Sex On A College Campus: Students Sound Off On Taboo Topic

By Larryse Brown

What do unicorns, dragons and mermaids have in common with the celibate college student?

It seems to some of Mercy’s students that they all fall nicely under the category of mythical creatures.

“There’s no such thing as a celibate college student,” says junior Jasmine Albert.

P.J Bailey, a mercy junior simply states, “I have yet to see one”.

It may be that celibacy, abstinence from sex and “just saying no” are as far away from reality as poodle skirts and “going steady.”

The rebellious youth of the 50s is long gone, and the free love and the sexual revolution of the 60s and 70s has left its mark the youth of America and its current parents.

The media doesn’t help. Marketing proves that sex sells. Virgins pass the age of 18 are alien concepts. Students have become desensitized to sex so much in their everyday lives, liberalized in expressing sexuality that for many students on this campus sex has become a “hobby,” a “release,” a “job” and “nothing special.”

According to government statistics in the United States the average age that kids lose their virginity is 16, which increases the chances of sexual active kids by the ages of 13 and 14. This is opposed to China, where 21 is the average age one would typically lose their virginity. In Malaysia, the number is at 23.

The introduction of sex into mainstream advertising began in World War II in the form of pin-up girls, and since then marketing strategies using sexual innuendos has increased 97.6 percent.

“Sex is overrated,” says Christina Capelli as she gestures to a half eaten ice cream cup sitting on the table in the back of the library. “Sex nowadays is like this vanilla ice cream. Its fun getting it when you’re little because it’s a treat. You don’t have it often. But by the time you get to a certain age and could have vanilla ice cream whenever you want it, it loses the excitement it once had.”

New York sex therapist Dr. Oreste Rondinella blames the desensitization of sex for the majority of the college aged demographic on the media which creates “mixed messages”. Rondinella, who has been in practice for more than 20 years, proclaims the present generation is very much influenced by what they see in movies.

“The media has distorted what sex is all about. It only portrays one side, which is lust”.

However, he disagrees with the notion that celibacy is forgotten, as Rondinella claims that “the youth of America has not severed old traditions completely; there are more students who are celibate than we know”.

Among the celibate students at Mercy is 23 year-old Oneka Coach. Being a minority among the majority, Coach says is not without its hardships, but in order to get a handle on those “frustrations” it takes a heavy dose of self confidence.

“I care about myself. I have good self esteem. I’m just not one of those women who give their bodies away. I don’t want sex to be the main factor in my next relationship.”

Among the most frequent of answers students in relationships gave for having sex were things like “physical attraction, “wanting to take the relationship to another level,” “love,” “celebrating” and “feeling desire.”

The most frequent response students gave for not having sex in college was the fear of getting an STD. No matter the position students took on sex the majority of students-both men and women- would rather deal with pregnancy than contract an STD.

“I ain’t no fool, I wrap my tool,” Bailey comments.

According to sex and statistics 63 percent of all sexually transmitted diseases (STD) cases occur among people less than 25 years of age.

On such a small campus the practice of ‘wrapping it up’ is not lost among the majority of male students at Mercy. More couples at Mercy opt to not taking a chance. “Off course we use protection,” couple Jasmine Albert and Ed Wilson adds. “At this age, the only thing we should be worried about is school.”

For senior Erolette Wright, living in an environment where the guys are said to “recycle” girls, not only inspires the practice of safe sex but is enough reason to stay celibate. Wright makes the decision to wait on the basis of “not becoming a victim.”

According to the New England Journal of Medicine in an article entitled “Sex, Lies, and HIV,” 34 percent of men have told lies in order to have sex compared to just 10 percent of women.

But according to Albert, the numbers of female students who are letting down their sexual restraints “is getting worse”. Albert claims that a college girl with low sexual inhibitions never loses its shock value.

“A lot of younger girls think they could gain popularity and gain a higher status by having sex with a basketball player,” says Ed Wilson on the rumors.

In a case study at Loyola University the numbers of sexual partners in college campuses decrease as the semesters pass, along with alcohol consumption and an increase in GPA. In a total of 100 students there was the highest record of a decline of sexual partners from freshmen to sophomore year.

While some upperclassmen believe the younger girls have become more unrestricted, sophomore Davetta Dariety has a different thought.

“It’s usually the freshmen that are the victims of upperclassmen boys.”

As sex for both men and women becomes more “expected” and the conservative student becomes an endangered species, there are some rules and standards held separately for men and women that have remained concrete. It’s a unanimous assumption that young men on this campus are lot more free to express their sexuality than young women. In fact, it’s an age old and unspoken rule that women are to literally hold themselves together when it comes to spreading love more so than men.

“It’s one of those rules where nobody knows where it came from but everyone still follows,” says Jasmine Blount senior at Mercy College. “Times have changed for women’s freedom, but it continues to go unexplained why publically known ‘hookups’ end with the guy emerging from the scene looking like “the man” and the women branded with the scarlet letter”.

Why women across American carry on the “walk of shame” while men have no such societal confinements go unsolved. Students at Mercy realize the irrationality of the double standard but follow it just the same. In past times, the media has often told us that there are two kinds of women. Some students argue that there is the dilemma of the Jackie Kennedy and the Marilyn Monroe: the “good girl” and the “bad girl.

“The good girl has a different set of values, their looking for someone special,” says sophomore Avory.

But when a girl has the same public sexual encounters as a man, what singles her out as promiscuous, and what do the guys of Mercy have to say about it?

“That girl has low self esteem,” Orlando Daniels comments.

Bailey feels it’s not the act of being promiscuous itself but rather managing the gossip that follows.

“The girl only turns slutty when she puts her business out there. As long as she keeps her business under wraps, no one would know. Problem solved.”

Christina Capelli thinks that females cross the line into being seen as uninhibited when they use sex for the wrong things.

“A lot of women use sex as a tool to get a guy. Some women think if they sleep with him they will keep him, when really in most cases it works the opposite way. Some girls feel like they have nothing else to offer.”

Any mentioning of the celibate student with the majority of males on Mercy’s campus land phrases like “more power to you if you’re able to do it”, “it takes a lot of strength” and “wow, you have to be a strong person for that” but does the idea of staying celibate really take the strength of Superman and the morale of Mother Theresa, or is the concept more difficult to uphold for men than for women?

Junior Clodel Remy weighs in. “It’s just as unrealistic to find women who are celibate in college. Girls think just like guys nowadays.”

However girls across this campus profess that sex for them carries more weight than it does for men. “It could be something as brief as a one night stand…” one student comments, “but the girl will almost always have a bond with their sexual partner”.

It’s easy to chalk up the different views on sex between men and women to social expectations but science expert Hannah Hoag says there is a scientific reason why a guy could “keep it moving” and a girls will almost “always have a bond.” According to Hoag, author of Sex on the Brain, there are different genetic blue prints that transmit messages differently. In short, women’s brains house areas that control emotions in contrast to men’s brains, larger in areas that house social and sexual behavior. Hoag says that the media is of little influence.

It might be biologically explained, but more people use the media as a leading example of what kids in college are suppose to be up to. Rondinella proclaims that “television has blurred the lines between normal and fantasy.”