21 April 2010

Day 25: My Freshman Year

My Freshman Year: What a Professor Learned by Becoming a Students by Rebekah Nathan (pseudonym).  ISBN: 9780801443978.

Oh baby, turn the lights down low, we're gonna talk about sex today.  Ain't nothin' sexier than a librarian talking about books, so I'm gonna let down my hair and fling my glasses across the room while pouting about your overdue books...  Not really, but if that works for you, awesome.

I am actually going to talk about sex.  Actually I'm going to talk about talking about sex, because I wanna get metaphysical.  And if an Olivia Newton John just popped into your head, that was totally on purpose.  This topic was sparked by the portion of the book where Nathan asks other students what class "changed their lives."  Apparently all of them had good things to say about their Sexuality class.

I find the description of the Sexuality class somewhat interesting.  In the class they were required to read texts and watch movies to enhance the discussion, but it was expected that they would rely mostly on their own experiences.  While talking about sex in college changed my life too, all of my discussions happened...well...everywhere.  I don't think I remember a single day where I didn't participate, listen to, stumble onto, or start a conversation about sex.  We're talking about things from gritty play-by-play details to number of partners to the political contexts of socio-economic status of partners from different classes to what it means to have sex as a straight man or woman/queer man or woman/queer transgender  man or woman/polyamorous/etc.  We talked about sex so much I'm almost hard pressed to tell you that we talked about anything else.  

I don't want to say we were sex crazed; I just think maybe we were more open about it and therefore it made it easier to talk about it in an adult manner, without titters or offense being taken.  A lot of this had to do with campus policies that promoted openness about physical contact.  The Sexual Offense Prevention Policy (SOPP, the initials are said individually rather than saying "sop") has literally changed my life and the way I handle my relationships, both sexual and non-sexual.  I am a very physical person; I enjoy being close to people I like.  I hug, I kiss cheeks, I pat shoulders and heads, I enjoy giving and receiving (good) back massages; physicality is a large part of how I show someone that I like them and that I want to be friends with them.  Having the SOPP around forced me to make sure that every physical interaction I had was okay; every single time.  

I became used to the idea that not all of my friends appreciated the same level of physical contact that I did all the time.  There were friends who didn't like to be touched at all, or very rarely, and then there were friends where it was okay sometimes, and friends who didn't seem to mind at all.  The point is that the more I asked the easier it was to ask.  It actually put less pressure on the relationship.  The rejection was hard initially, but once I got used to the idea that it wasn't a rejection of me, but that they had different space requirements than I did, it was much easier to accept and overall our relationships were smoother.

I'll be honest, there were times sexually when following the SOPP was awkward, but it was always worth it.  Those were the times where I felt the safest and the closest to my partners.  I can't remember a time where I had bad sex when following the SOPP.  I think honesty and openness are a necessary requirement of good sex, even if it's just to say, "I don't like this or this, sometimes I like this but ask me first," or "I've had X number of drinks tonight, so keep in mind this may not actually be consensual," or "I just want to have sex with you tonight and I don't plan to see you again."  See, I don't necessarily think there's anything wrong with the one-night stand.  Personally it's not my style, but I think it's a valid sexual choice for some people, some of the time.  I just wish people would be more honest about it.  True, a person may decide not to sleep with you when they learn you're not interested in a longer relationship, but for the sake of their sexual and mental health that is something they need to know.  And let's face it, if you're getting into someone's pants and they're not fully aware of your real intentions, that just makes you an asshole.

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