At bars, buying someone a drink carries a certain implication — at the very least it displays sexual interest, and at the most it can be an expectation of sexual interaction.
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This week, Indecent Exposure is giving a more in-depth discussion about sex toys, the various types, applications and proper usage and maintenance that comes with their use.
This week, Indecent Exposure is giving lube the attention it deserves but often doesn’t get. Learn what types there are and why it is crucial for not only pleasurable sex, but safer sex too. As our favorite childhood crustacean Sebastian taught us, “Darling it’s better, down where it’s wetter, take it from me!”
*Before I start this article, I want to begin with a consent caveat. Everything discussed in this article is clearly pointing to all sexual activities between consenting partners. A full definition of consent given by Sex Out Loud states “Consent is the clear, freely-given, informed, enthusiastic, continuous presence of a yes and not the absence of a no.”*I’m not going to lie to you. As you can assume, being so open about sex all the time does not come without judgment from those surrounding me. While I originally was nervous to post and share my articles on my social media due to being friends with older adults as well as past teachers, I found that a lot of the people who were hesitant at first to click my links were more of my college-age connections. Comments like, “What Sydney? You just talk and write about sex all day?” and “Wait but what does your family think?” consistently have surrounded me since I first took over this column. While I wouldn’t say my dad particularly loves that his daughter is a sex columnist, I also wouldn’t say it is the bane of his existence (also if we’re talking even older; my grandfather recently informed me that he shares my articles with his colleagues because he’s proud of me, regardless of content, so take that, Judgmental Judies). Whenever I have a new article published and I feel that twinge of nervousness in my stomach after sharing it on my Facebook feed, I have to check and ask myself, ‘why’? When I am re-posting other articles about various topics like politics, beauty, life, etc., I never am nervous about what my followers will think. However, when it comes to my own very open articles about sex, I have a fear of others’ comments. This alone reminds me exactly why I have chosen the path that I have—sex is still such a weighted topic in our society due to the way we have socially constructed certain connotations surrounding these activities. Sex is taught to the public to be taboo, something you will most likely engage in during your lifetime but something you should not speak about unless behind closed doors. This hush-hush mentality, and thus a lack of education on the topic, has led to a plethora of problems including high rates of STIs, high rates of sexual assault and rape as well as unwanted pregnancies.To me, sex has never been a topic I have feared speaking about. While I know there is a time and a place deemed appropriate for certain speech (something about social cues and filters I’m supposed to have??), I have always been able to talk openly with my mother, as well as with my friends, about sex. In my mind, sex is sex; just another part of life (like exercising, going to a fun class, etc.), another activity almost everyone I know is engaging in quite often. I have observed, often in large groups, people become super shy when sex is brought up and others boast about how great their sex lives are while silently shaming others in the room if they aren’t experiencing the same type of sex. However, behind closed doors, those people have also been the first to ask me certain clarification questions and admit they told lies when surrounded by others. Why do we feel the need to make every sexual experience into something bigger than it is? Countless times my girl friends have come home after a hookup and relay how amazing it was and then a couple months later talk about that same experience negatively, claiming “whiskey dick” ruined the sex or something else (I am not excluding myself from this behavior FYI, I have definitely fluffed up a sexual encounter due to pressure I’ve felt from others). But why do we do this? Where is this pressure coming from? If we have had a sexual encounter that wasn’t something to write home about, why are we telling our friends the opposite? And, vice versa, if we consistently engage in mind-blowing, incredible sex (props to us), why do we feel the need to push that in the faces of others when they discuss their own experiences quite differently? In my opinion, we need to place an emphasis on normalizing sex as a part of conversation, instead of treating it like a dangerous taboo, and in turn we will eventually see a dramatic reduction in rates of STIs, sexual assaults and hopefully an increase in positive, educated dialogue amongst parents and children as well as teachers and students in sex education classes.While I am by no means saying that everyone should always be having sex or must always want to engage in sexual activities (we need to welcome and acknowledge our asexual friends, our abstinent friends and also educate ourselves on certain age restraints and laws put in place to protect us), I am just saying that the way sex is discussed in general needs to shift. When we talk about sex, when we cancel out the negativity surrounding it and instead educate those with pleasure-inclusive curriculum, we then can lessen all of the “hoopla” surrounding this activity. The less we look at sex as an activity that can only be performed by certain people, at certain times, in a certain way, the more potential we have to educate those around us about the basic human right to enjoy our lives.The way most of us are taught to talk about sex growing up can directly correlate to a lot of young peoples’ tendencies to lie about their sexual encounters. Whether we are lying about the number of partners we had or have not had, how frequently we are having sex or when talking about the things we like in bed, at some point in our lives we will find (or already have found) ourselves fibbing about something. For example, I know a lot of young sexually active women that lie to their gynecologists about the number of partners they have had due to embarrassment of that amount being deemed socially “too high.” I also know a lot of young sexually active men that talk with their guy friends about any sort of anal play in bed, deeming it as a negative activity and using the words “that is so gay” when in reality they love a good finger (or toy) up their butt in private. These two examples bring up sexual myths we love spreading that could be stopped if we encourage open dialogue about sex. For the first example, the number of partners a person has should not be something we use to judge others for. There is no legitimized standard set for the limit to the number of people you should be having sex with. You set those limits for yourself. If you are happy with yourself and genuinely enjoy having a lot of different partners, good for you! If you are more comfortable only having sex with a few people in your life that is also awesome! What we define as too many or too few partners should be something only we have a say in. The second one points to the myth that if a person with a penis engages in any sort of butt play during sex they are automatically gay (one caveat before I debunk this, what the fuck is wrong with being gay?). Regardless of whether you are having sex with same gender or opposite gender partners, this myth needs to be debunked. Everyone has a butt and it can be pleasurable for everyone as long as you are educated on what you are doing, being hygienic and using lots of lube. A heterosexual man that enjoys his female partners playing with his butt does not need a label on him staking him as “gay,” if he is simply just a person with a penis enjoying sex as is his right just like it is everyone’s right that wants it. You would never hear a gay man negatively claiming that sex with a vagina is “so straight” so think about what you are saying before you say it.If you cringed once while reading this article or identified with some of the examples I threw on the table, this shows exactly why the quality of sex education needs to shift greatly for the generations below us. Many of us in our 20s and older received abstinence-only sex education, no sex education at all or basic sex education which was non-pleasure inclusive and focused on anatomy. For some, these types of sex-education made sex seem like a scary but intriguing and appealingly bad behavior we were tempted to engage in as young people, similar to exploring with alcohol and drugs. We were told we shouldn’t be doing it, which made a lot of us want to do it more. Like I said before, this rabbit-hole explains high rates of STIs on college campuses and high rates of sexual assault among young people as well. If we can shift the way sex is taught to young people and make it sound less scary but place a higher emphasis on open dialogue and education, the generations below us will be able to condone their sex lives in a much smarter way than we did. Long story short, let’s stop making sex weird. Instead, let’s be able to talk about sex in the same breath we are using to talk about an interesting class we went to or a fun museum exhibit we visited. Seems like we’re all doing it, let’s not be afraid to discuss it. Did this piece make you question how you discuss sex? Are you considering being more open about sex and want someone to talk to abouut it? Maybe it sparked a discussion between yourself and some of your friends? Have any thoughts or comments? Even any ideas for future sex columns? You can always shoot Sydney an email at email@example.com.
For the first time since I started Sex With Syd, I am writing on a topic that was requested by peers. As if my control of this section of the Cardinal (paired with my job at Sex Out Loud) automatically linked me to being some sort of life expert, my cell phone and inbox have suddenly become flooded with all sorts of questions regarding sex and relationships (I’m not complaining, this is the best outcome that I never expected to happen). For this piece, I am drawing inspiration from a person who wrote, “I don’t know how you stay friends with the guys you have been with. I have such a hard time separating emotions, sex and friendship.” While that text led to a spiral of introspective reflection on my end, instead of writing an article on how I choose to navigate my own (slightly messy? unique? creative? different?) love life, I decided to investigate further into this topic of sex and friendship. The good ol’ classic Friends With Benefits relationship… This relationship typically involves two individuals using each other for sexual relations but not having to deal with all of the other “emotional” aspects that sexual relationships tend to bring about. While there are millions of “FWB Survival Guides” online, I decided to explore on my own and get to the root of this idea. Do successful FWB relationships actually exist? How do they end? Are there really not feelings involved? More importantly: Can we be friends once the benefits end?In order to start this, I sent out texts to a handful of people with the following questions: Is FWB a real thing? Have you ever been in a FWB situation? Did you develop feelings? Did they? How/why did it end? Are you still friends?While the answers varied, there were some salient themes that warranted further investigating and questioning. This led me to ask more questions of those original people and I then began asking these questions to friends who I randomly encountered. Every single person agreed that there is no static definition of what a perfect FWB situation looks like, and almost everyone either said they are no longer friends with that person or, if they remain “friendly,” there is a lot of underlying tension and awkwardness. While some have managed to remain friends with that partner, they said it took a little bit of time to get back to normal. A couple individuals even circled back to this idea that FWB is not possible, that you cannot separate emotions from sex because, “Someone always catches feelings. Always.”Is this true?As evolved of a species as humans are, is it true that we cannot have sexual relationships without developing attachments to the other person? Certain relationships that deviate from the hegemonic definition of what a normal relationship “looks” like often involve a lot of communication and boundaries before the relationship even begins (think polyamory, open/non-monogamous, BDSM relationships, etc.). Should we group FWB with these types of relationships that need to prioritize strategy and rules versus spontaneity? In the movie “Friends With Benefits,” Mila Kunis and Justin Timberlake have a conversation setting the ground rules of their situation before they even have sex for the first time. While their characters end up falling in love and, presumably, live happily ever after, just before getting into bed with Timberlake’s character for the first time, Kunis’ character clarifies, “No emotions. Just sex.” Is that warranted?Does sex always mean more?In a response to my unofficial survey, someone wrote, “I’ve had experiences where I’ve hooked up with guys for long periods of time but it was never clear what the title was... I would probably have called it ‘friends with benefits’ but then after the benefits ended it was just like ‘see ya never friend,’ and we never really talked because there wasn’t a friendship foundation there in the first place. I have had zero motivation to be friends with a guy after just hooking up for a while if hooking up was the basis of our relationship.” She then clarified, “Also I’ve never had a FWB situation where we literally sat down and were like, ‘Let’s be friends that fuck!’”Someone else wrote, “Yes FWB is real but also no it’s not. As someone who genuinely enjoys sex for the sake of sex, some aspect of the satisfaction comes from the emotional bond with the person you’re having it with. If you’re OK with the fact that that’s friendship, then why not?”What is particularly interesting to me is that the responses to my initial question about feelings ended up being split 50/50. While many responded that either they themselves developed feelings or the other person involved did, the other half stated that feelings were not the reason for the ending. A lot of times the reason for the end was because the other person got back together with an ex or found someone new.As a human with emotions, I am having a hard time believing there were no feelings hurt at all with that sort of ending. In a Huffington Post article titled “17 Rules For Friends With Benefits,” the author explains this as the difference between a “situationship” and FWB. Carlen Costa writes, “At times the FWB can be confused with a situationship. A situationship is highly based on sexual compatibility and long-term convenience. They are the sexual relationships that straddle the FWB and relationship line; that foggy state of relationship status when there isn’t a label on ‘what this is’ or your situation together, as you navigate what the next steps are … Unhealthy situationships are the bane of my existence. Why? Because they’re complicated and someone always gets emotionally hurt.”So through all of this, I am gathering that we have created arbitrary titles for certain types of relationships that are completely dependent on situations and the people involved. There is no such thing as the stereotypical FWB relationship because it is completely context dependent. While some friends have sex a couple times and move on, some continue to have sex and avoid talking or some may pre-discuss entering into this type of casual relationship. Other people enter into what was deemed as a “situationship” and hookup for a while without talking about it due to fear of seeming like feelings were getting involved.What is clearly evident here is that we, young people, have a fear of labeling the relationships that we are in. In one FWB situation, a friend stated, “… people started calling me ‘his girl’ and it sort of made me off limits and made me realize it was maybe something more. Which made me realize I had more feelings for him. But as soon as I realized that it made me all self conscious about myself and what he was up to.” This self-conscious feeling that comes out of wanting to define the relationship is one that I know almost every single person has felt before. When you have been talking to and/or sexually involved with a person for a long time it is normal to want to ask, “So what is this?” or, “Where is this going?” However, because of this anxiety we carry thinking that the other person may be on a different page or not meet us halfway we often shy away from doing that. This causes us to stay in unhealthy FWB or situationships or whatever you want to label it far too long or until we end up feeling hurt.Regardless of whether we are in a relationship, situationship, FWB, etc., my main question remains: Can we really be “just friends” once sex has been involved? Glamour Magazine has a bunch of rules online for how to “successfully navigate” a FWB relationship and these rules can be seen as extremely limiting and harmful. They warn you not to bring your FWB around your friends, to not convince yourself the relationship is more than it is, to not sleepover, etc. What I don’t like is this mass media rule guide on how to live our lives. If you are comfortable with casually sleeping with someone and bringing them around your friends, so what? If you end up catching feelings for the person you are sleeping with, is that a crime? I don’t think it is a reality to enter into any sort of relationship strictly contractually without mending rules that are comfortable to both partners.What I am learning is that, just like we cannot define if FWB is a realistic concept, we cannot generalize this question and answer it for every situation. I personally think it is completely possible to stay friends with people you have been sexually involved with as long as there is honesty and a friendship worth holding on to. Sure, you may sometimes feel that twinge of jealousy from seeing someone you have been involved with talk to or about someone else, however, if that relationship was important enough for me to have “more” with, I would have prioritized my emotions and healed before I welcomed being around that person again. Sometimes through sexual encounters you are opened up to new people that you really vibe with on a platonic level, and saving those friendships becomes more important to you than any sort of physicality. For some people, sex and friendship are completely separated and there is no possibility of remaining friends once these relationships end and that is completely OK. The best type of relationship (whether sexual, platonic, romantic, etc.) is one where every party is on the same page and completely comfortable with where they stand. If you are trying to be the person who “remains cool” once the relationship ends but you are secretly hurting inside, prioritize yourself and emotions. If the other person judges that or makes you feel bad then that is not the type of “friend” worth keeping around anyway. If you genuinely feel happy and that the other person has your best interest at heart, do not worry if third party individuals think it’s weird that you remain friends.In short, do not listen to what movies and books tell you about how you are supposed to live your romantic life; do whatever makes you completely and totally happy.Do you have any Friends With Benefits stories that you would like to share with Sydney? Have any thoughts or comments? Even any ideas for future sex columns? Maybe you want sex/relationship advice or need to know where to find free condoms on campus? You can always shoot Sydney an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
A study published in the BMJ surveyed 51 heterosexual men between the ages of 18-69, showing each of them photos of different women and then gave them a questionnaire. The men were asked to rate the attractiveness of each woman, how likely they were to want to sleep with that woman and how likely they were to use a condom. The results found that a woman’s attractiveness directly correlated to condom usage during intercourse. Simply, the “hotter” each man found the woman, the more willing they were to not use a condom during intercourse. They then also found that the men among the group who rated themselves as “hot” thought they were more entitled to unprotected sex than the others, and they assumed other attractive men also went condom-free during intercourse. Among the questions on the survey was asking each man the likelihood each woman had an STI, and the results found that the more attractive the woman, the less likely the man was to assume she had an STI.
I’m new to The Daily Cardinal and when I was brainstorming topics for my new column, Sex with Syd, I kept circling back to a topic that has been bothering me a lot recently. I have been watching so many relationships with amazing potential become completely ruined because of our generation’s social media use. People are uninterested while on dates, scrolling through their feeds instead of communicating, taking Snapchats instead of truly engaging. I’ve seen relationships falling apart, and have witnessed real fights about something as trivial as one of the people liking images on Instagram that the other person has deemed inappropriate or off limits.