Thursday, August 29, 2013

Sex column is not sex positive

The Daily Collegian at Penn State has a history of winning awards but also being kind of... off. I've been quoted in the paper at least once a year since freshman year, and they've always misquoted me.

They've tried to write a sex column a few times. After a few controversial and off-putting pieces, the column was shut down around the same time the Sandusky Scandal broke. They've started it again, and it's called "Let's Talk About Sex." The goal is to feature a female and male writer, aptly named Dick and Jane, to show both sides of the story. Or so their editor says.

I started reading the columns. Besides the fact that both Dick and Jane seem to be heavily gendered, they are extremely heteronormative. ("The importance lies in the company you share your first time with, not the end result, because the end result will more than likely be a satisfied male and a less-than-satisfied female laying together watching “Friends” until someone passes out or parents are on their way home.") Gay students also lose their virginity (though virginity is a very complicated topic, however), so shouldn't their experiences be represented too? Will gay columnists debut a column in the future?

Furthermore, Dick seems to be totally okay with mediocre experiences... shouldn't we be helping students figure out how to have positive, healthy relationships rather than telling them to settle?

I was infuriated after reading Dick's column. He explains the high probability that alcohol will be present in the sexual encounters of college students at Penn State, and that you'll be "often too drunk to really feel anything." He ends with this gem: "...if you decide to drink heavily in college, don’t be surprised if your first time doesn’t go as you always dreamed."

Wait a sec. That's it? The whole article mentioned alcohol but not one sentence mentioned sexual assault or rape? On college campuses, 1 in 4 women will be assaulted. 50% of those will involve alcohol.

Dick failed to mention one really big, glaring fact: IF YOU ARE DRUNK, YOU CANNOT GIVE CONSENT.

This is problematic! It's an issue that "Let's Talk About Sex", which as far as I can tell is trying to be sex positive, is missing this huge part of information. The goal is to inform readers about "topics we never talk about," right? So why aren't we educating them about rape and sexual assault when it's so prevalent on college campuses?

Our school newspaper is normalizing situations that end in rape and sexual assault.

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