The Kent Stater Valentine’s Day Special

Valentine’s Day Illustration

KentWired Staff

 

OUR VIEW: We’re feeling sexual.

You may have noticed there’s a lot of sex in the Stater Wednesday, Feb. 14.

We feel it’s important to talk about sex because, well, people are always having it. And even if you aren’t sexually active, it affects your life in some way. For one thing, your parents had it. And your grandparents, and their parents and everyone before you. That’s why we’re all here!

When it comes to sex, people are often afraid of communicating with their partners about what they want. But it’s the communication that makes sex so great. Being able to open up and share what interests you, what makes you feel good — it’s a level of intimacy that makes things all the more better. You can lessen the awkward encounters of pretending to be having great sex and actually have GREAT sex! So open your mouths and share your opinions, be assertive, do the deed and make it good.

But sex isn’t a one-dimensional issue. It’s not just the act of actually having sex. It’s contraception, sexual health, safety, sexuality, communication, exploration and the understanding of self.

We understand sex can be an uncomfortable subject to discuss, and for some it might be a taboo subject. This issue is not intended to pry into individuals’ personal lives, put intimate details on display or encourage students to have or abstain from sex. It’s our intention to educate and inform our readers on some of the issues and trends surrounding the topic.

For example, senior reporter Nicholas Hunter wrote a story about how studies are finding college students are actually having less sex. He talked to experts in sexuality about dating apps deterring people from having sex, and whether having less sex even matters in the grand scheme of things.

Our opinion section features a column from Lyric Aquino about destigmatizing sexual activity and some sex tips from Shelbie Goulding, along with some eye-opening words from Cameron Gorman about the importance of destigmatizing HIV.

We have stories about sugar babies, STDs and contraception, abstinence, kinks and some more Valentine’s Day-related content. 

At the end of the day, as managing editor McKenna Corson says, “Sex sells, baby.”

We hope you enjoyed our little spin on things in this Stater sex issue. It’s our gift to you.

Happy reading.

(And remember the Stater is free; it just made us laugh.)


 

No stranger to the sweet life

Kent State is No. 6 in the nation for ‘sugar babies.’ Here, they tell all

McKenna Corson

Editor’s Note: The sources in the story asked not to be identified by their real names. The names below were created to protect the sources’ identities.

The names “sugar baby” and “sugar daddy” have come a long way from the chewy caramel candy popular in the 1930s and 1940s. In 2019, both terms have a much different meaning — and nothing to do with candy.

Sugar babies are young people of any gender who get paid by older adults (sugar daddies and mommies) to provide a companionship. This companionship ranges from a platonic series of meetups to a sexual relationship; it all depends on what the sugar parties decide.

Various websites connect young adults to their older counterparts. The largest and most popular sugar daddy/sugar baby website, Seeking Arrangement, now just Seeking, ranks Kent State at No. 6 among universities nationwide for sugar baby population and growth.

Among large population schools — Arizona State University (109,000 students), New York University (51,000 students) and the University of Alabama (38,000 students) — Kent State (about 21,600 students at Kent’s main campus, about 35,500 total across all eight campuses this semester) is sitting pretty with what appears to be 927 students on the website and 242 new sign-ups as of 2017. Seeking doesn’t offer any real way to verify the actual numbers. 

*Amber used the site to find Charles. Amber, a Kent State student, first discovered the world of “sugaring” when they were just 18.

“I think it was like the MTV series ‘True Life,’ and the one they were talking about was ‘I’m a sugar baby,’ Amber said. “It was like these girls just talking about what it was like being a sugar baby and what being a sugar baby is and what a sugar mommy and daddy is. Watching that show kind of sparked some interest in me, so I did more research.”

Amber’s interest peaked when they broke up with their boyfriend at 22, leading them to create a profile on Seeking. Amber wasn’t attending school at the time. They lived with a roommate and worked at Macy’s to pay the bills. Amber did have plans on returning to school after making enough money.

“I was just like, ‘You know what, why not?’ Amber said. “I didn’t think I’d find a relationship, to be honest, and then I ended up meeting an older man. I’m just going to call him Charles because that was his first name as far as I knew. Some daddies don’t necessarily put out all their information because we weren’t in a relationship super long.”

After searching extensively through profiles, Amber found Charles, a construction worker in his 60s. Despite the 38-year age gap, the two hit it off. Charles decided he would pay for Amber’s rent, cellphone and electric bills, as well as little gifts and dates in exchange for a relationship.

“It just kind of happened organically,” Amber said. “We started talking and he asked me what I wanted to do, and I said I was just trying to get my life together. He was more of a no-strings-attached, I-don’t-want-my-wife-to-know-that-I’m-talking-to-you (guy), which is fine because I just broke up with my boyfriend and I was doing my own thing.”

Amber and Charles parted amicably after Amber found a new relationship they wanted to pursue and left the world of sugaring behind.

*Ashley found Mike in a similar way, though it was through Tinder. Ashley, a Kent State graduate, felt Seeking was unsafe, so she turned to Tinder, where Facebook accounts are required to make a profile.

“I was 18, super poor and I was like, ‘I like free stuff,” Ashley said. “My friend was on Seeking Arrangement, so I made one my freshman year of college. I thought the guys were kind of creepy and it didn’t really seem that real, so I went on Tinder and put my settings up higher. I actually found a guy that way.”

After swiping through profile after profile during her sophomore year, Ashley found Mike, a man in his 40s who works in sales.

“He was so hot,” she said. “Going off that, it was just the way we spoke to each other. He actually asked about my family and my life and my friends. He actually cared. He was there as I was applying for jobs and all my interviews and was texting me asking ask how it went. He was the first person I texted when I got my real job. He saw me really grow up from the middle of college to my big girl job and me looking for apartments.”

The two dated on and off for about two years, and Mike offered to pay for anything Ashley wanted.

“He never gave me grand gifts like you see in media,” she said. “It was pretty much just like gifts here and there. I could pay for my own groceries, shit like that. He did offer to pay some of my bills, but in my mind, I’m like, ‘No, I can handle my finances.’… It’s like the things I want, the clothes, the shoes, the fun stuff. That’s when I was like, ‘Hey, you can handle that.’”

Amber and Ashley agree that having a sugar daddy is more than just sleeping with an older person from time to time. The stigma against sugaring affects both sides; it involves keeping relationships secret from family members and dealing with judgmental eyes when out together.

“I know people think, ‘Wow, what a slut’ or something like that,” Ashley said. “Obviously people are going to take it as what they think, but I feel like people stress so much on the negative that they don’t see the pros of it at all. They think it’s like super slutty girls and rich, old men that have a lot of money they want to spend, that sort of thing. But it’s not always about like, ‘Give me $1,000.’ It’s like, ‘Let me help you with your bills if you need it.’ People need to calm down.”

Amber said people are uneducated about sugaring.

“They’re miseducated and they’re bitter,” they said. “I guess there’s a huge misconception of, ‘Oh, I am not making enough money. I’m just going to get a sugar daddy.’ I’m like, ‘OK, I’d like to see you try.’”

Sugaring is not easy, Amber said, and “it’s a lot of communicating … a lot of honesty.”

“It’s literally having a relationship and now you’re in a relationship with someone who’s a lot older than you,” they said. “You can’t even have a regular relationship with a 21-year-old fuckboy. How the hell are you going to have a relationship with a 50-year-old man? … For people to just think sugaring is this easy feat to do when I’m low on money is wrong.”

McKenna Corson is the managing editor. Contact her at [email protected]

Clarification: This version of the story is updated to reflect that Seeking doesn’t offer a way to verify its client numbers and to change enrollment numbers from concurrent data to preponderant data.


It’s not all about sex: For abstinent students, intimacy comes in other forms

Abigail Miller

Sex. We see it in our favorite TV shows. We rely on apps like Tinder and Grindr to find it. We jam out to songs in the car that romanticize it. In a society as sex-focused as ours, some people aren’t having sex at all.

In fact, young people currently in their early 20s are two and a half times as likely to be abstinent as Gen Xers were at that age, according to studies led by Jean M. Twenge, a psychology professor at San Diego State University.

This much is true for Michelle (who asked not to use her last name in the story), a Kent State junior who practices abstinence because of her Catholic faith and upbringing.

What does it mean to be asexual?

An asexual person is someone who does not experience sexual attraction or an intrinsic desire to have sexual relationships (or the adjective describing a person as such), according to the Asexuality Visibility and Education Network.

About 1 percent of the population​ is asexual, according to research by Anthony Bogaert​, a psychology professor at Brock University in Ontario, Canada.  

“I went to a Catholic school for elementary and middle school,” Michelle said. “Sex education was pretty much nonexistent because the idea was you wouldn’t be doing it anyway. It is considered a sin if we didn’t wait. I took that message personally, as I didn’t want to disappoint God and commit such a sin.”

Michelle’s boyfriend of five years supports her abstinence, though he doesn’t share the same outlook on sex or religion.

“He [her partner] does not have a religion at all. … he holds family values, is trustworthy, honest and kind,” she said. “He is very respecting of my decision and does not mind waiting with me. He’s done so for almost five years now, and often jokes he can go five more.”

Even though Michelle’s partner respects her decision to wait to have sex, that doesn’t mean their relationship hasn’t been tested.

“I’ll admit, he does get frustrated sometimes, as would any adult, especially male, but he does not get mad,” she said. “Even then, he doesn’t yell at me or tell me my beliefs are stupid.”

Not engaging in sex while being surrounded by college pressures can be a challenge, and Jennifer Luck, a senior biology major who identifies as asexual, knows exactly what that’s like.

“All my friends in high school were off having sex, and I was just not interested in it,” Luck said. “So there’s always the part of you that thinks, ‘Oh, I’m broken,’ because I’m not interested in it. I had a boyfriend at the time that actually, I’m pretty sure, broke up with me because of it.” 

Luck doesn’t consider herself a sexual person, but she still has romantic feelings toward people. She said this dynamic has led to some issues in her personal life.

“I know people are definitely put off when I say that I’m asexual,” she said. “A lot of people nowadays think sex is super important in a relationship, and so whenever I let someone I’m potentially interested in know that I’m asexual … they don’t understand.”

Even though Luck feels like she’s often surrounded by sex on a college campus, she said she finds solace in foreign cinema and television shows that are more innocent than sexual.

“I watch a lot of Korean dramas,” she said. “Korean dramas are well-known for being a little more innocent. There’s usually no sex scenes, it’s just straight romance.”

Michelle, too, finds other ways to express intimacy and love that aren’t sexual.

“Gosh, there are so many other ways (to be intimate),” Michelle said. “Date night, a movie or dinner. The simple ‘Good luck on your exam,’ or, ‘Have a safe drive to work,’ texts. Appreciating each other’s hobbies and interests. Taking the time to care for each other when we don’t feel good physically, mentally or emotionally. There are so many mediums to show love.”

Abigail Miller is a features writer. Contact her at [email protected]


STD cases are soaring in Ohio — here’s what you can do to stay healthy

Lydia Taylor and David Williams

Last year, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) released a report that showed cases of STDs have increased across all age groups in Ohio.

Most notably, cases among young adults and college-aged students, 15 to 24, have skyrocketed. The same is true for Portage County, according to 2018 data from the Ohio Department of Health (ODH).

For Kent State’s University Health Services, educating students about STDs and prevention is a key goal.

“One of the things we try to do the most is raise awareness and try to educate people about STIs (Sexually Transmitted Infections) and ways they can go about preventing them,” said Scott Dotterer, the coordinator at the Office of Health Promotion.

A 2016 National College Health Assessment found 55 percent of Kent State students who engaged in vaginal intercourse used a method of contraceptive. The most common methods used among students include:

  • Birth control pills, used by nearly 58 percent

  • Condoms, also used by 58 percent

  • Both birth control and condoms, used by nearly 48 percent

  • 12 percent of students reported using emergency contraception, such as Plan B, a day-after contraception pill

As an effort to combat STD transmission, Kent State offers free condoms at several locations across campus, including outside of the LGBTQ Student Center and sometimes at the DeWeese Health Center.

The Office of Health Promotion also hands out free condoms and educational materials for student organizations that want to run an event and resident assistants in campus residence halls. Individual assistance is also available to students who request condoms for themselves.

What are STDs?

STDs are infections that are passed from one person to the other during vaginal, anal or oral sex. The dangerous aspect of STDs is they are extremely common, yet most of the time, people won’t know they have them because there are very few symptoms for most infections, according to Planned Parenthood.

There are multiple types of STDs, including gonorrhea, syphilis, chlamydia, herpes, human papillomavirus (HPV), human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) and more. Each STD is caused by either bacteria, a virus or even bugs.

Almost all of them are treatable, and only a handful can’t be cured, according to Planned Parenthood.

SYMPTOMS OF STDs

HIV

  • Flu-like symptoms after 2 to 4 weeks after contracting the virus
  • Fever
  • Chills
  • Rash
  • Night sweats
  • Muscle aches
  • Sore throat
  • Fatigue
  • Swollen lymph nodes
  • Mouth ulcers

Chlamydia

  • Burning while going to the bathroom
  • Pain during sex
  • Lower stomach pain
  • Abnormal vaginal discharge
  • Bleeding between periods
  • Abnormal penile discharge
  • Swollen/tender testicles

Gonorrhea

  • Burning while going to the bathroom
  • Abnormal vaginal discharge
  • Bleeding between periods
  • Abnormal penile discharge
  • Swelling testicles

Syphilis: It happens in stages

Stage One: chancre sore forms around or inside genitalia

  • Sores are extremely contagious
  • Show up between three weeks and three months after infection

Stage Two: Rashes

  • Form on palm of hands, soles of feet or other parts
  • Hard to see
  • Doesn’t itch
  • Mild flu-like symptoms
  • Sores
  • Weight or hair loss

Final stage

If untreated, can lead to serious health problems: tumors, blindness or paralysis. Damage to nervous system, brain and other organs

The view from Ohio

The ODH data focuses on cases of gonorrhea, syphilis and chlamydia, all of which have risen since 2013.

In 2017, there were nearly 24,000 cases of gonorrhea, more than 60,000 cases of chlamydia cases and nearly 2,000 cases of syphilis.

Syphilis was the sharpest rise of all three, which is up 72 percent since 2013.

For 15- to 24-year-olds, chlamydia cases increased the most — roughly 38,300 cases in 2013 to nearly 42,000 cases in 2017.

Chlamydia is one of the most common bacterial infections among STDs; it can be treated, but without treatment, it could lead to permanent damage of a woman’s reproductive system, according to the CDC. If a woman is pregnant and has chlamydia, it can be passed on to the baby during delivery.

Gonorrhea also affects college-aged students and follows closely behind chlamydia. From 2013 to 2017, cases have gone from nearly 10,000 to roughly 11,600. Gonorrhea is another common STD.

Gonorrhea and chlamydia can leave women sterile if untreated. Syphilis can travel to the fetus if a woman is pregnant, and result in birth defects.

Across the U.S.

With gonorrhea, chlamydia and syphilis cases combined, the U.S. reported 2.3 million cases nationwide in 2017 — 200,000 more cases than the previous year, according to the CDC.

While chlamydia cases have continued to increase over the last few years, gonorrhea has caught the attention of medical professionals the most, according to the study. Between 2013 and 2017, gonorrhea cases have increased nearly 67 percent.

CDC recommends people under 25 and who are sexually active should get screenings done regularly.

Portage County screenings:

  • Deweese Health Center at Kent State — HIV and Hep C
    (330) 672-2322
  • Portage County Health Department
    (330) 296-9919
  • Planned Parenthood — Kent
    (330) 678-8011 

Lydia Taylor is the digital content editor. Contact her at [email protected].

David Williams is a senior reporter. Contact him at [email protected]


Consent, communication and sense of community

K.I.N.K. outlines ground rules for relationships

Kody Elsayed

Rope, leather, swings, leashes, collars, daddies, handcuffs and toys.

For many, this list may seem random. But for some, this list represents the most intimate moments in the bedroom.

“One of the things I am really into is pet playing, which is about roleplaying the dynamic of a pet. So like, leashes, being fed out a bowl, those kind of things,” said Lauren Smith, a K.I.N.K. Kent State board member.

K.I.N.K. Kent State fosters strong relationships with the promotion of consent, communication and a sense of community.

Although there might be the surface level of sexual kinks, there are deeper ground rules for this subculture and its relationships.

“It’s about communication and consent,” said Miranda Maurer, a K.I.N.K. board member. Paloma Wrisley, another board member, said it’s also about relationships and trust exercises.

With similarities the majority of the population does not understand, a strong sense of community exists within the kink world.

“They say that finding your community helps your soul. You can see that you are not weird, that you are not as much of a black sheep as you think you are,” Ace, a K.I.N.K. Kent State member from the community who declined to provide zheir last name, said.

Wrisley and Ace find comfort in being surrounded by like-minded people, they said.

“There is a lot of stigma about kink and being open about sexual preferences and that kinda thing. And, I can understand where that comes from, a lot of people don’t believe it has a place in academia,” Wrisley said. “Kent and other colleges are not just a place to learn and get a degree, it is also a place to find yourself and your people and I think K.I.N.K. really helps.”

This sense of community helps its members feel comfortable with their identities.

“You can discuss with people about the things you are into and you gain that (feeling of), ‘I’m not a weirdo; other people are into this too,’” Smith said.

Not only does the strong community create strong relationships, but communication is also key.

“Even if you’re a ‘vanilla’ person, I think communication needs to be more of a focus if you are doing anything sexual,” Maurer said.

Maurer said. “Communication is important for every relationship, whether or not it’s romantic. You’re never going to know what your partner likes and what they don’t unless you talk about it.”

Urban Dictionary defines “vanilla” as a distinct lack of kink, blandness or a reference to the “norm.”

Recognizing some people face issues with communication, Maurer said even though the conversations can be difficult, she believes the best experiences happen when people take the time to communicate what they want and how they want it.

“Trying to find someone who is wanting the same things you … they have misconstrued ideas of BDSM or they are just terrified of it, so if I say ‘hey, I’m kinda into bondage, dominance, sadism and masochism (BDSM),’ they are like, ‘ahhhh you sure about that?,’” said Brittany Boord, K.I.N.K president.

Once communication comes into play, the next relationship step is consent.

“It doesn’t matter what you are into as long as both people consent and are being safe about it,” said Maurer.

Consent is one of the most important things in a relationship, said Smith, and because the kinks can take sexual relations to another level, all people involved in kink sex must be consensual and respect safe words.

Not only does Smith recognize the importance of consent in sexual relations, Ace also agrees.

“Just because someone is old enough to consent doesn’t mean they can consent to BDSM,” Ace said.

“Because of ‘50 Shades (of Grey)’, people tend to get a misrepresentation of kink from that because it is a horrible representation. That relationship is very much not consensual,” Smith said.

Unfortunately, a lot of stigma surrounds the K.I.N.K. Kent State organization, members said.

“A lot of people when they first hear about us think we’re a joke, like ‘oh K.I.N.K. Kent State that’s funny haha’ or they think we have orgies on the weekdays, and that’s not what we are,” Boord said. “We are PG-13 because we are sponsored by the school. People think we are tying people down on the tables and doing other stuff like that but we don’t. We have PowerPoints and discuss our experiences (and) ask questions.”

Even with all the stigma, some members want to remind people that they are just like everyone else.

“We are not as scary and hardcore as we seem,” Boord said. “Most of us are just soft people who want to make friends and want to explore and learn about this part of life that no one talks about but are into.”

Kody Elsayed covers relationships. Contact him at [email protected] 


Let’s talk about sex — and how young people might be having less of it

Dating apps could be killing your sex drive, experts say

Nicholas Hunter

Experts say dating apps could be killing your sex drive.

At Kent State, we’re not shy about sex.

We’ve had Sex Week on campus in previous years, which included SextoberfestCondoms on the K, a “Sex in the Dark” Q&A session and a bunch of other sex-themed events. There are free condoms in the men’s bathrooms. Even the yearly energy conservation effort put on by Kent Interhall Council is called “Do It in the Dark.”

Despite this movement of sexual openness on campus, researchers are finding young people are having less sex than any previous generation.

A 2016 study from the  CDC and a 2014 report from the National Institutes of Health found young people are having less sex — they’re having it later in life, less frequently and with fewer partners than ever.

As the Atlantic’s Kate Julian demonstrates in her in-depth piece on the topic, “The Sex Recession: Why are young people having so little sex?,” there are a lot of reasons.

One of those reasons, according to the story, is people’s discontent with the use of dating apps like Tinder and Bumble.

Kenneth Hanson, a professor of sociology at the University of Oregon who studies gender, sexuality and its connection to new media, talked to me about this discontent from people he’s interviewed for research.

“The idea that like everybody who downloads these apps is going to have readily accessible, easily accessible sex is definitely not the case,” Hanson told me. “Even of the people who have used (dating apps), it doesn’t appear that they’ve met a lot of people. It seems that the actual number of matches on the app to the number of people that they meet in person as a pretty stark ratio.”

Megan Barrett, a Kent State graduate student studying public health, told me she’s heard from friends that, even though most of them have Tinder accounts, they often don’t use them.

“They feel like using (Tinder) … takes away from their experience,” Barrett said. “One of my friends described it as … your Tinder is almost like a social marketplace, meaning that you’re trying to sell yourself to somebody else and somebody else is trying to sell themselves to you because you connect with that person on a purely physical attraction level.”

And while some college students are turning away from the app — and hookup culture in general — because of a distaste for the culture, Hanson told me others have rejected it out of fear.

“There are people who are using these apps, but for one reason or another — generally it’s fear — you know, fear of ‘stranger danger’ or getting kidnapped or a person might not be who they appear to be or something like that, they don’t go through with it,” he said.

The pressure to avoid contact with strangers, coupled with unfettered access to strangers online, Hanson said, creates a disconnect for some over the best way to use Tinder.

“It is somewhat counterintuitive that you spend your primary years of socialization being told not to talk to strangers,” Hanson said. “So it does create … some might call it a cognitive dissonance, right? If I was told not to talk to strangers, but I want to find a partner. But the trendy way to do that now is to literally talk to strangers over the internet.”

Along with the distaste for hookup culture and dating apps, Hanson told me an increase in alternatives to sex could be contributing to this decline.

“The proliferation of pornography is disconcerting,” he said. “Especially considering that it’s not really making the industry any better … plus, it’s more accessible, it’s easily accessible. And so people might be using it as a substitute.”

Laurie Wagner, an assistant professor in Kent State’s School of Health Sciences, said an increase in porn consumption isn’t inherently a bad thing.

“People are more focused on having the sex that they want to be having and less pressured to feel like they need to be compliant with some kind of social construction of what it means,” Wagner told me. “So yeah, some of it might be because they’re masturbating more and so they don’t need a partner. I see that as a positive.”

Wagner also sees this as a safer option, in some cases.

“You know, if you just want an orgasm, I don’t think you need a partner to do that,” she said. “So if all you really want to do is to have the orgasm, it might be a more honest, it’s a more safe, you know, it might be a more appropriate thing to handle that yourself than to seek and find someone else to do it for you.”

Hanson told me regardless of the reason why people are having less sex, it may become an issue that needs addressing in the coming years.

“We’re probably going to see it turn up in our demographics 10, 15, 20 years down the road when there are fewer children and there’s fewer married people and fewer long-term relationships,” Hanson said. “We as a society have to ask ourselves, ‘Do we want there to be less people or are more people a good thing?”

Wagner, on the other hand, told me she doesn’t necessarily see young people having less sex as an issue that needs solving, and it might be a sign of the times changing for the better.

“I don’t necessarily see that as a crisis unless people are saying, ‘I’m upset about it,’ and ‘I’m sad about it’ and ‘I don’t feel connected’ about it, you know, then we have an issue,” Wagner said. “But if they’re all fine with it, then I’m not going to sound some public health alarm.

“It’s about quality, not quantity,” Wagner said.

Nicholas Hunter is a senior reporter. Contact him at [email protected]



Students find love, friendship by swiping right

Maria McGinnis

Tinder matches people left and right every day since its launch in 2012 as the first swipe dating app. Tinder has accumulated 57 million active swipers worldwide, according to research conducted by the BBC.

After Tinder’s success, several other apps launched in an attempt to compete with the original “swipe to like” format, the most notable of those competitors being Bumble.

Bumble uses a swipe left or right system, a similar setup to Tinder. The key difference between the two apps is for any interaction to take place on Bumble, it must be initiated by the female.

Freshman journalism major Ashley Miller used Bumble to meet her current boyfriend. She said the app is nicer to use because the female has the say.

“Bumble has three different settings,” Miller said. “There’s a dating setting, a friend setting and a business setting. So, everyone can swipe on whoever they want, but if you do get a match, the male can’t message the female until she says something first.”

Despite the subtle differences among these prominent dating apps, they all have one thing in common — convenience.

Taylor Speigal, a freshman early childhood education major, has experience with Tinder and Bumble, and credits their appeal to being so easy to use.

“Yeah, being in college you have classes and you might meet people on campus, but it’s a lot easier to meet people online,” Speigal said. “Plus, in this day and age, everyone is online anyways so it’s a lot easier.”

Junior digital media production major Kaitlyn Oatridge also met her current boyfriend by swiping right on Tinder.

It’s hard to meet people who go to Kent because no one really talks to each other anymore, Oatridge said. She said the disconnection could be due to Kent State’s large population of students.

“It’s nice to have the connection and see immediately who’s looking and what they’re interested in,” Oatridge said. “I get why people don’t use (dating apps) though. I would’ve liked to meet somebody in person because, ‘I met them on Tinder’ isn’t a great love story.”

The Pew Research Center found that since these apps have become more popular, 59 percent of adults think online dating is a good way to meet people.

“You can meet some bad people on there, but I’m currently with someone I met on Tinder,” Oatridge said. “We live together, and we’ve been together two years.”

Studies say meeting people online may help eliminate awkward encounters and make it easier to connect. People can only talk through Tinder if both parties have swiped right.

“When you’re online, there’s no shyness about introducing yourself. But in person, sometimes it’s hard to go up to someone,” Speigal said. “If dating apps weren’t around, I feel like people wouldn’t have that much of a problem, because there was one time when dating apps weren’t around and people still met.”

Although talking to someone online seems to be easier than talking in person, some conversations need to evolve into in-person conversations to keep a connection.

Oatridge said although she dated through Tinder before, her first date with her current boyfriend was still very awkward.

“I didn’t even know if I wanted a second date after that because I barely knew him. But after the first couple of dates, it was okay,” Oatridge said. “It can be scary at first, and I would make sure you’re not alone (when meeting up for the first time).”

It’s important to keep safety in mind when meeting Tinder or Bumble matches for the first time, according to USA Today.

“You should be yourself and shouldn’t try to be someone else,” Oatridge said. “You should always be safe about it. Tell people where you are and don’t be too trustworthy.”

According to research conducted by Statista, 35 percent of Tinder’s users range from ages 18 to 24, making a big part of its audience college-aged adults.

“When I got on Tinder, I assumed most people just wanted hookups, and that was pretty true, especially for this age group,” Speigal said. “I think they’re just not ready nor want to commit to something. So, since Tinder has gotten this reputation of being a hookup place, that’s where they go.”

Success rates on dating apps vary widely among users. Tinder generates two billion swipes per day and approximately one million dates per week, according to data collected by the company.

“I definitely think if you’re looking for a relationship, you should give dating apps a try,” Speigal said. “It’s not that bad, and even if you don’t get a relationship, you can make friends on there too.”

Maria McGinnis is the technology reporter. Contact her at [email protected]


OPINION: Love in the time of PrEP

Cameron Gorman

While we were sitting in the newsroom and brainstorming column ideas for this paper, Editor-in-Chief Valerie Royzman brought up an interesting topic for a Valentine’s Day edition. “You guys could write about lots of things,” she said. “Love, sex, HIV?”

If you don’t know a lot about HIV, or haven’t known people living with it, it can seem like sort of a distant topic. It used to be for me, too. For all the love/hate that I professed for the film version of “RENT,” for all the reading that I did on the ’80s and ’90s, for all the moments my mom cried by the community pool in the summer while reading “And the Band Played On” — I was still somewhat confused about HIV by the time I arrived at POZ for my internship over the summer.

The magazine, a lifestyle publication for people living and thriving with HIV, was a great place to work. I learned a lot: about history, about writing, about New York. But the most important thing that happened to me that summer, really, was internal. All of a sudden, HIV went from some shadowy thing in historical pictures to just another aspect of life at large.

I’d never been totally ignorant about HIV, even before my educational summer. I knew you couldn’t spread it by casual (or even not-so-casual) contact, I knew some of its history and I knew that it had (and continues to) inspire a lot of artistic work. But nothing really got me to look it square in the eyes like writing about it did.

When I came out of the program in August, I made wonderful friends, worked with colleagues I continue to aspire to be like and learned a lot. For one, that remembering the history of those lost to HIV is important. (Documentary recommendation for you? “Silverlake Life: The View from Here.” It’s on YouTube.)

And another thing — the story of HIV treatment is ever-expanding. For a while now, it’s been very possible to live a healthy life with HIV, even to be undetectable. (This is the point at which HIV is untransmittable. Yes! It’s possible!) But the most important thing I took away from what I was generously taught in the POZ offices was this: We have to keep the conversation open.

Prevention, testing, treatment: It’s all wrapped up in stigma. One way to start to shed some of that stigma, to dispel some of the fear surrounding HIV, is to talk about it. There is nothing shameful about it. And in this day and age, there are options. Of course, getting tested early is key. But there are preventative measures that can be used, too.

When Valerie mentioned HIV as a possible topic, my heart moved first. Of course I wanted to write about it — but then I remembered something. During the recent live televising of FOX’s “RENT: Live,” I had been scrolling through Twitter. Yes, I admit it, it was because I was too afraid to watch. But something did catch my eye: Someone tweeted that there was an ad for PrEP (or Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis) that had been broadcast during the show.

“Huh,” I remember thinking. I was familiar with PrEP. I’d started the summer reading and writing all about it, and I remembered seeing some ads for it in the subway, but I was surprised that it was broadcast to such a large audience. Of course, yes, it was “RENT.” But still. And yes, of course, it was a pharma company’s ad, which can get more than a little prickly when thinking about access to medication. But, still.

I guess I was just glad in a way, that the conversation had been broached. I wondered how many kids watching “RENT,” who had no idea there even were preventative measures for HIV exposure, had seen the commercial. I thought about how far we’d come since the days of “Silverlake,” and about how far we still have to go. There is so much undone, so much that is still unfinished in the story of HIV. After all, there is still no cure.

But for just a moment, I was happy that a little bit of openness had happened in the world. Love, sex, HIV and all.

Cameron Gorman is a columnist. Contact her at [email protected]


OPINION: Sex, a societal taboo that shouldn’t exist

Lyric Aquino

Sex — we all know what it is. We hear about it and see it all day through film, music, movies, books, magazines etc. Most of us crave it, yet it seems as though we tend to focus on the act itself rather than the underlying issues within sex that need to be addressed.

But what is our society’s obsession with sex? Is it because it’s been deemed as some sort of sacred secret or is it because it’s been repressed in our conversations throughout our entire lives?

Humans are capable, and often do, have an indication of sexual instincts and an idea of sex by the age of six. So, why don’t we have comfortable conversations and discussions about the topic?

Sex shouldn’t be a secretive thing that you learn when you’re old enough to understand. It isn’t a hard concept and if there was proper education on the topic there wouldn’t be such a stigma surrounding healthy conversations about sex.

Why don’t we give our children real answers about sex without lying to them? Why do we have to speak in hushed tones while talking about it with our friends? Why does bringing up sex in class discussions cause people to tense up?

While taboos are often used to suppress instincts, cultural and societal oddities, etc. this taboo about sex seems to only make it grow larger. The more secretive we are about it, the grander it becomes in our heads.

In school we’re taught the basics about sex. What goes on, how you can contract diseases, the risk of pregnancies, etc. Yet many schools don’t teach the emotional implications it can have as well as useful and in depth discussions about the reproductive system or how to take care of your sexual health.

How are you supposed to know when to do it? How do you know if you’ve developed testicular cancer? Is it possible to explain the various concepts of the sexual spectrum in a way that students can understand it?

Oftentimes I hear college-age students having hushed conversations about serious issues in sex. These topics should’ve been discussed in school. Young people shouldn’t have to rely on hushed conversations in a dingy hallway to get information about their bodies and safe sex habits. Especially because many aren’t having “the talk” or any talk about sex or sexual health with their parents.

While Google is available, one can’t deny the comforting feeling of being able to hold a meaningful conversation with someone. Being able to look at person and hear the words “don’t worry, I’ve been there” or “you’re going to be okay” can make all the difference in someone’s life.

Yet we don’t see these conversations happening. It’s imperative for young people to be able to communicate about sex, especially within this day and age. Sex, sexual health and the various aspects of the sexual spectrum need to be talked about openly.

If we have healthy open conversations about these these topics, maybe our society will mirror these conversations. Perhaps we’ll evolve and disregard the stigmas of promiscuity and virginity. Maybe we’ll have better sexual health and finally teach women about their bodies and various disorders female reproductive systems can have.

Although I understand there are people who aren’t comfortable with this conversation, I believe the overall sexual health of the general public needs to be revitalized. Whether it be physical or mental, we need to pay attention to the sexual health of our friends, family and everyone we care about.

Lyric Aquino is the features editor. Contact her at [email protected]


ADVICE: Men, you’re doing ‘it’ wrong 

Shelbie Goulding

Before assuming I’m a “sexpert,” know I’m writing this for the sake of giving simple advice from a woman’s perspective in the bedroom. Men can’t read the female mind, so here’s a mind giving you some pointers that I think almost every woman can agree with.

Be confident. Nothing turns us on more than having a man who knows what he’s doing and is proud of every move he makes. If you question every touch or move, it makes us impatient and we’re just waiting for it to be over.

Do unto her as she does unto you. Pleasure works both ways. Don’t expect a blowjob if you can’t go down on her in return. The best advice I can give here is to go down on her first, and she’s bound to do the same for you right after. Remember, ladies first.  

Make a move. For the sake of good, quality sex, please don’t lay there with your hands behind your head like a dead thing. Don’t leave all the work to the woman, especially when it comes to making the first move in the bedroom. Just kiss her, grab her butt or something. Let her know you have a pulse and ambition.

Always have at least three condoms in your drawer. Nothing ruins a mood more than running out of condoms. Once you hit the third to last condom, stock up to save yourself from ruining all that foreplay for nothing. Besides, some people tend to go multiple rounds at a time.

Sex is a good stress reliever. This is so true because nothing says a mental break like time in the bedroom. If she’s stressed, she may need a distraction to relieve all the thinking going on in her head. This is practically a freebie for guys.

Respect and intimacy are key. Treat her with respect, even if it’s just a DTF girl. Don’t be afraid to make eye contact either. Nothing makes a girl feel better about herself when you’re looking her in the eyes. Not to mention, it makes it more intimate without trying — so easy.

It’s not a race. Take your time. Female orgasms don’t just happen for us once. We have multiple climaxes when you hit the right places. Do a mix of fast and slow, rough and gentle to keep it going longer. It’s not a sprint.

Get kinky. Explore your sexuality with more fun rather than the basic positions. Now not every girl will be down for spicing things up in the bedroom, so ask first. Don’t just assume she’ll like getting a surprise in the middle of foreplay or sex. It can be a mood killer if she’s taken by surprise.

Don’t be surprised if you’re not getting laid often. People aren’t having sex as often as you think. A poll given by The Cut showed about 40 percent of students are virgins, so that only leaves 60 percent available in the area. On top of that, some people are in relationships or aren’t into flings, so the odds may be even lower. Don’t be shocked if you’re getting laid once a week or once every two weeks when you’re single. Porn will be your best friend for a while.

Shelbie Goulding is a columnist. Contact her at [email protected]