In my time at Cornell, my highly insufficient (read: very low sample size) sexual surveys of the student body have taught me two things:
One, if you ask a random Cornellian as to the scope of sexual education they received, the answers you get will be more varied than the names of professional race horses. Some of us have had the full nine yards, complete with labeling body parts and health information. Others had the basic condom-on-a-banana training. The luckiest of the bunch had trusty abstinence only (this is not lucky, this is a travesty).
Two, few of us knew what to expect from college. Even fewer knew what to expect of sex and hookup culture in college. So, young freshman, consider this your guide to sex above Cayuga’s Waters.
Most orientation guides give you a college packing list, so why shouldn’t this guide be any different?
– Condoms: if you are planning on having sex with a penis (even if you don’t have one), you should buy these. It is absolutely vital you check the expiration date. Chlamydia and gonorrhea are a bigger problem on campus than you would expect, and you absolutely don’t want to be the kid who comes home with the clap.
– A clean bill of health: have you had sex? Have you had an STD screening? You can get this at Gannett, Planned Parenthood, or from your personal physician. Do it. Seriously.
– Lube: just useful, especially for when “my dick just accidentally went in there I swear” is the worst lie.
– A vibrator: The era of stigmatizing female masturbation (and pretending anyone else will understand your body better than you) is over.
Where can I have sex?
Great places to have sex include: your room and your sexual partner’s room. While walking into a room to surprisingly find people engaged in coitus seems funny in movies, in real life it is incredibly uncomfortable (because nobody looks that good having sex if that is not what you’re trying to see). Notify your roommate and be respectful of the rooms around you. Cornell beds shake walls.
Mediocre places to have sex include: Cars you own that are parked away from public view, other people’s rooms (even then, get some level of clearance on this), deep in the stacks (less sure about this one, I mean has anyone ever really finished in the stacks?), out in the woods somewhere… basically the places you probably shouldn’t be having sex and where there is a .001% chance someone will catch you.
Terrible places to have sex include: Public (illegal), the middle of Libe cafe (illegal), in my room while I am sleeping there (you know who you are).
How do I find someone to have sex with? Who is it cool for me to have sex with?
There is an amazing benefit to being at Cornell, that you, young freshman likely reading this column and not believing they allow this in a newspaper, should cherish for the next 4 years you have here. Any time you walk into a bar and make out with someone that makes you think “daaamn they are cute,” they’ve already been pre-screened. No self-respecting Ithaca local would ever dare step foot in the Hellhole that is any Collegetown bar, so your potential mate already has some things going for them. You know they got into Cornell, you know they know your friend’s friend who is in your major, and you know there is a decreased risk of them being a serial killer (although the Unabomber did go to Harvard so who even knows).
So really, hook up with whoever you want, with a few exceptions. First, don’t have a one-time thing with someone you are going to see every day, especially if you are both going to be weird about it. Second, beware of power abuses. That 27-year-old grad student desperately trying to fuck 19-year-olds? A teaching assistant with grading power trying to fuck all of their students? I’m not saying don’t have sex with your T.A., but be aware of the fact that in some relationships there’s a level of dominance that is inescapable and will lead to manipulation. In those cases, a long-term relationship hinging on major imbalances is ill-advised. Finally, excepting hate sex, don’t fuck terrible people. They just don’t deserve joy.
Is everyone having sex all of the time?
The short answer: no. TV depictions of college alongside rampant myths about hookup culture have led many people to believe that all college students fuck like rabbits. While kudos to you if you really have had sex with 1000+ people (how do you find the time, seriously?), the truth is that the vast majority of your peers probably fit into a wide range in terms of the number of their sexual partners. Some are in double digits, some are below that, and many are virgins and completely happy with that fact. Have sex when you want to have sex. Don’t have sex when you don’t want to have sex.
Does consent matter?
Yes, always. It doesn’t have to be weird. If someone asked me “do you consent to this?” and made me sign a contract, I would be freaking out and terrified. Alternatively, questions like: Do you like this? Is this okay? Should I get a condom? and, do you want me to do X? are all simple ways of getting consent without killing anyone’s vibe (or causing unnecessary heebie jeebies).
What’s the most important thing here?
Have fun. Sex is really fun. Making out is really fun. It should be enjoyed, and never something used to shame other people. It’s just college, y’all.