Thursday, January 17th, 2019

The Talk 101: Intro to USM’s Sexuality and Dating Column

Posted on October 27, 2014 in Perspectives
By USM Free Press

By: Lorraine Kessler


So you’ve made it this far in your academic career, but do you think you could pass a test about your reproductive organs with a 4.0?

Whether you answered yes or no, I’d like to introduce myself as USM’s student sex educator, and welcome you to our inclusive, body positive, sex positive column aiming to open up the conversation about sex and dating. With this column, I hope to answer students’ questions about sex, sexuality, gender, bodies, and dating in a way that doesn’t make you squirm like the “where babies come from” talk did in 8th grade, and in a way that feel safe for readers of all sexual orientations, gender identities, and comfort levels with their bodies and sex lives.

Sex is a taboo subject for many people. It may feel awkward or embarrassing to talk about our “private parts,” or the hanky panky-ing we did last night, and at times we may feel embarrassment or confusion when discussing sex. Sometimes, if our sexual preferences for a certain gender or a certain sex act don’t match up with societal expectations, we feel pressure to keep quiet about our interests and might fear rejection if others knew. Sometimes, it can be hard to talk about sex or our sexual organs just because we never learned the proper language to do so.

Meeting new people and dating can be equally challenging; with only a few scripts for how dating and sexual relationships are “supposed” to look, it can be challenging to talk to new partners about expectations in relationships or in bed. Gender roles often make it easy to oversimplify what a relationship can look like if we’re willing to move beyond those roles. It is difficult, but extremely important for us to learn how to initiative conversations with our partners (new and old) about consent, safer sex, about prevention of sexually transmitted infections and pregnancy, as well as boundaries in non-sexual aspects of a relationship. That being said, accepting the challenge of maintaining an open dialogue is well-worth it.

As an individual you have the right to know, understand and appreciate your body as it is, to know how to keep yourself and your body safer as you navigate the world of college dating, sex and hook-ups, and to get the questions you’ve always wanted to know (but have been afraid to ask) answered. As a college student, the reality is that you most likely have more freedom than in the past to have sex and make other choices about your body, and you have the right to have enough information to make the best choices for yourself. It may feel weird to talk openly about sexuality to friends, doctors, parents, or sex partners, but opening the dialogue and learning the language to do so is important; your sexual health is a component of your holistic health and overall wellbeing. It is as important to care for that part of you as it is to get a physical check-up, or talk to someone when you are feeling stressed, or to get help from a tutor when you fall behind in class.

This column hopes to answer student questions (which can be submitted confidentially to, increase awareness of local and university resources available to readers to support their sexual health and safety, and help students feel empowered in taking control of their sexual and emotional relationships and creating safer spaces for themselves and others.


About the Author:Lorraine Kessler is a senior social work major, women and gender studies minor, interning at the USM’s Center for Sexualities and Gender Diversity. She has experience in various settings  educating peers about sexual health, consent and prevention of sexual assault.


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