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December 10, 2014 - Image 10

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The Michigan Daily, 2014-12-10

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Wednesday, December 10, 2014// The Statement 7B
Personal Statement: My real sex ed
by Zak Witus

defining 'sex' with numbers
BY AMRUTHA SIVAKUMAR

Try basking me for a word
that's more of loaded gun
than "sex." Chances are, I
won't be able to give you one.
In my rational, engineering-
trained way of conceptualizing
information, it doesn't make sense.
"Sex" is just a word, after all. I
should be able to define it - as
should anyone else. When some-
one asks me what I feel about sex,
or whether sex would be appro-
priate in a particular situation, (I
should be able to give a clear-cut,
no-nonsense "yes" or "no.")
But the fact is, "sex" is more
than just a word; it's a series of
emotions. How I treat sex plays a
lot into who I am and how my past
experiences have shaped me. The
linguistics of it is fascinating, all
right. But can it be generalized?
A 1980 study on cybersex pub-
lished in the International Jour-
nal of Public Heath found that
in heterogeneous sex, men had a
tendency to associate the word
"intercourse" with body-centered
imagery - such as breast and kiss
- while women drew more par-
allels between the word "inter-
course" and relationship-centered
linguistics. Similarly, a 1974 publi-
cationfound that in general, men
could link more slang vocabulary
to sexual expressions than women.
Putting criticism aside, if the
sex research done over the last
half-decade accurately reflects
trends on college campuses (note:
feel free to contradict that one),
that means as a woman, I have
the tendency to attribute a great-
er number of physically intimate
activities - besides vaginal inter-
course - with the word "sex," as
compared to a man.
More than that, this means that
my sexual behaviors - my actions
surrounding how Ipersonally
define "sex" and "intimacy" - can
be predicted. Gulp.
Let's fast forward to 2014: I
walk around with the belief that
on Michigan's Ann Arbor campus,
women actively tryto break gender
norms. I feel constantly surround-
ed by strong-willed, informed
women who don't characterize
their beliefs about sex according to
a rigid standard - rather explor-
ing their relationship with sex
through their own experiences.
Interestingly, data shows

there are significant differences
between how men and women
define "sex" themselves and how
the opposite gender believes the
other define it.
A more recent study found that
both male and female college stu-
dents considered vaginal inter-
course to be "sex" - though more
women believed that men would
be less likely to consider intimacy
as "sex" when neither participant
experienced an orgasm.
During oral sex, approximately
54 percent of men and 43 percent
of women considered it "sex" when
a man experienced an orgasm. For-
ty-one percent of students believed
men considered female orgasm
during oral sex to be "sex," while
over 15 percent more believed
women would see the same activ-
ity as "sex." Surprisingly, nearly
half the male survey respondent
viewed a female orgasm as sex,
though women believed that less
men would.
Trust me when I say that I'm the
biggest skeptic you'll find of social
studies research. In a way, it's odd
to think that I make decisions that
affect my life in a way that con-
forms to the way that everyone else
around me makes decisions about
their own. Personal decisions take
an identity, a personality - and sex
is as personal as it gets.
There's also the issue with
quantifying identity: there's no
numerical value that can fully
explain where I, or any other col-
lege student, fall on the spectrum
of possible gender identities and
sexual orientations. There's no
study that completely manages to
capture the beautiful spirit of self-
identification.
Yet, there's a certain comfort
that comes out of knowing I'm
not alone in my uncertainty about
men. It's scary, and no study can
adequately prepare me for what
to expect when with being with
someone for the first time.
I've seen the data, and now so
have you. But for now, I think I'm
going to take a step back from it
all. There's been this rumor float-
ing around that sex needs to have
a monumental meaning to be sta-
tistically - or even socially - sig-
nificant.-
So, no, I get to decide when sex
is significant to me.

DO COLLEGE
STUDENTS
CONSIDER
ORAL SEX
#'S EX"F?
y
say yes when
the woman has
the orgasm
say yes when
the man has
the orgasm
INFOGRAPHic According to The
WE L NS, GABY Joumal of Sex
VASQUEZ AND Research,
CAROLYN May 2000

Editor's Note: This piece contains
graphic descriptions of adolescent
sexuality.
have a fragmented memory
of my introduction to sex as a
child. I remember hearing my
parents having sex one time when I
was probably 13 years old. At least
I think so. I heard the rhythmic
creaking of the bed, and somehow
I knew automatically what that sig-
nified.
But my most jarring and sudden
introduction to sex was at summer
camp going into sixth grade. My
camp friends introduced me to two
things that summer: swearing and
porn.
My friend Alex told
me my first day there,
"You can swear here.
Everybody swears." I
wasn't sure I wanted
to swear, but every-
one else seemed to
want to, so I thought
I should want to too.
Also, all the guys at
camp knew what porn
was and were craving
it. There was a sort of
black market at camp
where you could buy
things that the camp
didn't allow: candy,
Ramen noodles and
porn. My friend Alex
bought a porno mag
at the end of the first
week. He showed it
to me. I remember
the images pretty viv-
idly. I'd never seen a
vagina before. The
women were all white
and totally hairless,
except the hair on their
head of course, which was blonde
and straight. Their faces were heav-
ily made-up and appeared fake. I
remember being disgusted initially.
The porno consisted of two or three
ripped-out magazine pages, so the
images had this glossy texture to
them, which made them more dis-
gusting. The whole experience of
looking at the porn, especially with
a friend, felt dark. Dark, disgusting
and obscene. Yet somehow all the
more intriguing.
The next year at camp my coun-
selor entertained me and my bunk-
mates with stories of his sexual
escapades. That's when I learned
what "head" was. When my coun-
selor, Mike, said he got "head" from
a girl in ahot tub at one of his travel

hockey tournaments, I had a hard
time imagining what he was talk-
ing about. The idea of a "girl suck-
ing on penis" had never occurred
to me, strange as that may be. All
my bunkmates appeared to already
know what it was. Another time
Mike told us the story of how he
hooked up with the camp direc-
tor's kids' babysitter. He told my
bunkmates and I late at night about
how he and the babysitter had gone
out to the docks and started hook-
ing up. He told us how he started to
take off her pants to "finger" her -
another new concept - but then she
said, "No, I'm on my period" (and
I did know what that was). Then
Mike said, "Well, I'm not."

I have another confession: I
humped my pillows imagining
they were my female middle school
teachers, who weren't hot but in
fact pretty gross and old. I don't
remember exactly when it ended
- maybe sophomore year of high
school? - but at some point I knew:
This has got to stop. I would insert
my dick between the pillow and
the pillowcase, and then just sort
of lay on top of it and hump it. I
would pull out just before ejaculat-
ing - because who wants to sleep
on a cummy pillow? - and then
cum into my pajamas. Which leads
me to another disturbing memory:
Being afraid of putting my pajamas
with the dried up semen on them in

no meta/postmodern-watching
going on.
So I should probably also men-
tion my first sexual encounter,
perhaps to the remiss of my now
captive audience. Her name was
Emily and she was a red head. It
was the most fantastic pleasure I'd
ever had. After overcoming my ner-
vousness and associated flaccidity,
I had, as Great Uncle Woody would
say, "the sexual intensity of a jungle
cat." I could not get enough. But
I had a lingering disgust with the
vagina. It was obscene to me, just
like the glossy vaginas in the porno
I had encountered at camp. I knew
that I didn't want it tobe obscene. I
had a lot of anxiety about being gay

She said "them," as if she has
observed me regularly being con-
descending toward them. How can
one be condescendingeto a vagina?!
"It's OK, though," she said. "It's
a relief that you don't love vagi-
nas because I don't really care for
penises. But I like them still."
That's nice: My girlfriend and
I are mutually disgusted by each
other's genitals.
Is there a point to all this? Let's
find one. First, I don't know much
about what's going on in anyone
else's head besides my own, and it's
especially difficult to make gener-
alizations about something that's
as private and personal as sexual-
ity. But it's OK to feel lots of weir
conflicting emotions
about sex, sexual
organs, middle school
teachers, pop stars,
etc. What's harm-
ful is to repress those
emotions. Express-
ing them on the other
hand, can be cathartic,
and you don't have to
embarrass yourself in
print, like I am.
Also I'm ruined for
all women. No womal
will ever satisfy like I
want her to because
I've created these
impossible-to-obtain
ideals in my mastur-
bation fantasies. This
explains my disgust
with the reality of the
vagina and the lack of
sex organs in my fan-
tasies. Can I blame the
Victoria Secret ads?
Maybe, but I as an indi-
vidual agent deserve
some responsibility.
And, lastly, we should ask our-
selves where we learn about sex. I
argue that we learn basically noth-
ing important about it in sex ed
and reproductive health classes.
We learn about sex from our camp
counselors and from ripped-out
pages of porn magazines. The
sources vary for each of us, but
the underlying point is that sex
for human beings is not primarily
something biological (e.g., penised
going into vaginas) despite what
our sex ed teachers tell us. It's
something psychological that our
social environment manipulates
and sometimes, in cases such as
mine, perverts. The really interest-
ing aspects of sex and sexuality are
socially psychological.

WATCH MORE AT MICHI.GANDAILY.COM
T H E statement
Magazine Editor: Photo Editor: Managing Editor:
Carlina Duan Ruby Wallau Katie Burke
Deputy Editors: Illustrator: Copy Editors:
Max Radwin Megan Mulholland Mark Ossolinski
Amrutha Sivakumar Editor in Chief: Meaghan Thompson
Design Editor: Peter Shahin
Amy Mackenst
COVER BY RUBY WALLAU AND AMY MACKENS

"And what did she say?" we all
asked excitedly.
"Nothing," Mike said, "but then
she started blowing me."
Years later, when I was hooking
up with my current girlfriend for
the second or third time, she said
the same thing, "I'm on period," and
then I said what Mike said: "Well,
I'm not." But that time it didn't
work. She just sort of squirmed
awkwardly and let out a nervous
laugh. The joke came off not as cool
or suave, but as degrading. In retro-
spect I doubt if it worked for Mike
either. I'm sure he embellished the
- story to give his horny pubescent
campers something to jack off to.
And it worked, especially because
we'd all already had our own baby-
sitter fantasies.

with the rest of my family's laundry,
because what if the semen from my
pajamas transferred onto my mom's
undergarments and, well, um, you
know, impregnated her? What's
even more disturbing is the Freud-
ian conjecture that that may have
been a repressed fantasy.
And I've never been a porn guy
either. I've always preferred imag-
ining sexual scenarios for myself
and Ms. Beyonce, because no one
could recreate the fucked up shit
that goes on in my head. Maybe
I never overcame that initial dis-
gust with porn that I had at sum-
mer camp. Porn still seems too
obscene. When I'm watching it, I'm
also watching myself. When I mas-
turbate to fantasies with my eyes
closed, I'm totally in it and there's

as a young adolescent. I was occa-
sionally disgusted with parts of the
female anatomy and bras and stuff,
which at other times I was also
attracted to. In my masturbation
fantasies, I never recall imagining
a vulva - only tits and asses. Some-
one (e.g., Ms. Beyonce) was giving
pleasure to me. I was "inside them,"
but the geometrics of the insertion
were always vague.
When I showed my current girl-
friend a draft of this article, and she
learned that I find vaginas obscene,
she said "that's so you." To which I
replied, "What does that mean? Are
there other facets of my personal-
ity that resemble this vagina aver-
sion?"
She then elaborated, saying that
I'm "condescending toward them."

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