The Hook Up: I rarely kiss and tell
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.