OPINION: Have a healthy conversation about sex in college
According to The Journal of Sexual Medicine, college students are the consistently the most sexually active people, but talking about sexuality is still taboo. Conversations about safety, testing and other minutia about the subject are few and far between. Students need to normalize conversations about sexual safety to promote a healthier environment.
The most important reason to discuss sexual safety regularly is to help victims of sexual assault come forward and discuss their experiences. According tothe National Sexual Violence Resource Center, twenty percent of college women and six percent of college men are victims of sexual assault. Despite these high figures, ninety percent of sexual assault victims do not report the incidents.
The victims who experience sexual assault are not to blame for the low rates of reporting, rather an environment where students feel unsafe telling others about their experience is at fault and stigmas surrounding both male and female sexuality.
According to theAmerican Public Health Association, “factors that perpetuate misperceptions about men’s sexual victimization [include] reliance on traditional gender stereotypes, outdated and inconsistent definitions and methodological sampling biases.” The solution to this is changes that move beyond regressive gender assumptions, which can harm both men and women.
An effective way to fix this problem is to discuss the less exciting facets of sexual activity. Creating an atmosphere where consent, protection, and boundaries is more common than other discussions of sexuality will encourage people to discuss their own experiences regarding sexuality.
The UGA Health Center has many resources for this such as Relationship and Sexual Violence Prevention (RSVP) which can be a first point of contact for students needing assistance with immediate assault, and the Sexual Health Department which provides invaluable information about birth control and safe sex.
Having conversations about productive conversation about sex is only possible if people are willing to discuss the safety, consent and boundaries that go along with it. This discussion will not only create an environment where those who have faced sexual assault can safely discuss it, but also create an environment where less sexual assault is perpetrated. This will help victims of all genders and create a safer campus environment for all.