Arielle Pardes | Bringing on the Year of Sex
The Screwtinizer | Why sex talk needs to happen both in the bedroom and on the Walk
January 19, 2012, 2:17 am·
Birds do it, bees do it and Quakers do it too — but we don’t dare talk about it.
As much as we have bonking on the brain, there’s a big hush about sex talk. A quick search of theDP.com using the key word “sex” yields few results. You’ll find several articles about sexuality, but nothing directly about doing the dirty.
To be fair, it isn’t The Daily Pennsylvanian’s foremost responsibility to publish content about sex (until The Screwtinizer came along). But this is exactly the problem: we’re caught up in the societal censorship that characterizes sex as unprofessional, unsavory or simply not safe for work.
For being such a taboo topic, sex is omnipresent. It’s about the most universal thing in the world (unless you’re talking to asexual hammerhead sharks, which know nothing about the horizontal tango).
“Sex shapes so much of our lives,” said Eduardo Fernandez-Duque, an anthropology professor at Penn. Fernandez-Duque co-teaches a popular course called Sex and Human Nature with his wife, which underscores the ubiquitous nature of sex. “It organizes our societies, it determines power dynamics. After eating and sleeping, it is probably the strongest main drive that we have,” he added.
Sex is an important and expected part of life, but we’re exceptionally shy about what goes on between the sheets.
If 34th Street’s semesterly Shoutouts are any indication, many Quakers are busy doing it but are willing to divulge only with the security of anonymity. Fernandez-Duque, who believes that students should become more comfortable discussing sex, suggests a radical way to break the ice at Penn: to make sex the Provost’s theme of the year.
“This year it’s the Year of Games, last year it was the Year of Water; a topic we still haven’t had is the Year of Sex,” he says. “Why shouldn’t we have a whole bunch of activities across all schools focused on sex and sexuality?”
Beyond familiarizing ourselves with the frisky, a Year of Sex would provide a forum to address the less than sexy aspects of the deed, like STDs. If we can’t help but giggle upon hearing the word “penis,” it’s hard to expect us to be able to discuss what’s up down there or seek help when something seems fishy with our genitals.
Sex may be universal, but it’s not one-size-fits-all. Eroticism comes in numerous shapes, sizes, colors, expressions and fetishes: to exclude anyone from the conversation is to limit ourselves to one rigid view of what “good sex” means.
Moreover, the very definition of sex is often taken for granted. Plenty of heterosexuals assume that having sex is plain old penis-into-vagina intercourse, but ask a gay man for his definition and you lose the vagina. Ask a lesbian and having sex might not involve penetration at all. For some, sexual desire might not even involve the genitals.
“Sex could be any form of intimate interaction between two people. There are so many different things that you can do [sexually], so sex isn’t just one thing,” explained Taylor Williams, a College freshman who works at Penn’s Lesbian Gay Bisexual and Transgender Center and identifies as bisexual.
If for no other reason, we should ignite these conversations about sex simply because we’re curious and naïve when it comes to sex.
“There are a lot of things people don’t know about sex, and that makes them kind of scared of it,” Williams added.
Learning more about sex not only opens our minds and makes us more tolerant, but it can also crank up the heat in the bedroom. Ever heard of “The Corkscrew?” Ever tried a Magic Wand? It’s high time to find out — you might even like it.
But here’s the real kicker: you don’t even have to be having sex to make a worthwhile contribution to the conversation. In fact, abstinence plays just as important a role in our sex dialogue as does nymphomania.
The messages we receive about sex seem to imply that everyone is doing it and they’re all doing it exactly the same way. We need to take a step back and recognize the reasons people don’t have sex, the same way we acknowledge the reasons they do.
So let’s talk about sex. Let’s talk about what it means to us, how it’s important in our lives and how we can begin to re-frame these conversations.