationship or not. So, stop judging those who just want to have a fun one-night-stand and normalize the conversation about sex and the multitudes of relationships people have with with it; create a more welcoming environment for all and end the stigma.

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