Sexual Dis-course

Michelle Poje

Human Sexuality course offers discussion on personal topics

Every semester, Laurie Wagner, part-time health education instructor at Kent State, asks the 50 to 70 students who make up her Human Sexuality course to list one topic they would most like to learn about in the class.

“How can I tell if my partner is faking an orgasm?” and “What are some of the best sexual positions?” are two popular responses

“The whole process of finding out what students want to talk about is always entertaining,” Wagner said with a laugh. “I don’t think students expect in the beginning that the course is going to involve their professor standing up front explaining what some of the best sexual positions are.”

But students who take the course do expect to talk about sex. Wagner, who has taught Human Sexuality for nine years, said she encourages students in her class to be open about the topic of sex.

“I make sure my class comes with a disclaimer that says, if you are uncomfortable talking about sex, don’t take this class,” Wagner said.

While some may be hush-hush when it comes to what they do behind closed doors, the stereotypical image of college students being open, sexual beings, an image that has been fueled through television shows like “Beverly Hills 90210”, “Dawson’s Creek” and “The Real World” reality series, may not be far from the truth.

“It’s a part of who I am, and I am not ashamed of the things that I’ve done in my sex life,” said Mandy Franc, junior human development and family services major. “I’m pretty open with my friends about what I’ve done. With other people on campus, I’m usually OK with telling people because I know there are a lot of people on this campus that have done the same things.”

Senior English major Drew Mulkins agrees sex is “nothing to be ashamed of,” and students should be open about it.

“Our culture is too scared of sex,” Mulkins said. “We need to be proud of our sensualities and forward about the way we feel.”

A 2003 study from the Society for Adolescent Medicine claims more than half of college students living away from home have been sexually active while at college.

But Wagner feels that, despite this, students are not entirely educated on the topic.

“Throughout the year, I will get a lot of questions about pregnancy and contraception, which seems to show that there is a lot that students still need to learn,” Wagner said.

Some agree with Wagner that college students lack sex-ed.

“We are educated on some parts of sex, I’d say 50 percent,” said Matt Santill, junior computer information systems major. “We know about condoms, STDs, birth control and that it should be fun. But how many college students actually know when a woman’s most fertile time of the month is? Or how our sexuality is tied directly to our emotions? Or how we need to wear protection with oral sex?”

Santill noted he feels living in a predominantly Christian society plays a role in how much Americans are educated about sex.

“I think educating people on sex is much more important than advertising abstinence,” Santill said. “Proverbs 5.17 (says to) ‘save yourself for your wife and don’t have sex with other women’. This way of thinking has lead to a lot of unnecessary guilt, oppression and depression.”

Freshman nursing major Jessica Finney blames the parents.

“I really do not think most college students are educated about sex,” Finney said. “I think it’s because a lot of parents don’t have conversations with their children at a young age (about sex.)”

Others feel students are educated on the topic.

“I think for the most part they know a lot,” Mulkins said. “I feel that most students on this campus have healthy sex lives and are gaining more knowledge of sex through their experiences.”

In 1998, Joy Davidson of Men’s Fitness magazine, compiled a list of the top 10 things college students already know about sex and the top 10 things they don’t. The article stated many college students know how to protect themselves, that sex must be consensual and one-night stands often have drastic repercussions.

On the flip side, the article concluded college students know little about STDs, pleasing their partners and preventing pregnancy.

Sophomore exploratory major Mike Hollywood Sharpe said people need to hear each other’s opinions on sex in order to make their decisions and become more educated.

“The more people talk, the more they can enlighten each other,” Sharpe said. 

He noted that keeping one’s virginity might be something a person wrestles with.

“It isn’t bad to be a virgin unless you think it is,” Sharpe said. “People who are open about it will only help those who are debating whether or not they want to keep their virginity or not.”

Franc agrees being open about sexuality is important, but said “there is a place and a time to sit and tell people about what sexual things they have done. I’m not going to go randomly up to someone and be like ‘Hey I tried 69 for the first time last night; have you done it?'”

Contact features correspondent Michelle Poje at [email protected].