I’ve been doing some thinking. Surprising, I know. Lately I’ve been trying to think of ways to make this column’s discussion of hookup culture and sex a little more... sexy. I really did my best. I binged a whole two seasons of “Sex and the City,” the very show that inspired this column. I tried to imagine, what would Carrie Bradshaw do? The more that I watched the show, though, I realized that Carrie Bradshaw was not who I wanted to model my writing after. Her friends were vapid and one-dimensional, and their sex lives looked nothing like that of a Colgate student. Not to mention they were all in their 30s.
Carrie Bradshaw didn’t show me how to make this column sexier, but she did show me some ways in which I could expand on my past writing. As a first- year, I wrote a “Minus the City” titled, “Know Your Status,” highlighting the importance of getting tested and taking advantage of opportunities like the occasionally free STD-screenings. I have written this column for three years and that is the only time I directly addressed sexual health. My bad! No worries, though, I’m handling it now. Might I add, I think I know a bit more about sexual health than I did back then.
We all have pretty bizarre notions of what sexual health is, and that’s okay. It’s not our fault we were exposed to insufficient sexual education growing up in the U.S. of A. The fact that most people at Colgate know what a condom is and how to use it is a big win in and of itself. There are so many things to say about how wrong and broken most sexual education in America is, but one aspect of it really, deeply saddens me. We learn so little about how our bodies work and react, we have no connection to the processes that unfold in our sexual and reproductive systems. We have no understanding of how the rest of our lives influence our sexual experiences, and generally don’t know what our bodies need.
We are confined by the notion that sexual health is merely preventing and treating diseases. In recent months, I’ve had conversations with a number of friends that expanded my view of what people and their bodies need to have happy, health sex lives. One friend confided she has a medical condition that, untreated, makes sex extremely painful, and requires constant physical therapy to treat. Multiple female friends have expressed frustration with birth control, a necessity, but also a medication that can regularly set off yeast infections and mood swings. Another close friend expressed her absolute lack of libido in relation to her mental health, and how maddening it was to be alienated from hookup culture in that way. Even when she was into a guy, she found she couldn’t follow through on any kind of sexual act. If anything, this shows that mental, emotional and physical health all play crucial roles in our sexual health and ability to participate in hookup and romantic culture at Colgate.
Obviously, this comes from the perspective of a woman. The issues I described above were predominantly issues exclusive to the female body. But I’ve been around the block, and I know that men’s sexual health comes with its own complications. I’ve heard a number of stories of toxic, hyper-masculine self-image issues complicating guys’ approach to sex and pleasure. I’ve also heard stories of mental health chronically preventing men on this campus from experiencing arousal—not one guy, but several. That’s a serious problem, and I doubt anyone is having honest conversations about it or its root cause.
Needless to say, we need to take a more holistic and empathetic approach to sexual health and how we learn about it. Taking Yes Means Yes helps, but that’s just one seminar. We need to prioritize our overall health (a challenge on this campus, I know), and we need to be able to talk to our friends honestly about our experiences. Obviously, friends aren’t doctors, but we can learn from each other. I clearly learned from mine. Anyways, peace and blessins’ homies, get tested and keep it sexy.
Contact Kate Hinsche at firstname.lastname@example.org.