Summer is winding down and colleges and universities are swelling with the nubile young flesh of their student populations. If you’re among the privileged who have been accepted into an institution of higher learning, congratulations. If this is your freshman year (or “first year” as my tiny liberal arts college put it) I can pretty much guarantee part of your orientation week will involve a kind of truncated sex ed/how not to get raped session. I giggled through mine mostly because it was fucking ridiculous, victim-blaming and not helpful.
College is nothing like high school (or adulthood). You’ll be given a ton of freedom and you’ll be surrounded by people your own age almost exclusively, 24 hours a day. You’ll go to class, join a club, go to parties and have sex. Probably a lot of sex. You’ll hook up and have casual sex. There will be one night stands and friends with benefits and fuck buddies and relationships. You’ll try to navigate this strange new social structure (often awkwardly). People are going to try to have sex with you and you’re going to try to have sex with other people. Sometimes you’ll be successful (and sometimes you won’t).
I’m here to tell you how to have safe sex on campus in a sex positive, non-shaming kind of way:
1. If there’s a penis involved, use a fucking condom. One in four college students has an STD so wrap it up. I can’t say this enough. Use a condom. They’re literally everywhere on college campuses, the health center, your RA’s door, the LGBTQ meeting space, campus centers etc. There is no excuse for not using one. An infection or an unplanned pregnancy can really ruin your college experience. If you do get an STD, get it treated and be honest with your partners about it. If they don’t want to get with you anymore, so be it, but it’s better than putting them at risk by hiding the truth. I also encourage you to use dental dams (or the latex glove method).
2. Masturbate. There isn’t a ton of privacy in college, what with shared dorm rooms and bathrooms, but you should be able to steal a few moments here and there for some self pleasure. It’s a great stress release and the safest form of sex there is.
3. If you want to have sex with someone, and they want to have sex with you, by all means do it. Don’t worry about your reputation and don’t concern yourself with what other people will say or think. The one caveat here is if you or your potential sex partner is in a monogamous relationship. It’s up to you to set your own ethical boundaries, but take other people’s feelings into account.
4. You probably already know this one, but don’t shame anyone for all the sex they are or are not having. Everyone’s on a different journey and trying to figure it out the best they can. Don’t slut-shame and don’t virgin/prude-shame either. And remember, this isn’t a competition. I don’t recommend fucking as many people as possible just to do it, because you’re in a small community, even if you’re at a huge state school, and with rampant slut-shaming, be aware you could be courting a lot of nastiness.
5. Listen to your partner. This is the best way to ensure that a) you have their full and enthusiastic consent and b) you both have the best sex possible. By that same token, communicate with your partner about what you want. College is about finding your voice and the bedroom (or dorm room) is a great place to start.
6. If you must sexile your roommate, give him/her as much warning as possible and make sure they have time to get their laptop etc. On the flipside, if you get sexiled, be cool about it within reason. Don’t become The Blocker but don’t be a doormat either. It’s your room too. You’ll need to find some common ground.
7. Try new things. If the opportunity arises to fuck someone of a gender you don’t normally fuck, go for it, you might like it. Maybe something a little kinky comes your way. Maybe multiple partners. College is the best time for this kind of experimentation. You’re there to learn about yourself, and discovering your likes, dislikes, and boundaries is all part of that.
8. If someone doesn’t want to have sex with you, drop the issue. You don’t want to be known around campus as “that guy” (or girl) who can’t take a hint, or worse.
9. Which brings me to my most important point. When I started college 9 years ago, the powers that be were kind of vague about what rape is. A lot of the focus was on “regretted sex” which felt to me like a way to convince victims that they hadn’t actually been raped. There is such a thing as regretted sex and it is more than likely that at least once in your college career you will consent to sex and then regret in the light of day. It happens. But it is not the same as sexual assault.
10. If you are assaulted don’t let anyone convince you otherwise. I urge you to report it to the appropriate campus authorities and, if necessary, the local police. Many colleges and universities are inclined to downplay the occurrence of rape on campus because they need to report those statistics and they don’t want to appear unsafe. Keep that in mind when speaking with school officials.
I don’t want to scare you because you shouldn’t start the school year afraid of the rapist around every corner, at every party, club, or class. College is the time to experiment with a lot of cool things, sex included. It’s a time for you to let your hair down and have fun. To start figuring out who you are and who you want to be. Go out there and have all the fun, safe and consensual sex you possibly can.
Image: Cornelis van Haarlem. The Wedding of Peleus and Thetis, 1592-3.