The Scarlet & Black

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The Scarlet & Black

The Scarlet & Black

Column: Countless ways available to safely explore issues of sex

Just the other day, I found myself thinking about NSO, and how it has been almost four years since I first came here to start my college career on that hot, sticky day in August.

Before I started college, it was always an elusive, mysterious and exciting destiny, one that I knew I was aiming for but felt I’d never reach. When I finally got here, the campus seemed confusing and social interactions were awkward and exciting, filled with the energy of 18-year-olds on the threshold of something new and amazing in their lives who did not quite grasp it fully.

I also vividly remember having the same conversation over and over again. Let’s face it, when you throw random teenagers together in the middle of rural Iowa, there are only a few things you can come up with to talk about at first. The questions (you all know them) went something like this: What’s your name? Where are you from? What was your GPA in high school? Are you a virgin?

Okay, maybe not everyone’s experience was like that, but almost certainly there was some sort of sexual curiosity that we all had about each other. NSO activities forced us to face issues of intimacy and sexual health in ways some of us had never experienced. I went to public high school in South Carolina—the only thing I learned about sex in the classroom was to “pet your dog, not your date!”

For me, it was positively liberating and exhilarating to come to a place where folks were willing to acknowledge their innate sexualities and desires. I remember finding out quickly which of my fellow first-year friends had done the deed(s) or not—being positively curious about those who’d had sex while feeling relieved that I wasn’t the only one who hadn’t.

Grinnell has opened up a whole new world of sexuality for me. College has been my sexual revolution. Once I let sex into my life—not having sex, per se, but learning about issues of sexuality and sexual health, seeing people making out at Harris and hearing my neighbors bumping in the night and buying my first vibrator at the Lion’s Den—it really stopped being such a big deal. Suddenly, I was in college and sex was everywhere and that was normal. My friends from high school, mostly Southern Baptists who are still saving themselves for marriage (no judgments here, we’re just very different kinds of people), never ever talked about these kinds of things.

If you haven’t taken advantage of the kind of sexual freedom we have here, you should really check it out. I don’t mean to tell you to go out and screw the next Grinnellian you see, although you can if you want to. Rather, don’t be afraid to check out the impressive spread of sex-related activities we have on this campus. Audition for the drag show, go get dental dams and condoms from the health center, attend a masturbation workshop, participate in Love Your Body week, go to the Rocky Horror Picture Show and don’t forget to yell out “homesick abortion,” streak, write something for the Grinnell Monologues, check out Lesbian Movie Night and Organized Procrastination (LMNOP), go to Underwear Ball. There are countless ways to safely explore issues of sex and sexuality without going too far outside of our comfort zones. We go to a school where it doesn’t really matter whether we’ve slept with 12 people or are holding out for something a little more

I’ve learned more about sex in my four years here than any other time in my life. Part of that comes with developing into a young adult, but a lot of my knowledge and experience comes from growing in a place that encourages and supports my being a sexual creature. I can teach you a thing or two if you want (not like that, shut up), but why don’t you go and find out on your own? It’s fun, I promise.

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