Walking into my first week at Queen’s, exclamations of “Oh I feel so good” and posters on consent and safe sex were everywhere. Excited for my viewing of Queen’s Existere, a student performance during Orientation Week for freshman, I knew that sex would be a topic. However, I was shocked that sex jokes dominated the performance. An entire scene featured simulated sex and moaning behind a series of curtains. Under these curtains, diverse sexual preferences were revealed in order to send the message that all kinds of sex, as long as safe and consensual, are okay. There is no doubt that this is a great message to send to students. However, what about the students who felt like they were left out of the joke? The students who felt like not being part of this pervasive sex culture made them different, and maybe even lesser than the rest of their peers?
As university students, we are surrounded by a culture that is very interested, if not obsessed, with sex. This culture goes further than just Queen’s of course. Articles such as “How to Have Great Sex” and “Why I Love Being Single” constantly bombard my Facebook news feed. Crude jokes and pressure to be in on the joke, especially for boys, are things faced every day from peers. On my own floor in first year, a male chart of “kills” was put up to document “successes,” and those boys yet to have their v-card swiped were mocked “in good fun” and pressured to lose it ASAP.
What are we forgetting here? While as a freshman I was approached by Queen’s representatives discussing how “every drink is a choice” and explaining how it is okay and statistically normal to be uninterested in drinking or drugs, no such counterpart for sex existed. While encouraging safe and consensual sex is important, those who aren’t ready are left out of the resources. People mature at different times. Some aren’t ready for sex emotionally or physically. Some are waiting for marriage for personal or religious reasons. Others are ready but waiting for the right person or the right time.
None of these things should make someone feel inferior or bizarre. Just as important as creating a safe space for people to talk about sex and how to do it safely and consensually, is creating a safe space for people who aren’t ready yet. So whether one-night stands, monogamous sex, or abstinence is your thing, remember that society shouldn’t dictate with whom or when you decide to engage in sexual activity. It is one of the most personal decisions you can ever make, so own yours, and regardless of society’s expectations, hold yourself to doing what is right for you.
Raquel Simpson, Online Columnist
Image: Maud Chalard