Millennials Debate the Meaning of Sex

November 5, 2010

We often discuss and debate the sexual double standard here. Understandably, “It’s not fair to women!” is a common complaint. Yesterday’s student newspaper at SUNY Geneseo had an interesting post on hooking up featuring two different viewpoints – the woman wanting the random hookup, the guy holding out for something meaningful. However, what really caught my attention was the view each had of the opposite sex. Excerpts follow.

Don’t buy a car before you drive it: sex doesn’t have to be a big deal.

by Kate Hayden

“What, after all, is so wrong with a random physical encounter? Who’s to say that it isn’t something akin to trying a new hairstyle or test-driving a new car?

…Blah blah blah wonderful guy, blah blah well-endowed. Great! We’ve got the thumbs up on both the physical and emotional aspects of Mr. Dream Boat. We’re college students, and a vital portion of our intimate relationships comes from their physical nature. True, this might not always be the case, but it frequently is. I’m going with the numbers on this one.

So, you strike up a conversation, have a few drinks, and make plans to see whatever crappy flick is currently showing at the local theater. Lovely. I bet you’re psyched. You go out on a few dates, spend some quality time together and eventually take that next step. Surprise! Your views on intimacy don’t quite, erm, mesh. In a big way. And now, my dear, you’re in the proverbial pickle. You’ve developed feelings for someone with whom you do not agree on an absolutely vital topic. Enter inner turmoil, unhappiness, and undue stress.

Bet you wish you’d taken that test drive, eh?”

Kate’s primary concern is that she’s going to wind up having crappy sex with someone she’s fallen for. That they’ll each have such different views (preferences, fetishes, what???) that the chasm can’t be breached. The guy being WONDERFUL and WELL-ENDOWED isn’t a guarantee that he’ll be any good at pleasing her, so she wants to start with the sex and work backward from there. The only problem is….

Save up for the car of your dreams: commitment should come before sex

by Kevin Muller

How many sexual partners have you had?” asks a dashing young feller to his blushing lady during a spirited game of Q-and-A over wine at a local pretty-fancy restaurant.

“I…” she begins, pausing in thought. “I don’t know.”

The boy bunches his brows, a nervous smile. “You don’t…know?!?”

Her eyes fall into to the spaghetti. “I LOST COUNT AFTER SEVENTEEN.”

Okay, so not every college student is as promiscuous as this poor example, but the attitude that having unattached sex with flings, friends and flesh is no big deal is disconcerting and depressing. Yes, it’s biology; yes, it feels pretty cool to do it; yes, you’re only young once, but how long will it be before you’re hanging from chandeliers and coating your skin in molasses just to keep things exciting?

…Sex is yours to have and yours to give, and it holds exactly as much value as you give it. Choose wisely. Even if your adherence to this advice means that you’re a terrible lay, you’re giving the man or woman on top of you an experience that was earned and a part of yourself that is rarely had.

Kevin wants sex to be special, an act of love, a generous gift. And he’s worried that women have so many sexual partners that sex no longer has emotional value. He wants to earn the physical intimacy. He wants to wait.

They’re obviously not right for each other, but I wonder who’s right, or at least more right.

Is Kate’s view typical of women in college? Is a test drive in the sack key to not getting stuck with a dud? Is she being fair?

How unusual is Kevin’s desire to earn sex? His chagrin over girls’ number? Is he being fair?