The Hook Up: I rarely kiss and tell

By Kate Taylor | 2/8/12 1:32pm



I rarely kiss and tell. This is ironic, I know, com­ing from some­one writ­ing a sex col­umn. How­ever, I make up for my own “fade-to-black” PG-13 style of re­count­ing sex­ca­pades by oc­ca­sion­ally im­part­ing nuggets of a graphic na­ture and with my lis­ten­ing skills. Ap­par­ently, I have a face that makes peo­ple want to tell me all the grimy de­tails of their sex lives. I’m on speed dial for V-card swip­ings and first G-spot or­gasms. In high school, my friends’ re­liance on me to ac­com­pany them to Planned Par­ent­hood to ac­quire birth con­trol led me to have night­mares about rais­ing chil­dren with whom I shared no DNA. I can­not enter a cer­tain fra­ter­nity with a straight face due to the num­ber of broth­ers I’ve never met but know through retellings of friends’ es­capades. I em­brace this role of cap­tive au­di­ence/sex ther­a­pist. While think­ing about a topic re­lated to sex and sex­u­al­ity to write about in this col­umn, I was faced with ques­tions of ex­actly what should be said - and what was bet­ter left pri­vate.

My sopho­more fall, The Dart­mouth pub­lished anopin­ion col­umnde­cry­ing the Hump-Day Gazette as “a source of amuse­ment for sex­ual ap­petites and vul­gar senses of humor.” As ed­i­tor-in-chief of the Hump-Day Gazette, I’ll admit I was proud that some­one ac­tu­ally, crit­i­cally read the prod­uct of my labor, but it was a pride tinged with anger and hurt. Rant­ing about the sit­u­a­tion to one of my old­est friends, I was side­swiped when she asked me if I could blame him: Was there any­thing wrong with keep­ing to one­self what is sup­posed to be in­ti­mate and per­sonal? No one re­ally wants to think about whom their sex­ual part­ners have told about their pe­cu­liar quirks, whether a wonky penis or a funky O-face. Even in ref­er­ence to ex­cep­tional skill at oral sex, few would wish to have a story about them in­spire gig­gles around a table of girls in Col­lis or stares in a base­ment after Wednes­day night meet­ings. Re­la­tion­ships of any kind evolve and dis­tort when oth­ers be­come in­volved, es­pe­cially those stuck in the com­pli­cated grey area that so many Dart­mouth re­la­tion­ships al­ready in­habit. Is talk­ing about sex taboo for a rea­son? Should we sign non-dis­clo­sure con­tracts with any­one we go home with?

To an­swer my own rhetor­i­cal ques­tion, no. There are, in fact, rea­sons be­yond my per­verted nosi­ness why I love to serve as an avail­able ear for friends, ac­quain­tances and strangers who want to talk to me about sex. The in­ti­macy of sex­ual ex­pe­ri­ences can be iso­lat­ing and ter­ri­fy­ing. In­di­vid­u­als are left to won­der if their ex­pe­ri­ences are nor­mal, or if they are the last vir­gin at Dart­mouth. Or the only one who can’t or­gasm. Or the lone “slut” who en­joys the spon­tane­ity of ran­dom sex, thank you very much. Si­lenced by em­bar­rass­ment and so­cial norms, we re­main trapped in a bub­ble, un­able to enjoy our­selves fully or, in some cases, un­able to be as safe and healthy as pos­si­ble. I lis­ten to my friends’ sto­ries be­cause in telling them, they open them­selves again to a con­nec­tion. Talk­ing about sex is an op­por­tu­nity to com­fort, to share ad­vice and even just to re­al­ize that not every­thing is as se­ri­ous as it seems. It is through re­flec­tion that we grow from ex­pe­ri­ences, whether they’re hi­lar­i­ous or trau­matic.

Per the ad­vice of her gy­ne­col­o­gist/coun­selor, my room­mate’s mother asks her­self, “Is this true? Is this nec­es­sary? Is this kind?” be­fore say­ing any­thing out loud. This is my stan­dard rule for talk­ing about sex. It’s a topic that is highly in­trigu­ing and very rel­e­vant to my life at Dart­mouth, but for many, it’s very per­sonal and sen­si­tive. So I try to watch my mouth. There is, how­ever, an ad­den­dum to the rule. My room­mate’s mom is not al­ways a saint, and after a par­tic­u­larly juicy story over din­ner, my room­mate jok­ingly asked, “Mom, was that true, nec­es­sary or kind?” Her mother replied, “It was true. And — it was funny.” And therein lies the sex-talk loop­hole from which some of the best bond­ing is born.

My ad­vice? Just re­mem­ber the Golden Rules: Let he with­out erec­tile func­tion mea­sure the first penis, peo­ple in porn-filled dorm rooms shouldn’t throw dil­dos and treat oth­ers the way you would like to be treated — in bed, and the morn­ing after.

Kate Taylor