The pressure to consent

The topic of abstinence is generally considered a hot topic in college, at least socially speaking. Most students feel the need to lose their virginities before college, and though some choose not to, there seems to be many social pressures to do so. Movies like “American Pie” and “She’s All That” deal with this subject, but it’s hard to say whether the movie inspired the attitude, or vice versa. Either way, it’s an issue that students have to deal with, and there are stigmas on both ends. So, are there really expectations to lose one’s virginity before or, at least, once entering college? Freshman Olivia Jacobsen said, “I would expect them not to be [a virgin].” It’s not a very surprising response, as the average age to lose one’s virginity in the U.S. teeters between 16 and 17 years old, according to a sex poll in The Observer. Generally, college means a lot of partying and hooking up for most students. As freshman Rebecca Sananes puts it, “It’s the only time in your life that it’s socially acceptable to have wild sex on lofted beds.” However, it doesn’t seem that many people would shun someone simply because they abstain from having sex. An anonymous junior stated that, “College is a time where people should change and try new things, so I think it’s fine people don’t practice abstinence. “If someone does want to wait though, more power to them. I do know some people who regret now having sex at a young age (14 and 15).” In high school, the pressures represented in movies may seem very real and true, but college is a time where people are learning and growing and the community is a lot more diverse.Freshman Kate Ruebenson said, “I think abstinence is a person’s personal decision. “If people want to not have sex in college, then that is their personal belief and I respect them for that. For the people that choose not to, I also think that’s fine.” It seems that students have no problem with either viewpoint. Most of the concern lies on whether or not people are being safe. If someone chooses to abstain, they are usually trying to protect themselves from sexually transmitted diseases and unwanted pregnancies. “I do think that it’s important to know your partner on a really personal level, or at least enough to know that they don’t have some sort of transmissible disease,” says freshman Dru Roessle. The last issue concerning abstinence is, of course, the stigmas. This issue continues to be brought up. If you abstain from sex, does that make you a prude? If you’re promiscuous, does that make you a slut? Why don’t boys get stuck with the same stigma? We all have to deal with these labels. They can be harsh, but one has to be confident in their decisions in order to not let these labels get to them. Considering UVM is a pretty liberal school, the thought that the majority of students may not be virgins or may not be abstinent is not that surprising.However, although the majority of students may not choose to remain abstinent, they still respect ideas and practices that differ from their own. With or without stigmas, the majority of UVM students seem to be comfortable enough with their own personal decisions to not impose them on others. To each their own, right?