Sexual Healing

Sex: When Casual Becomes Careless . . . Winter, spring, summer, fall, it doesn’t matter what the season, college students have raging hormones, and always want to get their freak on. While some consider various factors before hopping into the sack, others seem to be less worried about possible chance of pregnancy or STDs. Here is a look at what is going on sexually around campus, and what we can do to protect ourselves against some of the traumatizing consequences of hooking up. Come On baby light my Fire When asked where he meets most of the girls he hooks up with, a nameless UVM male senior said, “everywhere. Bars, parties, classes, but mostly bars and parties.” He also stated that he is intoxicated while having sex “80 percent of the time.” Many females on campus are very open about their sexuality. Many admitted that sex was definitely a goal for the end of the night. One junior, who preferred to remain anonymous, said “that is often the case. The girls that I’m friends with have very strong sexual identities, which I think is amazing.” Junior Aliza Gordon said, “I think every person, man or woman, trans or questioning, has the right to do whatever they want sexually, but they need to be safe, and prevent STDs, and be active in preventing STD’s because it’s not my business to tell anyone else what to do with their body, but I do feel that people should be safe.”Can’t lose What You Never had Despite common assumptions, some UVM students engage in little or no sex at all. Some withstand for religious reasons, while others are concerned with getting pregnant or STDs. UVM senior Deborrah Lee withstands from sex because, “I grew up going to church and one of the things I’ve been taught is to abstain from sex,” she said. Lee also added, “I’m pretty busy figuring out who, what, where and why I am in this world. Engaging in something I would put my heart and soul into could possibly set me back.” Jacqueline Weinstock, professor of this semester’s Sexual Identities course suggested that we are all under societal pressure to act under our prescribed gender roles. “There is a lot of pressure to go backwards,” she stated. Weinstock also added that men often feel as though they have to act as though they want sex all the time. This may also play a role in the lack of communication in ensuring safety during sex, and the lack of a need to seek out more information. We don’t Need No Education So why aren’t people talking about safe sex and STDs? One female student says, “I don’t think people like to come to terms with the fact that they are promiscuous…talking about STDs would imply that you have a lot of sexual partners.” According to Weinstock, the lack of communication among students regarding safe sex and STDs is due to a general discomfort with sexual conversation in our society. “We’re a culture that both has sex all over the place, but doesn’t really create spaces for people to really talk thoughtfully and intimately about sex,” she said. “It’s portrayed out there and you’re supposed to want it but you’re not supposed to step back for a second and say ‘Okay, let’s make sure there’s protection.'” Students may wonder where the institution is in all of this. “Other than the health center having free condoms and like, Astroglide and stuff, I don’t think people really feel like UVM is an environment where they can actively learn details and stuff,” says senior Nick Dion. “It sucks because if I hook up with a girl and if it’s not sex I always try and convince myself that there is a zero percent chance of anything transmitting through that, which is inaccurate.” Unfortunately, if most people have this attitude, we could all be infected. Nancy Welch, professor of Rhetoric and the Rollback of Womens’ Rights, said that all colleges and universities need to enforce sex education. “Colleges and universities need to step up and not assume that education is happening earlier, in middle and high school, because by and large it’s not,” she said. What exactly is this HPV disease that we keep hearing about? Also known as the human papillomavirus, this sexually transmitted disease has received quite a bit of attention on college campuses. However, there are still many misconceptions about how HPV is transmitted and who can get it. What is HPV? According to WebMD, the human papillomavirus (HPV) is a sexually transmitted disease that can be passed on through any sort of sexual activity with an infected person, not necessarily through intercourse, and is said to affect 50 percent of all people who have sexual intercourse. HPV can not only lead to genital warts but it can also lead to cervical cancer in females and penal and anal cancer in males, according to WebMD. One of the most frightening aspects of HPV, however, is that many people who have it do not show any symptoms at all. Therefore, a carrier may be entirely unaware that they are a carrier at all. Prevention and Treatment A new vaccine called Gardisil provides women ages nine to 26 with the opportunity to prevent themselves from getting HPV if they have not already been exposed. Gardisil is given in three injections over a six month period. However, those who have been exposed to HPV can also benefit from the Gardisil vaccination. There are over 100 types of HPV and over 30 that are transmitted through sexual behavior. WebMD reports that the vaccine has not yet been approved for men. Men can still, however, be treated for the effects that come with certain forms of the virus. Where and How to get Tested According to the Women’s Health Center on the UVM campus, about three to 10 women are seen per day to receive the Gardisil vaccine. Students must specifically request to be tested for HPV.