Casey Villalon | The Poly Post

Why don’t we talk about sex?

By: Victoria Mejicanos and Fabiola Aceves

Doing the deed, making love, having intercourse, banging and hooking up. There are several ways to say the same thing but what they all have in common is its meaning: sex.  What is an incredibly common and human experience is taboo in everyday  culture, even among college students.

Given the vulnerability and intimacy of the topic, there can be many reasons why people choose not to talk about it openly.

In an interview with The Poly Post Tianna Soto, an associate health and wellness editor at Women’s Health Magazine, shared that much of the stigma attached to sex has to do with a person’s upbringing and culture that carries over into adulthood.

“In the U.S., I think it’s very common to see these topics as being hidden or bad, right?” said Soto. “Or labeled as being too extreme, which we could have a whole session about.”

Not talking about the topic will allow people to continue to feel uncomfortable with the idea and can lead to them not opening and being honest with their significant other.

“That contributes to making it even worse down the long run, because when people start to hide their desires or they’re not comfortable owning them or talking about them or asking questions about them, it just sparks this whole cycle,” said Soto.

In places outside the U.S., like Mexico and Europe, where the idea of nude beaches exist and advertising is much more inclusive, sex is viewed as a natural part of life.

Sriha Srinivasan, creator of @sexedu on TikTok, UCLA alumna and contraceptive activist, noted that the taboo also comes from western colonization. Being the daughter of Indian immigrants, she mentioned the Kama Sutra, which she called “the most popular westernized document,” that it is about more than just sex positions.

“There are a lot of places that you can trace back sexuality and pleasure and it not being seen as anything but a normal human emotion that pretty much everyone feels and you see a pretty strong drop off of that from the onset of colonization to now,” said Srinivasan. “And so I think, in many ways, breaking stigma is also breaking the effects the colonization still has on many of us.”

Dylan Malo, an undeclared student, shared that politically and socially, it’s a very charged subject to talk about. He shared it is often viewed as “super private.”

Talking about sex can be a very personal topic and can often be frowned upon when discussing it.

For a Cal Poly Pomona student who wished to remain anonymous, not only can it be viewed as private, but depending on characteristics like a person’s gender, it can be an especially charged conversation.

“Sex is pretty taboo to talk about as a woman just because promiscuity as a woman is frowned upon but for men it’s pretty open,” said one Cal Poly Pomona student who wished to remain anonymous. “I feel like I’ve sat down for conversations in male dominated spaces about sex that we’re pretty comfortable, but like, as soon as women start opening their mouths about their sexual behaviors, it kind of gets tense.”

In a study examining gender differences in sex, a clear double standard was established among university students where men tended to over report how much sex they were having, and women tended to under report it because sexual women are not celebrated the same as sexual men.

With students each having diverse social and cultural experiences, sex education among peers or using resources on and off campus can be the best way to break the ice. Many rely on articles and the internet to receive the information they don’t feel comfortable asking anyone about. Soto shared it can also help facilitate those conversations.

“Don’t be afraid to research and ask questions and also know that if you have a question about something, chances are somebody else does too, like everyone’s kind of afraid to ask the same things.”

Malo elaborated about how the internet can be helpful for students who are uncomfortable talking about the subject.

“People don’t want to ask people about it, ‘oh, how do you get this? How do you use this?’” said Malo. “So, people just look it up and either look on forums or if there’s articles online. I think Planned Parenthood is a really good resource.”

Not only does Soto believe these conversations are important but essential to the health of a relationship.

“If it is something that’s really important to you just like anything else, you deserve to have a safe space to talk about that with someone,” said Soto. So, if it’s your partner, your family, you can even talk to a therapist or like a counselor.”

For resources and a place to discuss sex judgment free the Health and Wellness center on campus is a good resource for students.

Peer health educator Nathalie Nalbandian, a chemistry and nutrition student shared that the wellness center offers latex barriers, lubricant and menstrual products free of charge. Students can even schedule one on one sexual health education sessions. There is also weekly HIV testing provided.

As a peer health educator, Nalbandian believes it’s important to talk about sex not only because it is a part of life, but to stay safe and healthy.

“It’s something that we all go through and something that we should all be able to talk about freely,” Nalbandian said. “It’s important to raise awareness and be educated and know how to prevent anything from happening that we don’t want to happen.”

Although it can be easy to focus on what others are doing and saying about sex, the answer to demystifying it is listening to yourself.

“Honor yourself,” said Soto. “Honor your body. Honor your boundaries. Don’t do anything that you don’t want to do straight up. Life is too short. You have plenty of time to explore and have fun.”

Casey Villalon | The Poly Post

Feature image courtesy of Casey Villalon 

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