Goshen College, we need to talk about the way we talk about sex around here. This may make some of us uncomfortable. And it may make some of us jump with joy, but the bottom line is this: it needs to happen.
I have been a GC student for three years and I have received a total of two formal conversations about sex on this campus since being here. Now, I have had multiple informal dialogues with peers about safe sex, rape culture, and GC policy over the years, but large-scale conversations are few and far between.
I seek out information about sex, positive and healthy relationships and how to support survivors of assault because I have access to computers, and I have mentors helping me find guidance and information. Not everyone has that. What they have are the two talks in three years.
This is not OK.
I get that you feel weird about it. I understand that our Christian affiliation can complicate this conversation about positive sexuality. Yet, sex happens on this campus. And we aren’t talking about it as much or in the way that we should.
You may not agree that Goshen College should be supportive of healthy, consensual sexual activity, but I believe that we need a sexuality policy that meets the student body where we are in this trajectory of our lives.
We are coming into our identities, figuring out the paths we want to take in life and maybe even finding love. When searching for love, some people have sex.
When having sex, a whole bundle of issues and complexities fall in our laps, especially where contraception is concerned. But a simple Google search can give an individual plenty of information about contraception and means of preventing pregnancy and the spread of STDS.
The larger, more hidden part of the battle is how to have healthy and positive sexual interactions. Most people do not understand that this is where the magic happens.
It’s also the most hidden element of sex education and conversations about sex. We often fall short of conversing about the way sexual interactions can be negative or unhealthy, as long as we are having “safe sex.”
I am a major advocate of safe sex, and I believe that talking about contraception should be normal, not embarrassing and happen as often as possible. However, I tend to have a harder time with the discussions about healthy sexual interactions.
I have had extremely negative sexual experiences in which I felt used, empty and unfulfilled. It is hard to talk about the terrible experiences we’ve had with sex, but we deserve spaces to talk about these things.
My argument does not lie with the idea that if we talk about sex all the time at Goshen, everyone will magically be having positive sex within healthy relationship dynamics. If anything, my argument lies with the idea that we need to be talking about all our experiences and perspectives about sex.
This is about creating spaces in which I can share those negative experiences I have had, someone else can share their issues with sex outside of marriage and yet someone else can talk about the complications of having sex with multiple partners at the same point in time.
I think we need a safe space in which my bisexuality and other LGBTQ+ identities are acknowledged and understood within a sexual and relationship context.
Sex positivity is not about assuming everyone is having sex or the same kind of sex, but creating mindsets and spaces in which we talk about where we all are on the journey of sexuality and sexual experiences.
At this college, we have very few spaces that provide regular conversations about sex, and I think we need more. But there should be judgement-free spaces that include education, respect for people’s journeys and an understanding that the institution of Goshen College understands where we are in our lives.
I want Goshen College to be sex positive and meet our student body where we are in our experiences with sex, relationships and life. I want a policy that perhaps reflects this much needed space.
Our sexuality policy is long overdue for review, especially in light of Goshen’s hiring policy change and the more public image of the LGBTQ+ community on campus.
But we need to think about and create these intentional spaces that reflect words written down. It is about attitude and culture as much as it is the official company line.
This is a long process, but with organizations like the Goshen Student Women’s Association (GSWA) and body positivity activities that discuss sexual experiences, we are moving toward a more open-minded student body experience.
Yet, this starts on an individual level, checking our assumptions and creating conversations on an informal and formal level about how we make this campus more sex positive.
I really hope to create open, safe spaces for people to share their stories, laugh and cry about where we’ve been and where we can go and talk about how to fight prejudice and secrecy. Unfortunately, I can’t do it alone, but with your help we can create positive and lasting changes on this campus.
After all, creating conversations about positive human experiences and safe spaces in which to share them is not only good on a personal level, but a Christian one as well.