In high school, engaging in sexual activity was completely taboo, and it was usually found in relationships rather than strangers. In college, especially in the current millennial generation, sex is commonly found at the bottom of a drink in a new partner’s bed.
This concept is often referred to as ‘hook-up’ culture and, with sex becoming more casual as the years progress, the pressures of having sex once you submerge into the college lifestyle can be overwhelming.
The stigma of students enrolled in colleges is that they are highly sexually active, which, according to KSC Assistant Director of
Emotional Health, Programming and Outreach and Coordinator of Sexual Violence and Prevention, Forrest Seymour, is incorrect.
Seymour said that he does not encounter a lot of students who seek counseling about sexual pressure, but he does not think it is because it is not a problem.
“Many students feel that it is such a normal matter once they enter college that they do not see a reason to seek counseling,” Seymour said.
He continued, “I think most of them have an attitude that social pressure is a normal feeling to have and since everyone else is having sex, they should be too.”
However, according to Seymour, the research shows that the amount of sex everyone thinks college students are having is completely overblown.
“It’s always less sex than people think and I think that definitely adds on to society’s perception that college is all about being highly sexually active, and many students are not,” Seymour said.
The social pressure of having sex, Seymour suggested, could also be coming from the student’s own internal pressure because of the fact that they think they are supposed to since “everyone else is.”
Even though Seymour is a bystander in the current pressures, students seem to have similar thoughts.
Sophomore and architecture major, Erin Conti, said that she feels more sexual pressure in college than she did in high school.
“I think that once we got to college the idea of ‘hooking-up’ became a lot more prominent,” Conti said.
She continued, “Apps like Tinder also have a big impact on the pressures we face. I don’t want to say that it promotes hooking-up, but it makes it a lot easier for people to get involved with stuff like that.”
Opposingly, music education major and sophomore, Karver Bosela, said that he did not feel more pressured to have sex once he came to campus.
Bosela said that in high school he felt that sex was a bigger deal, and people who already engaged in it would put more pressure on those who had not.
“In college we really discover more about ourselves and people are defined more by what characteristics you carry rather than if you’ve had sex or not. I rarely find myself getting asked if I’ve had sex or not,” Bosela said.
When asked if more pressure was felt on being sexually active because of his gender, Bosela responded that he absolutely feels more pressure from peers because he is a guy.
“For example, my friend had been dating a girl for three months last year, and he would get ridiculed pretty consistently for not ‘sealing the deal’ so to speak,” Bosela said.
He continued, “A lot of them would ask, you know, ‘What’s wrong?’ ‘Is there something wrong with her, something wrong with you?’” Bosela said that he thinks our generation does not go on traditional dates anymore and people are not chivalrous, no matter your gender.
Bosela said that immediate gratification is engrained into our minds, so the concept of a long-term relationship does not seem like a good idea to a lot of students.
“I can’t stress enough that I don’t think that it is because we are in college and experiencing new things, I think that it is because we are just used to this type of behavior. It’s the idea that we have grown up with,” Bosela said.
For those in a relationship at college, the situation is a little different. Sophomore at KSC, Jessica Conron, said she does not feel pressure to have sex either.
She said that since she’s been in a relationship for more than a year, both her and her boyfriend are passed the stages of feeling pressured.
“It’s never really been a problem for me at college. My roommates are comfortable with my relationship, since they all have boyfriends, too. We all respect the fact that we have sex, and I think the fact that since I’ve been in a relationship since high school it changes the perspectives,” Conron said.
It is hard to say what the right and wrong step is for sex when it comes to college students, but the pressures of sex are definitely prominent in college culture.
Whether the pressure of having sex is coming from your friends or yourself, sex is something that you should feel good about, not ashamed or embarrassed.
Olivia Belanger can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org