Pandora’s Box: physical and emotional sexual boundaries

What condom... Hello Scripps! I’m your sex columnist for this issue! In addition to loving sex, I am a Planned Parenthood- trained peer sex educator.

I hope you’re all as excited as I am to be in Claremont! Seeing all the new faces makes me nostalgic for my first year. Enjoy your time here while it lasts! It’s crazy to think how much I’ve grown and learned over the past three years.

Some of you might still be in monogamous high school relationships. I was too—for three whole weeks! Others might be in open or poly relationships, looking for a new relationship, or just looking to have some fun. For those of you entering the much-criticized “hookup culture” I want to impart some words of wisdom so that you can all be safe, healthy, and happy in your sexual experiences.

First of all, CONDOMS. Condoms are not an option!!! They are a requirement. I cannot tell you how many times guys have tried to sleep with me without one and it baffles me every time! I understand it’s easy to get caught up in the heat of the moment, but even if you take birth control, please, please, please use a condom. STDs such as HPV are ubiquitous on college campuses.

Condoms are free at HEO. It’s not awkward to walk in there and grab some. I promise. Also, don’t always rely on the guy to have one! Because they often won’t. Having your own stash of condoms keeps you in charge of your sexuality. HEO also has free dental dams and it would be irresponsible to discourage their use. But in all honesty, I don’t know anyone who uses them, despite the fact that gonorrhea, syphilis, and Chlamydia can be transmitted via oral sex.

The best thing about a new school year has to be that clean-slate feeling. You haven’t had stress-induced fights with your friends yet or blemished your academic record with late assignments. Why not start with a clean sexual slate, too? No, I don’t mean becoming a born-again virgin (though by all means go ahead if you’d like). I’m talking about STD testing. There is no excuse for being sexually active and not getting tested. A good guideline is every three partners or every six months, whichever comes first. The 5C Student Health Center does STD screens for a nominal fee and HEO does free HIV testing every Tuesday. No information will be sent to your parents without your written consent!

Remember that a standard screening does not test for everything! Typically, a standard screening covers gonorrhea, Chlamydia, syphilis, and often (but not always) HIV. Notably absent from standard screenings are herpes 1 & 2, hepatitis, HPV, scabies, and molluscum, all of which must be specifically requested. So if your partner says, “I’m clean!” ask what he/she got tested for before giving unprotected sex the green light.

Many Claremont hookups start at parties and are fueled by alcohol. Alcohol may give you the courage to approach a potential hookup, but it doesn’t necessarily lead to good sex. When the clothes come off, you may not have sexual chemistry with the same person you have drunk grinding chemistry with. Less talked about than whiskey dick, yet more likely to have lasting consequences, is the fact that once-clear sexual boundaries may seem less important—to you or your partner or both—when intoxicated.

College is the perfect place to experiment sexually. Experiment with girls, experiment with boys, experiment with toys. This is how you’ll figure out what you like and don’t like. But healthy experimentation requires boundaries. A rule of thumb: if you something makes you uncomfortable, it shouldn’t be happening. Inviting someone back to your room does not indicate consent for any sexual act, and even verbal consent can be retracted at any time. Stay true to yourself.

Along those lines, focus on your own pleasure! I did not orgasm once during a hookup my first year, one-night-stands and consistent partners included. I was too nervous to direct partners who didn’t know how to please me. Many college students learn most of what they know about sexual technique from porn. This phenomenon has led to an overemphasis on P-in-V sex, which not only leaves queers completely out of the picture, but leaves many heterosexual women unsatisfied. Now I know that a little direction can go a long way. Take their hand and show them how to touch you—they’ll appreciate it. In the end, you have to trust your gut. Looking back, the hookups I regret have one thing in common: I had reservations about what was happening but didn’t speak up. Listen to those feelings of weirdness! They mean something.

Our columnists would love to answer any questions you have! No question is too weird or embarrassing! We want to know what you want to know. Email us at scrippsvoice+sex@gmail.com or drop a note in mailbox #892.