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ISSUE 119 VOL 2 PUBLISHED 9/23/2005

Hitting the books

By Lisa Gulya
Arts Editor


Friday, September 23, 2005

You’ve filled out roommate preference cards, bought books, attended “how to study” sessions. But have you studied up on sex?

Many of us took the SAT before coming to college, but there is no “Sexual Aptitude Test.” We’re not born with sexual sophistication, and it’s a shame that we can enter college not knowing that the penis grows in size when erect, or where our clitoris is. I didn’t make those examples up – these are things real St. Olaf students are unaware of.

But there’s no reason to be ashamed. Why not invest in some light reading to postpone facing your looming piles of homework? A sex book provides the perfect study break.

There are a few comprehensive, sex-positive guides that come to mind: “The Guide to Getting It On!” and “The Good Vibrations Guide to Sex.” Our library even has a copy of “The Joy of Sex,” if you’re willing to share.

These books have helpful pictures for figuring out which sex toy is which and what goes where and has what attachments. “Good Vibrations” even has politically correct illustrations of sex play — same-sex couples, tan lines and people wearing glasses. But they also cover essential basics of body image, sexual anatomy and communication. After all, sex is a lot more than just intercourse.

Shop around for what would be the best addition to your collection. Kim Catrall, “Sex and the City’s” Samantha, co-authored “Satisfaction: The Art of the Female Orgasm,” useful for those of you with female partners, or who are interested in learning to please yourself. Or “Tickle His Pickle” for those of you who fancy men.

And if these books don’t answer all your questions, a few websites may help fill in the gaps. The site goaskalice.columbia.edu is a great question and answer site. The sexual section has categories ranging from “kissing” to “fetishes and philias.” Another information-packed site is ourbodiesourselves.org, primarily aimed at women’s health.

If there are books to read, friends to talk to and classmates to practice with, who needs a sex column? I’ve overheard offhand comments alluding to the frivolity of reserving space for a sex column when there are greater issues facing the world. Of course there are. But St. Olaf is a college that prides itself on facilitating character development; consequently, student sexuality should also be granted a respected place in this discussion. If adults cannot talk openly about sex, then we’ll discuss it on our own. After all, the Manitou Messenger has been filled with stories on relationships since at least the 1930s. Don’t think your “no one dates on this campus” is a new complaint.

Even though this column is only three years old, sexual concerns have been around campus for decades. We’re just allowed to speak more explicitly now. In that spirit, we’re no longer keeping the columnist’s identity a secret. After all, how can you have an open conversation with someone you know only as “Sex Columnist”? The goal of the column is not to titillate St. Olaf with one woman’s sex life. It’s a space for discussion of trends and issues that affect many students. So talk to me!

Just like in sex, my performance may not always please you. This column will sometimes disappoint or bore. Sometimes it will shock or stimulate. The reality is that I can’t be everything to everyone. But if you tell me what’s on your mind or send me something interesting that’s been in the news, I have a much better chance of writing something that interests you.

Honesty in sexual matters is important, so let me say it now: I’m nervous. St. Olaf is not UC-Berkeley, and discussions about sex and sexuality can get heated. Outraged letters have been written to past columnists for what was perceived as overly liberal content, while other students have complained about the tameness of some themes. I encourage you to engage me with your words – write to me if you want a discussion, or write a letter to the editor if you simply want a soapbox of your own.

So while St. Olaf may not be Berkeley, we are sexual beings, and some of us have sex. This campus is home to celibacy, abstinence, polyamory and occasionally flamboyant PDA. And if you think our Lutheran founders were sexually stuffy, in a few weeks we’ll take a look at what Norwegians are doing now.

The column can also help break down preconceptions of the stereotypical Ole. This year one of my goals is to explore how our identities impact our sex lives and relationships. We are not all midwestern blondes of Norwegian descent. We are queer; we are people of color; we come from different countries, different religious backgrounds, and all these factors affect how we approach – and have – sex. And just because we attend a Lutheran college does not mean that our partners do, or that our sex even happens “on the Hill” (but it’s a catchy column title, so we’re keeping it).

To get your conversational juices flowing: Let’s talk about sex with an ex. Did it last one drunken night or weeks? How did it turn out?

Let me know at sexcolumnist@stolaf.edu.





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